I am woman. Hear me roar.
In reading the news about all the sexual harassment and sexual abuse charges and allegations that have been coming out, I really had to sit back and reflect on how I feel about this, and actually sit in the pain and sickness and fear and sadness. These things affect me SO much because I'm so sensitive. In the past I would have stuck my head in the sand and played blissfully ignorant, but that's not who I want to be anymore. I know that underneath all this pain is the fire that drives me forward to speak out and speak up about it. Pretending it doesn't exist doesn't make it go away, and my insides scream louder and louder each time I hear about something.
I see now that I have spent a long time being a victim of the patriarchy. From the way I looked, to the way I thought and acted, though it may not have been obvious on the outside I definitely felt it on the inside. I thought my worth and my happiness was determined by only the way I looked or what I weighed or how much men wanted to sleep with me. (Cringe.)
I dreamed of being saved by man on a white horse and living happily ever after (thank you Fairy Tales), taken care of financially, and all I had to do was look pretty, be thin, do what he said, and be a "good" and "nice" person (aka subservient). I wanted to be the type of girl that would look a certain way so a handsome man would see me across the room with my perfect body, hair, makeup and glint in my perfectly lined eye (with lashes for days), I'd smile, and he would be immediately under my spell and we'd be happy forever. Where did I exist in all of this? What about my hopes and dreams and desires and sense of being alive? It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where this came from but I learned it from somewhere. I still battle the fear of making too much noise or not being "a lady" or taking up too much space but I'm working on letting that go. Like in a previous post I said - I don't want to lose myself ever again. I love myself too much for that.
It was just the way things were that I thought I was "less than" men and didn't quite deserve respect. Well, maybe only the kind of respect like them taking out the garbage or something when I demanded it, but not the kind of equal respect where I could speak freely about my wants and needs and think that they'd actually care. Not the kind of respect where they would care about my body and see it as beautiful and sacred. I felt like my body could just have been a receptacle for their pain, something they could use. And I could be out of it, floating around the ceiling somewhere, watching it all happen.
These thoughts were/are a surprise even to myself. I'd duck my head slightly and feel small when there was an older, “wiser” man in the room. I'd giggle and flirt without even realizing, thinking this would be the way to win him over. (Why did I even want to win him over??) I didn't even worry about how he was treating me, or speaking my mind, or any of the things that made me ME. In the past when men would make inappropriate comments about my body or anything, I would just giggle them off and think that's the way things are. I'd feel almost ashamed, or like I deserved it in some way, but I'd shrink down again and feel so shitty and small.
With all the people coming forward and being so brave about their experiences, the whole #metoo movement and the Silence Breakers and everything, I want to be brave too, and feel like I am ready. I’ve touched on this in the past, but I may as well say it straight: I was sexually abused as a child. It was someone I trusted. Someone that was supposed to take care of me, and who I was supposed to feel safe with. No one spoke about it, only in an off-hand way that was humour mixed with hatred, but I was never told explicitly that it was wrong. That it was a crime he got away with. I was never told it wasn't my fault. And when something happens when you're that young, I'm learning now that it really affects the way you see the world. I thought it was what I deserved because I was me. I was never able to open up about my feelings so they held me captive. I still feel like I will be judged or pitied or looked at differently for writing this. I fear that people will think I’m making it up, or make excuses, or respond in a negative way, or no respond at all, or be overly worried about me, or just feel awkward around me...the list goes on. But whatever. People are gonna do what they’re gonna do.
I grew up feeling like my body was for other people. Shaving it and pulling it in and picking at it and hating it because it wasn't what other people wanted. I had uncles or uncles friends who would make suggestive comments, let their hands or lips linger too long when they hugged me hello or goodbye, or even roam to inappropriate places but I didn't say a thing. It was just the "way things were". I even had an aunt who would touch me inappropriately and laugh, and we would all laugh because it was just “how she was”. I do remember that sick feeling in my stomach, the frozen feeling in my body, the adrenaline rushing with nowhere to escape, and all I could do was keep it inside me where it festered for years and years.
I see now how fucked up this is! I have so much anger and frustration and pain thinking about this I don't even know what to do with it sometimes. It feels like sometimes it's too hard to deal with. Like why did I think it was normal for people to take advantage? To say what they wanted and to use my body how they wanted? How did we get it twisted in our heads that because of the way we are born we somehow deserve to be not treated as equals? To only see a woman as usable body parts and not as a whole person with feelings and dreams and spirit? I know women are fucking gorgeous on the outside, but that’s just scratching the surface. Just see what happens when you get to learn what’s inside. (Hah. Don’t go there.) When you get to uncover that pearl, when you see her quirks and her story and her strength and what really makes her beautiful. Some men have learned that it’s cool or manly to treat women like objects, when it couldn’t be further from the truth. Real men are not challenged by the wealth and magic that women bring, as their full selves. Real men support women, and let women support them when they need it and talk about their feelings. That’s what takes bravery and courage, not hiding behind a so-called masculine facade and disrespecting women.
We need to wake the fuck up and question the way that we treat other people, the way we let other people treat us, how much we value ourselves. Know that the thoughts or things we may have learned are not necessarily the truth, and do our best to listen to our bodies and inner voice to give us wisdom and guidance.
If something doesn't feel good inside, DON'T do it, DON'T let it happen. What kind of person do you want be, knowing you have to live with yourself every day? Respect your body and know that you always make the right decisions for you. FUCK what anyone else says or thinks, only you know what's up. Love yourself up, feel worthy, know that your body is YOURS and only yours. I remember one day having the thought, "My Body Is Mine" after doing yoga and after some intense therapy sessions. I burst into tears for a long time and felt old ideas and thoughts fade away. It surprised me to know that I didn't feel like my body was mine for so long.
I know it's hard to question things or look back at things because it hurts like a bitch. Remember though that the pain always subsides. I learned in therapy that it reaches a point where it's unbearable and it stays there and stays there but there's a point where it can't get any worse. Eventually it's going to go down. Everything eventually passes.
I write this now from a place of still feeling a bit scared and ashamed, but also from a place of wanting to heal from this. It's caused so much self-hatred and so much pain and so much shame and now I'm seeing that I'm not the only one - others are suffering. And if this in any way can help us move forward to make this world we live in a better place, that's enough for me.
We can all heal together. Bring those shadows to the light.
I am who I am ... all of me. Messy, painful, and emotional. I'm learning to love it all.