HEALING AFTER DR. FORD’S TESTIMONY
The aftermath of Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing and confirmation felt like a never-ending hangover. I’ve been unable to shake the feeling that I’ve been carrying for two weeks, and have anxiously wished this malady to end.
When Dr. Ford testified, I spent the entire day in my sweatpants glued to the TV. I had the best intentions to have a productive day, but it felt impossible to turn away from it, even when there were moments I wished I could will myself to. But I needed to hear every word. Each sentence was a reminder of my own story. Each negative twitter reaction another reminder of why I didn’t share my story for so long.
I obsessively read every article and every #metoo story that I could afterwards. I spoke with women in my community, our community, that felt overwhelmed. It was incredible how many women shared their stories with me personally. There are so many of us. Women with teenage daughters, and young women in college. A woman who just got engaged but never told her fiance. My best friend, who I know everything about, shared a story of a man touching his penis in a library when she was just 5 years old.
Last November, I shared about my first acupuncture experience. Ready to prep my body for conception, I was instead forced to address what I had been secretly and shamefully carrying around for years: I was raped at the age of 24 by someone I knew, and I never told anyone. The aftermath of that intense session allowed me for the very first time to feel the weight and depth of what had happened to me. Suppressed memories of that night came flooding in. I finally felt ready to share my story in My Soul Was Damaged And My Body Remembers.
Almost a year later we’re here, with Dr. Ford. Throughout the confirmation process, and every story I read, the weight of my memories started creeping in again. It buried me in my grief. But this time it felt even more different than #metoo; I felt more of a connection, grieving collectively with so many more women.
I posted on ON OUR MOON’s Instragram that #Ibelieveher, and was disturbed and distraught about some of the comments on the posts. She deserved to get raped. She’s a liar. How can you not remember? I made the decision to pull back a bit. I stopped DMing with as many women. I spent less time obsessively reading every article or story. I posted less on Instagram. Though I didn’t realize this at the time, it was a way to protect myself. Not from others but from my own internal dialogue. From the memories. From him.
When the confirmation was announced, I didn’t post anything. I felt like I had failed our community, and so many women who so bravely shared their stories with me. I couldn’t hold them because I couldn’t hold myself.
During this time, I got my period too. Since healing my menstrual cycle a few years ago, both physically and emotionally, my period has felt light, pleasant dare I say. As someone who used to suffer from debilitating cramps, that hadn’t been my reality for a really long time.
But this time, my period came back with a vengeance. It screamed through my abdomen. A debilitating migraine came creeping in, and even unusual constipation plagued me for days.
It wasn’t until I reread what I wrote last year, that I reminded myself of my mind-body connection.
If my body is always speaking to me, what is it trying to tell me right now?
I journaled to understand. I cried, many tears. The memories of sexual assault, which had been bubbling on the surface for the last two weeks, had finally taken its toll and my body was asking to address it.
I wrote about forgiveness. For myself, for my body, and even for him.
I reminded myself that I am not defined by this experience. No matter how often I wish it wasn’t, this is part of my story. But I am more than my assault, and I am more than my story.
There will be moments in my life when it will resurface, when I will be triggered. I promise to take the time to sit with it, to acknowledge it, and to tend to it like I would a friend with a broken heart. When my body remembers the damage, I’ll listen.
I know that just listening to my body alone can’t fix all of my wounds. So I’m setting boundaries with the stories and headlines I take in. I know that it’s okay to speak my truth when it feels safe, and listen to the messages my body gives me when it doesn’t. There is no pressure to share. I’m asking for help, and talking about it in therapy. I know my voice and vote matter.
So to all of the humans who are feeling the weight and depth of their own experiences, I see you.
To all of the humans who have felt overwhelmed, confused, distraught, and emotionally hungover these last couple of weeks, I see you.
To all of the humans whose souls were damaged and whose bodies remember, I see you.
Dr. Ford brought us more together in this era of #metoo. We collectively relived our traumas together, and we can collectively heal and make change together.
The last two weeks taught me that in order to tend to others, I need to tend to myself first. So while we wait for change, please give yourself whatever you need in these moments. Share your story. Don’t share your story. Take a break and breather. Set boundaries. Seek help. Vote. Listen to your body. Be gentle on yourself during these traumatic and tender moments.
And know that I see you. And most importantly, know that I believe you.
photography by Britney Gill