Nightly, after everyone was asleep, the door would crack open. I knew what this meant and compliance was mandatory. Squinting my eyes against the light that shined into my dark room I would hope I was dreaming. As I’d feel the blankets being pulled down from over my shoulders toward my navel, I was instructed to get up.
It wasn’t a dream, I was wide awake.
I hated the thought of getting up. I wanted to curl into fetal position and comfort myself.
I wanted a different life, a different home and a different family.
There would already be a blanket and pillow on the sofa where I was expected to lay next to him. He would pull down my panties and press his phallus between my legs, while digitally penetrating my genitalia. He, so arrogantly, would ask if it felt good. I would repeat the word ‘no’ inside my head, but to him I remained silent. He had noted the hair on my vagina before I did.
I was 10 years old and wanted to die.
I’m 44 years old now and these memories still make me physically sick. To this day, the experiences I’ve been through constantly cause me pause to wonder how I’m alive.
On the day that I saw the first #MeToo tweet I felt a momentary sense of relief. I immediately imagined women holding my inner child’s hand and leading me to the place where they found vindication. I felt the dimmed light in my spirit swell enough to give one last burst of bright shine before completely dying.
In a time where a powerful movement for awareness was presumed to bring comfort and a sense of bonding with a new sisterhood, I’d never felt more alone and isolated. For all the progress this movement claims to be making in exposing sexual harassment and abuses, I’ve never felt like more of a prisoner in solitude. I am just as much as a detainee to my memories and my silence today as I was back then despite the celebrated progress and liberation.
As I read one article after another, women claim to have found a voice and are shifting from identifying the problem to solving it. But from my nosebleed seats, I fear that I am witnessing a parody of my pain and struggles. I hear women using a voice they’ve always had and solving a problem that exists in a sector of our society that is isolated to the adult world. Not that this issue isn’t worthy of resolve, but it has left so many of us behind.
So, I sit alone today and continue the fight that started for me when I was a merely a preteen. I struggle to believe that I am more than what my emotions tell me I am. I push away the tendency to be a victim to the simple struggles in everyday life.
I show my strength every day by fighting against my propensity to close the world off as I protect myself from suffering further humiliation. I show courage by looking at my reflection and telling myself I am worth another day because God knows if I had to do it again I probably wouldn’t live. I exhibit bravery by giving to the world all the kindness it will accept without judging myself when a door closes or someone’s back turns on my efforts. I validate my existence through my forgiving spirit and willingness let go. And in my silence, in the shadows of the #MeToo Movement, I show my heroism by sheltering my husband and daughters from the pain that has haunted me every day for 34 years. Standing tall, I vow to take on this burden alone so to protect my loved ones, relationships and my reputation. I refuse to say #MeToo and instead say NEVER AGAIN.