It’s unfortunate that articles and personal accounts like this will inevitably be construed as a political statement when it should simply be a human, nonpartisan wake up call to the reality in which we live.
Yesterday was excruciating.
It wasn’t just that there was a collective breath-holding. It was that all of the air was sucked out of the room. It was that, other than the involuntary twitches (the account of the alleged perpetrator’s “uproarious laughter”), if I moved a muscle, everything would come flooding in.
It was that the heavy weight that so often sits in the middle of my chest was pressing down so hard, that the best I could do was take in tiny sips of air a little bit at a time. It was an indescribable plethora of emotions being experienced all at once.
It was that if I lingered too long on a particular emotion, the memories would start to take on a sense of real-time reality that I work so hard to fight against. It was that the body remembers and so remaining frozen and all sucked in somehow provided a sense of security and protection. It was the awe of hearing another woman recount those moments and every one since in such a raw, genuine way. The simple knowing that someone can only bare this story in that way if it is in their bones and in their soul and forever imprinted.
At some point, as I slowly let some air out and exhaled, the floodgates opened. There was so much weeping. Weeping for the familiar noise in my head of shame, pain, and anger around my own #MeToo moments and how it perpetuates anxiety.
For the countless other humans who have also endured traumas like these.
For the barrage of commentary we have to endure about other people’s expectations of how we handled it or what caused it.
I understand this, personally, and I bear witness to the impact of lodged memories and others’ judgments (or deafening silence) on client’s lives regularly.
One should never judge another’s trauma and the grief that follows.
The brain is changed by trauma. There are plenty of research articles on this and I don’t have the desire to defend us, victims, right now and explain the multitude of reasons people handle it uniquely. I wish it could be much more simple than that: that for each traumatized individual, there is a personal journey. A wading through confusion, shame, guilt, fear, sadness, anger and so much more that drives one to take the steps they need to take to gather some sense of safety and balance.
I barely slept last night, haunted by a nightmare. And I awakened today just overcome with sadness and exhaustion. I’m currently in a space where I feel so, so defeated. I’m honoring and acknowledging the helplessness I feel that we still have to endure all of the nuances that are part of the complexity of being a woman in this world. There is a constant checking of our selves that we have to do including how we present to others. We are so often faced with a choice we have to make of whether we put ourselves out there…or not.
It’s a sad reality that Dr. Ford was especially considered “credible” because she didn’t deflect questions, yell, appear entitled, have emotional outbursts, interrupt others, or shift power.
Women aren’t allowed to do that, yet those are the very things that “helped” Kavanaugh’s case.
What will be interesting now is to see if the events surrounding this hearing only confirms a victim’s resistance to come forward or if Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, like Anita Hill so many years ago, have carved a path for a continued rising by women.
I know underneath my despair and beyond the paralyzation experienced yesterday, I am undoubtedly hopeful. I’ve clung on to this hope for a long time, particularly in recent times, that we are unearthing things like misogyny and racism and bigotry in a different way that can only fuel us towards lasting change.
As understanding as some of the men in our lives attempt to be, there are distinctions they could never truly grasp. So my hope for you is that you have a strong support system of women (I know a few of my text strings yesterday with my inner circle were what held me up).
I also hope you find the willingness in time to share your story with a trained professional. If you continue to struggle amidst this national dialogue, reach out to a therapist or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. They are experiencing “unprecedented wait times” for the online chat, so they recommend calling or trying the chat feature in the coming days.
The hotline experienced a 147% increase in calls yesterday during the hearing from a typical weekday according to Time, so people are becoming emboldened and perhaps are giving a voice to the secrets and shame.
This is a significant step in combating the demons and the grip it can keep on us and a powerful statement to the patriarchy.