Trigger Warning: This post contains discussions on sexual assault.
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few days, you’ve seen friends and family members posting “Me, Too” on their social media profiles. Sometimes, that’s all they post. Sometimes, they share more. Sometimes, they share it all.
#MeToo is a grassroots movement where victims of sexual harassment and abuse are coming forward and telling the world…this happened to me, too. You’re not alone. We’re not alone. In fact, look how not alone we are. The movement took off quickly, and the response was tremendous. Because the number of victims out there is tremendous.
I’ve also shared my story more than a few times on social media, and on this blog, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse and as a rape victim during college. (You can read those blogs here). I don’t talk so often about sexual harassment because I just don’t have the time.
I don’t talk so often about sexual harassment because I just don’t have the time. I don’t even have the mental ability to hold all those instances in my brain. It’s so “regular,” so often, so…normal to pretend I didn’t hear the lewd discussions about my body when walking past a group of men, or didn’t feel the pinch on my ass, or didn’t notice that that man didn’t just “trip” on the metro, but rather purposefully groped my breast. So normal to pretend that removing my wedding ring for a job interview is normal, so the man interviewing me won’t think I’m leaving soon to go have kids. So normal to rush to my car at night quickly and lock the doors, my keys sticking out between my knuckles, because at any moment…I could be raped again. So normal to look the other way, to pretend that it’s not happening, to mentally paint a less frightening world for myself just to get through the day like every other woman out there.
Except, it’s not normal at all.
In a perfect world, this showing of hands will help people realize how prevalent it is and how much is needed to be done to change our current culture. So, that’s the question…what do we do next?
What Comes After #MeToo?
That’s the big question. Okay, great, we all spoke up. How do we change it? It’s so overwhelming to even think about. That’s fair because it is. Rape culture wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be solved overnight.
But, it can be solved in a generation.
We can resolve to teach our sons that consent is paramount above all else. We can teach our sons to step in and not look the other way when their friends are engaging in “locker room talk,” or worse. We can teach our daughters that their bodies our their own. They don’t have to hug their grandma if they don’t want to. Show respect, but make your own choices with your body. No one has to touch you. We can teach our daughters that they are more than their physical appearance, and they have more than that to offer future partners. And yes, men and boys can be victims, too.
We can elect role models who don’t grab women by the pussy. We can hire teachers and tutors and coaches who prioritize children’s safety. We can believe victims when they come forward. We can empathize and understand, instead of shame and silence. We can be the support for future victims that we never had for ourselves.
We can teach all of our children all of this, and then maybe, the rape culture we live in now won’t be around when our children come of age. Maybe our children will never have to say #MeToo…too.
Do you have ideas for how our world can change and grow moving forward? Let’s discuss in the comments!
It’s always a sobering and awe-inspiring moment for me when I look back and see how all the puzzle pieces fell in just such a way to create our lives how they were always meant to be.
It’s no secret that New Year’s Day is a tough anniversary for me. I’ve been open about why on my blog (here and here and here). Today is seven years since the day I was raped, and the first year that I’ve actually dealt with it head on.
Healing only happens with time, but it also happens in a moment. It’s all the little guard rails that push us back onto our course and keep us centered. It’s the fated people and places that point us to where we needed to go.
This weekend, I’m in Vermont staying at an AirBnb that I randomly chose off their website. It was the cheapest option, looked safe, and so I booked it. Upon arriving, I realized that the woman who owns the home I’m renting a room in is everything I’ve ever needed, and everything I wasn’t ready for until right now.
She’s a therapist, and a writer. Just like me.
She’s an animal lover, and a spiritual soul. Just like me.
She’s quiet and introverted, but loving and inviting. Just like me.
She’s recovering and healing from her own New Year’s Day assault…just like me.
The coincidence is shocking, but also…not. Life is magical like that. It puts the perfect people in front of you that you needed in that moment. She healed a vital piece of me in the moment our confessions melted together and we recognized a shared brokenness.
In that single instant, I felt a mend.
Small, but substantial.
We spent the weekend together, facing our same demon together, burning effigies and writing confessions and sorrows on scraps of paper to toss into the ash at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We had dinner and talked for hours and it feels like I’ve always known her, because maybe in a way, I have.
I was always meant to meet her. She was always meant to meet me. We were always meant to mend a tiny piece of the other.
Tomorrow, I leave for Canada and I already feel more spiritually full and happy than I’ve felt in years. This trip has barely started, and yet, I never want it to end.
Follow Sarah on her trip by following her on Instagram (@booksbysarahrobinson) and/or Snapchat (@booksbysarahrob)!
On the last day of 2016, I stood in the center of the Burlington Earth Clock and thought about time. Seems obvious, I know, but stick with me. In (corny) truth, it really was the perfect setting for considering the time behind me and the time stretched out ahead.
2016 was, by far, one of the hardest years of my life. I lost myself so entirely, and hadn’t even seen it coming. By the time I realized I was lost, there were nothing around to help me find my way back.
