The #MeToo Brigade…

If you’ve been on social media at all in the past week or so, then you’re probably aware of the trending #MeToo campaign. If not, to briefly summarize: the campaign itself is sort of a “call-to-arms” for women to share their personal experiences with sexual harassment and/or sexual assault using the hashtag #MeToo…the goal therein being to show just how commonplace both are for women. Rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment…they’re just three of the many “so-called uncomfortable” subjects that society prefers we not talk about. But thanks to actresses Ashley Judd and Alyssa Milano – and the dozens of other Hollywood elite that have come forward to speak up and out about the heinous sexual atrocities committed by well-known producer and former film studio executive Harvey Weinstein…we’re talking about it now.


Because of the accusations and growing scandal, Weinstein has (so far) been fired by his OWN production company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Once held in high esteem and respected, but no more. Many political and other prestigious figures in the business have denounced him. Even his wife left him. Basically…he’s had a rough week. You almost feel sorry for the guy…until you read all the articles and stories and number of individuals that have come forward…a number that, for the moment anyhow, appears to be on a steady incline. At the very core of it all is the one indisputable fact…that IT’S NOT OKAY. There’s no excuse or justification for sexual harassment or sexual assault or rape. None whatsoever.


The fact that some of the alleged assaults go back decades is a little disheartening, to say the least. It’s sad and truly disappointing that we’re living in one of the most advanced, modernized eras of all time, and yet it’s taken decades for us (women) to really kick-start this conversation—one we shouldn’t have to even be having in the first place. This isn’t the early 1900’s. Women aren’t the property of their husbands and/or society’s invisibles. Women count now. We can vote and hold office, we can have families AND careers (not just either/or) …and we’re finally being seen. It’s been a hard-wrought fight from the start…and continues to be in certain aspects. We’re still fighting “the man”, and progress has been a slow and not-so-easy feat. There are still some archaic aspects…though I expect there always will be. I just can’t understand why we haven’t talked about it until now…why it took 20+ years and scores of assaulted and victimized women coming forward for society to let up and take interest in what we (women) have to say and in our stories…and for us to be believed. We shouldn’t have to sign petitions or lobby for equal footing with our counterparts and employers. Nor should we have to assemble and march in the streets just to be heard. But such is our reality, unfortunately. On the bright side, I guess even a little progress is better than no progress at all…but I believe we can do better. Real change is only possible if we come together, both women AND men. It’s on us.

I’m in awe of the effort to change the status quo and of the bravery of the accusers…but I’m especially in awe of the thousands (myself included) of women that have shared their own stories of harassment, assault, or rape across social media—and all because of the power of a simple hashtag (#MeToo).


Though I wish I didn’t, I have experienced first-hand how hard it is to share such personal stories and truths with the world. It’s been years since my own assault, but I still struggle with talking about it. I can count on one hand the number of people that I’ve told about it…but it’s taken me years to gather the courage to accept it and move on. It’s empowering to know just how many others—even people I know personally—that have been in my shoes, who’ve had the exact or similarly horrible experiences as I have. Figuratively, I’ve always know that I wasn’t alone in my pain…but putting names to faces and seeing it with my own eyes makes it more real, if that makes sense. I spent years pretending it never happened and burying the pain…years convincing myself that it was simple self-preservation, when in fact, it was terror. I was terrified being of judged, ruined, and possibly even blamed for what happened. And with good reason. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve overheard and have personally had conversations with people concerning rape and/or sexual assault, many of which I’ve come back from feeling just so disgusted by all the things people have said. I’ve also had some pretty heated arguments with my mother and my grams about it in which they try to justify sexual harassment and/or sexual assault/rape…and let’s just say, we’ll never agree on certain points…ever. They like to admonish women for dressing and/or behaving provocatively (even if it’s just in their eyes) …basically your run-of-the-mill slut-shaming.  I can’t fathom how my own flesh and blood could think as they do…how they can truly justify the length of a girl’s skirt for harassment and/or rape. They’re of the mentality that if a girl “flaunts” her assets, then of course she has to be asking for it. That she shouldn’t have been drunk or out that late at some party. They even agree with the ridiculous dress codes so many schools are enforcing that essentially force girls to cover themselves up and dress in the clothing and way that is the least distracting to the boys in the class—a topic I’ve vehemently disagreed with. They’re entitled to their opinions…I just wish their opinions weren’t so backwards. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if they’d feel or think different if I were to tell them the truth of what happened to me. At the same time, I don’t think I want to know. I’ve been disillusioned by them so many times over the years…I’m not sure I want to take another one in faux-stride.


