Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Sexual Assault and the Golden Rule

It is inescapable. The constant news of rampant sexual abuse of women and children. And the powerful men willing to let it continue, ignore it, or even pass it off with a "boys will be boys" sigh.

I know that "boys will be boys" line as it was said to me when I told about an assault in a family member’s home. Don't believe it happens in "nice" families? My dad was a college professor and minister. We all went to church every time the doors were open. What you see is not necessarily what you get.

There is a line from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, HMS Pinafore, that always comes back to me when these issues arise -- "skim milk masquerades as cream". Shallow pretending to have depth.

It's not bad enough that victims are expected to keep quiet about assault as if it is somehow our fault that someone else behaved badly, viciously, violently. We're told to think about the impact it will have on the abuser's life, success, career, reputation if we air our dirty laundry. Guess what, it's not MY dirty laundry. One of the best deterrents of "bad behavior" is knowing everyone will find out who you truly are!

I've been, mostly, silent over the past couple of years on this topic. In the past, I’ve been open about the abuse I endured, but even now typing these words, my hands shake at the thought of just telling the truth. Fear of the repercussions gnaws at my gut. Somehow, I am responsible for keeping the abusers' secrets and protecting them from being outed so I remain vague about the details.

How did we come to this?

On the one hand, I've talked and written about being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and two rapes as an adult. On the other hand, I've been complicit in keeping certain facts out of the public eye. The argument can be made that I kept those facts to myself to protect me, but part of that protection was based in fear. If I tell the unadulterated truth, how will that play out for me? I have no proof. I have only my memories and experiences, while the abusers have their own memories and experiences. Why should I be believed over them?  The answer is simple, I have so much more to lose by making accusations I cannot prove. People lie to make themselves look better, not worse.

Christine Blasey Ford moved heaven and earth to escape from the man who assaulted her. She reinvented herself in a far-off place and prayed she'd done enough to escape that night. When her safe haven was threatened, she considered moving to a FOREIGN country to escape, but instead, she decided to risk everything and save others by coming forward all while knowing full well it would shred her world. But she did it anyway.

She has moved from her home. Left her children, for their safety, and been emotionally eviscerated by people for POLITICAL gain. And they have no remorse. No compassion for her now or the 15-year-old girl from then. According to her critics, it can't have been that bad or it would have been investigated by the police. Really? What world are those people living in?

I want to name names and list offenses. None of my abusers are important people, but I don't name names because I'm afraid of backlash from family and friends. Because what if one of "them" decided to sue me for defamation? I can't afford that, and I HAVE NO PROOF!

How do we fix this? I don't know. Years ago, in Sunday school classes in small, rural churches, I was taught about the Golden Rule -- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12). And I bought into it, believing other people did as well. But over the years I've been shown repeatedly that I was naive to believe that. I still treat other people the way I want to be treated -- with dignity, respect, empathy, and compassion. I assume the best on first meeting people. But it's getting harder to make that assumption.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ March 2018

FOR TODAY . . . March 12, 2018

Outside my window . . . I woke to snow and scattered cherry blossoms. That's how we roll in Tennessee.

I am thinking . . . about waiting. I am in a season of waiting right now. I've been fighting it for awhile, but recently I've shifted my focus and am trying to embrace it instead. 

waiting -- part of the process of leaving the petty life, the false life, the old life

I am thankful . . . that I have joined a new community this year. The Rule of Life is a group of committed individuals seeking to develop a more intentional practice of the spiritual disciplines. It is a blessing to have these like-minded people with whom to travel this year. #dovehouseministries

In the kitchen . . . last night we had barbecued pork chops, Japanese veggie blend, and  Celebration Blend potatoes. I love these little bags of specialty potatoes because I've never met a potato I didn't like.

I am creating . . . a corner to corner baby blanket in a lovely yarn of blended shades of pale pink, yellow, and white. 

