12 MINUTE READ
I spent Thanksgiving alone with my cat as planned. And as planned, I did go to the coffee shop in the a.m. My favorite part of the day was when I walked into the coffee shop, and this little girl excitedly said, ”Are you a witch?” I replied, “No, I’m not a witch; I consider myself a fairy.” She asked me if I was a witch because of what I was wearing. Although I was wearing a cape coat and a hat, I didn’t think I looked witch-like in the Halloween sense. She was so excited to talk to me that she grabbed my hands and noticed some shiny things on the cuffs. She asked me where I got them. “Did I get them from a sweetie?” I asked her if she was a fairy or a witch, and she said she would be something else for Halloween. I just informed her that I don’t consider myself a fairy on Halloween and that I’m a full-time fairy. At this point, I realized I had a crystal from one of my hikes in my pocket. I told her I had something very special for her. She was really excited about the surprise! When I pulled out the crystal and told her it was a local crystal, she said she would glue on to her school project. I said she could do whatever she wanted with it. I think her mom was more impressed than she was. That was fun!
There are a few things that I want to write about today that I think are in great contrast to one another and are an excellent sign of my healing and where I’m going. First, in my last journal entry, I mentioned my neighbor writing about me in his newsletter. And I forgot to say that the rest of that newsletter was fantastic! Second, I recorded a podcast episode about all the cults I was directly involved or tangentially involved in, especially while living in California. Many friends were deeply involved in intimacy/sexual cults, and I didn’t mention these. One of the reasons why I didn’t talk about them in the podcast is because I can get on a soapbox and talk about them forever. I strongly feel they are causing much more damage than most people think.
What was so cool about my neighbor Jose’s newsletter is that he spoke quite a bit about understanding what it means to make eye contact with someone. It started in the context that he likes to create community and that neighbors don’t know each other these days. So he makes a concern and effort to meet people’s eyes and smile at them whenever appropriate. It’s a direct contrast to what he used to do: eyes on the floor, blinders up, bee-lining to where he was going. You mentioned that well. The way he spoke about it is women talk about men’s gaze. And how it can either be creepy or enticing or flirty or salacious or entitled. And he was reading about how conscious he is of this, making sure that it’s not taken in the wrong context, mainly because he’s in a committed relationship. He intends to create a community, not to be flirting with strangers. He said it more succinctly than I am here, and if I didn’t have to keep my anonymity, I might link to his newsletter with his permission. However, I’ve had to deal with so many stalkers I can’t give details about where I live.
Well, the day before Thanksgiving, I went to Jose and Marie’s house and explained how amazing it was to see Jose writing about this. I was happy to read that Jose is mindful. When he looks into a woman’s eyes, he’s aware that if not careful, this gaze could be taken in a way not intended. It could cross a boundary or might send the wrong message. I had only heard of men thinking/doing/writing the opposite, like James, the intimacy teacher in CA. James was also in a committed monogamous relationship, but he was also a fancy and powerful intimacy coach.
The things James and his partner taught in popular intimacy workshops were terrible. To give you just a tiny slice of what they are but doing these workshops is there a taking single people, matching them up with strangers, giving them no time to get to know the stranger of the opposite sex or to tune into their intuition to see if this person is safe. Then they will have them do physical intimacy exercises with said stranger. Some of them are sexual, and some of them are not. Now you can see why I am so upset that people are doing this.
If you are a leader and partner strangers up in a workshop and ask them to do intimate things, you are doing much more damage and harm than good. This teacher, James, was writing that he knows about his powerful gays. And you know that this gaze is something that single women are so hungry for. So he purposefully goes into coffee shops and midsize at single women and then leaves. It felt better than I can say to read Jose’s words on this exceptionally emotionally intelligent, socially, and intimately responsible way of relating. I’m incredibly grateful that my new level of discernment with people is confirmed in this concrete way.
In contrast, I would be a backup dog sitter for Jose and Marie. I was curious and wanted to know why they’d need a backup. They explained that the primary dog sitter might be pulled away at the last minute. I didn’t think too much of it at the time. Right before they left, I went over for a quick visit and gave them a crystal when I heard the first dog sitter’s name out loud. Now when I saw this name in the text, I just thought this person’s name was Danni, and I would naturally pronounce it Danny. However, this person pronounces their name Dan-eye. When I heard them mention Danni out loud, I had a flashback.
Just then, Marie got pulled into a call and took it to the other room. I turned to Jose and said, “Wait is this the same Danni that…?” And together, we matched up details so that I was pretty sure the Danni I knew in the past was the same Danni they were having as a dog sitter. I am so incredibly proud of how I handled the situation. Right then, I told Jose I could not have contact with Danni. I waited until Marie was off the phone to share why so I could tell them simultaneously.
Before I tell you the story of what happened with Danni, I’ll say that I’m super proud of straight-up telling Jose and Marie that I couldn’t have contact with Danni. After I told them what happened (which I will share in just a moment), we tried to figure out a way that I could still be a backup with zero contact, at which point Marie said, “You know, let’s just not have you as a backup.” That felt so good. My new friend recognized my boundary, worked around it, and made a decision to support my boundary over her current needs.
So here’s the story of Danni. Just one month after being orphaned, I was in an Airbnb for two months. I rented a room with two other rooms on Airbnb, and the host was on-site on a different floor on the other side of the building. I have so many calamity stories from this experience, including finding out that it was a murderer’s house, that it could take up a whole TV series, and this is just one of them.
