Own Your Story #MeToo
I turned 60 just twelve days ago. I didn’t wail or moan. I’m thrilled to be here, to live fully and continue to connect the dots of the life I’ve lived thus far with the life that awaits. That includes owning the hard parts of my story.
Too many times to count I’ve shared a piece of my story with a group of women only to be met with blank stares. In my youth there was no acknowledgement of date rape. If something like that happened it was the girl’s fault somehow. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I ever heard the term. When I heard it I remembered my suppressed experience with a wave of painful shame. Women have not only stared at me blankly but have also been extremely hurtful with a trite phrase like “well at least you didn’t get pregnant” or “are you sure you weren’t asking for it by _________” (fill in the blank with flirting, dressing a certain way, going with him to his Frat house bedroom to ‘pick up something’) The blank stares and the judging comments have kept me from fully owning this part of my life, wrapping myself in the lie of shame that says
You deserved it.
Women have been used and abused far too many times. Men are not the only abusers. Women have perpetuated the shame by our own discomfort with someone’s experience of assault or rape. We fear it could happen to us.
Crazy thing is, until we are willing to say what is, own our story and draw a boundary saying NO MORE, women will continue to be oppressed. Click To Tweet
How do we make those hard changes? One choice at a time.
I chose to work with an amazing counselor who used the tool of EMDR to help me work through my experiences. As a Christ follower, she invited me to connect the dots between my broken, used and abused life and my belief in the healing power of the Holy Spirit. What transpired was a miracle simply stated.
And the healing continues. This weekend as I was thinking about the growing number of women who are sharing their story of sexual assault, through the #MeToo hashtag, I had another memory resurface that didn’t involve actual physical sexual abuse to me but was behavior along the lines of Harvey Weinstein that I witnessed.
Three years after my date rape, at the young age of 22, I was working with a school district that provided in home tutors for their high school students who weren’t able to attend regular classes for various reasons. It was a great job, lots of flexibility, going to students’ homes, encouraging them in their school work. I loved it! Except for the man who oversaw the program. He gave me the willies.
He openly flirted with each of the young women who were tutors (funny, there weren’t any male tutors) and I tried to laugh his advances off. One particular event came to mind this weekend and with the memory came a lot of repressed emotion. We all met at a restaurant in San Diego for happy hour one Friday afternoon. During the chips and beer and conversation I caught a glimpse of our boss groping one of the other young women. Because I hadn’t dealt with the rape trauma, his behavior literally made me sick. I excused myself, running to the bathroom where I tossed my chips & beer. I was so shocked by my reaction that I left the gathering.
I hadn’t thought of that incident in 38 years until reading of others’ stories on social media.
Whether you are an abuse survivor or a witness to others’ trauma, this kind of abuse gets into your mind and soul. I can only encourage you to tell someone of your experience, get in touch with a good counselor and work through the darkness hidden away. Those memories can be painful to revisit but once they are brought into the Light they no longer have the power to imprison you.
I truly believe that the abundant life that Christ invites us into is one of a soul set free from shame. He willingly suffered the “shame of the Cross”, Scripture tells us, that we might have new life through Him.
I’m not a counselor; as a Coach I help clients look at where they are and where they want to be. Together we plot a course to span the gap between current reality and future reality. I’m the person you want to work with for the ‘Now What Do I DO?’
First action step: Own Your Story. Share with someone. Yes it is a risk. But your story matters.