Post Mortem – Textual Harassment

On occasion, I’ll get a request for advice on a situation that’s more layered and complex than a typical Ask Dr. NerdLove question. These questions typically need a deeper dive into just what went wrong, a sort of exploratory emotional surgury – a dating Post-Mortem if you will. On other occasions, the circumstances require more than just surgery. Sometimes it requires a session with The Chair Leg of Truth.

Listen to the Chair Leg of Truth. It does not lie.

So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab. It’s time to put on the scrubs and dig into this particular corpse.

Hello Doc

I don’t know why I’m asking you this, I’m pretty sure I know what you’re going to tell me but hey, maybe I just need to vent. This started about 3 weeks ago, I was celebrating a big accomplishment by treating myself to a fifth of tequila (I don’t really drink that often, maybe like 4 times a year, so when I drink, I drink).

OK, I’m going to stop you right there, man. This is your first mistake; in fact, this is some amateur hour shit. Experienced drinkers know better than to just get absolutely fucked up. The idea of “I don’t do this often, so I go balls out when I do” is how you end up puking up all your regrets as you try to piece together the memory of just how you fucked up. It’s far better to know how to maintain a pleasant but low-key buzz than it is to just down a fucking bottle of tequila, which is just going to lead to incredibly stupid decisions.

After the bottle was empty and I was 100% trashed, I texted a co-worker/friend, V, some very lewd things.

CALLED IT.

Knowing this was wrong, I was apologizing while still texting and said not to pay attention to me because I am drunk. After about 6 rapid fire text, I was able to stop. The next morning, I texted her again saying that I am sorry about last night.

Christ, when you fuck up, you don’t fuck up small, do you, RA? Let me underline this particular passage: “knowing this was wrong, I was apologizing while still texting.” Read what you wrote over again. Let it marinate in your brain. Because this right here? This is going to be coming up over and over again because you knew damn good and well that you shouldn’t be doing this. That alone is going to undermine literally everything else you say. This isn’t a case of “oops, I misread things and made a pass at someone and now it’s awkward”, this is “I knew it was wrong and I fucking did it anyway.”

Fast forward to yesterday, I am called into my work place’s office because of it. Now something she said really puzzled me. She said “At first, I was ‘nah, this just Redacted’ but then I was thinking you weren’t drunk”. So I apologized again, reassured her I was drunk and gave her references, my boss gave me a speech and tried to be topical by throwing in #metoo into to it (which made me roll my eyes hearing some of the stuff he has said about women). But 2 things were stuck in my head. 1, that for some reason she didn’t believe I was drunk and 2, even though I already apologized, she still brought it to our boss.

Let me give you some advice RA: when you find that you’re digging yourself into a hole, then you need to stop digging. You fucked up already by sending obscene texts to your co-worker. But starting here, you’re demonstrating that you don’t get what you did wrong.

Let’s start with the apologies. It doesn’t matter that you were apologizing while you were texting her because you were still fucking texting her as you apologized. Nor, for that matter did apologizing afterwards make a difference because you don’t seem to understand just what apologies are for.

Apologies aren’t magic talismans RA. They’re not “get-out-of-consequences-free” cards that you can hand out. Apologies are what you do when you realize you fucked up and want to make amends, not something that makes it ok because you said the magic words. If I keep saying “I’m sorry” as I beat you about the head and shoulders, it doesn’t mean that I’m no longer hitting you and it doesn’t mean that your injuries never happened or that the bruises and broken bones don’t hurt. It also doesn’t mean that everything’s fine afterwards because hey, you just got the shit beat out of you; words aren’t going to fix that.

You make it pretty clear that you haven’t accepted the weight of what you’ve done, RA. You put a lot of hemming and hawing in here and weasel language that offloads your responsibility. Talking about “making things topical by invoking #MeToo” is a pretty significant one; it’s a fairly distinct indicator that you don’t understand that this is serious, not just someone throwing you under the bus because FUCK YOU, PENIS. Similarly, rolling your eyes at your boss who’s reading you the riot act doesn’t do you any favors; you’re attempting to make a tuo-quoque, implying that your boss doesn’t have the right to punish you because he’s a hypocrite. And hey, maybe he is. But whatever he’s said or hasn’t said doesn’t change the fact that a) he’s your boss and b) you still made your co-worker feel intensely uncomfortable.

