I have put off writing this, because there’s so much to say, but so few words that fit. So much of what happened in graduate school is hazy, gray. There were the big, technicolored days that stand out—like the day he said he’d fuck me if he were unmarried. But most days were gray—intimations of explicitness, turns of phrase that could have been harmless said by another person or in a different context. The days when “see-through swimsuit, nipples” was the Google search I found on our shared computer… icky, certainly, but not straight-up porn. There were whole days that were totally fine. Then there were those that were not.
I am used to being the teacher’s pet. In fact, I’d say it was always my goal. I was valedictorian and student body president. I won scholarships and awards and positions, and I was always achingly mature. I caught on quickly and did exceptional work; teachers loved me. (I sound a little awful to myself now… there were probably a lot of students who despised me.) Anyhow, when I became his pet in graduate school, I didn’t immediately suspect anything amiss. After all, I had a label now for being the teacher’s pet: TA. (My professor took full advantage of that title and made crude references to tits and ass.)
I recently went back through my email and searched for his name; I was trying to recall our last interaction. His emails were so outrageous—pages upon pages of personal information. They all ended with him asking me not to tell someone about something—not to tell his wife, or any of my colleagues, my (now) husband. They reference his marriage and sex life (or lack thereof). They talk about his wife’s depression (she later killed herself) and his daughter’s wild ways (she is bipolar). The emails suggest a connection between us given our shared interest, birthplaces, religion. They are obscene.
It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around where I was at that time—emotionally, mentally. I can’t believe I “tolerated” that for so long, but I know I didn’t have any actual recourse. There really were no other option, save abandoning my vocation and committing career suicide.
More another day. Day 123.
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