I want to write to help me figure out how I feel about the whole thing because I don’t feel that good and exploring it in writing might help me to understand why that is. Sorry, again this has ended up being way too much to read in one go so this post will be in parts too (I’ll figure out how to be more concise soon). The timing is right considering the Women’s March just took place and that Nassar piece of filth was just sentenced up to 175 years. The Golden Globes happened as did Oprah’s speech.
I feel extremely naive when it comes to what’s going on in main stream media/society because I have been completely disconnected from it for the last few years and am only just getting reacquainted. Plus I’m sure I feed myself the info I wanna see to some degree. It’s really hard to have a rounded view when there is literally endless content and opinions out there, not all good. It’s all too confusing, so many perspectives and too many people willing to point their finger at someone else. I don’t think the resolution to many complex issues is black and white. I do believe that having a closed opinion, without room for movement, is close to being the opposite of right. This is one area where I have had enough experience to be confident that my perspective is valid. I find it very difficult to identify with things, even more so now that words carry so much meaning. Feminism for example. It’s difficult to identify as a feminist because of what is now attached to that label. Modern feminism preaches a lot of things I don’t agree with so how can I call myself one? I do not have a problem with the word victim. I was a victim of a crime. I was the victim of many crimes, WAS being the operative word. The word doesn’t frighten me now because I no longer identify as one. I do believe in that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ if you have the resources and insight to make that so. I’m trying to build that insight because for whatever reason, luck or something more I have been given the resources and opportunity to turn my struggles around.
When the #metoo movement first popped up or popped up again, when Alissa Milano first retweeted it, I had already told my family and a group of friends about some of my childhood abuse and more recent traumas. I thought hallelujah!! People are going to do something… what an incredible opportunity!! This is going to give a voice to people like me but who don’t have support. But when there’s so many people involved, there are more ways things can go wrong and I can’t help but feel that that’s what is happening. It doesn’t seem to be the voice of those without coming to the surface, it’s those who already had a voice now coming forward to be included. Sexual misconduct of all kinds has been lumped into one category and labeled toxic masculinity which doesn’t at all make sense to me. I know under the right circumstances everyone is capable of anything but I have been lucky enough in life to be surrounded by, for the most part, good men. Kind, honest and respectful. There is a big difference between a man who tries to get a women to have sex with him vs a man who is looking for an opportunity or waiting in the dark for a weak bird like I was. There is no worse form of sexual abuse/assault than that inflicted on a child. Someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on, is still developing and doesn’t have the ability to do anything. Instead of giving me more strength to speak out the #metoo movement has made me want to shut my mouth and that is another reason why I’m writing this so early on. I want to separate myself from that aspect of the movement from the beginning.
I want to clarify that I do understand that the #metoo movement means different things to different people. In the same way everyone has their own perspectives, people are entitled to their own interpretation of things. What upsets me, I suppose or makes me feel flat, is that Hollywood has been given the green light to run with it’s own interpretation and because of the amount of attention focused there, it seems that has taken over. I know that my emotional response to the whole thing is based on my unrealistic expectations. I want things to go the way I want them to and when they don’t it effects me emotionally. I get that flush of heat which, when I don’t check, leads to me blurting out things that I regret. That is my own set of issues. I do think that it is a shame that people look to celebrities as though they are the most well versed in issues that, whether or not, concern them have a much wider impact on society in general. I’m not questioning them for taking up a cause, it’s always admirable when someone with the resources uses them for good and their impact is huge. I do understand that a lot of women and men in the entertainment industries have had to endure awful things. I’m not taking anything away from any survivor/victim/warrior/goddess (whatever they choose to identify as). But when an industry has been set up over such a long period of time, seemingly to allow for these things, my thoughts are that it’s likely behind the times and not the sector to look to for innovation and forward thinking. In my experience in recovering from sexual trauma of many kinds, there is an evolutionary process you go through if you feel heard and supported. Almost like a grieving process. I had an ahah moment, at some point, when I finally allowed myself to believe something had happened. Much like the entertainment industry has recently. Before that I tried to push it down, suppress it. I can’t help but see parallels. I had no understanding of the ways unprocessed trauma could fester deep down and make you ill or infiltrate the way you view yourself and through that everything else. There is so much awfulness, more awful than what’s already surfaced but people are still too afraid to know about it.
