This Ain’t No Band Wagon

Since all of the tumult and outcry over Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent fall-out, I’ve wondered and pondered on how – or if – I should approach the subject. I’ve never been one to jump on a band-wagon. I’ve never seen an episode of The Walking Dead. It was years and years later that I sat through E.T.  I’ve never even read Fifty Shades of Grey or a Twilight book. Not so much because I’m a rebellious soul; I just never wanted to be considered a conformist.

But this?

It’s been thirty years, after all. For me. And then I started reflecting.

It was forty years ago. And thirty years.

And twenty years.

And fifteen years.

It never really stopped, did it? And I let it go on, didn’t I? Why did I allow it to go on? What was wrong with me that I didn’t say something? Why didn’t someone want to get involved to stop it?

What was wrong with me?

I have daughters of my own now. Young adults, ladies, beautiful inside and out. What do I want them to know?

Yes, something was wrong with me. But not from the victim standpoint. Not that caused men to take advantage. These men were predators and opportunists and trollers that smelled weakness and moved in for an easy kill.

The weakness? That’s on my parents. The easy kill? That’s on me.

I do not want my daughters to feel they have no recourse but to take it and stay quiet.

What was I thinking?

When my husband and I began discussing having a family, there were bumps in the road, so to speak. One of them was that I wanted my children to grow up strong, assertive, self-respecting, respectful, and unafraid to challenge authority. I wanted them to be like my husband; to not grow up under the circumstances that I did. I wanted them to be strong.

I didn’t want them to be like me.

I’m happy to say they are all of the above and it is mostly thanks to my husband doing exactly as a father should and teaching them acceptable, appropriate behavior and how real men (all people) should treat them.

However, I’m also happy to say that I can have some part of that, too. – Now.-

How it’s not easy for me yet, but I finally can at least stand up for what is right, and point out what it wrong, and not worry that I will regret it the next day.

Because.

Because there are consequences. Not the ones I was threatened with if I spoke up.

But because there are worse things than losing a job. Or having to choose between which gets paid for the month, rent or groceries. Or not feeling anyone, close to you or otherwise, really believes you.

Because every time you think you’ve moved on, that it’s behind you, you’re on better, different, respectable path, it comes back to mind. It never leaves you. You don’t forget.

There is the humiliation and degradation.

There is the wondering, what would’ve happened if I had …?

There is: what if my daughters are put in this position? What do I have to tell them?

There is the shame and regret.

A lot of regret. Regret that is not your fault, and yet, it’s there. It’s hateful and hatefilled. It ruins many a night.

And so.

That’s why I’m writing it out. It may take three or four weeks. But then it will be there. And whether it makes me feel better or not, doesn’t matter anymore. Does it? Maybe a little. But probably not as much as it would’ve years ago.

What’s mattering is maybe someone else will not keep quiet, because of my story.

Maybe my daughters can feel stronger because of it.

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Suicide Prevention

September is Suicide Prevention Month.

If you’ve never had thoughts of suicide, and never had anyone close to you die from suicide, and never had anyone close to you consider suicide, you might think this month is superfluous, silly, propaganda. An excuse. We’re just blowing something out of proportion when all a “suicidal” person needs is to wake up, look around.

Pray harder. Work harder.

In general just get over themselves.

Having seen it from the inside, there is definitely a stigma associated with Mental Health that really ticks me off.

Suicide Prevention Month hones in on one of the hardest of the issues – from the person who thinks suicide is the best for everyone involved, to those who either have to face life missing them and wondering what happened, or wake up at night in a cold sweat worrying if they’ve done enough and if they should go over to the house just to see if their friend is still all right.

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Mental Health is non-discriminatory. It doesn’t matter if you have that silver spoon or reuse a spork, whether you live on an estate, or in a trailer park. It doesn’t matter what color you are, where your parents were born, or how you identify yourself, at all.

Mental Health simply is.

And you can get help. You have to want it. And it probably won’t be easy which is why you have to want it enough to get over the difficult parts known as Healing. That’s what you’re doing. Admitting that there’s a problem is often the hardest part. Like being lost in a swamp and telling yourself you somehow deserve it. Stuck. Floundering. Hurting. Sinking.

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You don’t. You are worth it. And when you get help getting out, and you’re warm, and in the light, and can look back, you know it’s true. Which is why you have to have faith, trust your friends, family, and the doctors caring for you.

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Recovery isn’t linear; there’s going to be set-backs. But each time a set-back is overcome, you find yourself stronger than before. It is not that much different than physical therapy. As strange as the remedy may seem to you at the time, you have to want to get well and trust in the people that have been there before.

And it works. Or I wouldn’t be  here to tell you about it.

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Post Script:

I consider May “my” month. For several reasons, but not the least of which is the fact that it is Mental Health Awareness Month.

From Wikipedia:

Mental Health Awareness Month been observed in May in the United States since 1949, reaching millions of people in the United States through the media, local events, and screenings.

Mental Health Awareness Month was started in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health). Each year in mid-March Mental Health America releases a toolkit of materials to guide preparation for outreach activities during Mental Health Awareness Month. During the month of May, Mental Health America, its affiliates, and other organizations interested in mental health conduct a number of activities which are based on a different theme each year.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_Health_Awareness_Month