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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Truth Can’t Cure The Blind…

I stumbled upon these lyrics the other day in some fan-fiction online and needless to say, this track has been playing on repeat on my playlist ever since…  It’s a relatively old track (from 2011) aptly titled “Nineteen” from a wonderfully gifted artist by the name of Alex G. (**You can check out her YouTube channel here!**)

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VERSE: I’m tired of playin’ the part / Of a little girl who can’t use her heart / I’m broken, torn and scarred / From all the poison you threw at us / But you won’t know, ’cause you can’t see / The tattered child you’ve made of me

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CHORUS: You’ll follow me into my dreams / And spit your words so desperately / And I’ll wash my hands of this tragic mess / And truth can’t cure the blind, if they don’t care to see

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VERSE: Nineteen years inside this flesh / I fought through pain / I’ve paid my dues / But that’s still not enough for you / So where do we go from here? / You won’t keep me trapped in my fears / You’re sinking in your selfishness / We’re tainted by words left unsaid

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BRIDGE/CHORUS: Did you even notice the look in my eyes / When I spoke of him for the very first time / And do you remember when you were my age? / Do you remember at all? / Don’t follow me into my dreams / And spit your words so viciously / I’ll wash my hands of this tragic mess / But truth can’t cure the blind / Yeah, truth can’t cure the blind / I wish you’d change your mind / But you don’t care to see…



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So…September happens to be Suicide Awareness/Prevention month…a little piece of information that I’m fairly certain a good majority of people out there aren’t even aware of…thanks nearly in whole to society. It truly amazes me that in this day and age with the level and amount of transparency that’s out there, not to mention along with the staggering high suicide and self-harm numbers that seem to just be increasing at such an exponential rate each and every year that society still views these issues as sort of “taboo” topic–as in something not to be discussed or acknowledged or god forbid actually dealt with, but rather as a problem that is willfully and purposely ignored and “swept under the rug”, so to speak. We’ve barely even begun to reach the cusp of change in this–to accept and acknowledge that not only is depression a very real, very tangible thing, it’s also a growing epidemic that plagues and affects the lives of millions of people, each and every day.


And no one is immune. People will say that they are…and they might like to tell themselves that–or they might have to just to get though the day–but they’re lying to themselves when they do because no one is happy 24/7. No one. Even the happy-go-lucky-iest h/she has his/her bad days, low points, and rough patches. Life isn’t always unicorns and rainbows. We all cry. We all get hurt. We’re all a little broken inside.


Some of us are just a little more broken than others.


And that’s okay.


It took me a long time to realize that. And it took me even longer to accept it. Like so many other survivors of suicide/self-harm, I lived in shame for a long time for what I’d done. I didn’t want anyone to know. I was so afraid of being judged, of what other people would say if they found out–how they’d look at me once they knew what I’d done. It’s strange, but it wasn’t so much their ridicule that I feared. Rather, it was their pity. I couldn’t bear the thought of people looking at me with pity in their eyes, feeling sorry for me…but most of all, I feared that look of them wanting to fix it–wanting to fix me. Especially when, little did they know, I was unfixable.


For years I held on to the same truth and told the same lie…that I didn’t mean to do it. That it was an accident. I was drunk. I wasn’t thinking clearly. You name it, I said it. But the truth is, I did want to die, I think. At least, a little part of me wanted to. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done what I did. Right? I mean, that’s the only logical explanation.


One thing people always ask is why. And honestly, there are so many things I could tell them. So many things I could say. I was young, dumb. Hell, I was only 20 years old. I was still just a kid in so many ways. And yeah, I was drunk–really, really drunk. I guess part of it was that I was tired of all the expectations of the people around me that I felt were weighing me down. Also, I was tired of all the secrets that I was keeping, hiding, and carrying around. Tired of pretending like I cared, when to be perfectly honest, at that particular point in my life, I couldn’t have given a damn. I really couldn’t.


