Every two months, they put me on a new medicine. Every two months, my body freaks out, adjusts, attempts to align. Every two months, for the past year and a half, I get a blood test that tells me the same news: Nope, not healthy yet. Not normal yet. This is not over yet. Try again. And again. And again.
Every few months, there’s a new name in the news. Every few months, we go through this process: shock, outrage, he-said-she-said, a call for justice, an attempt at justice. Every few months, we see another man “fall” (is that what happens, when they get multi-million dollar early retirement plans?). Every few months, we have to live through shocking headlines, heartbreaking stories. Every few months, women across the country are re-traumatized for the hope of half a step of progress forward. And again. And again. And again.
I’m tired and once again not sleeping and it’s been so dang long of on-and-off insomnia. I’m tired and there’s nothing I can do about it. Nothing I can do to make it stop. Just hoping the next cycle brings healing. Just hoping the next cycle brings change.
We’re tired and we’re exhausted and we don’t know what else to do. We’ve voted and we marched and yet still this? Still no change? We’ve done all we can do – and it makes you wonder if we can do anything at all. Can we ever stop this? Can we change anything?
The newest round of thyroid meds? My hair thickened overnight (to my hair dresser’s dismay). The shaking is back. My body temperature is anyone’s guess. Insomnia is here to stay, it seems.
But the worst part? I have no appetite. At all. Pretty much the opposite of an appetite, if that’s a thing. Which is sad, for someone who counts eating among her favorite hobbies. But it’s also bad, for a human who needs food to survive.
My brain keeps telling me “You’re not hungry. You’re not hungry. You don’t want food. You’re fine. You’re fine! Food? Ugh. No thank you. You aren’t hungry.”
Except that, my body, 12+ hours after not eating anything, is like…… wait. I am hungry. Wait. I have some needs. Wait, please feed me. Please?
My own body is gaslighting itself.
I really don’t want to get lost in the weeds here, because there are so many weeds. There have been approximately 1 million think pieces over the last week discussing his calendar and his yearbook entries and her political leanings and her connection to the Clintons (LOL). There are no new opinions to be had on this subject, it seems – every hot take possible has been burning its way through the internet.
And there has been an outpouring of victim’s stories over the last week. My newsfeeds are filled – FILLED – with “this happened to me 30 years ago and I never said anything” and “he was my boyfriend” and “no one believed me”. I have read heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story. There are published articles and there are random Instagram comments – each one important, each one life changing. And these are only the stories of people who have chosen to make them public – can you imagine the private pain happening in America right now?
I can’t bring myself to discuss the hearing. It’s tragic on so many levels. But the bigger conversation to have here? How America talks about sexual assault. Because it’s a sickness we’re nowhere close to healing from.
If I have to read one more “poor men, they are so scared of women now!” or “men can’t do anything these days without fear of false allegations popping up” or “this man’s life is RUINED by this lie” I. will. scream.
Somehow we simultaneously blame victims for their assaults while also telling them they aren’t the real victims – men are. Somehow one in five women will be raped in their lifetime, while only 2% of rape allegations are false – and we are still worried about men. I keep hearing about poor suburban mothers who must be so very fearful their songs may grow up to one day be falsely accused of something so terrible. Somehow women were a matter of concern for about half a second, before we went back to only caring about men. I’m over it.
How is it a woman is assumed to be remembering incorrectly, but the man’s testimony is gospel truth? How is it we are still valuing the he so much more in he-said-she-said. Innocent until proven guilty is great and all – but I don’t understand why it doesn’t apply to victims, too. Because I sure see a lot of lying-ass-woman-out-to-ruin-man-until-proven-1000%-credible when it comes to allegations of sexual assault.
I’m hearing a lot of outrage from women. I’m hearing a lot of female solidarity. I’m hearing a lot of shouts and screams and raised voices. You know what I’m seeing from men? A whole lot of …nothing.
NOT ALL MEN, to be sure. But enough. I’m getting messages and texts about it. I’m hearing – if I listen hard enough – small whispers. But what am I getting from our brothers in the midst of this mess? Public silence.
And that’s infuriating on a whole other level.
Believing women is not a partisan issue. Standing up for survivors is not a political statement. You can desire the truth to be found and support the concept of due process – and still speak up. You can see the system is stacked against victims and use your voice. You could – this is a novel concept, I know – NOT MOCK PEOPLE who bravely come forward and make their pain public. You can have a say in setting the moral bar for this country. It’s pretty dang low at the moment.
Women can’t do this alone. Survivors can’t carry this burden alone. We need people speaking up, we need advocates, we need help.
I go to yoga class in search of sanity. It reminds me to feel something. It reminds me my body is not my enemy. It reminds me the emotional pain and weight I’ve been carrying this week has turned physical.
I read story after story, article after article, until I am weary with the collective pain of my sisters (and some brothers). I read until my brain shuts off, my eyes can’t take anymore. Yoga reminds me to feel it. Yoga reminds me our heads matter, but our bodies do, too.
My body may be gaslighting me, but I can learn to listen – carefully – to my needs. I can learn to figure out a way to take care of myself, regardless. I may not be able to control my body, but I can try to listen to what it’s telling me.
We like to pretend this about truth. A full investigation! If she had hard evidence! If more women came forward…
But it’s not about truth. It never was. Just like sexual assault isn’t about lust (we looooove to think that, especially in the Church). It’s about power.
This week has been a reminder of what we’ve all known for so long. Our bodies aren’t our own, when men have decided they have other uses for them. Our pain doesn’t matter, when men have decided there are higher stakes. Our truths are not true, when men have decided they are inconvenient.
If there is a vote at stake, if there is a political play to be made, if there is a man’s reputation on the line? Women are the sacrifices. Women are the collateral damage. Women are the pawns to be played. Our government that claims to be for the people, by the people is a sham. It always has been. It’s a government for the powerful, by the powerful.
As women in this country, they keep telling us “You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine! We believe you. We see you. We love women. We love equality. You’re fine.”
“That clearly isn’t what happened. We believe you – but you’re just remembering wrong. Of course we trust you, we just trust him more. It’s fine! You’re fine.”
“He couldn’t have done that – he’s a good man! But, every teenage boy does things like that. Except, not him. But even if he did, it’s not a big deal. Did we mention you’re fine?”
The country is gaslighting us. We’re demanding our pain be listened to, and they’re trying to convince us – at the head level – nothing is wrong. Rape culture? Not real. Assault? Usually a lie. Men? Always innocent.
But women are learning to recognize to our needs. We’re learning to listen to the whispers. We’re learning injustice demands action.
“You aren’t hungry, you aren’t hungry, you aren’t hungry,” my brain keeps shouting.
“But. I am,” my body whispers back.