ANNIE FRAZIER HALLADAY
I have to admit, the #MeToo campaign caught me off guard today. I know the statistics about sexual assault. 1 in 4, 1 in 6, 1 in 12? The numbers live somewhere in the back of my mind. But… I honestly forgot. I forgot what it feels like, what it looks like, the magnitude of the problem.
I am surrounded by people I love and respect and admire, people I think of as being strong, perfect or that I think of as having had things easy. And I forgot.
Even though I’ve worked so hard to grow beyond the incidents in my life (discussed in detail in Part 1 of this article). A lot of that work was reminding myself that I’m not alone. I’ve tried to convince myself that the things that others have done to me don’t make me weak or stupid, slutty or naive: this self-deprecating soundtrack has played like background noise in my head for years.
I thought I was past those thoughts- that maybe the soundtrack had shut off. But I guess not. Seeing the world, my community, my heroes, my friends, my family tick past with countless messages and stories of ‘me too’, I realized that at my core I still hold the belief that I’m alone. That I am responsible, that it’s something about me that caused it.
Unlearning beliefs is a slow endeavor.
Thank you to everyone that made themselves known today and helped remind the rest of us that we are not alone.
Thank you to everyone who didn’t make themselves known today and instead chose to honor what feels safest and best for you.
Thank you to the people who shared stories of ‘It was me’ and ‘I was him.’ It helped remind us that we are all human, we all make mistakes, and we all have the capacity to learn, grow and change.
Thank you to the people sharing resources of how to make it better. Where we go from here.
I’m grateful that last week, before the Me Too campaign picked up speed, I read the article dealing with the nuanced differences between 'consent accidents' and 'consent violations'. It helped me process through how varied my experiences have been. Realizing that incidents that are on-purpose and incidents that are on-accident both still hurt and both still deserve to be taken seriously. It seems to me that this is a part of why the problem may seem so lopsided; why there are so many more acknowledgements of it happening to them than of having done it to others. (UPDATE: In a previous version of this post, I linked to the article itself. Since doing so, I have learned that the author has been publicly accused of abuse by a former partner, and I would rather not direct clicks to his website. Because his ideas on this topic were impactful to me, I have left the reference).
I chose to share my story because I have been so quiet about it for so long. Even with my closest friends, family and partners. I’ve allowed the pieces of my story to slowly leak out, piece by piece, to different people at different times. I have always been afraid of the judgement I would receive if I was honest about it all at once.
I have believed that if my story was ever said out loud, the people I love and respect will say all the terrible things that I’ve been saying about myself for years. That I am weak, stupid, slutty, naive. Seeing the support that has been expressed for the ‘Me Toos’ today reminded me that my inner monologue is not reality. I am not weak. I am not stupid. I am not slutty. I am not naive. And the people I love don’t believe that about me either.
I am strong. Even though the world has tried to make me hard, I have held on dearly to my radical softness. And that has been my greatest feat of strength yet.
I am passionate. I have an unquenchable thirst for life- every delicious, sexy moment of it. I believe in sharing all the love and passion I have to offer, on my own terms. I believe the problem will only ever be the taking of sexuality and never, ever the giving and sharing of it.
I am wise. Inside my heart and mind lives a hard working, loving and wise intuition. She quietly observes the world and whispers in my ear to help me along when I can’t see the way forward. She always wants the best for me. Although she is imperfect and is sometimes caught by surprise or taken advantage of, she learns from experience. The more I listen to and respect her, the more she is emboldened. Watch out. She is getting fiercer and wiser all the time.
I am strong. I am passionate. I am wise.
I am strong. I am passionate. I am wise.