I am going . . . to be at home all day! I'm hoping to get some ironing done and work on items to sell in the shop, Sweet House of Madness at Mercantile 615 (if you're in the Nashville area!) 

I am wondering . . . how best to organize all of the merchandise I'm amassing for the new shop. My basement is in disarray right now, and that tends to stress me out.

I am reading . . . well actually re-reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and reading When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd for the first time.

I am looking forward to . . . the coming spring and getting outside more and more. Walks with Millie -- more of a paseo (a slow, idle, leisurely walk or stroll).

I am hearing . . . the heat just clicked on and occasionally the wind chime outside my window.

Around the house . . . there are stacks. I've been organizing which leads to chaos before there order appears. 

I am praying . . . to know God's will and to have greater trust in His plan and timing.

One of my favorite things . . . talking with my children. We all went out to dinner last week for birthday and it was lovely sitting around talking, eating, and listening to their chatter.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . a couple of meetings tomorrow, working on prepping items for the shop, and puttering around the house. I love to putter when the mood is right.

Here's a picture for thought I am sharing . . .
this is Millie! She came to live with me in May.
She's part chihuahua and part feist.

linking up with The Simple Woman

Sunday, March 11, 2018

My Yellow Room

I’m sitting in my yellow room typing, and I LOVE this yellow room. It makes me smile every time I walk into it. Sometimes I look up from my computer and just have to smile at the colors and the expressions of myself in this space. This room is me. Books, paper, dolls, stuffed animals, colors, pens, pencils, fabrics, textures. Millie has a bed next to my desk and she curls up to sleep by me while I write or jump from site to site on the internet.

It is not perfect, but then neither am I. A process is at work here, on the room and on myself. As trite and cliche as it seems, I hope to find myself in this room by typing on my computer while surrounded by light and color. To find joy and peace and tranquillité. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What's broken? -- Throw Back Thursday

Write 31 Days Day#19

For a long time, I thought the answer to that was me.
If I could just do things right, I'd be slim enough, smart enough, happy enough, friendly enough. People would like me more. I would understand the world at large. There would be less pain, fewer wars, less pollution, no global warming.
I took a lot of responsibility on myself and gave myself a lot more power and credit than I deserved as well. Oh look, something else to feel guilty about!

What's broken?

The real answer to that is everything.
Everything in this world is broken. It's not just me, or all my fault. It's that this world is not the way God wanted it to be. But it's the way He knew it would be.

He knew by giving us choices and options, we would invariably make some bad choices; choose some wrong options. But He wanted a real relationship with us. Not just automatons following a preconceived map of action. Where is the fun in that for any of us?

But when I realize that it's not just me, that the whole world is broken, well that makes it a little easier to take in each day. A little easier to be more loving and compassionate to myself and others around me and around the globe. 

God knew we'd screw it up, but He also loved us enough to let us screw it up. And then He sent His Son to fix it for us. 

What's broken?

Nothing. Nothing that God's love can't fix.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Write 31 Days Day #18

This morning I got curious. When was the first time I participated in Write 31 Days? Turns out it was 2012. I had seen posts about it by Lisa-Jo Baker and Ann Voskamp and it made me curious.

I'd been blogging sporadically for 3 years and wanted to do more, but I needed some structure. So I set off on my first #write31days.

That year I made it all the way through. Other years haven't gone as well. So far this year I've made it 18 days and I have a few plans for the rest of the month. Plans! I NEVER make plans where my blog is concerned. It's as if it will jinx it somehow. The big bad out there in the universe will see that I'm feeling competent and come in and snatch the rug out from under me! 

I decided to share that first #write31days post from 2012 today because as I reread it I was pleased to see that I liked what I read. It was authentic. It was real. It was me. And that's the greatest gift blogging has provided. It's helped me realize I am really am the person who has all those quirky and squirrely thoughts in her head. And that's okay. But it's also made me curious to read about other people's lives and struggles. To connect by realizing that no one has it all together. And that's okay, too.