My #metoo story started when I was two. It got really bad when I was five and my abuser had me to himself for an evening. It’s hard to explain out loud or even to write down. I can but I’m afraid of other people not being able to un-hear or read it and no longer being able to see me separate from it. I don’t and probably never will have a complete memory of that night. It’s one thing to tell someone you were touched as a child, it’s another thing to tell someone that you were sodomised with a big black dildo and ejaculated onto while being photographed or filmed. That your toys were used, that you loved the person, felt responsible for their death and that you forgive them. I missed him terribly when he was gone but was happy at the same time, a pretty large mind fuck for a five year old. I wrote about him at school, my memory of him. I tried to summon him in the only seance I ever did (I asked him to spell CAT, he spelt CAP). He ruled my life and I blame him for my life, so far, being one #metoo story after another. It doesn’t help me to hold onto hate for him or anger towards him. I know that my pain isn’t comparable, that no-one’s is. That every person’s unique set of circumstances means that we all have things in common but may never truly understand one another. My memory of that night is coming to in white light. I could hardly see at first because it was so bright. I was cold, there were white sheets on the bed but I wasn’t covered by them. I reached for the sheet with my little hands and pulled it up towards my head but it didn’t help. I wasn’t just cold, I was also wet. There was this gooey stuff all over my tummy and chest, that got on my hands and the sheet and wouldn’t go anywhere. I was so dazed and confused. He was standing, not over me now but at the foot of the bed, with his penis still in his hand, a face like I’ll never forget and a contraption next to him. It was the first time I saw that look, of animalistic lust and a loss of control, eyes glazed over. That look and his face were the first parts of the visual memory to return. He was angry at me or at himself, more likely. Usually he was so kind and gentle but it was like he turned into a different person. He roughly grabbed me out of the bed and threw me into the shower without saying anything. The door must have been open because there was dull light coming from somewhere. I wasn’t used to showering, the water rushed over my head and my hair stuck to my face making it difficult to get air. I can remember seeing the big black rubber thing and remember the pain in my butt but at this stage, thankfully, I have no visual/auditory recollection of that part. From that moment on, because I only knew about wee coming out of boys’ privates. That’s what I thought had happened. I thought he had weed on me. Wee, poop and boogers being the grossest things a 5 year old can imagine meant that I did not let him forget it. This incident changed our relationship. I would pretend to love him and be kind when my parents were around but alone I made sure he knew I hated him. I wouldn’t let him near me and would just point, looking him directly in the eyes saying “You weed on me!” He didn’t stick around for long after that, I imagine he was probably terrified his secret would get out and he killed himself a week before I turned six. I was distraught because I had been so horrible to him. I was happy he died while my parents grieved the loss of their closest friend. It was too much for my little mind so I blocked it all out for most of my life but the damage and fragmentation had already been done. I believed there was something very wrong with me from that time on.
I watched Dave Chapelle’s most recent standup special the other day and somewhere in it he said: “there’s a more important reason that I would stop doing comedy right now. And this reason is the real reason that’s been percolating, and it really is the crowd. Not you. I’m talking about the crowd on the big stage. It’s too hard to entertain a country whose ears are so brittle. Motherfuckers are so sensitive, the whole country has turned into bitch-ass… Everything you say upsets somebody.” (I apologise so much if it is offensive to quote a sentence using that word). I’m no standup, hardly even funny but I agree with what he’s saying. Some people use the term snowflakes. Just before I went overseas, in 2015 and leading up to my departure, I was one. I couldn’t engage in society because everyone and everything offended me. I would have negative reactions to everything and look down on people for trying to appear a certain way. I couldn’t deal with how superficial and fake everything seemed. I felt ready to implode and I realise now it’s because I was the epitome of all those things. Completely disconnected from myself, my subconscious had taken over in a way that protected my conscious mind from who I was being, it was only evident in other people. Looking back, I thought if I didn’t do certain things, that I didn’t approve of and saw reflected in other’s behaviour, they weren’t a part of me. I had no understanding of the damage I was doing to myself by internalising rather than trying to understand these things. I thought pushing my issues deep down was right, it was the only experience I had. I had no idea who I was, just tried to be everything I thought everyone else wanted but had no awareness I was doing it back then. It was so built into me, I couldn’t not do it and still struggle not to now. I have no clue who I am but I do know that I’m myself when I’m in a good place and no one else is around. In social situations, so often I still feel like I’m just reacting to what they say, in a way I think they want me to. In a fashion that won’t ruffle feathers or incriminate me at all. A protective mechanism to avoid any criticism because my ego was(is) so fragile. The way I’m trying to re-understand the world, is through my own ironed out experiences. I don’t really know how to explain what I mean other than to try.
Before I left for overseas, I was reaching my limit and some not so nice realisations started to hit me (no memories yet). The relief of leaving was enough. I was far enough away from any reminders to be able to breathe and buy some more time. Things always got too much and eventually I’d change things up as a distraction. I was never content. I came back carrying a heavier load than I’d left with and things started getting worse with my physical health. I thought I was happy but only because I was oblivious to myself. I didn’t understand how connected your body is to your mental health. I never thought about anything that would make me upset. I had gotten so good at suppressing things. I’m not physically unwell in any extreme ways but if life was just going to get worse until the end then it’d suck pretty badly but that’s not going to be the case. I have always tried to stay positive and I am most of the time now but I used to suppress my sad feelings about it all. I thought I had self righteously accepted my lot in life as a victim and that maybe I was enlightened or something because I had such good control over my emotions. All a complete lie, protecting me from what was going on inside. I now see emotions as something that shouldn’t be controlled but used for protection and as a helpful tool for growth. My main self preservation technique was and hopefully wont always be, avoidance. I used to look at avoidance as pushing things aside but now I think of it more as swallowing them and pretending not to have done. You can lie to yourself with your thoughts. What I’m trying to get at is are people getting more reactive as the world becomes more mentally unstable? I don’t know but I do think that once you unravel some dysfunctional aspect of your own personality (for example the suppressing things one for me), the reflections are still there but the emotional reaction disappears. I think that says something.
I don’t want to insult anyone, or take anything away from those who’ve gotten involved. It just makes me upset that such an incredible opportunity is being wasted. I hoped this movement would be the precursor to some very important conversations being had (hopefully it still will). Not an attack on men or a plot to make them less human. I hoped it would bring men and women together not segregate them further. While women being given a voice is well overdue, it doesn’t mean a masculine voice is no longer valuable. Sexual trauma and suppression, of all kinds, is something women have dealt with since the beginning of time but as the old saying goes ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. Trauma is a complex thing and what it does to the mind is confusing. If the current trend of telling men their voices don’t count continues, I’m legitimately terrified of what may happen in the near future. Suppressing this stuff again and avoiding open conversation shouldn’t happen and I know I’m one of many (hopefully a majority but a quiet one) with a similar perspective.
Nadine Burke Harrison has done an eye opening TED Talk about the prevalence of complex trauma and it’s relationship to physical health outcomes. (Link for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ovIJ3dsNk )