“Me too. If everyone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “me too” as a status, people might have a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
My newsfeed was filled with “me too” posts. Some wrote detailed accounts while others simply stated, “me too.” I wrote that my “me too” includes the times I let a man have sex with me because I thought it was proof that I was okay and acceptable – a relief for someone who, at her core, believed she was not at all okay. Being cat-called, groped, propositioned, and/or forced to have sex was a sign that my body – and thus my very self – was acceptable and that I was worthy of attention.
My “me too” also includes the intense and corrosive shame that went along with all of that, and which ran much of my life.
More recently, and most importantly, my “me too” includes having worked through that shame – transforming it from a source of pain into a source of wisdom, strength, and creativity.
I was so very insecure about my body and believed that being desired sexually by a man was the only way to prove my worth, I allowed myself to be coerced, manipulated, and a few times, forced, into having sex. These beliefs and patterns were passed down via my maternal lineage. Check out this blog post I wrote two years ago: Rumbling With The Truth Of Self-Loathing, Shame, And Infidelity.
One of my favorite teachers, Dr. Christiane Northrup, shared this on Facebook last week:
The revelations about Harvey Weinstein struck a deep chord within me. Not because this kind of thing is anything new, but because, for the very first time in my lifetime, our society is not protecting a powerful and rich sexual predator – and neither is his wife. Or the media. Why? Because women have finally become strong and empowered enough collectively to risk telling the truth. And instead of backing down, we are rising in support. The tide is really turning. Back in the 1980’s when I was starting out in practice, I saw the toll that silence about abuse takes on women’s bodies. I noticed that many women with conditions such as chronic pelvic pain had been sexually abused. My colleagues denied this and told me my patients were “crazy” and that they only saw “normal” women. I persisted in telling the truth. And it cost me. But over time, my observations have become mainstream and we have the data to prove it. Long ago, Sonia Johnson, author of From Housewife to Heretic, wrote, “Women are rising like yeast all over the planet.” And indeed that yeast has just taken a quantum leap. Predators beware. Your days are numbered. I know we have a long way to go still. Women have been oppressed for about 5000 years. And we only got the right to vote in the U.S. in 1919 (which passed by only one vote and was not an easy battle). The change is speeding up – the light is getting lighter. Quickly. And that is why the Dark is fighting so hard to maintain control. Trust the light. You with me?
This is why I do the work that I do.
You might be thinking, “What does having a difficult mother have to do with Harvey Weinstein?”
Difficult mothers are born from misogyny and toxic patriarchy. What they unknowingly pass down is the pain of being a woman in a culture that does not equally value women. This is the pain of “not good enough” and of harsh self-judgment, shame, criticism, and unworthiness. This pain has been passed down, woman to woman, mother to daughter, for centuries.
The good news is that, as Dr. Northrup said, we have reached a tipping point. We have the awareness, tools, and ability to rise, resist, and re-mother.
Much, much love,
P.S. Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration is now ready for preorder!