The hashtag #metoo has gone viral this week, with women posting their experiences with unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault publicly on Facebook in hopes that men will begin to see the magnitude of the problem. We’ve been told our whole lives that 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted or raped, which is too high of a number regardless, but doesn’t even begin to explain the myriad of things that we experience as women on a day to day basis.
In light of this I feel inspired to tell a story that changed my life. That changed absolutely everything I believed about myself, my autonomy and my body. A story that has been told many times, that resonated with every woman I know and one that ended and started my life again.
I was drugged and raped at my own house when I was 17. My parents were out of town and I had friends over which led to other people being invited that I didn’t know very well. Same old story. I remember having 2 drinks and then completely blacking out. I remember him on top of me and being completely aware of it all and not being able to move. I remember wanting to fight with everything in me but being absolutely helpless. The next day I cried to my friends and they told me I was raped. I was too scared to call a spade a spade. A girlfriend of mine brought me into Planned Parenthood for a rape kit and called my parents because I was too ashamed to do it on my own. I called a guy I was dating at the time and he immediately told me it was my fault because I was drinking. I felt all of the shame immediately and tried to hide the evidence and clean myself up for fear of being judged or labeled.
Although 1 in 4 women are raped in their lifetime only 1 in 10 actually report it. I reported it. It went no where. Another “victim” lost in the system. My word against his, no evidence because I showered, did the dishes, and deleted his text messages that said, “you’re not going to tell people I like, raped you, are you?” In full on survival mode, I did what I needed to do to try to feel normal again. I remember walking into school on the first day of senior year and his locker was next to mine. I requested a change. Entering the cafeteria one day he held the door open for me from across the parking lot, staring me down, making my skin crawl and bringing back all of the same feelings and emotions. I went to counseling because my parents thought I needed it and sat there with my arms crossed, refusing to talk about it, insisting I was fine for 6 months.
It carried into University where I went from straight A’s and dance captain, studious, barely drinking- to partying to forget, denying myself the right to feel any emotions, blaming myself for what happened because maybe I shouldn’t have had that party, had that drink, trusted those people. I was a bad kid, that’s what I thought. It ruined my relationships because I didn’t enjoy sex and felt shame during sexual intimacy. My high school boyfriend held me down the first time while I cried and refused to stop. He kept covering my mouth and telling me to “relax”. These stories are normal! My experience isn’t unique! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to women I know and love share their experiences and heard everyone in the room say, “me too”. Me too. You too. Her too.
By 19 I was struggling with a drug addiction and a partying lifestyle. I was completely out of control. Because in the back of my head, not dealing with the root of the problem became the way I was dealing. I refused to talk about it or even admit the experience to anyone except the police, who were no help. I began to hate myself. I felt disgust with my body. I hated and didn’t trust men. I spiraled and forgetting became my solution. I found myself in rehab after my freshman year of college. It was the first time that I saw the strength, beauty and healing power of talking about things. I got to share my story and listen to others and it changed me. I was told that I needed to try to control my drinking, because it was obvious to my counselors that I didn’t try to control it because I wanted to be out of control. They told me to spend 6 months in counseling afterwards, sober. I thought at the time that after 6 months I’d be excited to get back to partying, but surprisingly 6 months came, then 9, then 1 year and finally after 2 years on my 21st birthday I had my first drink again.
Being sober changed my life and saved me. I changed my major to Women’s Studies because I remember the women that held my hand while I had the rape kit done. They told me that they could stand outside or stand next to me but either way they weren’t leaving. I yelled at one of them and said, “you don’t understand” and I remember the way that she looked at me and said that she did. After that I realized I now had a power to share my story and be there for someone else that experienced what I did, knowing that I understood. I worked for a sexual assault clinic, I volunteered on campus for a non profit called WATCH. We took notes during sexual assault and domestic violence cases, at the court house, documenting and making public whether or not the victim was re-victimized during the trial. Did they ask her what she was wearing, how much she had to drink, how many previous sexual partners she’d had- like any of those things matter in that moment.