I’ve been thinking of starting up this new site that will basically serve as a forum or place for victims and survivors to just come and tell their story. It’s been such a relief to me—being able to talk openly about what happened to me. It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders that hadn’t even known was there. It helped to write it down. To see it in black and white. It gave me some closure. Maybe knowing and seeing with their own eyes that they aren’t that special and aren’t alone in their pain…maybe other’s will find closure in that, too. That’s the hope. I don’t know…it’s still in its planning stages. I’ll keep you posted!

— xoMESSIE

 

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10 years…3,650 days…87,600 hours…5,256,000 minutes…

Tonight marks the 10th anniversary of the rape. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it..that it’s been ten years. Hell, it just doesn’t even seem real, you know? There was a long time after it happened when I tried to convince myself that it didnt happen…that it wasn’t real,,,and that it was just some awful nightmare that I was going to wake up from at any moment. But I never did wake up because, as nightmarish as it’s been and has felt…it wasn’t a dream. Not the sleeping kind, at least. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure which is worse…the subconscious ones, or the living one. Sometimes when I think back to those first few months after it happened, it’s like I was in a fog or something…like I was seeing it all through someone else’s eyes, and not my own. It’s like I was there…but I wasn’t really there…if that makes any sense. As far as the scope of time goes, ten years might not seem all that long–but when you’ve spent those ten years living in a thick, dense fog, haunted by images and memories of an unforgiving, unrelenting past like I have…well, ten years might as well be a lifetime…

I don’t want this or the memories, but I have them. I want to forget–god, how I want to forget–but I can’t. I still remember every moment–every single detail–of that night. If I close my eyes, I can even picture the house where the party was…all decked out with Halloween decorations and fog machines and black lights, and that nasty fake spider-web stuff that gets tangled up everywhere. I remember bumping into someone in the dark and starting to apologize…that is, until I realized that it wasn’t a person I’d bumped into at all–but rather, it was one of those creepy, motion-sensor triggered, scary looking mannequin-like things that people like to prop up in their yard and or on front porches to scare the bejeezus out of anyone that walks by. Yeah, one of those things…only it wasn’t your typical ghost or zombie or skeleton…it was worse. Apparently some smart-ass jerk thought it’d be funny to transform the thing into “IT.” You know, the creepy, homicidal clown from the Steven King film that goes around terrorizing kids and drags them down into the sewers..yeah, that’s the one. I saw the movie once when i was younger and well, let’s just say that I’ve quite literally been terrified of clowns ever since. I had nightmares for weeks about that damn clown and his little blood-filled balloons. I know it sounds childish and maybe even a bit ridiculous–a grown woman being afraid of some dude caked in face paint and equipped with some serious balloon-animal-making skills–but I can’t help it. (Just like I can’t help my totally irrational, deathly fear of worms, for that matter.) Those damn clowns are creepy as you know what, and they freak me the hell out. Yes, I remember even that. Just like i remember the big bowls of spiked punch that were everywhere. For what it’s worth, i didn’t go there with the intention of drinking . Sneaking out of the house had been enough of a taste of rebellion for me that night. But I remember my friend and her boyfriend and this other guy I never met before–all insisting that i at least have one cup…saying how it wasn’t a big deal…and that I needed to loosen up and to stop being a Miss Goody-Two-Shoes for once. They had a good point, I guess…and to be honest, I too, wanted to know how it felt to be a little reckless for a minute. Everyone thinks perfection is so easy, but it’s not. It’s kind of exhausting actually…not to mention boring as hell. Having said that, I gave in and took the cup they offered, telling myself it wasn’t a big deal and that one cup wouldn’t hurt anything. It was a dumb move on my part, I know. Especially when we all know that it’s never just ONE cup or ONE drink…especially when it tastes as yummy as it did. I couldn’t even taste the alcohol…which probably should have been a flashing sign right there saying “hey stupid”…but as usual, I was oblivious. I might have had a refill or two, but that’s it. I still knew my name could recite the alphabet backwards so no, I wasn’t drunk. That is, I didn’t feel drunk…at least not right away. That fact right there is one of why I try to stay away from liquor whenever I do drink. If I had to choose one alcoholic vice…vodka would win, hands-down, every time. It’s completely illogical though because I hate the taste of vodka itself. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper to just buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol and drink that. It’s gross, which is why I’m a big fan of mixed drinks. My drink dejour would have to be my Vodka & Redbull. I can literally drink those all night long…which isn’t a good thing–not for me anyhow–at all. The reason I can drink those all night is the Redbull…which keeps me so hyped up that I’m pretty much oblivious to any effects of the Vodka. Which is NOT a good thing when the RedBull wears off and i crash. And I crash HARD, Then I’m screwed because the alcohol hits me all at once…which sucks. I literally go from zero to trashed in a quick minute. I wasn’t drunk enough for that though that night…just a little bit tipsy. Unfortunately, that’s why I went outside. I just wanted to get some fresh air, you know? Instead I walked myself right into the middle of a living hell.

