Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Letting Light in

*This was written in June and in draft status until now. Sorry for the delay. I thought it wasn’t finished. I was wrong.

"The wound is the place where the light enters you"


The past year has been a difficult one.. over a year ago we received news that my mother had passed away six months prior. Unfortunately I cannot say the delay in receiving the news was all that surprising - but you go on. Work kept me busy as we had been on almost perpetual overtime. Plus to be honest years ago I had anticipated the possibility of not being informed of her passing.

Then at the beginning of April I was informed that they needed to reduce the workforce at my employer and I would no longer have a job after the middle of May. It was a reduction of one FTE (full time employee) and I was selected to be the one based on the last round of performance evaluations. At first I was more than angry but I can't get too mad about being let go from a job I hated.

Luckily it came about the time we sold our house of ten years and bought a new one. I say luckily because with all the packing and unpacking I haven't had too much time to dwell on it. But the past few days have been difficult as we have been vacationing out of state. for the past nine years we have been travelling to Florida and meeting up with a group of friends. We pay in advance so that we don't have credit card bills to come back to and there wasn't a financial worry with keeping this trip.

The problem is without distractions I couldn't not look at the past years' events - multiple times and from multiple angles in a matter of hours on our drive from Indianapolis to Detroit. (Apparently self mental flagellation is my thing.) But then we boarded our plane and luckily had in-flight entertainment on the back of the seats in front of us.

When I was a child one of my favorite books was "A Wrinkle In Time" by Madeleine L'Engle and the newest  movie based on her book was one of the movies playing. Early in the movie Mindy Kaling's character Mrs. Who says "The wound is the place where the light enters you - Rumi.”

The wound is the place where the light enters you. There is always dark around us, but there is also light. Always. You just have to look for it.

Last fall Riley and I were driving back home from a Target run. She said "Can I ask you something?"
"Always" I replied.
"You had kind of a crappy childhood, right?"
" It wasn't ideal"
"yeah, you had some bad stuff happen."
"Well sure, but why do you ask?"
"Well it seems to me that the people who go through bad stuff like you did aren't very happy people. But you are. Why?"
(Honestly. That level of insight is beyond me.)
"Well a while back I chose to not let that affect any longer how I live my life. Yeah, a lot of bad things happen but I choose not to be miserable o dwell on it. There have been a lot of good things that have happened too. Like you and daddy - the very best things that could have ever happened to me."

Somewhere along the way I've been able to let my wounds show. It's not an easy process. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. If I hadn't though I wouldn't have been able to let light come through the wounds and been given the gift of the wonderful light coming from our daughter.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Work To Be Done

I almost pulled the plug this week. Facebook has made me more ill than normal. I like staying up to date with my friends and families. I’ve tried more recipes that people have posted than I can count. I’ve laughed at classic Gary Larson cartoons as well new ones from Berkeley Breathed and Wiley Miller. My biggest complaint has been that’s it’s an incredible time-suck and I spend far too much time bent over a glowing screen instead of burying my nose in a good book. But that’s not why I almost pulled the plug.

I have been literally ill with headaches the past week reading the accounts of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford appearance in front of the senate Judiciary Committee and her subsequent secondary assault in the media. Last week I posted a blog piece about my history with sexual assault and the online (as well as offline messages) were both uplifting and heartbreaking. To those women who privately shared heir stories with me – thank you. You’re the reason I told my story. I pray that you get the comfort you need as well as understand that it was not your fault. If you think you’re not brave you are wrong. Living your life everyday as well as you all do is incredibly brave.

I honestly didn’t tell my story for recognition. God and anyone else who knows me knows that is the very last thing I want. Getting people to understand and accept that it may take years for memories of rape to trickle into their consciousness was my goal after hearing people - not the experts, mind you -  say they didn’t believe Dr. Ford because she could only remember some details. And to read so many women vilifying Dr. Ford and other women for telling their stories has been gut wrenching for me. If those women aren’t to be believed, then how am I to be?

So I almost closed my Facebook account. Too much pain relieved in the past week. Too much crying as quietly as possible in locked bathrooms. Too many headaches and lost sleep. It’s. Just. Too. Much.

Then I read this story https://medium.com/s/story/gen-x-remember-when-men-preferred-hanes-and-you-were-an-uptight-bitch-6ba6db0feb80. I have a daughter in middle school. I have a daughter who is a very sweet and happy.  I want her to stay that way. I don’t want her to be assaulted and have people say she must have done something to provoke the boy. I want the script flipped. I want the stories to say how many rapists there are instead of how many victims there are. Actually I want rape to stop existing. I want women to be  treated with respect. We have a lot of work to do.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Assaulted: What A Nice Way To Label Rape

I’ve never spoken publicly about my sexual assaults. Yes. Assaults. Three of them in my lifetime and almost a fourth a few years ago. The first was when I was a child and to publicly speak of it now would be of no benefit as the perpetrator is dead and to do so would inflict more harm than good.

The second was a trusted friend of the family and a respected elder of our church. I was 15 years old and he groomed me over the course of the summer so that when he finally did push it over the line and I balked he tried to place the blame on me by telling me how much I liked it – the physicality of the interaction. It worked. I didn’t tell anyone for months because I didn’t want them to find out I had liked the attention and I couldn’t let anyone know I was gay in 1970’s small town Indiana. It was only after an aborted suicide attempt that I spoke of what had happened but insisted that no charges be filed as I was afraid of being put on the witness stand and having to admit my sexual orientation. Before you tell me I was wrong keep in mind that I was a child and the only knowledge I had then of legal proceedings was from watching Perry Mason or similar TV shows.

The third was in my 20’s and was a case of date rape. I didn’t report that one ether. Who would believe me? I was in a relationship with him. I had willingly gone to his house. We had both been drinking that night. How could that possibly be rape? And yet it was as I hadn’t consented and yet could not get him to stop even though he was hurting me. So I gave up and my mind took me someplace else during the act. I ended the relationship the next day.

The fourth potential assault could have happened on vacation about seven years ago. We were in Ft. Lauderdale and had gone out one night. I made the rookie mistake of leaving my drink at the bar while I went to the restroom . I vaguely remember a man in a Michigan ball cap hovering around and luckily Robbie made us leave when I went from sober to dead ass drunk in about 15 minutes. It wasn’t until the next morning we realized someone had slipped me a roofie.

So yes, I believe she was assaulted. I believe there are hundreds of times more women who are victims of assault and have never come forward than there are men falsely accused of assault.  And I also believe that women have for years not come forward because “who would believe me?” Or worse “I must have done something to cause it to happen.”

And if it’s you that’s been assaulted, I will listen and believe you, then hug you a little tighter (if that’s what you need)  and tell you that you do not deserve any of it – the assault itself or the feelings you may be harboring since then. Far too often the victim is made to own the act and not the perpetrator. We have to change that.