The Magnitude of #MeToo: A Lifelong Curriculum in Cultivating Courage.
With the state of the world as it is, with violence, discrimination and abuse being experienced and witnessed on each and every corner of each and every town, country, continent, it’s time to have a deeper conversation.
It’s time to share, to express, to shine some light on the darkness.
If every person would answer the following question, we may begin to truly see that we are never in fact alone. That we have all experienced harassment, assault and/or abuse at one point or another along our journey. Directly or indirectly, we all play a part in this story. His story. Her story. Here is a glimpse into mine.
What does #MeToo mean to you?
It means my 5-year-old self is still trying to heal and understand why.
It means my 15-year-old self had already begun to equate being checked out and high school hallway ass-grabs to worthiness and value.
It means my 16-year-old self had developed an inability to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy attention.
It means my 18-year-old self decided that laughing and dismissing sexual advances from her manager was safer, easier and more acceptable than standing up or speaking out against it.
It means my 26-year-old self continued to do the same thing — laugh and dismiss — as the harassment now came from the VP’s, and that intelligent, values-based 26-year-old was on a career path, she had goals, and she learned that you don’t speak up and risk closing doors towards advancement. You smile and suck it up.
It means my 32-year-old self began to realize that the layers of abuse, harassment, offside inappropriate uninvited comments, looks and touches had created a whole lot of unspoken, unprocessed trauma — confusion, guilt, shame, distrust and grief. A heavy burden to bear. Baggage she’d never asked to carry.
It means my present self, 42 today, is conscious every single day of her beauty and her ugliness. Her confidence and her shame. Her truth and her secrets. It means that she, like every other woman on this planet, has experienced abuse, assault and harassment in one form or another, and that it changed her at a cellular level.
It’s informed how she sees herself, how she sees men, how she sees other women, how she sees and raises her daughters, how she sees the world. It means her innocence was stolen from her, and her ability to view herself as whole and complete without the approval of, or attention (good or bad) from, a man — distorted.
It means part of her lifelong curriculum has been to dig deeper — to go beyond the surface hurt, anger, resentment, and fear to find compassion, courage, strength and forgiveness. It’s been to write and to practice and share Yoga and to have real conversations, to shed light on the darkness and to stand in the fire.
These experiences, repeated in countless ways for 40-plus years (embedded in her DNA from generations of women who came before her affected by abuse and assault and harassment for centuries) have inspired this 42-year-old woman to challenge societal and cultural norms, to say Fuck you to status quo, and to seek to redefine roles and help change perspectives.
#MeToo means we’re human. We’re all full of confusion and delusion and fear. And the more we share, the more we move through our fear and discrimination and judgments to a place of mutual understanding, compassion and recognition that this is an issue for all to hold, for all to witness, acknowledge and help to shift, the more we will in fact affect change. The more empowered we will all feel and be.
Women, men, young, old, rich and poor — we’re all in this together. The more layers of lies and secrets and shame and fear we shed, the more connected we will realize we are, and the more connected we feel, the less harm we will inflict. Men abuse, assault and harass from a place of deep-seated weakness, fear and confusion, distorted and projected as power, strength, control and narcissism.
I cry for women, I cry for men. I cry for all of us. Me too. Us too. All suffer as long as we’re silent. As long as we perceive ourselves as separate.
Let us cultivate the competencies of courage, compassion and truth. Let us shift to a world where #MeToo means I, you, we, can say we are safe, respected, supported and connected. #MeToo
Cat O’Connor is a lover of the written word, inspired thinking, speaking and sharing, Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons, and Yoga… oh yes, Yoga. Look for her in used books stores or out-of-the-way coffee shops, on solo or family adventures, and when in doubt, on her Yoga mat. For Cat, writing isn’t an option. It’s therapy. It’s sanity. It’s purpose. She truly and humbly hopes that what she shares here stirs something in your mind, heart and, wouldn’t it be magic if it stirred just a little something in your soul? You can find Cat on Instagram.