I still remember it all. Like the wet grass under me, the dampness seeping through the back of the outfit I had so carefully chosen to wear–after an hour of trying on half of my wardrobe. His full weight on top of me, crushing me. Him pinning my wrists down my hands above my head with one hand, while the other covered my mouth so I couldn’t scream. God, I even remember the sound of his sadistic laugh. It was as though the more I struggled, the more he got off on it…literally. I tried to get away. I fought as hard as I could but I couldn’t stop him…I wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t even scream or call for help with his nasty clammy hand over my mouth.

I still remember how desperate and panicked I felt in those final moments when I realized what was about to happen and what he was going to do. I remember thinking that someone was going to come out, see what was happening, and stop him. But no one did.  It hurt so damn much that I thought for sure that I was going to pass out just from the physical pain itself. And the more I struggled, the more it hurt. I’m not sure how long it went on, but time lost all meaning in those moments …it could have minutes, or hours…I don’t know. But it felt like it went on forever. The pain was like nothing I’d ever felt before…so horrible that I would have given anything for the ground to just open up and swallow me down whole. I truly wanted to die right then and  there, in those moments,  I tried to go somewhere else in my mind while it was happening…to think of something other than the pain and of him attacking me, and somehow I managed to just completely shut down. I couldn’t stand to see him or even look or his face, so I looked up and watched the stars in that night sky instead. In my mind, I went back. Back to when I was a still a little girl and how I would make wishes on every shooting star that I would see. I had this book that I would look at about the constellations and then try to find them all. I would often wonder about what else was out there–beyond the scope of the past or the sky or even the stars and space–particularly when it came to wondering if Heaven was real or not…

I’d wonder if “God” really did exist…or if it was just another made-up story in that outdated, worn-covered Bible my grandmother always kept on her nightstand. As for the latter, I think I got the answer to that question–albeit not the one I was looking for–that night. “He” wasn’t there. I know that, because I prayed and begged him to let me die that night.  Well, that didn’t happen. He did nothing, not a damn thing.  To all those people who believe he exists and that he’s this wonderful, loving God…it’s all bullshit…just a part of a tale that people came up with forever ago, as a means of putting their fear of evil at ease. People want to believe it, need to believe it, I think, because the reality of it not being true scares the hell out them. People want to believe that there’s more to life than just this one life they’ve been given. They want to believe that it all doesn’t end with death. They want happy thoughts…sunshine and puppies. They comfort themselves with the idea that one day they’ll be reunited with the loved ones they’ve lost and live happily-ever-after in this mythological paradise of pearly gates and singing angels–otherwise known as Heaven–so they hold onto those happy thoughts…using them to get through it all. They’re too damn scared to accept the reality that maybe there really isn’t anything waiting for them . No angels with halos, no white lights, nothing…just death and then nothingness. Just faded memories and torn up secrets on paper,,,and the ashes and dust and the souls of the beings we once were.

