By now you may have heard of the #MeToo movement. A movement to get women to say out loud – I was harassed, molested, abused, assaulted and maybe even raped.
The other night when I saw my girlfriend post ‘Me Too.’ I paused and thought, Wow. Her? She’s so smart and capable and well put together. She’s a great mom and wife and business woman. She shows no outward signs of trauma. She’s funny and kind and fiercely strong. Her?
But then I thought: Me Too.
I have been harassed too many times to count, fondled in a club setting and I couldn’t tell whose hand it was. One time I was working in a restaurant and while I was facing a table that the restaurant owner was sitting at – a man from a table behind me grabbed me between my legs. Thank goodness I was wearing pants. No invitation, in public – while I was working — and while his 80 -year-old mom was sitting across from him. I was overcome with emotion. I went at told my boss and I was met with a luke warm reaction, and my heart broke. How could someone value sales over my well-being?
I went home at told my boyfriend – and he stood up for me in a way that felt so good. He helped me feel safe again – and worthy of being protected.
One time I was in college and a guy walked out of his dorm bathroom naked and started yelling at me. He called me a whore and all sorts of other things and why wouldn’t I just give it up? I left his room running and didn’t tell a soul. Years later I saw him being honored during half-time of a UT football game for being on the National Championship team. My heart dropped.
And that wasn’t the worse time.
One time during graduate school I was sexually assaulted. And that was the one that really sent me over the edge and spiraling in all sorts of ways invisible to anyone. I told a few people but didn’t get help for years. One day I decided maybe I should tell my mom – but no time ever seemed right. And so I told her while we were looking for earrings at Dillard’s. It was so weird. I had no road map.
And she was the one who made sure I got the help I needed – for years.
From the outside – I kind of look like I have it all together – kind of like my girlfriend. I have friends, a career, a faith I love, and daughters who are the light of my life. I have a husband I adore and I volunteer and do all the normal things. No outward signs of trauma – and yet, #MeToo.
I am telling you things that I haven’t thought about in years because they feel so gross. The restaurant incident literally made me feel SO violated. I am sitting here on my couch – wiping the tears from my face and drying my hands on my jeans. Seeing the cumulation of disrespect to my soul and my body is almost too much to handle.
My intention in sharing all of this it to create a safe space for you, for us.
My guess is that you have experienced something unwanted. I am uninterested in ranking our suffering. If our hearts hurt – if our spirits were changed – if our bodies were violated – it all matters. And it’s okay if we take some time to tend to ourselves.
Recently I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Edith Eva Eger, she is a Holocaust survivor and the author of the book, The Choice. Being in her presence was unbelievably humbling. It was a blessing to hear her speak and share space with her. She was 16 when she was imprisoned in Auschwitz, miraculously survived and has gone on to do some amazing work through her lifetime. Perhaps some of the nuggets she shared can help us heal.
- The biggest prison is in our minds and we have the keys in our pockets.
- Don’t let someone’s energy take residency in your body.
- Don’t let the past hold you hostage.
And two of the most impactful for me were, “Grief is not an illness and, we can’t heal what we don’t feel.”
Sisters, I’m so sorry you have been hurt. Share your story with someone who will hold you tenderly. Seek help from loved ones and/or professionals. Give yourself every chance to release any shame, hurt, anger or frustration.
I’m going to do this too. I thought I was healed, but I think my feelings were just dormant – waiting for me to address them.
Thank you, #MeToo movement for spurring societal change and hopefully healing.
- Text GIRL to 741-741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor 24/7. It’s free and confidential.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1-800-656-4673