Finding my voice allowed me to help others. Sharing my story and allowing myself to talk openly about it became the catalyst for the rest of my life. It changed my lifestyle, my mentality and my college major. It made me strong. But first, it made me hard. I tried to fight it, I tried to blame myself, I tried to be quiet. But in the end, all of those things only hurt me. #metoo is the catalyst for awareness surrounding sexual assault. I hope that it softens men when they understand that it’s their mothers, daughters, sisters. I’m not saying this is isolated only to women because I’ve seen many posts from men in my life that have been assaulted by women. This is the catalyst, this is the conversation we need to start having so that we can start raising men right and stop saying things like, “boys will be boys”. Your gender is no longer an excuse for your behavior.
The world needs more men with gentleness on their lips, flowers in their hair. Not balled up fists and denial of their emotions. I don’t blame the men that have hurt me because I know this is a bigger conversation about the way that society teaches men to be men. Although they’re taught to protect us, they aren’t taught softness. Although I’m incredibly happy to hear women so openly sharing their stories I want to know what’s next? The dialogue is our catalyst but what now? How do we make the world a safer place for women AND men? How do we learn to balance our masculine and feminine within ourselves and the wider world?
I want to see solutions and action. Raise your boys to play with dolls and teach your daughter’s to stand up for themselves. If you son is bossy you say he’ll be a leader, if your daughter is bossy you tell her to be quiet. Women are sick of being catcalled EVERY DAY. We’re sick of our bodies being policed without our input, your laws all over our bodies, men determining the future of birth control and abortion without the opinions of women. Where does this end? When can we start telling these stories and be taken seriously by our bosses, our partners, and especially other women?
It’s 2017 and it’s time to wake up! So ladies, keep sharing these stories! And men, start listening to your women with more softness, more love. Maybe you don’t understand, you probably don’t, but all we need is to be listened to, believed. It starts here.
A good friend of mine always used to begin a story by setting a preface. Like, somehow he had to set it up for 5 minutes before he even began to tell you what was on his mind. I asked him once why he had to preface everything he said and he looked at me like it was obvious and said, “because I want to be understood”.
Wanting to be understood is in the most innate parts of us. We are able to identify ourselves and explain our viewpoints. Being understood validates our worldview and challenges our perspective but in between every debate is the essence of wanting to be understood. Wanting to be heard.
But some times we won’t be understood. And no matter how we fight, no matter how we try to explain, sometimes it’s not a matter of being understood but being correct, getting our point across. Sometimes we just want to be right. Don’t we?
But life isn’t about being right, life is about having the right to every opinion and every action we make. It’s about seeing the beauty in differing viewpoints and appreciating the differences instead of arguing over the right and the wrong. The good and the bad. The ethical and the unethical. Our moral high ground. Our book of law.
Who are we to tell someone from another country, with a different language, a different culture that our opinion is right? Who are we to tell our neighbor that they are wrong? So, maybe we need to listen more. Dialogue doesn’t always mean equal voices. Sometimes we learn more in silence then we do in conversation.
What I’ve been feeling the last few months has been a whirlwind of energy, rash decisions, spontaneous movements, and a need for a reaction. It’s subtle but manipulative energies and we’re hurting the people closest to us. We’re all turning ourselves into storms and taking out everything in our wake. I’ve talked to a lot of friends and I’m seeing it everywhere. I’m seeing a disconnect between who people are and their actions. I’m seeing it in myself and I’ve felt a very strong pull to disconnect socially and go within.
I’ve never been an anxious person but I’ve been having these crippling moments of anxiety when I have nothing to be anxious about. Intense moments of fear that last a maximum of 10 seconds and then disappear. Moments where my heart feels like it’ll beat out of my chest. I talked to my psychotherapist and he told me that many people are having the same experience, crippling anxiety out of no where in a person that’s never had it before. He said that the energy of the universe is extremely chaotic right now, and that a lot of people don’t even have time to feel their own energies. So, those of us that do are processing these anxieties for the rest.
Being an empath it’s completely natural to absorb the energies of those around us. We are strong enough to feel them because others aren’t but sometimes we get so caught up in other energies we can’t differentiate between our own. When this happens you’ll feel completely disconnected from yourself. But I’ve had to remind myself that it’s not me, and that I’m allowed to feel these emotions but I don’t have to identify with them. I don’t have to take them on as mine.