I don’t know if there’s a God or not. And to be perfectly honest–at this point in my life–I really don’t care. I just don’t. All I know is that no one was there in the grass with me that night. No one intervened or helped or tried to save me. No one cared. I was alone…and it was that loneliness that, ultimately, screwed me up. I didn’t just lose my “innocence” that night. I lost the person that I was–that is, the person I thought I was–that night, Now, I’m missing a part of myself that I know I will never get back. In a lot of ways…it’s like I really did die that night, or might just as well have, I should say. What’s worse is that some times I actually wish that I had…and that the memories and images s from that night had died right along with me. It would have been easier that way, I think. For everyone…

I wish I could say that it gets better,,,that I could tell girls like me that have gone through–and who are still going through–the same nightmare I’ve endured in the past 10 years– that it’ll go away. That the images and sounds and flashbacks will fade…but they won’t. At least not for me they haven’t. As much as I resent myself for it, there are moments when I still feel like a victim. VICTIM. Oh, how I hate that label more than anything, even if it does ring true at times. There’s this counselor that I used to see while I was away in college told me once that I was brave…and that I was lucky. But I’m neither. I wasn’t brave or courageous, for that matter, that night. I was weak and vulnerable and exposed…broken. I was a reckless, naive, foolish girl who snuck out of the house and went to a party I shouldn’t have even known about, let alone gone to. I made a bad decision and on some level I think that maybe the rape was the universe’s sick and twisted way of punishing me for being so naive and for making the wrong decisions when I had the chance to make the right one. I don’t know, maybe I deserved it. Maybe I was asking for it.  Maybe it was just one life lesson that I had to learn on my own. Maybe I’d already made myself a victim…and fate was just finishing the what I was started. . Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that as much as I hate the sick bastard that did this, I hate myself even more for putting myself in the situation that I did. And as for the shrink;s claim that I was lucky…well, I wasn’t, I know it’s a horrible thing to say, but the truth of the matter is that I’d rather be a dead victim than a “lucky” living one like this. At least then this wouldn’t be happening. And ultimately, I wouldn’t have needed to be saved. I don’t know…and now…I still remember…but I don’t want to…

xoxo,

MESSIE

not who i was before  (2)

In the bright rays of the moon

Rests a single, solitary blade of grass.

Pieces of broken glass sparkle in the moonlight.

Drops of blood cooling on the hot grass.

She looks into the mirror.

The holes dark.

The cracks deep.

The pain too unbearable to realize.

In that shattered mirror–

she remembers a time of happiness.

She remembers the moment she first learned to swim,

the crystal blue water rippling lightly

from a calm, summer breeze.

She remembers her first horse ride.

Grass trampled swiftly into the ground–

from the galloping hooves of the powerful animal.

She remembers them all too well.

The smell of blood, the taste of fear; the tears.

The smile on her innocent face.

And then he came.

She learned to swim again.

She had to.

This time, the water was opaque.

Red, thick.

The way his hands felt.

She couldn’t breathe,

the wisps of life fluttering through her body;

her body.

Her body that had learned so well,

had heard the grass whimper.

Had seen it die.

Was nothing more than one solitary blade.

Fragile.

Limp.

Colorless.

Dead.

The hooves smothered her, confined her.

As his hands flickered in the torrent of the night sky.

His menacing laughs the only conversation.

And slowly, the blade of grass turned.

Green became brown, the ebb of life withering.

It had no fight, no will…no life.

Just another object, just another conquest.

Gone.

He was and she was, too.

Eyes of fright looked into a distraught soul.

Looking hard, deep…finding nothing.

She was empty and hollow.

A hazel green eye looking into a mirror,

gazing into an elongated crack, twisted and turned–

her innocence no longer uniform.

And from that single, solitary blade of grass…

From the brown, tattered, and dead plant.

Came a single, solitary, spherical tear–

that splattered and shattered as it hit the ground.

For all of US.

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