I saw this posted on a friend’s Facebook timeline:

Me too.
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
Copy and paste to share.

 

When I woke up the next morning, I saw more posts of the same from a number of women I know. I chose to post it too. I started writing this blog and thought to myself, what could I possibly say or add, so stopped for a day, more days, almost a week and wrote some more. During this time, it seemed social media was filled with ‘Me Too’ along with stories and articles and perspectives. I took time to re-connect in to my own ‘why’ about writing and began again and again.

I have a bunch of emotion coming up in my body right now as my fingers type away…sadness, a sense of rawness and vulnerability, anger, curiosity, overwhelm, hopelessness and tenderness.

I write about what is alive in me and for me, and this topic came alive again. In the springtime, I was with hundreds of women and I heard over and over again how many of them had been sexually molested/abused. I was shocked and horrified and felt deep sadness and pain to the depth of my being. I had yet to see myself in this category.

I had no idea so many women had experienced this. If you don’t know something, you don’t know…awareness is the first step of any possibility of change. This reminds me of an experience I had many years ago that seems relevant to this topic.

In 2006, my Beloved and I were at a large training facilitated by Alison Armstrong (one of our very first workshops together). My Beloved learned an incredibly valuable lesson and I had validation for something that was a regular part of my life as a woman.

Alison asked all the women in the room to stand up if they had felt afraid in some way in the past year and I’m pretty sure most all women stood up. She asked them to stay standing if they had experienced fear within the past 6 months and few sat down, 3 months – some more, l month, 1 week, the past 24 hours and finally on their way to the event that morning. There were still women standing up. Many of the men were blown away. This is the kind of fear that when I mention to most women, it’s obvious. For example, coming out of the grocery store alone at night and walking to her car or leaving a restaurant or walking down a dark street, or a dark street and walking by a group of men, or even going in to a bathroom alone. My Beloved said that he couldn’t remember feeling afraid probably since he had been in school. He had a huge ‘aha’ with the experience and said, “now I understand why my 18 year old daughter is adamant about getting her door lock fixed on her car so she can lock it when she is in it”.

Understanding what it is like for someone is another step along the journey.

On my healing path, I continue to discover, see, learn about, understand and transform some of my own beliefs. This spring I had a moment with my therapist where I was sharing about something and said, “Oh, that’s interesting, I just had a memory come up about something that happened to me as a child.” This memory was not new to me, though I think I had only shared it once. It was also something I didn’t think was a big deal, I had been minimizing it my whole life.

I proceeded to tell my therapist about an experience I had at age 11 with a stranger, a man. I shared it very casually, told her it was nothing like other stories I had heard, almost didn’t even see it as a negative and I was sure that it hadn’t affected me. Hah!

I uncovered a lot in that session about my loneliness after my dad left my mom, my guilt about liking the attention from this stranger and so much more. My therapist said it was perfectly normal and understandable that I was longing for my dad’s attention and affection and this man showed up and offered it. She also said to me that at age 11, I had been sexualized. What?!!

As I thought about this and choices I began making as a teenager it started making sense. In addition to being molested at eleven, at age seven I saw my dad leave my mom for a much younger ‘beauty queen’ and this is when I believe my own self worth started leaving. I get it now that I started equating my worth with my body and how it looked.

What I have also come to realize is that in sharing vulnerably some of my deep secrets, those things I thought nobody else understood and would certainly judge me…I find I am not alone, I find shared experiences, even in my own family.

There is something about knowing you are not alone…reminds me of the Mama’s in the baby loss support group I facilitated. We joked about not ever wishing to be part of ‘the club’ and yet grateful that we knew we were not alone.

Back to ‘Me Too’. It seems like it is and has been a starting place to talk about something that is so horrifically common. What I am seeing are conversations starting to happen, where women don’t feel alone anymore and have the support of Sisterhood. Where women and men can separately and together begin to heal the parts of themselves that have been wounded and heal the parts of themselves where they have contributed to someone else’s pain and help create a world with more safety and kindness. I also recognize that all this attention may trigger women, bring up buried memories and some may feel pressure to post. Some women may not agree with the ‘me too’ posts because of generational or cultural issues and some men may feel excluded.

I don’t have any magic answers. I honor each person’s choice in their own life. What I know is my own journey and bits of pieces of what others have shared about theirs. I know right now is a time for me to speak vulnerably about my journey – a way to contribute to my own healing. I hope too that in my own way of healing, at least one person is inspired or finds meaning for themselves by reading what I write.

Love and blessings,

Cathy