Whenever someone I love carries out a drama in their lives and looks for a reaction I don’t have to give it to them. Because I’m realizing that the things people say to me and the choices they make have nothing to do with me. It’s their drama, it’s their problem, it’s not mine. I can choose to not react to it, and not let it affect me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means that I’m not going to join them in the agony. Right now that’ll make your friends feel like you’re pulling away but keep reminding them you aren’t, but that you come first.
Sometimes we aren’t going to agree. And that’s OK. And sometimes there isn’t anything we can do for one another. That’s okay too. Stop taking other people’s actions so god damn personally. Especially right now. People aren’t themselves, you aren’t yourself, I’m not myself. Live in that moment but know that nothing will be fixed tomorrow, and more than ever before we’re more disconnected and out of touch. That’s what happens when the world starts waking up. I know it’s scary for those of us that are already aware, but be gentle with those that aren’t because they are acting out. Love them anyways. Change is uncomfortable. Waking up isn’t easy because it challenges every paradigm we have.
The friend that calls you and wants to put blame on you for something, the partner that is telling you that you’re wrong about something, the parent that hasn’t been listening… now isn’t the time to shut them out, now is the time to love them more.
We all are trying to be understood. But we’re all unable to find the worlds right now. Love harder. Stand taller. Take care of yourself so you don’t catch and embody the negativity of others. We’re all hypersensitive beings right now and instead of ego we need humility. Find that place in yourself where you can be true to you. Currently we feel like we’re all ships passing in the night, but I assure you we’re all just looking for someone to take the time to listen.
So shut up.
I’ll say it again,
To your partner.
To your friends.
Love eachother anyways because we all deserve to be loved just as much when we’re tranquil lagoons as we do when we’re hurricanes. I refuse to only love the good parts of someone if they don’t trust me enough to show me the bad. Do the same for others.
I didn’t always think I’d be this girl.
I had this idea of constant evolution
which we are, aren’t we?
I thought I’d eventually evolve into
the person I was meant to be,
leaving behind all the pain.
Thinking the unfinished business
would turn itself into eventual awareness.
Not realizing that I had to do the work.
Not realizing that happiness has to be maintained.
It isn’t a state of arrival where
you coast once you’re there.
There is no finish line.
She captivates you. She fills you up and she frustrates you. How does she do that? How is something so beautiful so infuriating simultaneously? How can she be both at the same time? It’s too intense sometimes, the range of emotions. Her touch lingers on your skin long after she removes her fingers from your thigh. And those eyes! Those eyes that say so much pain still exists in the world, but that shine with a brightness that knows how to heal it.
Last night we fought
How can we not fight?
When there’s so much love there
that it yanks me out of my comfort zone,
when every inch of my being couldn’t
love you any more
than I already do.
When we fight and I scream
because I’m overwhelmed
we don’t understand eachother.
We are so stubborn
the two of us,
that it could shake worlds apart
like I’m being torn from my own body.
Loving you is
all of the emotions I’ve ever had
coming to me all at once.
And when I collapse
on the sidewalk
in your arms,
it’s not because I’m angry.
i’m not used to
not being in control
of my emotions.
You leave me speechless.
When we misunderstand eachother
my soul breaks with
Because it is so important to me,
to be understood.
That when we’re not,
it tears us apart
like the universe
is eating us whole.
Understanding will take us time.
But I can promise you
that I’ll fight alongside you.
Because we’re warriors baby,
and nothing is more tragic
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I haven’t had a long term relationship in over 5 years. Of course I’ve dated and had a few flings that lasted more than a month, but I’ve spent the last 4.5 years traveling the world solo. I’ve always been against long distance relationships because I had a strong belief that it probably wouldn’t work out, would end in heartbreak, and wasn’t worth my time. It definitely takes a special kind of person to travel the world with and I would guess that most couples wouldn’t come home together if asked to embark on a round-the-world trip. I read an article once that said, if you were engaged to some one, instead of spending the money on the ceremony and a blowout wedding, use it towards a trip around the world together, and if you arrive home, months later, together, at the same airport, then you know you’ll be able to get through anything together. I’m all in favor of that idea.
