No longer avoiding a secret subject

Trigger warning – reference to sexual assault

I’ve been thinking about how I’ve never talked about being sexual assaulted. Shame kept me quiet, as if I should have known better than to put myself in both situations. It’s on my mind after watching She Said, a movie that left me feeling empowered by the women who came forward with the truth. In 2017, New Times reporters, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey wrote a piece revealing accounts of women who had been sexually abused by Harvey Weinstein. After the article 82 more women came forward with their own allegations against Weinstein. The women had waited years to be heard and validated. 

I have lived with the secret of sexual assault for 40 years. There won’t be any justice served for my perpetrators. One is no longer living.
“We have been discouraged from writing about it because it makes people uncomfortable. Because a patriarchal society wants its victims to be silent. Because shame is an effective method of silencing.” Melissa Febos, Body Work

I was twenty when my cousin fourteen years my elder, a counselor, invited me over with the pretense of offering me comfort. My long-term boyfriend and I had broken up. On his couch, he offered me condolences while rubbing my back. That’s my last conscience memory before pulling my pants back on and leaving. Many years later an ex-girlfriend of his told me she had been sexually abused by him and that he was very sick sexually. I’m sure in his case there are others. 

It’s typical to not remember, to dissociate during any traumatic event. Glennon Doyle and Sarah Polley discuss this in the March 1. 2023 episode of We Can Do Hard Things. Sarah Polley wrote and directed Women Talking. It’s very well done.

Ironically, eight years later, that cousin’s sister introduced me to her out of town friend while out at a local restaurant bar. By the end of the evening, he extended an invitation to dinner. I beat myself up for saying yes, I wasn’t that comfortable with him. The next night while my parents watched my daughter, he took me to the nicest restaurant in town. Of course, when he took me home, he offered to see me in. It was quick and furious, and he was out the door. 

I was in shock after both incidences, never spoke to anyone about it. I locked the trauma away sometimes drinking to numb the horror when I would remember the incidences. I lost trust in myself; I hadn’t paid attention to my intuition. Melancholy loomed like a cloud. 

Hearing others speak out in reported pieces, movies, books, etc. has given me courage to do the same. It helps me understand I am not to blame. I have suffered and I have recovered. 

“What I have observed is that avoiding a secret subject can be its own kind of bondage.” Melissa Febos, Body Work

Podcast, gun laws, books and movies

Usually, I listen to an audible book or podcast while driving in the car. It especially helps while running errands in Missoula since traffic has gotten out of control with the influx of people moving here. That’s another story.

A few recent good ones worth noting:

-Glennon Doyle’s We Can Do Hard Things, episode with Dr. Galit Atlas discusses Atlas’s new book, Emotional Inheritance, A Therapist, Her Patients and the Legacy of Trauma. Emotional Inheritance is about family secrets that keep us from living to our full potential, create gaps between what we want for ourselves and what we are able to have, and haunt us like ghosts. 

-Glennon Doyle also aired a podcast in response to the recent shooting in Texas. How We Will Save Our Kids from the Gun Lobby’s Greed with Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. It’s educational and shares some actions we can take to get common sense laws passed. It’s effortless to send a letter to Senators urging them to pass gun safety laws at, MDA, take action.

-Tin House podcast, Between the Covers, episode with Caren Beilin – Caren discusses her new novel, Revenge of the Scapegoat.
The main character is the scapegoat of the family. Just a day later I was in our local bookstore, Fact and Fiction, it was right there on the shelf so I bought it.

This was my introduction to Caren Beilin. I’ve put her memoir, Blackfishing the IUD on my “to read” list. As the title makes abundantly clear, the book is an argument that the copper IUD is sickening quite a lot of women — and that we listen first and foremost to women’s testimony to begin to resolve it. Some auto immune diseases stem from the IUD.
As a young woman, I got a terrible infection from an inserted IUD. My later ectopic pregnancy was a result of that infection. That was the demise of a five year relationship with the love of my life as we struggled to handle the ramifications of the pregnancy in our youthful hearts and minds. That’s another story.

I got my Montana ballot in. Dear God, I hope we can keep Zinke from being elected. Monica Tranel got my vote.

The dog I’m caring for, Jessa, and I are off to hike, probably will get wet. Late afternoon, a friend and I plan to see Downton Abbey: A New Era at the Roxy Theater and eat their delicious organic popcorn with organic butter for dinner! That’s my idea of a good way to spend Memorial Day.

Hope you are having an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.
Thanks for reading.