Why Posting 'Me Too' Made Me Feel Even More Alone
Hundreds of thousands of women have been speaking up about sexual harassment and assault this past week. My heart aches with all of the stories, but it’s also amazing seeing the silence begin to be broken.
It’s never easy to hear that this happens to anyone, and as a survivor I wish no one else would ever have to say it. To this day I’ve barely acknowledged my own experiences, and I can count on one hand the number of people who know my entire story. So as the first few “Me too”s popped up, I was moved and in awe of the bravery of the posters. As more showed up I began to feel a little inspired. And as it started to show up under the names of close friends, I started to wonder: If all of these people could tell their story, surely I could be brave enough to post just two little words? So I did. No explanation — I wasn’t ready for that yet — just, “Me too.”
And then I waited.
This movement is not about one individual person, and it’s not about validation. It’s about breaking the silence, the stigma and raising the awareness of the problem. But I’d seen the reactions on social media, seen the supportive comments, the acknowledgement. I wasn’t looking for much, I really don’t want the attention; I’m still not done working through the guilt, shame and everything else that comes with having your very being violated, but I thought maybe, just maybe, this was my chance to stop hiding this part of myself so deeply. I prepped myself to have questions asked that I maybe couldn’t answer, prepared to be both surprised and disappointed in reactions. But I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened… which was nothing.
I know being directly shot down is hard, but I didn’t know that being ignored would be just as much of a slap in the face. Even a negative reaction, as devastating as experience has shown them to be, is at least a reaction.
Now, I’m left feeling… nothing. In my anxious, depressed, PTSD-adled brain it just confirms again that what happened — what was done to me, not by my choice — is something to be ashamed of. That I am dirty, disgusting, broken, worthless. It confirms my fear, confirms I was right to keep silent. That everything I’ve done, all the work and pain, is worthless. It makes me question my decision to continue living, those dark nights, when what stopped me was the thought of the people I love… the people who (it seems to me now) apparently don’t care.
Because even though I know I’m not alone in this, that all of these amazing, brave, strong people have also been affected, the support of strangers means nothing when you have no support at home. Even as I write words like strong and survivor, as I say what was done to me, it takes every ounce of strength I have to hold on to those beliefs. I’ve worked so hard to get where I am, alone, because I was afraid to have it confirmed that I was on my own. I don’t blame them for their silence — maybe they stay silent because it is simply too hard to see someone you know suffer. Maybe they have their own experiences that keep them silent. I know it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
So instead I will try to hold on as best I can to those me too’s out in the distance.
And for anyone carrying this pain… me too.
For anyone who’s been hurt, silenced or shamed… me too.
For anyone who’s been taught about fear and guilt… me too.
For anyone supported and held… me too.
For anyone carrying this alone… me too.
For anyone met with silence… me too.
For anyone who can’t say it for themselves… me too.
For anyone, and everyone, for what it’s worth… me too.
You are seen, and loved, and wanted. And yeah, me, too.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
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Thinkstock photo via fizkes