Healing “Me Too”
If you are on Facebook, you’ve likely seen the many “Me too” posts shared there – to date there have been 1,400,000 of them.
The point of these posts is to focus attention on how much sexual harassment, assault, and abuse women experience.
Each post makes my heart ache. And when a beloved younger relative posted, “Me too”, I cried.
The pervasiveness of women not being safe or tended well is heartbreaking, infuriating, and just plain wrong.
The historian Amanda Foreman in The Ascent of Woman (available on Netflix) traces the early restrictions of women back 5000 years to ancient Sumaria. She then tracks this overt control of women through many cultures up to today.
So while it’s not a surprise that many women in the world remain uneducated, disenfranchised, and poor, it is a tragedy that affects everyone. Research shows that cultures that allow and encourage participation of women are more peaceful and prosperous.
In the developed world, we have more rights – to own property, vote, and access to education. And yet many women with these privileges experience harassment, assault, and disempowerment on a frequent basis.
So how do we heal “Me too”?
The first step is happening now as more women are speaking out about their experiences more widely and bravely than ever before.
Knowing that you are not alone in your experience of belittlement or worse means that you don’t have to think what has happened to you is your fault.
Because it’s not your fault. It is so pervasive that it is evident that the suppression and objectification of women is NOT PERSONAL. It’s cultural.
What had Harvey Weinstein think his behavior with young actresses was acceptable? It was condoned and abetted by other men in power and those who wanted to keep their jobs with him. I doubt his mother would be proud of his predatory actions.
Step Two is to talk or write about your experiences – to show them the light of day so that they no longer keep you isolated and ashamed.
If you do talk to someone about what has happened to you, please choose a person or a group that will listen and not judge you.
Now is not the time to re-traumatize yourself. It’s easy enough to feel discounted as a woman and to be told, “Oh, it’s not that bad.”
That statement, my dear, is a failure of imagination and empathy. Don’t buy it. It’s a lie.
The third step is for you to release the trauma that may be in your system from what you have experienced.
This shows up as
· fear of new situations or people,
· the tendency to stay small and not voice your opinions,
· sexual frigidity or shallow emotional connections, and
· underearning and underachieving.
As a Sales Coach for women entrepreneurs and service providers, I see this often:
Wonderfully capable, bright, and ambitious women who can’t find their voice, can’t move ahead in their business, and can’t charge what their work is worth.
All because in one way or another, they’ve been touched by the cultural bias against women.
You may not think what happened to you was such a big deal, but your body and soul remember and have marked risking being big, outspoken, or successful as “off limits”.
Many of my clients have survived abuse. One client, whom I’ll call Kathy, was lovely, but shy and seemed almost like a ghost because she was so reticent to show her personality.
But she wanted to succeed in her new profession of horticulture. So we worked together.
Kathy never told me what had happened to her.
I didn’t need to know. It was enough that she knew and that we could rewrite her history so that she felt more confident, more present, and more ambitious for herself and her dreams.
I used very specific trauma release techniques and imagination exercises with Kathy, and she blossomed. She began enjoying her work, her marriage, and her life much more.
Her engaging personality emerged. And she flourished in her profession.
The coup de grace was when her husband, whom I met at a party, thanked me for helping Kathy become more of herself and that their marriage was richer and more enjoyable for them both.
At that moment, I knew there was a way to heal “Me too”.
I continue to use the techniques and exercises I used with Kathy with my clients today. They continue to create empowering results.
The process of rewriting your story on a deep and lasting basis – in the body and the soul – heals. It changes you. And lets you be your very best.
Sharing this work with women in business is my mission and passion. It is my way of changing culture.
Women belong at the table with their voices heard and honored. Everyone will be better off for it.
In conclusion, I want to thank the millions of women who have said, “Me too”.
They are opening the door for a larger conversation and much needed change.
If you are feeling belittled and demeaned, name it - if only to yourself.
Find a community that you can talk to and feel supported in.
And if you feel that past experiences have you shut down or trapped, seek help. There are ways to heal from “Me too”. You don’t have to be weighed down by abuse and shame.
Create a bigger story for yourself and see yourself as you truly are – capable, resilient, and resourceful.
PS I know that men have suffered sexual abuse and assault as well. I’m not belittling their experience. It is because aggression and prejudice against women is so prevalent that I choose to focus my attention and work with them.