BY GRETCHEN SPLETZER
I woke to seeing several posts on Facebook from women, saying they are over the “Me Too” phenomenon that is happening on social media, stating their opinion that they have moved on and women should stop blaming and pointing fingers.
I felt really sad when I read this because I also am a Me Too’er and it was really hard for me to say it on Facebook three days ago. In fact, my original Facebook status was “Me Too, attempted rape three times, four on the job sexual harassments” — then I took it down and just posted the simple Me Too.
As I observed my process in putting it up and taking it down, my exact thoughts were, they will judge me, they wont believe me, they will think I am a victim. But I reposted anyway and sat back and watched as sisters from around the country also went through the same process that I thought only I was experiencing… the fear and shame of saying it, and the courage to say it anyway.
How did I come to this place of still feeling that old fear and shame? Let me tell you how it happens for many women in this culture…
I was a child being raised by two very wounded people. My parents divorced when I was six and my father had custody of me. However, I was still influenced by my mother and according to the women in my family, all men were assholes who were only good for money and sex.
Men were always put down for being slow, being perverts, not doing anything right, and certainly not appreciated for the divine human beings that they really are. Comments from my mother like, “It’s just as easy to marry a rich one as a poor one,” or “Men are like buses — when one moves on, another one moves in.”
My father, who was an extremely wounded man struggling with alcoholism and mental health issues, was constantly looking for love outside himself. He was good looking and had a steady stream of women coming and going.
As a little one around him when no one else was, I heard his comments about women when we drove past them in the car, witnessed all the pick-ups, the locker room talk with his buddies, the often violent, scary relationships, and the heartbreaks my dad and his partners went through. And this was normal to me, as was the verbal and physical violence I also experienced at the hands and tongues of both parents.
I didn’t know any different. I had no good mentorship or role models. I only had the TV and friends who were just as lost as I was as to what constituted healthy male-female relating. Then I became a teenager.
I remember clearly freshman year in high school. I went from years of being bullied to suddenly everyone liking me. I had physically become a woman and everything changed. I had so much attention suddenly! Men looking, cat-calling, paying attention to me.
Although I was very confused about it all, I basked in the attention and unconsciously used this newfound interest to get the love I never received. I would do anything to get that love, validation, and interest. To find that someone special who would see me as special at last.
However, not knowing what I should know, I mixed with unhealthy men. I was was unknowingly objectified, thinking the objectification was approval that I couldn’t yet give to myself.
The three attempted rapes should have been reported, but I didn’t know and I was ashamed. I was used to being treated like shit, dismissed, and devalued, so when these situations occurred I blamed myself in countless ways — shoving the pain and abandonment down, and hurting myself physically and mentally.
The filter I had developed through early childhood caused me to view all men as assholes, and it was only reinforced by the many men who flashed me their penises. Not to mention the one who even masturbated right behind me while I was looking at art supplies in the drug store.
I had a boss who couldn’t stop with sex talk late at night on the job while we made bagels and bread for his store the next morning. I dated a few Harvey Weinstein-types who discarded me and treated me like I was nothing. I could go on and on with all I endured.
Why didn’t I report it? Why did I put up with it? Quite simply I didn’t know. I knew I could lose my job, and I was confused by my own need for acceptance and love.
Finally at 35, I landed in therapy with an extremely skilled and qualified therapist that specialized in childhood trauma. That was 15 years ago, and as I got straightened out, nurtured, and mentored, I learned to love myself.
The most important thing I learned was to hold space for my healing, to have compassion for the process of healing, and have the courage — little by little — to say the truth of what happened. It is vital to deep change and moving out of the victim position.
This healing would not have happened if my therapist hadn’t had the skill to be patient as I confessed the secrets I had been holding, and the shame of it all. If she had sat there and told me that I was being a victim and I needed to move on and stop blaming, I wouldn’t have allowed the endless tears or long-buried feelings out.
Every single trauma gets trapped in time and the body holds that record. The wounds of the soul that when triggered, erupt in rages, hot tears, and feelings of isolation.
I needed to be heard, supported, and validated. I needed the time and space to work through it. I have also learned that healing is a lifelong process, but it does get easier the more skilled you can be with holding space for yourself. And the more you can do it for yourself, the more you can also hold space for others.
So I say to the sisters who are dismissive of those still saying “Me Too” — let them have their voice. See them and if you cannot see them and validate them, at least hold space for their unfolding yet to come. Hold space for their truth to be heard, as I suspect someone may have done for you.
And if you are feeling annoyed by the whole thing, check with yourself that there aren’t still things buried in you that cause discomfort when you read Me Too.
Because when you are really okay with all that’s happened with you, surely you can hold space for others. Or at the very least, hold space for those much younger or less privileged than you, to go through the healing process of telling the truth.
Sip a little more: