Updated: Apr 3, 2019
Back in September of 2018 I was forced to join the “Me Too” movement...yes, forced. The phrase, “Me Too” coined by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 became a widespread movement in 2017 after many actors, led by Alyssa Milano, came forward to expose Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault and harassment. The movement went viral and still today unites survivors of sexual predators and assault with two simple words- Me too.
I remember the #metoo posts all over social media. One post in particular from a woman I casually knew read, “Me too. I don’t know why it was so hard to type those two little words.” As I sat in front of my screen that day inspired by her courage, I thought the one way I could support her, was to join her. I took a big breath and exhaled with my fingers on the keys and involuntarily typed- “Not Me”.
For months and months I said, “Not Me”, everytime I tried to refer to the #metoo movement. The rejection of my experience was so deep and painful that the outer me, the protective me, couldn’t even say or type those two simple words. I was constantly being triggered by scandals of the Catholic Church, the current reigning czar of the United States and all his “men”, and crimes against children in other agencies meant to guide and protect them. I often thought of ways to join my sisters and invite a little light into the darkness of my denial. A denial I didn’t even seem to control. Not me, Not me, Not me, was the refrain of my fear, protecting me somehow. But on September 4, 2018 that changed, the young me, the survivor, demanded attention.
I had spent weeks witnessing the, all white republican man show, dismissing the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford; listened to Brett Kavanaugh talk about beer, his buddies and the fun rape culture at Yale. He didn’t mention that he belonged to a secret society at Yale his senior year called, Tit and Clit, nor did he break out in the slogan his frat chanted across campus, “No means Yes and Yes means anal”. It should not have been a surprise that he was appointed to the Supreme Court, with the misogynistic landscape perpetuated by the president. I knew that Susan Collins, Maine Senator, alone couldn’t protect our country from this ugly man, but at least she would represent women’s rights. She was a woman after all, and statistically was likely to have the misfortune of being a survivor herself. According to the NSVC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center) one in five women will be raped sometime in their life. One in three women will experience sexual violence. But sadly, Senator Collins fell in line with all the old white Republican men.
On September 4th my husband and I met dear friends out in the Berkshires for a weekend of eating, drinking, conversation, music, and maybe a hike or museum trip. We had all been looking forward to the reunion and counted our blessings that we had time, health and means. In the middle of a beautiful afternoon of laughter and summer, our friend looked at his phone and told us that Kavanaugh had been appointed to the Supreme Court by a vote of 50-48. I instantly had a physical reaction-I audibly gulped, or gasped…it was a cry of some sort that surprised me…and then my eyes filled with tears…hot tears…those kind of tears that erupt from a deep place. I was stunned by my seemingly involuntary reaction. I knew he would be appointed, but there was a little girl inside of me hurt and scared who hung on to hope, that the right thing would be done; that fear and pain erupted from her, through me. I didn’t have time to even think how this news related to me directly, as a woman. I wasn’t thinking at all. I was in mid laugh-when that fear barreled through my system and out. I survive and actually thrive most of the time. I am a ferocious defender of childhood and children. But there is always a roaming distrust, an ever present vigilance, anxiety, constant movement, my mind must create all the time, and I worry. There are the outrageous worries that dissipate as soon as you verbalize them to a friend, and then there are the smaller worries, the troubled reviews of a conversation where you may have used the wrong word, even though you intellectually know it doesn’t matter.
I tried to take in a deep breath, but it was abbreviated and stuttered. I managed to inflate my lungs enough to exhale. I told my friends in a shaky voice, that I was okay. That I knew before our friend even told us, that Kavanaugh would be appointed, and that I wasn’t sure what was happening to me, but I was going to step out and get some fresh air. I asked for everyone to give me just a minute and I left. I sat on an iron park bench on Main Street in small town USA Great Barrington and a white pick-up truck stopped in front of me at the traffic light. A little blond haired 3 year old girl was sitting in the middle of two young guys in the front seat. She reached around the guy in the passenger seat and looked right at me. She showed me a toy and put it in her mouth and I gave a little wave, and then the light turned green and she waved back and the truck moved on.
My friend gave me a minute and then sat with me on the bench. She was prepared to listen. I didn’t say anything. I asked to be distracted. I said I didn’t want to be in the space I was in. We returned and picked up gingerly and then raced back into laughter and engaging conversation.
I have since told her about my reaction that day. I have told a few other friends about that moment, and I told a room with about 200 strangers this story at a Moth Story Slam. And now, on the last day of “Women’s month” I am hitting publish and sending it out with two more simple words: Me too.