…you’ll find a collection of my jumbled thoughts and memories. Like a little, digital pensieve.
I can’t stop thinking about how little and insignificant everything is. How answering emails and doing laundry and rushing to catch a train are just so unimportant and small. How incredibly unfair it is that loss and absence bear such great weight.
It’s one of the most painful, twisted facts of life: Loss is heavy. It sits on our hearts completely unforgivingly, and it’s so easy to let that weight crush every other emotional reaction we have, or want to have.
But if we never feel joy, we rob others of the chance to celebrate us. If we suppress every instinct to feel sadness or stress or frustration, we leave so little room for friends to show empathy. And if we let ourselves feel overwhelmed with pain, or numbness, or both in quick succession, we throw away our own capacity to celebrate others’ joys, to mourn others’ losses, to heal others’ wounds.
Ultimately, we can’t allow friends to share their light if we never reveal our darkness, however minuscule. As Leonard Cohen so brilliantly put it, cracks are where the light gets in. And goodness me, do I want to feel that light.
I created this website in 2017 — a year of shifts, moves, and milestones. Over the course of that year, I quit my job and left New York. I moved to France. I moved to England. And somewhere along the way (in part, I think, thanks to this very site), I became a Writer with a capital W.
Of course, I’d always kind of been a “writer.” That is, words have always mattered to me — whether I was drafting communications plans for clients, essays for school, or feisty, political Facebook rants for no one in particular. But outside of a few half-assed articles about men’s apparel on a college fashion blog, I didn’t have a real byline or any portfolio of work to my name. Despite the pitches I sent and aggressively enthusiastic cover letters I drafted, no outlets — online or elsewhere — wanted to run my writing.
And then (and then!), the tide started to change. Thanks to luck, persistence, and a few forged connections, I landed a writing job at POPSUGAR. Then another at Elite Daily. And before I knew it, I’d landed 200+ bylines, two literary agents, and a tinge of confidence in my ability to Write (with a capital W!).
Point being? Just fucking do it — just fucking write, you guys.
Me too. Me too. Me too.
Two words I’ve seen echoed across social media today – like little hands, slowly but surely being raised in a crowd. It’s a gesture of solidarity, bravery, and vulnerability that makes me feel both empowered and empty. I’m not alone… but why is this particular trauma so widely shared? How is this acceptable or okay? What are our stories? How do we stop this?
I don’t have all of the answers, but I do have my little bit of truth – my own piece of this broken and f*cked up puzzle. And just like every “me too” I’ve seen today, my story matters, and my voice should be heard.
So here it goes (tw: sexual and emotional abuse).
I was sixteen and stupid and I liked a boy with a silly name and crooked smile. I thought he was cute; he thought I was, too. We gave each other piggy-back rides and kissed in book stores. In my foggy teenage brain, we were in love.
And then it stopped. The compliments and pet names. The kisses on the cheek. The sweet, innocent aspects of our relationship slowly faded, and the pressure increased.
I’d never really kissed a boy before – apparently I was bad at it. I didn’t want someone grabbing my ass – apparently that was foolish. I didn’t want anyone reaching into my bra – apparently I was trying to stunt our relationship (oh, and my bra was too padded and my chest too small).
I didn’t want him slipping his hand down my pants, so he would just do it while I was sleeping.
“No” was nothing but a chance to berate me – sometimes alone, other times to friends. I was stubborn. Over-the-top. Asexual. Full of excuses. A tease. I clearly did not care about him as much as he cared about me (the words “I’d do anything to make you feel good, and you won’t do the same” still haunt me).
But I liked this boy. So damn much. I liked his tie-dye shirts, generic cologne, the late-night conversations we had about the future…
So I let my boundaries tumble down. Sure, sometimes I’d collapse and start hyperventilating on my bathroom floor, or sob uncontrollably for a few hours, but I let it all happen. Let him push my head down as far as he wanted to. At times, I even liked it (which led to a kind of guilt and shame I don’t think I can describe with words).
But here’s the thing: there is nothing to be ashamed of. This wasn’t my fault, it never was. I wasn’t foolish, my bra wasn’t too padded, and my body is not only fine as is, it’s also mine and only mine. I am not weak because I was sexually assaulted, nor am I sharing this to seem bold or strong.
I’m sharing it because I am one of approximately 321,500 women (in the US alone) who is sexually assaulted each year, and every one of us has a story. Some took place in Hollywood hotel rooms, others in corner offices, and others still in childhood homes. But as I’ve said, each story matters. And maybe – just maybe – the louder we shout, the more difficult it will become to silence us; to normalise and excuse “boys being boys;” to make us feel victimised and guilty and alone.
Because you’re not alone. I’m with you. Me too.
*Note: No woman owes anyone her story. Period. But I’ve found it helpful to put my own into words.