Tackling the drunk part first, I never text her, I mean never.

Well you never have to say that again, do you?

I never start conversations about sex with her, she is all ways the one to bring it up and she brings it up a lot.

That doesn’t matter. Remember what I said earlier? You knew you were doing something wrong. You had drank a fifth of tequila by yourself and still knew you were doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Once again: you were apologizing for texting obscene shit while you were texting her obscene shit. You knew that this wasn’t something she was going to be comfortable with and yet you did it anyway.

But besides that, the fact that she brought it to our boss is what has me hurt.

Probably didn’t hurt you as much as a friend getting drunk and sending lewd texts hurt her.

I will note that she did try to protect me by telling him not to involve loss prevention (they seem to handle everything where I work) and not showing him the text

Then she is a goddamn saint and you should be on bended knee thanking her and every god you believe in that you still have a job.

but all she got was pretty much the same apology I gave her before.

UP! DIG UP, YOU FOOL!

I really don’t see why she told him.

I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and say because her coworker got drunk and started sending her obscene texts and now she doesn’t feel comfortable working with you.

I really considered her a friend.

Then maybe you shouldn’t have gotten drunk and texted her all the things you wanted to do to her.

We hung out outside of work, I confided in here and vice versa, she has tried to get me to touch her breast on multiple occasions and has made me grab her ass before.

That’s great, sonny-jim but that doesn’t change things. The fact that you may or may not have a flirty, touchy-feely, potentially sexually charged friendship doesn’t meant that it’s anything goes. Her getting you to grab her ass or her breast doesn’t mean that you have free access at all times or that you have a license to say whatever you want. It means that in those particular circumstances she was cool with you touching her. If I have ass-grabbing privileges with a female friend, that doesn’t translate to “Now let me tell you about all the things I would do to you with my tongue”.

And, again, let’s not forget: you knew what you were doing was wrong at the time you did it. You said this yourself.

You said this in the texts you sent. 

The fact that my apology for something that was completely out of character and it was the first time happening wasn’t enough to the point that you jeopardized my job, coming from a friend, that hurts.

You know what hurts? Someone you trusted suddenly sending you obscene texts out of the blue, making you feel intensely uncomfortable and making it clear that they don’t see what the problem is.

 

The fact that you were drunk doesn’t excuse things. The fact that you were drunk doesn’t make things better or excuse you from what you’ve done. Alcohol isn’t Dr. Jekyll’s magic serum that turns you into a different person, it just mutes the parts of you that make you think “maybe I shouldn’t do this.” And y’know, I’ve been there and done that. I’ve done stupid shit when I was drunk. I’ve been a complete fucking asshole to people when I was drunk. And you know what? The fact that I was drunk doesn’t excuse the fact that I was an asshole. It didn’t make my behavior less bad or more forgivable. It didn’t mean that it was someone else who just happened to occupy my skin at the time. It meant that I made a stupid decision (drinking to excess) which made it even easier to make even more stupid decisions (being that asshole) and now I had to accept the fact that I did that shit and try to move forward from there.

Now today, I got some light shed on the situation. A common friend of ours came to our job today tease me about the situation (he was one of the references to my drunkenness. He had already talked to her and reassured her of my altered state. But he did get some information that turned me from hurt to angry. Apparently she did believe I was drunk at first but showed the text to her female friend just to be sure. They convinced her that I wasn’t smashed because everything was spelled correctly, like auto correct isn’t a thing. The last piece of info I got had me angry not only at her but women in general. She showed him the text. After reading it he said “But you like this type of stuff” in which she replied “yeah but it’s redacted”.

Now I admit I overthink even the most simple things let alone what people do and say, I have massive confidence issues centered my looks and while I wouldn’t classify as red pill or anything close to that I do have some views on women based on my interactions with then and what I see (my worst bullies in school where girls who picked on me because of my looks). While I do think some of my views are true based on what I’ve seen and experienced, I have been way more open to having those views challenged the past few years as I’ve been working on myself learning to let go of the past. But this whole situation have me like “FUCK WOMEN” . By say “yeah but it’s redacted” implies that if it was anyone else, say another male coworker, it would have been ok but since it was me, a “looks” challenged person, it crossed an ungodly line.

