I have held on to my #metoo for a lot of reasons. The biggest of which is that I have been afraid of what it says about me. Then today I finally realized, that’s the problem right there. See, there are people in my life, many people over the years, that have said some unkind things about me. As a teenager, I mostly internalized these things, and I believed them to be true. I thought I was damaged. I thought I was broken. Several times, I even thought I should disappear or die. I tried to hide inside myself. At a younger age, I starved myself, little by little, trying harder to disappear, to become more childlike, to become invisible. As an adult, I have combatted those voices, recognized them as alien, and done my damndest to prove them wrong. See, I thought that by me saying, #metoo, I was saying to those people, “You’re right. I am broken.” But if that is your thought when reading this, then you are truly part of the problem.
I was raised in a system – the church – that told us girls that we were unequivocally responsible for our own “purity”, and that we were to guard this. Weirdly, girls’ sexuality somehow belongs to their fathers until it one day belongs to their husbands, and no one else. I was never taught that it even belonged to me. In fact, I was shamed for it. That is the nasty thing about shame. You cannot acknowledge it without feeling it, and somehow it feels like part of you, when it’s not. Or at least it shouldn’t be. This system is so disgusting. The things we are teaching our girls in this system is disgusting, and if you have been a part of it, I’m sorry. #metoo
I have combed back through my experiences lately. (That is the unfortunate thing about sleepless nights with a baby and a toddler. There are a lot of ghosts that greet you in the middle of the night, that don’t show their face in the light of day. I admit, I used to be afraid of those ghosts. Not anymore.) The question in my mind has been, did that experience count? Was that time assault? Was that harassment? Did I do anything to bring that on myself? Did I have a few drinks? Did I dress provocatively? Did I say NO? Did I say no enough times and loud enough for it to mean no?…
Today, I’m asking a different question. I’m not asking what is wrong with me and do I count… Because I know the answer to those questions. The answer of course is NOTHING is wrong with me and YES, I do count. Yes, my experiences matter. Yes, my voice matters. My NO isn’t broken anymore! Today, I am asking, what can I do? How can I make this better for somebody else? How can I raise my boys differently? And I think those are much better questions, don’t you?