Day #1 (2012)--
I'm eclectic. Anyone who's read my blog for any length of time knows that. I'm also insecure and full of self-doubt, but at the same time I am driven to write. I argue that it is to clear my own head, and that is true. But what is also true, is that I crave validation. Maybe everyone does. My need goes back to an abusive childhood where I was constantly denigrated. I want to trust in my own belief that I am a person of value. (All people have value because we are all made in God's image.) I know in my head that it is a good thing to share and talk and wonder, but my heart has difficulty following. I know others don't have it all together, but I have difficulty retaining that concept.
I started out by saying I'm eclectic. And I am, in decor and music and books and movies. But I'm also eclectic in emotion -- I was raised in the Bible belt and have the emotions and convictions of my conservative history. I was abused emotionally, physically, and sexually by numerous individuals, so I have all of the baggage that implies. But I have a master's degree and was raised by a minister/American literature professor who quoted Mark Twain more than scripture. I love to cook and crochet and read and watch crime shows and independent films. I like k.d. lang, Evanescence, Michael Buble, and James Taylor.
So what does this tell you about me and why does it matter?
It matters because I need to feel that I matter to someone out there. That the abuser was wrong when she said she could drown me in the well and no one would even miss me.
Would you miss me?


Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Write 31 Days Day #17

a guest post by my daughter, Claire (27)

For every “me too” that gets posted, there are thousands of men and women too scared and ashamed to speak out.

For every single post you see, know that there are so many more throughout the world. Those of us speaking out do so because we are healing. We have found love and the courage to share but it is never an easy path to walk.

Abuse and assault have become so commonplace that we often won’t label it what it truly is. I’ve heard so many rationales for why “it wasn’t really assault/rape.” Things like “but I know people have it so much worse” or “it was just groping” or “well but I know deep down I wanted it” or “well I initiated it” or “but I didn’t fight back” and countless others.

It is never the victim's fault!!! Ever!!! The shame is not yours to carry. It’s not mine to carry. You did what you were supposed to do: you survived!!! You are not alone. There are people who understand. If you think you can’t tell anyone, tell me. I will listen. I will grieve with you. And I will be here to remind you that it in no way alters your value as a person or as a beloved child of God.

I promise you that I understand the thoughts that gnaw at your mind. I understand the overwhelming shame and fear. I do not usually speak so publicly but isn’t that the problem?! We speak in hushed tones only to others who we know understand our pain. Break the silence. If you are too scared to say anything on your wall, tell a trusted friend. Reach out. There is hope and healing. #metoo


Monday, October 16, 2017

Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, and Me

Write 31 Days Day #16

Last night while I was perusing Facebook I ran across this status on two friends' walls -- 

Me, too.

If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me, too,” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
Please copy/paste.

I have mixed emotions about chain letters, boycotts, and "post this for 1 hour, please". But shortly after I saw this status and followed its instructions, I saw this article pop up on another friend's wall. And I became enraged.

This has got to stop! 

I don't understand how anyone can be unaware of the perversely sexualized world in which we live, or how anyone can be surprised when people in power take advantage of that power. Or how difficult it is to come forward and say, "That person hurt me. Demeaned me. Humiliated me. Treated me with disrespect." 

After telling a friend about my experiences, I remember he said, "I can't believe you were dealing with all that. You were always so poised." And that's part of the problem, too. Survivors don't generally walk around advertising the abuse. If anything, we work harder to appear "normal". 

Recent statistics show that 1 in 6 women has been sexually assaulted. Every 98 seconds a person is sexually assaulted in the U.S. Read that again -- every 98 seconds a person is sexually assaulted in the U.S.!

That is appalling.

And that is why I talk, I write, I share, I tell. The only way we will ever make it stop is to quit blaming the victims and making excuses for the perpetrators. Especially in the church. As John Pavlovitz said (in a different context), I won't put up with this behavior from anyone because "I'm a Christian--and not a jerk".