Don’t. F*cking. Touch Me.

I was scrolling through Instagram this morning when I came across a post by one of the artists I follow. She was posting about how when she was out in town today, a man approached her directly and aggressively, so he could grab her arms and “look” at the tattoos there. As I read through the comments, almost every person that commented was a woman, talking about her own similar experiences. And naturally, I couldn’t help but think about mine.

The artist in question mentioned how she was disappointed in herself for “standing there like a lost lamb” instead of reacting, and I got angry. Not because she was disappointed with herself, but because some guy, some creepy random dude, had made her feel that way. The scary truth is that this shit happens every day. People get assaulted, accosted, inappropriately touched without their consent. And it happens each and every time, because someone has taken it upon themselves to intentionally invade another person’s space and push their boundaries.

I have had many experiences in my life where I have been touched by someone, stranger or friend, when I didn’t give my permission. One of the most notable of these had quite an impact on me. As a teenage girl, waiting at the local shopping centre for a friend of mine one day after school, I noticed an older man with long hair and a beard. I didn’t pay him too much attention, right until he came up to me from behind, stood close, buried his face in my hair and took a long, audible sniff. I nearly screamed, and ran. I was young, I was uncomfortable, I had been touched by a stranger in a weird and inappropriate way. To this day, I can’t stand to have people touch my hair.

I remember another night, a few years later, sitting at a bar with my best friend. I was wearing a dress that had a low back because it was cute, and it made me feel pretty, and it really went with my shoes. I was having a drink and a laugh; listening to the band and having a good time. Suddenly I felt a stranger’s fingers run from the top of my spine down to the back of my dress. I turned, realizing I had raised my hand. The man who had touched me tried to explain away his actions by saying “I just wanted to look at your tattoo”. Shaking, goosebumps covering my entire body, I told him to get away from me. When he again tried to tell me that he just liked my tattoo, I told him that his poor excuse didn’t give him any right to touch me. I saw him return to his friends and say something to them, after which they all turned to stare at me. I spent the rest of the night on edge. I didn’t wear that dress again.

But, don’t get me wrong here, it’s not just men I have experienced this behaviour with. A couple of years ago I was in line at JB Hi-Fi, waiting for some paperwork for the purchase of a tablet. Out of nowhere, I felt two hands grab my shoulders and physically spin me around. It was so unexpected, I nearly fell over, having to grab hold of a nearby display to keep myself upright. Seemingly oblivious to my near fall, was the woman who was grabbing handfuls of my dress and actually running her hands over my waist, my hips and my thighs. I yanked the fabric out of her hands and stepped away with what I imagine was a look of combined rage and shock. She then had the gall to get angry at me and said “I only wanted to look at your dress because it’s so nice. I was giving you a compliment.” I snapped. Long gone was the teenager who would run away from strangers. I told the woman to get away from me, and that if she touched me again I would hit her. I told her she had no right to touch me without my permission. I said it calmly, but I meant every word. She left, muttering obscenities under her breath, and I went back to me paperwork, acutely aware of the stares I was getting from the people around me.

The thing is, in all of these situations, the people who touched me didn’t seem to understand, or want to admit, that they were in the wrong. They each tried to justify their actions. Y’all, if you “only want to look” you don’t look at people with your hands. That’s now how looking works! I mean, I grew up being told “you can look, but don’t touch”. It was a mantra drummed into us as children, and where I once knew I wasn’t allowed to touch that Ballgown Barbie on the shelf, I know now that I’m not allowed to touch another person without their consent. So why is it such a foreign concept to some people? No one, and I do mean no one has the right to accost you. Not because of the way you are dressed. Not because of the tattoos that you have. Not because they like your hair, or your jewelry, or your fingernail polish, or your shoes. I’ll say it again for the people in the back; NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TOUCH YOU. WITHOUT. YOUR. CONSENT.

No ifs, no buts, no excuses.

Anxiety in Learning, and People Who Refuse to Understand

How do you explain anxiety to someone who doesn’t understand it? How do you open a discussion about how you’re feeling, when the other person is sitting across from you in judgement, and telling you that you’re wrong? These are questions I asked myself this week, when I had an encounter with a friend that left me feeling frustrated for those very same reasons.