To put it kindly, the Airbnb host had mental health issues that she was only semi-aware of and not getting help with. She also had abusive tendencies. I’ll call her Veronica. For instance, Veronica held many mandatory house meetings. In one, she told me explicitly in front of everybody else that she felt I should not take my prescribed medication because this was a healing vortex. In the same meeting, she called out one of the other roommates for being addicted to tobacco and publicly shamed him while trying to make herself seem above everyone there. Another highlight from my time there was having Veronica tell me explicitly, but if ever I felt like I wanted to remove the paintings from my room, just to tell her. One-day several weeks later, I approached her and said, “Hey, no rush, but let’s figure out how to move these paintings.” They were not large. They just needed another place to hang up or a safe storage spot. Then, a few days later, she was upset and yelled that I was a “boundary-pusher” for asking her to remove the paintings. The truth was, it wasn’t until she mentioned it that I thought to move them.
So now that you have a bit of the flavor of the place, Veronica told all of us roommates that Danni would be doing some work on the property and that she was considering having him stay while doing the work. Originally Danni was going to be in a tent in the backyard.
One day, soon after, I happened to be coming home and saw Veronica and Danni in the hallway outside my bedroom. My bedroom was at the end of a hallway far from where the host resided. There was a pleasant brief introduction to Danni, lasting less than 3 minutes. That night, I went to bed as usual. After 10:30 PM, I was in bed with my cat, just about to fall asleep. I was in my standard pajamas, which is my birthday suit. As I was drifting, there was a knock on the bedroom door. “Ah, Hold on a second,” I said. Someone came through the bedroom door as I was about to get up. It was Danni. The person I met less than three minutes earlier that day. He was embarrassed when he saw me in bed with my cat with the lights out and walked out.
I put on some clothes and came out into the hallway. Danni recoiled and slunk down the side of the wall onto the floor. I was extraordinarily shocked, maybe traumatized, I’m not sure. I am not ashamed to say I fawned. “Fawned” as in fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. As I’m sure has happened in many situations like this before, I, the woman, had to comfort him, the white man who entered my room as I was sleeping with no invitation, because HE was so upset. He claimed that he thought that I wanted to hang out even though I gave zero indication of that. I told him that he could get my phone number from the host. To be clear, I did not want to give him my phone number, not then and not from the host later. It was just fawning. Remember, this was less than two months after being orphaned by my entire family. I was in a strange house, in a strange town, in a murderer’s house, all alone at the end of a hallway, with a stranger who decided to walk into my bedroom uninvited while I was sleeping.
The following day Veronica had us all at a mandatory brunch – the roommates, her boyfriend, and a neighbor. I’d never met the neighbor before, but he seemed nice. The brunch started early. So there was no time to approach Veronica and tell her what had happened the night before. I planned to pull her aside after brunch and tell her. However, just a few minutes into the branch, as we were all eating, Veronica announced that not only was Danni going to do the work and stay on the property, but she figured it was all right to have him stay on the couch upstairs just feet away from my bedroom. Upstairs was for the 3 Airbnb paying guests in a “living room” so tiny that it could barely fit a loveseat and a mini fridge. Veronica was saying that this is where Danni would be sleeping. At this point, I timidly raised my hand and said, “I’m not comfortable with that.” Veronica asked why in front of the table, and I told her what had happened. Understandably the entire table was shocked and did not know what to say. Veronica’s first response is to defend Danni and say he is nice. She also said some other niceties about him defending him when I don’t know if there is much to defend. She also stated that he did not say that he was going up into the Airbnb portion of the host after he left her. So, in other words, Danni said goodbye to Veronica and then went into the different parts of the house to what exactly? Walk into my bedroom uninvited, of course!
As shocking as that story is, I’m more shocked that I remembered it when I heard Danni’s name out loud. I’m so grateful I put two and two together! And Jose and I were able to figure out that it was indeed the same person. As I mentioned, it felt so good to have Jose and Marie say nothing “in defense” of Danni. They were shocked by hearing the story but understood why I would want to have no contact with him. I said, “I just can’t be around someone with such poor boundaries. It’s too much for me to navigate and takes too much work.”
My life is starting to feel as safe as it has felt with the trolls online. Let me explain. Every time I’ve had a new troll online, they’ve been tenacious: recording horrific videos talking all about me and my work, tagging and messaging all of my followers, and of course, creating multiple accounts, some of them pretending to be me. But I have only found out each time after it’s already over! In other words, I have no idea it’s happening, but this troll is trying their hardest to sabotage and ruin my relationship with the people who support me. Do you want to know what happens? Each one of these people who the troll contacts immediately recognize how toxic this is, and they do the right thing: they report, block, and delete. Most of the time, the people who support me don’t even let me know what’s happening. They figure I must already know or that there’s nothing else they can do besides report it themselves and then move on. Eventually, a few may contact me and let me know their experience. But by that time, the whole situation is over Instagram or whatever has taken down the account, and my team and I celebrate! We don’t celebrate because the troll has been taken down. We celebrate because we had a new troll! Every time there’s a new troll, it means that we’ve reached a new high, we are shining our light even brighter, and apparently, there’s a lot to be jealous of! Trolls feed off light and drama. If you continue to shine your light and don’t let them steal it by turning it into drama and turning your light down, they starve and/or they go away and feed off someone else who will be scared, who will be upset, who will be complaining loudly online how bad it is that there’s another troll. The last thing a troll wants you to do when they’re trolling you is to celebrate. The funny thing is that we authentically celebrate each time.
Although no troll was involved in this situation, my new friends/neighbors protected me. They didn’t pressure me to compromise my boundary. Instead, they’re the ones who suggested that I forget about being a backup dog sitter. It’s like the people who support me online – they take care of it, and I get to go merrily along, supported, to shine my light brightly!