Me, Too: Extended

Me Too

I saw the Facebook statuses—my newsfeed was full of brave women coming forward, openly talking about personal experiences with sexual harassment… #metoo, and then some. And it made me—me the “healing out loud” girl—uncomfortable. What in the fuck? I couldn’t believe that this patriarchy-conditioned part of me that I thought was dead was suddenly awake for a feeding. In my upbringing, I was trained to hear “sexual harassment” and immediately follow the words with “always the woman’s fault.” That means I have blamed myself for countless horrifying interactions. I didn’t claim victim; I have seen myself as the perp. The 2016 election started to break down those old ideas I had; I started to see misogyny and sexual abuse more clearly and honestly, but I still sat in my self-made jail with a head full of regret and shame for all of the sexual harassment I thought I caused myself. But ALL of these women were writing #metoo with personal stories included, armed with the keys to my handcuffs, ready to show me the escape route if I wanted to be free. I did want to be free. I had been standing atop the cliff, peering over the edge for hours thinking, jump jump jump, it will feel good. And in a sudden burst of willingness, I went for it:

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While we’re on the Topic of Women: What’s up with our Immune Systems?

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His teeth moved in his mouth like they weren’t cemented in place—were they dentures or just loose? Was it a twitch he had in his jaw that made his upper teeth push against his lower teeth rocking them forward like that? Was it just his age—will my teeth soften too one day? Jack was in his nineties, after all. That’s why I liked him so much—he had almost a century of life in him, nine decades of sorting through the garbage life can sometimes hand you—learning about humanity, empathy, and compassion.  His eyes had seen so much and his heart had held agony and released it more times than I could even imagine. I sat at a diner with him on Maui—the island I dubiously called home and the island he inhabited only in the winter, escaping Canada’s cold. Living there, I sometimes felt like I was either waiting for him to come or missing his presence—he was always on my mind. I met him a couple of years earlier when I was vacationing on Maui. I overheard him in a conversation talking calmly and precisely about the effects of growing up with alcoholism in the home. He didn’t grow up that way. It was not his path, but he seemed to understand what it was like and have a compassion that I had yet to meet. I stuck to him, maybe he became one of my collectible father figurines. I don’t really know. I only know that I wanted to learn from a man with a heart like his.  So I jumped on the opportunity to spend as much time with him as possible over those few winter months of 2011 in an effort to learn faster— I was dying to get ahead of myself, get ahead of my youthful age of 24, desperate to outsmart my humanity and escape the traps that maybe he fell into. Why, oh why, wasn’t I already at that plateau—that juicy plateau of nothingness and comfort. (more…)

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