I’ve spent most of the weekend stuck on a hideous roller coaster of empowerment, outrage, PTSD, and pulling it together to appear functional and happy.
Wash. Spin. Rinse. Repeat.
I’m guessing most of my friends have, too.
Here’s the thing… Friday night, I was on fire! I was so freaking ecstatic that sexual assault, abuse, and harassment were in the spotlight — more specifically, that the overlooking, coverup, and excusing of those things were in the spotlight.
Finally, FINALLY, everyone was talking about it!
And that… felt pretty damn empowering. It was like a massive army of warrior survivors, shouting in unison: NO MORE! NOT ONE MORE!
And, man… that’s a pretty high high.
But Saturday morning rolled around, and so did the victim-blaming. I stood my ground, and I lost friends over it. Friends I cared about. And that… was the beginning of a massive spiral into darkness.
As the #metoo movement caught on, the stories started rolling out. I found myself — in one moment — celebrating the shattering of silence, and — in the next — reliving my own abuse and assault.
My PTSD took me down, hard.
I ended up in a fetal position, screaming and crying and clawing at my own skin, wondering if living was really worth it, when it hurts so damn much, and when it means living in a world that covered up for and protected a teacher who molested his students.
But, I had people counting on me.
So… I pulled myself together, the best I could, and went to work, hours late, without even trying to apologize (because, how can you, when you’re HOURS late?), and plastered on a smile, and threw myself into work.
And when I got home at nearly 3 a.m., I fell right back into loneliness and despair.
I was supposed to immediately pack up and head out on a six-hour drive to a work training I’d registered for, but… I couldn’t.
I literally couldn’t. I stood in my kitchen, willing myself to get going and pack a bag, but I just fell back into sobbing and collapsed to the floor.
I decided to eat something, and think about packing, but I couldn’t get up. And when I did, I couldn’t eat. And because I never ate, I never packed.
If you’ve never lived with mental illness, you probably don’t understand that bit, but in my mind, I needed to eat, first. And because I couldn’t eat, I became paralyzed in regard to the rest.
I didn’t get in my car. I didn’t drive six hours to the training. That failure would return to bite me in the butt.
I recognized I needed to be surrounded by my support system, and Mr. Wright was out of town with the kids, so… I slept a bit, fitfully, and drove to where they were. It was only a three-hour drive.
On the way there, I started to feel a bit better. A little more empowered. I talked to Mr. Wright on the way, and we talked about how the tide was changing, and how, someday, it will be seen as unconscionable to excuse sexual abuse, assault, and harassment. By the time I arrived, I was functional and even a bit excited.
And then… the rug got pulled out from under me.
Apparently, at the training, I’d been recognized for an award, and it became very obvious that I wasn’t there.
I wasn’t there because, after fighting through suicidal thoughts, flashbacks, panic attacks, and a 15-hour work day, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t pack, and couldn’t get in my car to drive six hours for an eight-hour training.
Instead, I had tried to rest my body, and driven three hours to safety.
My absence embarrassed my team. I had let them down. I had been a notable part of a low-attendance problem, and I failed them.
I know, because an open letter was posted to “people who were recognized and hadn’t bothered to show up” in a group I’m a member of.
When it was first posted, I didn’t know I’d been named for an award, so I assumed it didn’t apply to me. I mean, it applied to me, but it couldn’t be about me, because I hadn’t told anyone on my team that I’d registered.
I commented that folks who didn’t make it probably had a really good reason (I mean, I did… a severe lack of mental health is a pretty good reason, I think, and don’t let anyone tell you — or me — differently), and maybe someone should reach out to those people and make sure they’re okay!
As I wrote it, I wasn’t okay. Not really. I was far from it, but I was faking it, and I had hope.
I wondered if maybe there were others who were crippled by reliving their trauma this weekend, like me. I wondered if any of them were fighting for their lives, like me.
Then, the post was gone. Poof! It disappeared.
Good, I thought. It was a pretty bullying post. Maybe the poster took my suggestion, and went off to contact those award-winners who weren’t there, to make sure they’re okay.
And then, I got word that I had been one of those award-winners.
And THEN, the original poster doubled down, and posted it AGAIN, along with a challenge to “step up” and “show up when we say we will.”
It added, “How do you feel when your hostess cancels on you at the last minute?”
I was floored. I started sobbing. I was outraged. I felt betrayed.
The post hadn’t come down because the poster was off to call everyone and make sure they were okay. I know, because she never called me.
It was taken down so my comments wouldn’t be read by anyone else, and so she could reformulate the post into (I don’t know?) a more direct CHALLENGE.
I didn’t comment right away, because I was busy reading the comments from people who said they felt really targeted and shamed by the post, even if it wasn’t about them.
I was busy reading private messages from people who said the poster was out of line, and the post made them really uncomfortable, and upset.
I remembered all the #metoo posts I’d seen in the last 24 hours, and I knew some of these people — like me — had spent some time remembering and reliving their abuse. I knew they were at the very least, tender, and — if they were even close to where I was — they were fragile as hell, on the brink of a breakdown, self-harm, or worse.
And that, my friends, is when I lost my shit.
“How dare you?”
“NO ONE (most notably YOU) called to ask me if something had happened. (It did. It’s continuing. It’s devastating.)”
“NO ONE (most notably YOU) called to ask me if I was okay. (I wasn’t. I’m not. I’m far from okay.)”
“If my hostess cancelled because she was suicidal or her mental health was in jeopardy, I wouldn’t guilt her about doing so.”
Those were just some of the things I fired back. Because, you know what?
I. Was. So. Fucking. Done.
I did get a call. But not from her. I got a call from a leader who tried to tell me “she didn’t mean it like that,” and that the comments on the post were “volatile,” and didn’t create a team environment. And that comment about suicide was really concerning, and maybe I should get some help.
And I refrained from saying all the things I wanted to say about wouldn’t it be nice if I had a built-in support system, like — I dunno — a TEAM of “sisters” who would support me and ask after me when I go missing? But I didn’t say those things, because I’ve never fit in, and while a lot of the people on my team seem to have that sisterly support, I am most definitely not one of them, because I’m not part of the camaraderie.
When I go missing, no one calls.
Not until I have to defend myself.
And then, it’s to gaslight me.
And today, I spent time on the phone and in person with #metoo people who have been pretty much going through the exact same feelings as I have… all the elation and empowerment and despair and trauma and hopelessness and grief and anguish and JUST. TRYING. TO. SURVIVE all the feelings that go with this movement.
And that’s sort of soul-crushing.
Even when we’re moving toward victory, we are still dying. We are still losing.
Because this shit NEVER GOES AWAY.
And when we think we have it neatly tucked into a box, it springs up like a terrifying clown out of a Jack-in-the-box, and we piss ourselves and try to stuff it back in, because after all these years, it still takes us by surprise. We crank that handle, and keep cranking it, and we know it’s coming, but it scares the shit out of us every. single. time it pops up.
I say allllll that to say this:
CHECK ON YOUR PEEPS.
When you see someone post #metoo, don’t just “like” and pass.
Send them a fucking message. “I believe you. I stand with you. Are you okay? How can I help? I love you. I value you. Thank you for speaking out.”
Copy and paste it, for all I care, but do something. Say something.
And for the love of God, if someone is missing from a regular activity where you expect to see them, pick up the phone, for crying out loud, and under no circumstances subtweet/subpost/passive-aggressively throw shade at them.
Spread love. Offer comfort. Don’t let anyone slip through the cracks.
This is too important for us to let anyone go missing.
We need one another, and we need you.