At first I looked for who was to blame. My job. My marriage. My husband. My town. My house. My “friends.” My family. My anything that wasn’t me. This wasn’t my fault. Someone else gave me bad directions and now here I am, lost and angry.
So goddamn angry. But the anger is good. Really good, actually, because it fueled me. First, in the wrong direction, but at least I was moving, at least I was changing. When I finally realized that lashing out at the world around me wasn’t making me feel any better, I started looking within. I realized that despite all the shitty breaks I’ve had and crappy circumstances (or people) I’ve been forced to deal with, none of those controlled my happiness. Nothing that was happening to me had anything to do with who I was or what would make me happy.
Only I could do that.
And then, I wasn’t so lost anymore. When you are the one drawing the map, it’s impossible to get lost. Everything is in your control…everything is in my control. I can choose to be happy, even in an unhappy place, unhappy time, or with unhappy people. Those things and people aren’t in charge of my soul, my spirit, my mood.
I am in charge.
2017 is going to be the year of “me first,” and I won’t apologize for that selfishness. I’m no good to anyone until I’m good to myself first. Years of putting my needs on the back-burner for other people has taught me that, and taught me that it’s time for a change.
In the coming year, I’m drawing my own map. I’m slowly going to find myself again, and revel in everything that I forgot I once loved about myself.
I’m going to fall in love again, but this time…with me.
Follow Sarah on her trip by following her on Instagram (@booksbysarahrobinson) and/or Snapchat (@booksbysarahrob)!
I want to start this post by saying…I’m sorry. You deserve better from me, as my readers and my friends and my family. I also want to say that this post is going to be long, maybe sad, and there isn’t an “I’ll try harder” or “I’ll do better” at the end.
There’s just me saying “this is all I’ve got” and “I have no answers, but I’ll find them.”
[warning for those with triggers, this post gets real]
Every December since 2010, I’ve spiraled. Hard. Anxiety hits me like a truck, and depression swoops in to feast on what’s left. I told you all this in my blog post on my website in November about my long struggle with depression. What I didn’t tell you was why or…why now.
I didn’t tell you that at a New Year’s Eve party, only 3 hours into 2010, I was raped and assaulted by a man I trusted. A man I’d considered a best friend. A man I’d considered safe.
For a long list of reasons I may or may not talk about one day, I dealt with this alone. I turned the police officers away in the emergency room when I was being stitched up, and I kept it to myself. I put that night away in a little box and never touched it again.
I spent every year since avoiding New Year Eve celebrations like the plague, always finding an excuse to stay busy. And as the years past, I thought I’d dealt with it. I thought I was okay.
For the first year since, I’m struggling to find the reasons why I’m okay. I’m struggling to remember the distractions I used or what I focused on instead, and for the first time, I’m realizing…I’m not okay. Not even a little bit. I’ve never dealt with this piece of me and never realized that it had already crept out of its box and infected so much of my life. I’m not okay because I’ve never healed, and that is okay. I wasn’t ready then, but I think…I think I’m ready now.
I had a book release ten days ago and I’ve struggled to keep up. I’ve struggled to promote this book the way I normally would, to be online as much as I should, to be as jovial as I should, and I know that’s reflected in how the book is doing. You, as my readers, deserve better than that from me and I’m so sorry.
I know this entire post is different than my usual comedic ramblings or upbeat optimism, but everyone is their own fighting battles and I want to show you both parts of me. I want to be real and open because I need to be, for me, and because I want to be, for you. Because maybe one person will read this post and think…”I’m not alone. I was hurt, too. I haven’t healed, too. I need to heal, too.”
If that’s you, walk this road with me. Feel with me. Heal with me.
I don’t have the answers, but I’m looking for them. I want to feel the same *stars in my eyes* excitement over this book release (because this book is so great and it so deserves that!) that I’ve felt before, but the reality is I’ve closed everything off–both the good and the bad. I can’t feel…anything. And I need to find it again–both for myself, and for my writing.
I need to find me, and I’m going to. I’m going on a trip alone for New Years Eve. I’m spending it by myself in total silence, and not letting a single distraction get between me and healing the parts of me I’ve left broken for so long.
So, this whole post is just me saying I might be stepping back from social media a bit, or seeming a bit off. I might even be a little quieter than before, and I hope you’ll understand. I’m on empty, and I can’t really find where it all went, but it’s gone and I feel, in a way, so am I.
The only thing I do know is I won’t be lost forever. I will find me. I will come back with a roar, beating my chest like a warrior who fought her way out and triumphed. All I really hope for this post and this message is that you’ll be here waiting when I do.
Don’t give up on me. Please.
I haven’t given up on myself.
Above content originally posted on Sarah’s Facebook page here.
Trigger Warning: If you’re familiar with my blog, you know things are about to get real AF. You also know you’ll probably feel better at the end of this post than you do now when you realize you’re not alone…or maybe I’m just hoping I’m not alone. Either way, take care of yourself.
PS: I also curse a bit…because who doesn’t?
