I've thought long and hard about writing this post. It's been a very long time since I've written any post at all - over 3 years.
Up until this morning, I hadn't any idea about the debate around should or shouldn't the women from Hollywood have spoken up now. I naively thought it was a campaign gathering momentum to raise awareness about the magnitude of world wide abuse. It brought up some uncomfortable emotions which are never really very far from the surface of my being.
I'm writing this post because I have to write this post. I am writing this post for all of the beautiful women that I have had the privilege of holding a space for over the years. A space in which they have been able to share their stories. Sharing nervously, tentatively, fearfully and shamefully, yes shamefully. Nearly always shamefully. That is what abuse does to a person. It shrouds us in an invisible second layer of skin. A skin of shame. No matter how may times we as grown adults hear 'It wasn't you fault' 'You weren't to blame', the shame doesn't go away. Not fully. Not really. We might think it does. It can become masked, covered over, hidden by indignation, anger, self medicating behaviour, aggression, depression and a myriad of other clever cloaks. As abused adults we don't FEEL that we weren't to blame. We visit our abuse with the eyes of an adult, not the eyes of a confused 2 year old toddler, a hesitant 4 year old, a confused 6 year old, a terrified 8 year old, a needy 10 year old. The shame deepens, ever darker as we grow older.
We may have tried to speak out. We may have been ridiculed, further shamed, not believed, ignored. It's not surprising that many abused adults find it difficult to trust, are over vigilant and still harbour
deep rooted feelings of unworthiness, self loathing, insecurity and poor body image among other feelings. We spend so much time & energy on trying to keep a lid on our past, our dirty secret, fearful that it might taint our future, spoil our successes, and ruin our carefully placed masks which
we wear to tell the world we are ok, we are doing well, we love our lives. We also crumble in varying degrees of undoing with the slightest feel of humiliation. The smallest remark or off toe may set us spiraling into the shame of a small child. It's an all too familiar place of feeling stupid, angry, tearful, defensive, hesitant, unsure or just plain alone and insignificant. This doesn't always happen and not always with such frequency but it does happen. Many women in my groups discuss how and why this happens.
I was shocked today whilst reading some comments about #metoo from a few women in a group I belong to. They totally trounced all over a woman who was trying to explain how it felt to carry the pain of her abuse inside. She wasn't being heard. Bad enough the abuse happened, but being coldly told to go and get some help without any compassion, served only to make her feel worse. For gods sake women, we have to stick together now more than ever, don't we? My heart pained when I continued to read more women pleadingly ask for understanding, trying to explain how the #metoo had helped them to have the courage to tell the world that it had happened to hem also.
I debated long and hard as to whether I would add #metoo, several days ago to my timeline. I decided I would. The feeling of relief that doing this gave me and continues to give me is palatable. It's huge even. I don't feel quite so alone any more. I didn't have to describe anything, nor give a blow by blow account of what happened to me or say anything about the vile abuse rendered upon me by several different men over a pretty long period of time. I just added my quiet little reflective #metoo and immediately felt part of something bigger. It wasn't just me. I wasn't alone with it any more.
I've spent a large, a very large part of my life, in self enquiry, counseling, training, self awareness and on every kind of self help course book tape cd you can shake a stick at. I've journaled, written poetry, painted my feelings, worked with some of the best. Ive screamed, cried felt terrified, alone, dirty, stupid, useless and a host of other less than positive feelings. I went to the police a few years ago to report the man who raped me when I was eight years old. He was down as an uncle at the local nursery and was taking two little under fives to school. The police, sympathetic though they were, told me there was nothing they could do. I had to deal with several detectives, all male and was offered their apologies and a suggestion get someone to beat him up. They were sorry. I went to the school who listened to me with an air of disbelief, they were sorry, there was nothing they could do. I went to social services, who told me the children were already on the at risk register, but as the uncle wasn't on the sex offenders list, they were sorry, there was nothing they could do. I was cautioned by well meaning friends not to take a private prosecution out, that I would be destroyed. The police told me not to set up a survivors group as it would be seen as coercion should someone say my abuser had also abused them. They were sorry. The only person who wasn't sorry was my abuser who took great delight in knowing he was above the law, and used to stand opposite my shop and smirk. Once he actually came into my shop laughing. Everyone was sorry. He wasn't. I backed down. It had taken me 40 years to speak out, speak up, tell my story. Still I wasn't being heard.
I'm not sure those who so viciously disagree with the campaign, truly understand how absolutely terrifying it is to find the courage, the voice, the strength to actually speak out. Shame and fear have a way of robbing your voice, your confidence and your resilience. Fear of being ridiculed, disbelieved, thought bad of, even as an adult keeps you quiet. You're reliving those feelings through the emotions of a child. Seeing the campaign gather pace, unlocked something in me. Someone else was brave enough to come forward, lighting a way. Someone else was probably feeling the way I frequently feel, especially since losing my mother and wondering why why why...unanswered questions never to be known. Seeing others post, encouraged me to post and light up someone else's path.
This isn't about men bashing, persecution or mob mentality to slay all guys who come close. This for me is more about stepping into my feline energy a bit more, claiming my right to be a happy lusty sexual mid life woman, without the complications of old tapes ruminating in my mind. It's about honesty with judgement, being heard, making collective boundaries, no meaning no. It's about coming forward to say 'it's ok, I understand, I believe you, you're safe, you're ok, you don't have to justify anything, you're loved and your story matters.
We still have lives to live, lessons to learn, lessons to teach, daughters and sons to education, stories to tell and be a vessel for others to be able to tell theirs. We have boundaries to make, to uphold and to strengthen. Let's not forget that by collectively showing the world that this is just not going to go away, that the magnitude of the problem we dealing with here, needs radical attention, transparency and the correct actions taken to send a clear message that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. Its a tall order and one which might never get truly sorted out, that said if enough people, make enough noise and continue to make enough noise by their stories, their passion, their presence and their energy. Maybe just maybe we might some real and lasting changes. We have to try and keep trying.
We are all, as they say, just walking each other home, in the only way we know how. Hash tagging #me too is my way of saying that both you and I matter. That's all I can say. That's all I am going to say. Everything else is just too deep, too personal and too painful. I haven't sat still on it. I've just been really quiet about it. Until now. #metoo