Flash forward to present day and I am 6 months in to the happiest relationship of my life. I have finally found someone I can travel with, that values and respects my independence, constantly encouraging me to do whatever I want and follow through on my pre-him travel plans. But as luck would have it, I met him towards the end of my 7 months in Mexico. When I went to work in the Caribbean for 2 months, we stayed in constant contact and I returned to Mexico for 3 weeks to visit him afterwards. I then surprised him another 2 months later for 5 days in Playa del Carmen and will return to Mexico to work another season in mid November. This time we have decided to live together and are trying to save money to head to Indonesia or Australia this spring. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this amazing human by my side in the future, and I can’t tell you it’s been easy because it hasn’t. We had to learn to deal with the distance and build our relationship despite it. Neither of us compromises well normally, but as our love grew so did a mutual respect and understanding for each other’s necessary freedom. So, I may not know a lot and I’m definitely still learning. But when it comes to long distance relationships, this is what I can tell you.
You will fight, but don’t hang up the phone angry. We both voiced early in the relationship how hard it was to be upset with each other when our only means of communication is a telephone. It’s bound to happen that things will get heated, but make a pact to refuse to hang up the phone angry, even if that means saying, “I’m a little upset right now and don’t think it’s a good time to talk about this, can we please discuss it later?” If you are on the receiving end of this, even if you are a lets-fix-this-in-the-moment person like me, you’ll have to learn to respect your partner’s need for thought and take a step back. We have hung up angry before but one of us has always called back within 5 minutes, in a much calmer tone.
Text every day. You might not be able to realistically pick up the phone every day and have a conversation, but make the small things count. Make a point to message a good morning and good night text, it’ll go a long way. My partner and I don’t talk but twice a week probably, sometimes less, but we aren’t the type of people that need constant contact. But with me traveling around, I sometimes wouldn’t call when I said I would and would go over a week without picking up the phone which made tensions run high and ensured that our first conversation in an extended period of time was a fight. Things happen, we are all human, but showing your partner you care throughout the day, and messaging if you can’t follow through on that call isn’t too hard. After all, we know how frustrating it is when we can’t get ahold of friends for days, imagine your significant other across the world. This also goes along with snapchats, inside jokes, or whatever makes the two of you, “you”.
Include your partner in your decisions. This may be harder for some than others. For example, I’ve gotten so used to being alone and making decisions without taking another into consideration that I still do this sometimes. Even though they may seem small and insignificant to your “separate” lives while you’re away, those little or big decisions still affect your future. I know things can get busy, but take the time to update and check in with your partner. After all, they do know you better than anyone, so make a priority for them to be at your side emotionally even if they aren’t physically.
Respect each other’s freedom. Freedom is the very reason we are most often single. And freedom from the mundane is why most of us travel. So finding a relationship with a freedom lover can be a bit tricky. I can tell you from experience that if I’ve felt smothered in the past, I would just end it because I wasn’t willing to compromise. One of the first things Victor told me is that you should love someone so that the person you love feels free. It was then that I knew I could build a future with this person. He encouraged me to fulfill my travel plans that I had before I met him, but made me promise that the next plan I made would include the two of us. Because he respected my freedom, I felt free in our relationship. I’m also notoriously bad at staying in touch, being a kinda “out of sight, out of mind” type of person. Although it took a few months and we’re both still learning, we don’t need to talk constantly or tell each other ever detail of our daily lives, but we do need to respect that we’re both still individuals living separate lives for the time being. The most beautiful relationships I’ve seen are people who push their partner’s to be the best version of themselves. Because we both want each other to succeed, we push one another to work towards our goals instead of smothering them.