I do not have anxiety in any diagnosed sense. But, like every other person in the world I’m sure, there are certain things that do make me incredibly anxious. I find being in crowds acutely uncomfortable. Meeting new people either turns me into some kind of overly expressive, unintentionally aggressive(ly energetic) person, or into a silent, dismissive, seemingly moody person who can’t make conversation. But another thing that makes me feel anxious is learning from other people, one on one.

I like to teach myself things, for a few reasons. Firstly, I am as stubborn as a mule. I like tackling challenges – despite often getting a little overwhelmed by them – because I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after completing something that I spent time and effort on. Of course, this doesn’t always mean it’s an effective way to learn; my lack of musical ability (despite trying to teach myself various instruments over the years) is a testament to that. The other major reason why I enjoy trying to teach myself things as opposed to learning a skill from another person, is because I hate feeling like I’m stupid. And as silly as this might sound, learning new things can make me feel incredibly stupid.

See, the thing about learning from someone else, is that somewhere in my brain there is a little voice that tells me that the teacher is judging my inability to do ‘the thing’. And even though I know realistically they’re not thinking that at all, I can’t help but feel awkward when I’m learning something new that I haven’t yet mastered. It’s one of many reasons why starting a new job makes me nervous. The idea that I might not get it right, that I might take too long to learn, that the teacher might get frustrated with my questions and think I’m an idiot…these are all factors that contribute to the feeling of anxiety and inadequacy. I like to learn in solitude, where no one can witness my inevitable mistakes, and where it doesn’t matter how long it then takes me to fix them. Learning from someone else can come with a level of pressure that doesn’t come from teaching yourself how to do something.

I was trying to explain this to my boss the other day. I said learning new things can sometimes make me feel stupid, and his exact verbatim response was “Well, you’re wrong, but ok.” There it is. You’re wrong. With those two words, he managed to simultaneously belittle me, and prove my point. When I tried to further explain what I was talking about, he cut me off and told me that it didn’t make sense, and that feeling like that was weird and “not normal”. Which brings us back to my original question; how do you explain a feeling to someone who is determined not to understand?

There are always going to be people who think you’re weird for feeling a certain way. There are always going to be people who don’t understand. I usually try to avoid having to have those conversations, but in this case it was unavoidable. I guess at the end of the day, I don’t need to explain myself to anyone, and I certainly don’t need to justify how I’m feeling, especially not to someone who refuses to understand. But, I can get mad about it and vent on my blog. Have any of you ever had that experience? Have you ever struggled to explain how you’re feeling to someone else? Tell me your stories!

People Are the F*cking Worst

You know, I really fucking hate people.

I was raised to be a decent human being. I offer petrol money if I get a lift somewhere. I help out my friends if and when they need it. I accept responsibility for the things I do wrong, admit my fault, and graciously accept the repercussions. But apparently not everyone has the same conscience that I do. And it’s those people; those inconsiderate, conscience-less individuals, that really make me angry.

I work at a shopping centre. There is no staff car park, and the parking bays themselves are not particularly wide. Nevertheless, I am constantly in disgusted awe of the people who simply cannot park properly. I’ve seen all manner of terrible parking, from crooked angles, to parking completely the wrong way across three bays. Trust me, I’ve seen it all. Today, I left work and went to my car, passing several bad parks on the walk. I got to my car, and there it was. A series of long, deep gauges across the front and back doors of the left side of my car.

My photography skills are shit, much like the person who did the damage

Some idiot, probably in a 4WD or large SVU judging by the height of the scratch marks, has tried to pull into the park beside mine, obviously misjudged the distance, and hit me. But then, instead of backing out and realigning the car, they’ve just kept going, scraping their car along the side of mine and leaving both doors noticeably scarred. This in itself is bad enough, but the bad driver clearly didn’t think anything of damaging my car, and then driving away. No note. No apology. No accepting of responsibility.

My car is not quite three years old. I managed to avoid any serious damage for two and a half years. But this damage today is the second time in as many months that someone else has hit my car, in a car park. The first woman didn’t put her handbrake on, and buckled my rear bumper when her car hit mine from behind. I got it fixed through my insurance, the first time I had ever made any kind of claim for anything. But she at least had the common decency to give me her details (even though she was driving unregistered and her plates belonged to a completely different vehicle). But this person today really grinds my gears, for the sheer fact that they didn’t give me the basic common courtesy of accepting their mistake.