Then there was my family. My crazy, dysfunctional, seriously screwed up–and that’s on a good day–family. I was sick of the fighting; the constant bickering and backstabbing and all-around one-upping. I was tired of being a girl from a broken home that didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being mended, or god forbid ever changing. It’s hard to believe the great childhood I had—and it was a good one—when I think about what my teen years were like in that house. I don’t think I could ever justly describe it—the depths of such loneliness and despair; of feeling insignificant. Of feeling forgotten. I was in a new school. My sister was away at college. My mother was preoccupied with her “boyfriend of the moment” and had her hands full with my juvenile delinquent of a brother. And I was just there…feeling lost…trying to make sense of this new reality I’d just been thrust into. No one noticed me. For years, I hid an eating disorder from them. For years, I kept a secret cutting habit from them. Then came that horrible night, and that horrible Planned Parenthood visit. I was a mess.  And somehow they were blind to it all. And as if having your whole world turned upside-down and inside-out on you in such a way as that isn’t cruel enough, my brother—after stealing my journal and violating my privacy one night—decided to make it his mission to ensure that I never forgot that night or what happened. You have no idea what it’s like to be constantly reminded of the worst night of your life after it’s been twisted and manipulated to fit and be used in someone’s attack against you. And the fact that that someone is your brother—your own flesh and blood—not surprisingly, the betrayal from that cuts far deeper. I was tired of it—tired of having to stand there and take it; having to act unaffected and hold back the tears–at least until I’d made it out of eyesight and earshot of him. What’s worse is that my family did nothing. They didn’t make him leave. They didn’t make him stop. When he’d start, they’d just tell him to shut up or tell me to ignore him—like that was going to happen—and which of course, was easy for them to say seeing how they had no idea what it was that he was even harassing me about. Having to deal with that day in and day out for nearly 2 years—it shouldn’t come as a shock that he’d beaten me down. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s exactly what he’d done. He pushed me to the point where I couldn’t escape it—and was literally so desperate to that I didn’t care if I lived or died. So when he’d throw around phrases like “go kill yourself” or “no one would care if you’d died”… you start to believe it. And then you actually try to do it. And you don’t care.


Over the years, many have asked me that “numero uno” question: Do you regret it?


Not to sound “crazy” or anything—but I don’t think I do. At least, not entirely. I mean, I’ve had a long time to think about it. Eight years at the end of this month, to be exact. I know that the expected answer is to say “yes”. That I do regret it. That, if I could, I’d go back and do things differently. I know that’s what society is expecting me to say…but if I were to say so, then I’d be lying.


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wrist scars suicide attempt on 10.31.2007 with semicolon

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I used to be ashamed of this scar. I used to look at it and feel guilty—angry even—with myself for what I’d done. I’d hide it, cover it up with long sleeves, lie about where it came from when asked…because I thought I had to. Because that’s what society has conditioned us all to do—to look at things such as suicide, depression, mental illness, and self-harm as something to be ashamed of—when they aren’t that at all.


These scars I wear are not reminders that I was weak. They’re reminders of my strength. They are my battle scars. A reminder to myself of the journey I’ve taken to get to here, and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. And boy, there have been many. My scars are my encouragement. When things get rough and life gets hard—when I start to think that things just can’t get any worse—I look at these scars and I’m reminded that oh yes, they can. I could be back there in that moment again, literally at rock bottom—be that girl from 8 years ago…hopeless with no fight or will to live left and no future.


I could go back…I just choose not to. Because I know that it gets better. Because I know that it’s worth it. And as crazy as it sounds, I think I had to go through what I did—had to do what I did—to really get that final push. If I hadn’t, I don’t think I’d be here today. I really don’t. And I’m glad I’m here. Where I am. I’m happy. Life is good.


I’m no longer ashamed. And neither should anyone else be of their scars. We all learn in our own different ways. Sometimes it takes coming really close to losing it all to realize everything you have, to see exactly how much worth you have. So, in honor of this month, I’m wearing my scars freely, for the world to see…


xoMESSIE

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