Don’t play the insecurity card. We all get a little insecure sometimes, we’re human. And being in a long distance relationship usually plays towards those insecurities because we aren’t around to constantly reassure our partner, which can make us start questioning the other person’s integrity. Let me stop you there, don’t. Just don’t. Jealousy is a weak emotion. If you are feeling jealous that your partner isn’t able to talk to you as much as possible, or unsure about his new friend who happens to be a girl, then these things are on you. If you chose to be in a long distance relationship with someone, then you must trust this person. If you don’t, then that is something you have to deal with. You are not your partner’s life coach, nor should you waste your time constantly reassuring someone that you love that they are important to you and have a place in your life. I will do this from time to time because it happens, but I definitely wouldn’t deal with it regularly and you shouldn’t either. Don’t be one of those people.
Respect each other’s cultures. More than likely, if you met abroad, your partner is from another country and probably speaks another language as a first language, which means dating looks a lot different in other countries then it does in America. When you get in your first fight it’ll probably be due to a language barrier or cultural misunderstanding. Trust me, I know. And it can be really frustrating trying to understand someone else’s upbringing, culture and language. But talk calmly to each other and don’t take things too personally. We tend to think of these fights as an attack on our country or language when really it’s just due to ignorance that the other doesn’t understand. Be patient with each other when these things happen and take your time explaining instead of getting frustrated. You may quickly realize that the two of you just think completely different on something, that’s okay, respect the other’s opinion and move on. This won’t be the last time that happens when you love someone from another country, so learn to move past it.
I know there’s a lot of skepticism about long term relationships and I can’t guarantee you they will work out. My partner and I just dealt with his visa getting denied to visit me in the US, so I am now making my way back to Mexico. We are trying to head towards Australia next year where Americans can get working holiday visas and Mexican nationals cannot, another hurdle we’ll have to overcome together. But the world is a big place and there are lots of places we can fit in it, together. I can’t tell you if your relationship is right or wrong, or if mine will work out either. But if you feel strongly enough about another person, with the right amount of luck and a lot of respect it could go farther than you think. Good luck!
I said goodbye to him this morning
under hushed voices,
as if it means more that way.
I said goodbye to him
like I say goodbye to everyone.
But he isn’t everyone.
I know that.
It’s just that I’ve gotten too good
Maybe I taught him to be good
at them too.
Because there isn’t a me,
without an eventual goodbye.
Goodbye is a part of my life.
And I made it a part of his.
There was a time
where it hurt.
So I learned to protect myself
because my lifestyle is completely
conducive to goodbyes.
I had to learn to be strong.
I would always promise
that I’d come say hello and goodbye
to your face,
but eventually there was always
An avoidance of goodbye.
So, I hate goodbyes.
I had to learn to be
good at them instead.
smile on my face,
a promise of another meeting.
My dad always said,
“long hellos, short goodbyes”
and I’d constantly remind myself
how small the world is.
And how much of it I would travel
to never have to say goodbye to people,
to say hello again.
I said goodbye to him today
but I smiled.
Because this time,
I know it’s, “see you later”.
I told him that my biggest fear was that he would walk away one day without a word, deciding I wasn’t worth an explanation.
I felt it was a legit fear, it had happened in 2 previous relationships.
It caused me to wonder what it was about me,
What I had done to deserve that kind of treatment from someone I considered an equal,
Someone I treated with respect.
What was it about me that made men up and walk away?
Then I realized that maybe I was intimidating?
Maybe I was hard to love because I wasn’t something solid you could tame,
Someone you could depend on to constantly reassure your manhood and your fixed place in my life.
I’m not safe.
I’m wild and unpredictable.
I have a hard enough time keeping my own plans.
So I couldn’t promise Christmases at your parents or dinner on Thursday nights.
But control isn’t love.
Control is the opposite of love.
If you want stability…
You won’t find it with me.
If you want predictable…
I’m sorry darling but that just ain’t me!
I am who I am.
I’m messy and wild and if you can love me without the straight lines
and the full stops,
If you can love the blurry in between, fleeting moments,
Where I love you passionately then run off to my soul’s calling, leaving you alone again,
I hope you will.
I told him that my biggest fear was that he’d find me TOO much.
That he’d find me exhausting.
After one partner walked away in silence my best friend told me,
“Darling, you’re just much too much-y!”
And he told me that his biggest fear was my fear.