I was wondering if we’d get to this part.

Let me make this clear. This bit right here? This is why everyone’s pissed at you. You’re taking what you did wrong and getting upset because you’re seeing it how you were wronged. You have literally taken “Hi, I behaved horribly to someone I considered a friend, but really it’s unfair because she didn’t like it because I’m ugly.”

So allow me to disabuse you of this notion: this has nothing to do with your looks. This has to do with the fact that youspecifically, did things that she wasn’t cool with. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it matters that she’s not into you. And no, it would still be creepy if Brad Pitt did it.

Here’s what you’re missing: this doesn’t mean that literally any other man could say those things and she would fall on her back crying “take me now in a manly fashion.” Yes, she may like those things… but she likes them with someone she’s attracted to and who has her permission to do them. That’s not any Johnny Thunderdick, that’s specific people that she wants to have sex with. From anyone else, it isn’t sexy or fun, it’s threatening and uncomfortable. Which, in case you aren’t getting it, means that she isn’t comfortable with you, specifically sending these things to her.

Let’s put it this way: you presumably like blow jobs. If V were to tell you that she was going to treat you like a popsicle on a hot summer day, you’d be turned on because hey, you want to bang V. Now if it were Scott Glenn or Cloris Leachman telling you the exact same thing, you’d be weirded out. Why? Because these are not people you want touching your penis. And if they were drunk, looking you right in the eye, apologizing and but talking about how they were gonna eat you like an ice cream cone, it would still be creepy despite the apologies. Why? Because, once again: these are not people you want near your junk.

But let’s say that it really is the case that she’d welcome this from anyone else. That doesn’t change things because those are people she wants to hear those things from. You are not one of them and before you even bring it up, fairness doesn’t come into play in this because hey guess what she’s not obligated to be attracted to you.

And even when I admit I messed up and apologized, it wasn’t good enough and no mistakes are permitted. That and like a hundred other “FUCK WOMEN” thoughts.

And your apology might mean something if you haven’t made it abundantly obvious that you haven’t taken responsibility for what you’ve done or why people are upset at you. You’re saying a lot of “I never did this before” or “but I was drunk” and qualifiers like how she made you grab her ass or your boss has said shit too, but you’re not saying anything about “here’s why this was wrong and what I’m going to do about it.”

What you have said, over, and over again is “it’s not fair that they’re angry at me and really I’m the one being wronged here”, which is isn’t just missing the point, it’s missing the point so profoundly that your trajectory has thrown you out of Earth’s atmosphere and you’re currently headed towards Mars.

To wrap this up, I no longer feel good at work.

You no longer feel good at work?

I’m now looking into getting a new job or transferring store. Once again, I don’t even now why I’m writing this. You probably have hundreds of people asking for advice so you probably won’t get to this one. And even if you do give me advice on this, I’m probably going to “yeah but” the entire thing. But hey, you might say something that fixes this whole thing.

Thank for listening
Redacted Angry

You want to fix things RA? Actually fix things? Then you need to drop all of this self-pitying bullshit and own this. You fucked up. You fucked up badly. You have fucked up to the point that it is a goddamn miracle that you’re still employed.

The time when you could’ve fixed things would have been to not get shitfaced in the first place. The next time you could’ve fixed things would have been to not text your co-worker. The last chance you had to fix things was to not just apologize the next day but to apologize and make it clear that you understood what you did, why it bothered her so much and since you couldn’t take your actions back,  you would show how you were going to make sure that this never happened again.

Now the point where you might have salvaged a friendship out of this is pretty much out the window and all you’ve got left is to just apologize for real this time. No qualifiers, no “I was drunk”, no “but you did X”, no “but why am I not allowed to make a mistake?” Just a straight up “I was wrong, here’s why I was wrong, I’m aware I hurt you and I’m sorry,” without expectation of forgiveness. Because, frankly, she’s under no obligation to forgive you or to make you feel better for your fuck up.

This isn’t something women have done to you, this isn’t about your looks or any other weird Red Pill/incel bullshit. This is about you getting drunk, fucking up and refusing to take responsibility for it.

All you can do is own that you did this and live with the consequences – which likely includes “not talking to V for a very long time, if ever again”. If you want to make things right, take everything you’ve done and that I’ve said and not fuck up like this again.

 

 

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