To date, this website has been a place where people have come to sign up for my course. Or to hear announcements about that course. It’s a place where pictures of me in a bright green dress smiling in San Francisco embodied a version of me that was happy, in control, smart, capable, and unstuck.
For over a year, I have wanted to speak my story somewhere. While I have a successful business, I do not have the largest social media following or even a ton of website traffic (by some standards). I thought if I posted no one would care and I’d just further vulnerable-ize myself, if that were a word.
But for the past day and a half I have watched with complete admiration, astoundment, and gratitude the women who are speaking out against Larry Nassar and the authority figures who allowed abuse to occur in environments that were supposed to be marked by professionalism and safety.
I have metabolized every word, facial expression, pit of disgust, exhale of fatigue, and utterance of relief that I could see across my screen. I have wanted to be those women, not in their abuse, but in their retribution.
Growing up I was fearless. Did not second guess myself. Had no trouble making mistakes. Thought I could do ANYTHING I tried that I wanted badly enough. That was me all the way through college and into my couple years in the Marshall Islands serving as a teacher through a volunteer corps.
Even after returning to the U.S. and experiencing dings that come along with reentry, I still counted on myself endlessly. I was brave and exciting (at least to myself and the man who I met in the Bay Area and married).
It wasn’t until I discovered and reported problems in my living environment that I began to lose that adventurousness, that endless confidence in myself, that surety of who I am.
Our home in the Bay Area turned out to be an unhealthy place for several reasons, and when I reported them, I was bullied, gaslit, harassed, and belittled. Because that had never happened before, I at first blamed myself and acted as I always do: with boundless kindness because I am kind.
I was patient, nice, and professional even if others weren’t.
In a vastness of confusion, I protected the persons who were abusive in their positions of authority because I had grown up to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
I broke. There were bad actors in my story and I was petrified of hurting them and their reputations. Why?
Where I grew up, drama is not welcome. I tried to be as undramatic as possible, but the cost of that was total betrayal of myself. Via silence. Allowance of bad actors. Negation of myself.
My husband and I eventually left but not without still-there damage.
During and since, I tried to go on with my job and as a wife, friend, and family member, but I was crumbling in my heart. It cannot be overstated what choked silence does to a person. I have never lost the desperation to SPEAK despite the time that’s since gone by.
The end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 have been a reckoning that at first I thought did not apply (in an experiential way) to me. I have listened to women and men report acts of violence and abuse they’ve been carrying for years if not decades. At first I read these accounts with natural empathetic horror but a sense of “I feel so bad for them;” but eventually when my body began speaking even when my mouth wasn’t, though tears, the physical sensation of feeling choked, sunkenness in my stomach, and aching in my head, did I ashamedly realize: I am still angry. For all that those abusers did not experience justice for.
Even as I write this now, I am still not publicly naming the parties who harassed and bullied me as a grown woman. I am ashamed but understanding of why.
I want to be clear why I’m finally speaking: abuse and bullying can occur at any age, at any place, at any time where there is a person in authority who lacks maturity, is cruel, dismissive, or any other type of negligent, and that people who allow such persons to be in positions of power are despicably culpable alongside. I wrote this to say that and to add my stone to the mountain of voices who are dismantling abusive behavior to bring back their free selves and prevent harm for others.
There’s no amount of gratitude I can express to the women who have made me be able to sit down and write this. I am your admirer for life.
January 18, 2018