The Target Audience // The Prequel to the Target

The Target Audience

The first time I met you, I knew you were going to be the one to save me. You pulled out the
barstool, lit my cigarettes, and paid for my drinks. Right before you walked in, I was talking to
another, to me, boring person who wanted to let me know how smart and important he is in his
world. It was a conversation to pass the time to see if you would show up. You did.

I found out you were sweet. Nice. Soft spoken. Smart. But the most important part, smitten with
me. I had a run of really big assholes mainly because I was a big asshole. I had no idea how to
take care of myself with the exception of looking to others to do it for me. I had made some
strides over a couple of months to try and better myself. Of course, the goal was to physically
get myself together to attract the next victim. Mentally, I was back in therapy and was doing a
totally stupid New Age group with “spiritual” vampires that thought they knew “the way”. I guess
in many ways I thought I would find a match in those classes because I did believe there was
more outside my understanding of life. Of course, the vampires wanted to say the right and
intellectual things so they could smell their own farts by not impressing me.

You were the one.

You didn’t have to impress me. You were just you. You looked me in the eye and listened to me
intently. You were sweetly nervous and soft. You didn’t ask fr my number or push yourself on
me. Your hands were a touch sweaty when you shook my hand before we parted. I knew you
were the one as I walked to my car. I knew it wasn’t even going to be that hard to hook you. You
were already hooked. I could feel my relief. I found the person who was going to make me feel
safe and normal. I knew I could put the damaged person that lived in me away. Pretend she
didn’t exist because I could slip into my new persona. All of this because I found you, or you
found me.


The Prequel to the Target

I was so desperate to get out of my life. I had made, what I thought, so many horrible decisions.
Little did I know everyone else was doing their own version, but not talking about it because we
were twenty somethings. My parents cut me off because they wanted me to come back home.
Settle down. Find a secure business man. Marry him. Go to church. Become a pillar of the
community. That was the master plan because I was a debutant, which I fucking hated every
minute of, but it served me later from the standpoint I knew how to serve a mean tea or dinner
party. I could also use it to grow my story. I was picked out f 1st grade to train vocally with the
nun who was renown in the city. I was popular, funny, smart, kind of big but a pretty face kind of
gal. Super nice to most people in order to make sure I got their story and they didn’t get mine. I
started to dislike my mom and dad and wanted to get away. Probably like most late teens, but to
me it felt really disloyal. But I had to do it.

I had such fucking weird relationships in college. So manipulative on both sides. With all my
choices it was a battle with myself. They were all reflection of my current emotional state. Then
the stalking and sexual assault happened. Had to go through the trail. Face that young man that
would change my life. Again. His act would become a part of the script in my mind that I would
make choices from for the rest of my life. My beginning relationship with PTSD. At least my
beginning awareness of it. This most recent act against my mind and body was just the latest in
the chain of violations throughout my childhood that I did not talk about. I went about life pretending everything was okay as I found my lack of sleep, 50 pound weight gain, and
obsessively checking every window and door ramped up every day. I realized as the time from
the assault got further away, the less people wanted to talk about it. So, I didn’t. I put it all away
wit the other stuff.

I thought it would be a good idea to move home for the summer before I graduated. My god,
that was some fucked up shit during those months. My friend observed as we walked down the
Venice Beach boardwalk I would only walk right near the walls. How weird. I didn’t notice I was
constantly walking by a physical barrier so no one could grab me?? I still am not sure what
exactly that was about, but I became aware that something was going on. I had to check the
windows and doors at my parents for about two hours a night before I finally would fall asleep.
Sleep was not really restful because it was filled with horrific dreams of my mother being
tortured and raped. Every morning felt like hell. The interesting and predictable thing about my
whole scene is my parents didn’t seem to really notice. To be clear, I didn’t tell them, but now as
a I am a parent, it seems really bizarre, and predictable based on my childhood, that they didn’t
notice. The one thing they did notice was my weight gain and they sent me to some sort of
weight management deal where they had pre-packaged shitty food and weigh-ins every week.
Everyone at the place was so hangry and pissed off. I got into a fight with a couple that was
bitching at the front desk person. I wasn’t even involved until I involved myself, just to get some
anger out. I hated to leave my parents house because of the way I thought I looked. I felt like
huge monster. My clothes didn’t fit, my face was breaking out. I wanted to sleep all day, watch
TV, eat or not eat. I didn’t want to see my friends because I felt so unworthy of anyones
kindness and love. All this stuff and my parents didn’t see it???

This all happened between April and August.

Beginning of September.

