Guys, this week has been tough. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve had moments where I’ve been so very proud of myself for sharing my story and I’ve had moments where I wished I would have kept my mouth shut. It’s been hard, but not necessarily in the way that I thought it’d be. What I didn’t know going into this whole thing was that telling my story was actually going to be the easy part. The real courage, the real bravery, would come after.
For me, sharing my story was not about outing him. It was about me standing up for myself in a way that I wasn’t even capable of doing back then. It was about me sharing something so personal in hopes that it might resonate with someone else going through something similar. It was about showing people how truly rampant this behavior is in our culture. It was about showing my support to the women that have been brave enough to speak up and the ones who are still suffering in silence.
Unfortunately, vulnerability comes at a cost. Because what’s happened since I’ve shared has not been easy to deal with. I’ve willingly put myself in a position to be judged in the most personal way. There has been a lot of support yet a lot of silence. And within that silence lives gossip. I’ve made myself a target for rumors and assumptions and inaccuracies, and I’ve been hurt all over again.
What’s so ironic about this is that the guy from my original story, my “friend”, read my blog post and actually apologized to me. Sincerely apologized. He gave me what I needed from him now, because I spoke up. He took accountability for himself and his actions and commended me for my courage to tell my story. While I definitely don’t forgive his actions, I am choosing to believe that people can change. And yet, even after I got what I rightfully deserved from him, I’m still hurting. Not because of him but because of all the collateral damage that comes from sharing something so personal publicly.
I’d just like to say that if you’re reading this post, if you read my last two posts, and your first reaction was “omg gossip!! do you know who she’s talking about?? i have to find out!! who can i talk to who might know?!”…… INSTEAD of “wow, that is awful. i can’t believe this happens so often. we need this to stop. how can i show my support?”, then maybe you need to take a look in the mirror and take some accountability for your role in this culture. Because this is EXACTLY why women are afraid to speak up. For fear of judgement and gossip. Behind her back. To her face. To her family or her friends. And this is EXACTLY what needs to change. Our first response to hearing something like this should not be whispers behind the scenes, it should be conversations full of support, compassion and respect.
I am capable now of dealing with the aftermath. But I wasn’t back then. Just like so many other women.
I am not sorry that I told my story. I am at peace knowing that I’m a better person for what I did say rather than what I didn’t. I know that I have the empathy and freaking common sense to know how to react appropriately and compassionately to someone sharing something so intensely personal. And I know how to be a supportive human being. After everything, I feel like I am now able to accept that while the memory of my story still is one of violation and shame… I can move forward knowing that it is also a story of empowerment. I am stronger and smarter and more considerate because of this. I hope you are too.