Healing By Holding Space: ‘Me Too’ is All of Us.
One morning last week, I woke to seeing several posts on Facebook from women, saying they are over the #MeToo phenomenon that is trending in social media, stating their opinion that they have moved on and that women should stop blaming and pointing fingers.
I felt really sad when I read this because I also am a #MeToo-er and it was really hard for me to say it on Facebook three days ago. In fact, my original Facebook status was #MeToo, attempted rape three times, four times on-the-job sexual harassment, then I took it down and just posted the simple #MeToo.
As I observed my process in putting up and taking it down, my exact thoughts were They will judge me, they won’t believe me, they will think I am a victim. But I re-posted anyway, and sat back and watched as sisters from around the country also went through the same process that I thought only I was experiencing: the fear and shame of saying it, and the courage to say it anyway.
How did I come to this place of still feeling that old fear and shame? Let me tell you how it happens for many women in this culture.
I was a child being raised by two very wounded people. My parents divorced when I was six, and my father had custody of me. However, I was still influenced by my mother, and in my family, according to the women, all men were assholes only good for money and sex.
Men were always put down for being slow, being perverts, not doing anything right, and certainly not appreciated for the divine human beings that they really are. Comments from my mother included “It’s just as easy to marry a rich one as a poor one” or “Men are like buses — when one moves on, another one moves in.”
My father, who was an extremely wounded man struggling with alcoholism and mental health issues, was constantly looking for love outside himself. He was good-looking, and had a steady stream of women coming and going.
As a little one around him when no one else was, I heard his comments about women when we drove past them in the car, and witnessed all the pick-ups, the locker-room talk with his buddies, and the often violent scary relationships and heartbreaks my dad and his partners went through.
This was normal to me, as well as the verbal and physical violence I also experienced at the hands and tongues of both parents. I didn’t know any different. I had no good mentors, I had no role models, I had the TV and other friends who were just as lost as I was as to what constituted healthy male-female relating. Then I became a teenager.
I remember clearly my freshman year in high school, when I went from years of being bullied to suddenly everyone liking me. I had physically become a woman, and everything changed. I had so much attention suddenly! Men staring at, cat-calling, paying attention to me.
Although I was very confused about it all, I basked in the attention and unconsciously used this newfound interest in myself to get the love I’d never received. I would do anything to get that love, validation, interest, that someone special who would see me as special at last.
However, not knowing what I should know, I mixed with unhealthy men, I was unknowingly objectified thinking the objectification was approval that I desperately couldn’t yet give myself. The three attempted rapes should have been reported but I didn’t know and I was ashamed.
I was used to being treated like shit, dismissed, and devalued, so when these situations occurred, I blamed myself in countless ways, shoving the pain down, the abandonment hurting myself physically and mentally.
The filter I had developed through early childhood was proving all men are assholes, especially since many times I had men flash me their penes, including one who was masturbating right behind me while I was looking at art supplies in the drugstore.
I had a boss who couldn’t stop with sex-talk late at night on the job while we made bagels and bread for his store the next morning, and I dated a few Harvey Weinstein types (men also as wounded as myself) who discarded me and treated me like I was nothing.
I could go on and on with all I endured. Why didn’t I report it? Why did I put up with it? Quite simply, I didn’t know, I could lose my job, I was confused by my own need for acceptance and love.
Finally, at 35, I landed in therapy with an extremely skilled and qualified therapist who specialized in childhood trauma.
That was 15 years ago, and as I got straightened out, nurtured, mentored, and learned to love myself, the most important thing I learned was to hold the space for my healing, to have compassion for the process of healing, that having the courage little by little to say the truth of what happened or is happening is vital to deep change and moving out of the victim position.
If my therapist hadn’t had the skill to be patient as I confessed the secrets I had been holding, the shame of it all, the endless tears and feelings long buried, if she would have sat there and told me that I was being a victim and I needed to move on and stop blaming, this healing would not have happened.
Every single trauma gets trapped in time and the body holds the record, wounds of the soul that, when triggered, erupt in rages, hot tears, and feelings of isolation. I needed to be heard, supported, validated. I needed the time and space to work through it. I have also learned that healing is a lifelong process, but it does get easier.
The more skilled you can be with holding space for yourself, and the more you can do it for yourself, the more you can also hold the space for others.
So I say to the sisters who are dismissive of the others who are still saying #MeToo, let them have their voice, see them, and and if you cannot see them and validate them, at least hold the space for their unfoldment to come, for their truth to be heard as I suspect someone may have done for you.
And if you are feeling very annoyed by the whole thing, check with yourself that there aren’t still things buried in you that cause discomfort when you read #MeToo, because when you are really okay with all that’s happened with you, surely you can hold the space for others, and at the very least, hold the space for those much younger or less privileged than you to go through the healing process of telling the truth.
Gretchen Spletzer is a writer living in California, a researcher into the nature of consciousness, and an explorer of the multidimensional universe. You can connect with her on Facebook.