His biggest fear was that I would be afraid,
That I wouldn’t need him enough,
Wouldn’t try to make room for him in my life.
I did what I always do
and I left,
On my next adventure.
Back to the sea,
Back to my bliss.
And he said,
“If you love someone then you will respect someone free.”
And he let me go.
That was it.
Instead of loving me possessively,
He loved my spirit,
My wandering feet,
And he told me to follow my heart and do what I had to.
He showed me a kind of love I’d always tried to show but never gotten back.
My biggest fear became miniscule and impermanent because his love is greater than that.
He loves me more than to limit my shine
And I love him across continents because I don’t need his permission
And he doesn’t need mine.
We are a tangled web of souls who found each other in the darkness.
We are to each other what the moon is to the tide,
Equal parts sky and sea.
He is my sun.
And because of his love,
I know that I will inevitably circle back his way to feel that warmth once again.
I hear it all the time, “just let it go”. I hear it at yoga, when I’m laying on my mat as I exhale what’s no longer serving me, I hear it from friends when something bad happens, I tell it to myself so I don’t get too worked up about things. Let it go, let it go, let it all go! In light of the new moon and new year approaching it’s gotten me thinking about the concept of really, truly letting go so I’ve decided to write about how sometimes letting it go actually isn’t the answer. Letting go can bring you to the answer, but the question itself is the first step in letting go. I learned how to meditate last year and one of the things we were taught was to “watch the thinker” or to be aware of the patterns in our brain and the way we speak to ourselves. I was told to acknowledge my thoughts as they are, with full acceptance of what is, and then let it go. You weren’t to focus too much on one single thing but simply acknowledge it’s presence and then move on. So, how can all of these things be related: letting it go, moving on, watching the thinker, and accepting what is?
I was thinking that sometimes letting it go isn’t the answer. Sometimes what we really need is a full acceptance of what is first. We need to acknowledge where these feelings are coming from and why they are there. If we don’t understand why we’re feeling this way then letting it go is easier said than done. Only if we can see these things for what they are and accept them without judgement can we eventually find our way into letting it go. And usually this comes before you even realize it, because you’ve already worked your way through by being able to subjectively “watch the thinker” and now you’ve found your way into the answers.
What I’ve been doing lately when I find myself annoyed or frustrated and in that in between state where I just want to say, “fuck it”, is instead of taking a moment to stop myself my first instinct is to quickly push the feelings out of the way. I know this doesn’t work. So I’ve been trying to ask myself the following questions:
What is it in this moment that’s making me want to “let it go”, “forget about it” or just say “fuck it”? What am I feeling right now and where does it come from? Perhaps I’m anxious because I feel rushed or because I cannot get ahold of someone right that very moment, and that’s okay! But that very moment where I acknowledge what it is I’m feeling, no matter how trivial, instead of judging myself for feeling that way, the minute I honor that part in myself that’s acting like a child, I find that more often than not the things I was feeling disappear and I can move past it with a clear head. That’s what we call, “watching the thinker”.
We’re all complex humans with our own thought patterns. We all have our own dramas we play out moment to moment and day to day, and to truly try to be objective about our own selves is no easy feat. The most important thing I’ve learned lately is it’s one thing to heighten our self awareness and acknowledge our own pity party, and it’s another thing to do it and continue to judge ourselves for the behavior. If you want to do it right make sure that the awareness stems from love. When you feel all the feels just take your moment, tell yourself it’s all okay and envision filling yourself with love or light. When you are watching the thinker you must always be coming from a place of love, not a place of judgement.
After thinking about this and reading various books and blogs over the years with different ideas of moving past things, or “letting them go” it began to raise questions for me about what I’ve learned that works the best for me, and that’s accepting what is. Accepting what is first is the only way that we can truly let things go. Accepting what is is acknowledging that things are what they are and they are out of your control. The only thing we can control is our emotional response to them, and even that cannot always be controlled but it can be understood and help bring us back to our own awareness. Then eventually we can let go of what no longer serves us from a place of love and understanding. It’s only then do we find our way into the answers without holding on to all the other baggage.