I began writing this last year but couldn't bring myself to post it. Watching Dr. Ford testify during the Kavanaugh hearing, listening to Kavanaugh's disgusting testimony, though, brought it all up again. I'm feeling that maybe if I add to the growing narrative of so many brave women, I can also find more peace around it all.
I'm 100% sure that Kavanaugh is a bad man. I recognize him as a man without capacity to see women as anything other than slaves, something they use without conscience, who feel no remorse because they perceive a woman as a thing, and why would they feel badly for the object they just used, it's only a receptacle, and though when it cries it's so funny, why won't it just be quiet?
I can't stop thinking about how the climate, the landscape of sexual abuse has shifted, what that's been bringing up for me. The part that's had me crying dozens of times is the realization that to live with it all, I lied to myself about it all. I had to tell myself a different story about what happened to me, how it was just the way things were. How some guys were assholes so best to stay out their way as much as possible. And the worst self-lie: it's kind of a good thing, it must mean I'm pretty, wanted.
At 14, at a barbecue when I went into the house to go to the bathroom, my best friend's father held me by my arm with one hand, while ramming the other hand down my pants, shoved fingers inside me and quickly pulled his hand back up, his laughing face inches from mine, a look I can still remember. When I told my friend, she just shrugged and said, he's an old horndog.
The rape at 17 was the first time I'd had sex. It was at a vacation beach house, my brother in the next room. I pounded on the guy's chest and cried no, no, no, you're hurting me, but he didn't even pause. I cried until I fell asleep, curled in a ball as he lay there beside me, passed out. For a few weeks I was full of rage, mean to everyone. Anyone I told said some variation of "you asked for it". Later, I'd shrug and call it date rape, remembering how drunk I was, and he was an ex-boyfriend, and he tried to buy me breakfast the next morning, so it wasn't a big deal, right?
The countless times male family members grabbed my ass, tweaked my breasts, or said something to me like girl, you sure are filling out aren't you as they stared at my breasts. The creepy feeling I'd get, so sick to my stomach I'd have to walk away.
The near rape at age 22 by the guru in the ashram. "Near" rape because by then I'd learned what predators looked like, what their faces revealed about their true intentions, the shock of energy that would run through my body right before bad things would start to happen. I'd learned by that time how to get away. I'd learned by then not to talk, just run.
But here's the thing - you'd think this was the worst of it but it's not. What's really had me crying has been the mental and emotional abuse. How I'd come to see it all as normal, just a hard aspect of life women had to deal with.
When I was 28, the boss who hounded me, saying at least give him a peek, sit on his face, give him a taste. The contempt he openly displayed when he finally got that even though I acted like it was all hilarious, I wasn't going to have any variation of the sex act with him. My job turned into a nightmare and I had to quit.
When I was 26, a manager at the restaurant I tended bar at came up behind me and picked me up, pinning my arms, grinding himself against me. I fought so hard he dropped me and I fell into a metal shelving rack. I lay on the floor, unable to breathe. My ribs were so bruised I couldn't work for a week. When I called corporate to ask about worker's comp they threatened me with legal action for trying to extort them, ruin a good man's reputation.
When I was 32, the department director who said you may wear baggy clothes but we all know what a hot body you have. It was my first month on the job so I did my best to avoid him. The male deputy director I told shrugged and said "after a certain age for a woman it's not sexual harassment, it's a compliment".
The 60-something year old well-loved theater professor who kept asking me to have drinks with him at his house, have dinner at his house, come to his house so we could talk about the play he was casting, see if there’s a role for me. I didn't go to his house, and I didn't get the role. He didn't like me very much when he finally got no would be the only answer I'd give him, and he wasn't afraid to show it. The other students began to roll their eyes, say sneering things to me like how's that casting couch working for you? I transferred to another college for the next school year.
By my early 20s, when it wasn't around someone who held power over me, my response began to morph into rage. When a family member grabbed me, I punched them, hard, in the chest, said leave me alone you asshole, then hit him again. I never walked the streets of NYC without headphones on to drown out the catcalls, unless late at night, when I carried mace, my keys interlaced between my fingers, pointed outward like spiked brass knuckles. Once I whirled around and faced a guy who seemed to be creeping up on me. With fury and balled fists I screamed what the fuck is your problem? He looked terrified and walked the other way.
Spending my 30s meditating helped with the rage, which had bled into all areas of my life and was causing real problems. But my core teachers taught a kind of passivity, a surrender of any kind of wanting. It worked magic, clearing out tons of psychic trash. But it once again rendered me helpless in the face of predatory men. I'd weeded out the physically abusive, but the emotional and mental abuse continued.
I'd let these men into my life and the abuse would destroy me because I'd refuse to let myself walk away, telling myself over and over that I just needed to be strong inside myself, be gentler, more loving to the boyfriend. Just like my spiritual teacher taught us. How even though her husband broke her arm and blackened her eye they loved one another and it was truly helping her evolve, really, and it would for me, too.
At 40, something shifted. I lost faith that men could be good. That they could be kind. After that, no dating, no sex, no boyfriends, nothing. No online dating or going to parties or clubs or bars or allowing someone to set me up. It helped that I weighed over 190 pounds, became reclusive. When I had shamanic healing work done to help lose the weight I was told: it won't go, it's protective.
But here's the next thing: hearing so many women's stories the past year, and now Dr. Ford's, has triggered another wave of remembering. This time it's about the good guys. The Helpers. The ones who cared for me, listened to me, held me gently while I cried, an undefined terror ripping through me. The guys I didn't know who saw me drunk at a party and got me safely home. The ones who saw a predator at a party working me, intervening so sharply that the guys slunk away.
Some of these men are still friends of mine. Tommy spent hundreds of hours listening to me, comforting me, trying to help. Michael showed me how gentle, loving, non-aggressive a man could be, a revelation. So many more.
Most I don't even remember names or even faces of. But I remember the feeling of safety, of being protected against the sexual predators in our tribe. If you're one of these guys, thank you. I know you're out there right now showing love and support as the women (and men) around you tell their horrible stories, and you feel your own rage, wishing you'd been there to help.
Okay. That's all I've got for now. It's 11 am and I don't feel the need to daydrink or cry. In fact, even though I've just exited a shit-ton of psychic trash, I don't feel bad at all. I actually feel good. Powerful.
Because fuck the predators.
They don't define my life, how I feel, how I live. As they're hunted down and forced to own up to what they've done, I'll cheer and raise a fist. And also say a prayer of gratitude - thank you Life, thank you for so many brave women and men stepping forward and telling the truth.
Because the truth? The truth sets us all free. . .