I didn’t get out of bed today, and I might not tomorrow. I might not the day after tomorrow either, and I’m trying to be okay with that.
I’m being slightly dramatic, since obviously I went to the bathroom and the fridge, then wound up on the couch wrapped in blankets with my laptop…but the feelings are the same.
When I first considered writing this post a few weeks ago, I was going to wait until I was “all better”. Until I was out on the other side, after I’d already reached the bottom and climbed my way up to the top. Because I will be up on my feet again…eventually. That’s how living the last two decades with Major Depressive Disorder works.
For a while, everything is okay. It’s tolerable, and some days, it’s even amazing. You’re happy and chill and things seem like they finally have all worked out. And you’ve earned it because you’ve been there, you’ve been at the bottom, you’ve gone through the worst, and you’ve paid your dues. This is your moment. This is what you were striving for during all those tears. It’s delicious and intoxicating…but it’s also fleeting.
Next come the days that aren’t so great, but not horrible, and that’s okay because it’s still not a depressive episode. It’s still tolerable, and you’re still managing your life.
But even that melts down over a few weeks, or months, or years that are hard. Really fucking hard. Your defenses are knocked down and one day, you just can’t put them back up again.
A little over a year ago, my walls started crumbling. My life suddenly didn’t look anything like I’d anticipated, or wanted. But I’m a strong woman–really damn strong, actually.
So, I powered through and tried to keep a smile on my face, and humor in my words.
I powered through a car accident. Through a miscarriage, then another, then another. I powered through losing people I loved, supports I’d come to depend on, and even the very basics of life–my home, my car, my income, my finances. I powered through losing my freedom, my weekends, or even remembering what a full fridge looks like.
Because I’m a strong woman, I powered through.
And then one day, I didn’t. My walls fell for the last time, and I scrambled like hell to find a way to build them back up, but found myself empty-handed.
I had nothing left.
I know the exact second it happened a little over a month ago now. I remember the feeling…one second I was there, then the next second I wasn’t. There was no specific trigger or reason or traumatic event that deserved this.
I’d given the very last of what I had, and now I was empty.
It was that simple. It was that fast.
I knew my next depressive episode had started…but no one else did. How could they? I still went through the motions, and met the bare minimums, and smiled when people asked how I was doing. Only my agent saw the pages I wasn’t turning in or the phone calls I wasn’t answering. Only my husband saw the daily tears, or found me crying curled on the shower floor unable to stand. Only my closest friends saw the emptiness in my eyes and probed further. Only I felt the physical pain of seemingly unbearable heartache throbbing in my chest.
People continued to love and laugh with my online posts or pictures, because they didn’t see that things had changed. I didn’t let them see. They cheered me on, and a few women have even told me they wish they were just like me. I’d smile and laugh it off, because they didn’t really know what they were asking for.
Sometimes I wish I was like the me they saw, too. But it felt like a lie….how could anyone want to be me?
I don’t want to be me.
They just love the online me. They think I’m great because they see the me who’s smiling and tells funny stories and writes sexy books and is always there to help other authors when they need it and so much more.
But that me…is me. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that I am both. I am all of those parts put together, and how could I want anything else?
I can be the woman laughing about a silly encounter with a stranger at the local coffee shop and the woman who feels everything is falling apart and she doesn’t know how to put it back together. I can be the author who helps her friends with their books and the author who didn’t write any words today because depression stole her motivation. I can be the happy fur-mom who posts a thousand pictures of her dogs and the almost-mom who’s lost three babies before she ever could hold them and tell them just how much I’ll always love them.
I can be both, and all of the above, because humans are so many puzzle pieces mashed together and it doesn’t always fit. The picture is sometimes blurry, but it’s all still me. I’m still me.
Someone told me once that I should always be striving to be my best self. Fuck that noise.
My best self is a full life, and that has to mean I won’t always be at “my best.” There will be tears. There will be grief and sadness and anger and hatred and an ache that feels it may never go away. And that’s okay, because my best self is also joy and love and kindness and celebration and everything else combined.
I’m choosing to live my full life, not my best life. To accept the down days and celebrate the happy ones. To appreciate the laughter because I’ve been best friends with the tears. To mope in self-pity where everything is horrible because the world is vicious and at the same time, be overwhelmed at the genuine kindness of strangers who only wanted to remind me this world can be so wholly beautiful.
My full life is wonderful and painful and joyful and devastating.
I am a strong woman…even when I’m not. I am kind, and loving, and difficult, but worth the trouble. I am all the things people tell me I am even when I don’t believe them. And in the same breath, I’m in so much pain that every breath feels like a question.
But, one day I won’t be. One day, I’ll smile and feel it in my chest, in the beat of my heart, and the lightness in my soul.
But not today. And maybe not tomorrow.
And that’s okay. That’s a full life.
Author’s Note: If you’re someone struggling with depression or feelings of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line if you need someone to talk to in a non-life threatening crisis by texting START to 741-741. Please seek help if you need it. You are strong. You are brave. You deserve to be here.