Broken bumper.

It’s been hours and I’m still seething. Yes, the damage can be repaired, but it’s going to be at my own cost. And, since the fault isn’t mine, that really smarts.

Seriously. People fucking suck.

A Soundtrack for This Ragey Morning

There is a song on my iPod called A Soundtrack For This Rainy Morning. It is by The Ataris, one of those bands that made its way onto my iPod without any idea from me where or who it came from. I didn’t listen to it this morning. Instead, my playlist this rainy morning was filled with as much rage, and angry energy as I started the day with. The anger makes an almost pleasant change from the numbness, if it weren’t for, y’know, the hand shaking, teeth gritting rage part.

I haven’t been feeling myself at all lately, so last night I decided to actually feel myself, and rubbed one out to ease myself into sleep. Despite a powerful orgasm and an almost instant pass out, I woke up super early, after some unpleasant and fragmented dreams, because of the wretched possum. I ache all over – from the last couple of days of work, not the masturbation – and so once I was awake, I couldn’t get comfortable again. By the time I finally arose from bed to get ready for work, I was already on my way to a foul mood.

After catching every red light from my house to the slip road, I nearly got sideswiped by a dumb, ignorant jerk who apparently doesn’t know the rules when it comes to merging traffic. The free lane beside him stayed free, as I pulled some Fast and Furious shit to avoid both him, and the car ahead of me that was also trying to merge into the same lane. Jerk Driver just kept on driving, in the far left lane, ignorant to the fact that he could have caused an accident. I flipped him off, and skipped the He Is We song that came on as I was merging. What came next was Cataclysm Children, by Dimmu Borgir, and I turned it up. Loud. Dimmu is one of those bands that I really like, but I don’t listen to all the time, because their music suits a certain kind of…mood. This morning, I was in exactly the right mood. Sometimes, you just need a good, heavy dose of Symphonic Black Metal (best friend confirmed) to start your day.

Reveal the infantile wound and regain strength
Free your spirit from those who lead in praise
Recollect the anger and the hate
For not shall your morals dissolve in pity 

As I continued down the highway, I was in the far right lane. Which is a lane universally acknowledged as the fast lane. I found myself stuck behind a driver who wanted to sit ten kms below the speed limit of 100. I was stuck behind him for a solid ten minutes, as other cars actually doing the speed limit whizzed past me. I skipped past AFI, Something For Kate, and Hot Water Music. None of them felt right. I stopped skipping when my iPod played Sampo, by Amorphis, a band which falls under the category of Folk Metal (best friend knowledge strikes again), and happens to be a personal favourite of mine. There’s something about their songs that just…gets me, and I cannot get over how much I dig Tomi’s vocals.

From roaring flames the shapes emerge
Come forth they do with vile charms
Their poisoned core hides in beauty
But I see and perceive their deceit, I see

Now by this point you can imagine just how angry I had become. Everything seemed to be conspiring to make me so, and I was in no mood to deny the universe its want. Just when I thought people couldn’t get any more stupid, I encountered Ignorant Diver #3. Yet another oblivious jerk who tried to merge into my lane, with no room, no indicator, and nowhere for me to go to avoid his car as it got closer to mine, way too quickly. I gave him a sharp blast of my horn and only then did he seem to actually notice that he was attempting to merge straight into my car. I drove forward as he continued in his lane. Then a minute or so later, he tried to turn right from a non turning lane, once again nearly hitting my car and me, in the actual turning lane, trying to turn into a side street. This time it wasn’t sufficient to just give him my horn. I sent both windows down, let the rain into my car, turned my volume down for long enough to shout “PAY SOME FUCKING ATTENTION!” and then turned it back up, the powerful stereo in my little car blasting Australian alternative rock legends, Karnivool, right out my open windows and into the gloomy morning. The song was Lifelike.

Say it’s alright
When I’m coming down
Not again it’s so lifelike
Come make it alright
When I’m coming down
Not again I’m fragile

I got to work. I have been working in another shop for the last four days, and when I came back to this shop, I have discovered that essential tools have been misplaced/stolen. Nothing is in order. Customers are assholes. But at least I have 3275 songs to play to make me feel better and suit my mood. I’ve been furious for most of the day today, but music is there. Music is good that way; it just gets me.