I was down to my goal weight. My parents were happy. They had a “normal” daughter again, at
least by appearance. Their self professed, “all American girl,” was back and better than ever. I
gradually stopped having the dreams. Made my way back to school to complete the last year. I
was single, started working at University art museum, became a member of the Women’s
Center, moved downtown, got a job at a folk art gallery. Re-started therapy. I was back in the
flow of a college life.

I signed up to do a class called “Model Mugging”. I don’t remember how or why I did this, but I
guess it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It was a 8 or 10 week course where they
teach you self defense while a man in a padded suit attacks you. I know this sounds sadistic,
and it was really terrifying every time I stepped into class, but the women, my comrades, their
stories, were such warriors. I didn’t identify as one, I was going though the motions. I had never
been punched before and I was able to experience how that felt as a blow to the side of my
head during one “attack” and I saw stars. I was so dazed I felt like I could not get up, but that
was not an option. My “attacker” told me until I could fight him off, he would keep attacking me
at full force. It only took me one more try under his full force attack. I didn’t feel successful or
accomplished or healed, I was just grateful I got through it without another round of the stars. As
the Sunday classes passed, I was able to open up about my other assaults and be witnessed
with compassion and held without judgement. I asked my parents and my close friends to attend
my “graduation” as the “attacker” did his terrorizing on us 8 times each to show we could fend
him off in all different scenarios. I graduated and felt like a part of a community of women, but
the pain was still bottled up.

When I went back in September, appearance wise, I had done all the right things to show I was
healthy, happy, and thriving. I had done it. I made it seem like I was okay. I didn’t talk about my
credit card debt from buying shit and taking everyone out to party. I didn’t show everyone the
scars and open wounds from my picking. I didn’t show that I was not eating. I didn’t show that I
was not going to class and failing out of school, all the while using my assault as an excuse. I
didn’t show that I was desperate for someone to take care of me and give me safety and
security. I was miserable, fucked up. “Everything is just fine” became my motto that would stick
for decades. I’m not saying I was doing anything different from most survivors, I just thought I
was the only one doing it at the time. I didn’t know about PTSD, and I am not sure it was really
applied to the average sexual assault victim at the time, or at least I didn’t know it. I decided I
needed a distraction and found one.

I saw him from across the street from my work. I loved the way he moved and looked so
important. He worked for the local progressive paper, at what capacity, I didn’t really know or
care. He was my distraction. I would wait to see him walking and go out with a broom to pretend
to sweep. It only took two times before he came straight over and introduced himself and his
British accent. He was a musician, writer, and my ticket out of my shit. We quickly became
lovers, had an affair (he was living with someone), and planned a future in music. I dropped out
of school, befriended the girlfriend in order to figure him out, and started to reinvent myself. I
walked away from the person that I wanted to get away from and no longer served me. I could
put her deep down in me along with the little girl that I ignored. It was like adding another body
inside of me amongst the carnage of my early years.

He encouraged me to sing and was genuinely impressed. His girlfriend became a manger of
sorts and had me record a couple of songs with a pianist in order to shop me around. I started
singing standards on Sundays at a local restaurant. Created the persona. Put on the lipstick and
outfit. Sang mainly to friends and family, but started to play with an older accomplished jazz
pianist which gave me street creds . I was acting and my accompanist encouraged me to “stop
and be me”. Ha. That is a fucking joke. The real me is not anyone that I know.

He wrote about me in his music column, and there I was, out of the blue as this new interest in
town. As if people wouldn’t catch on to what we were doing. I showed up with him at gigs,
restaurants, all thinly veiled with his mentorship. All the pretending went on for a few months
until December. I drove him to the airport. He needed to go back because his Visa was running
out. He had to go home. We parted just as, what it seemed like, everyone in town knew we
were having this torrid love affair. He left just as I became “That Women”. Such a disgrace. Such
a horrible person. Such a deviant, dumb, young (he was 10 years older) girl. Ah, everything I
was already thinking about myself minus the fat and ugly. It felt comfortable to feel dirty, bad,
disgusting. Now I could feel it and have it validated all over town.

He called me from England and told me he could not come back unless he could get married. I
had just turned 22. He and I hatched the plan we would move in together, start a band, get
married. I will never forget that day. Where I was standing. It felt like I had sold my soul and I
would do it all over again. Even knowing all the shit that I was going to go through. My persona
had taken over and she was fucking angry, intimidating, cold and aloof. My stage persona was
the same but when I was in the flow it was like nothing I had ever felt. I could sing out my
sadness. He formed the band and we did exactly what we planned in spite of losing friends. We
fought on stage, which added to the the whole experience, break up and then get back together.
I would threaten to leave on a weekly basis. I made him into the villain. I found a way to justify
my actions, it was a pattern I could recreate for years with my partners.

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