doing something

September 29th, 2018

 

Last night I said a service, or chant, invoking compassion and healing for 150 victims of sexual assault. These are our daughters, sisters, mothers, sons, brothers, and, yes, mostly ourselves. After the convulsive end to Thursday’s Senate hearing, I felt like I’d been run over and left for dead. Women were not going to heard or believed. Nothing would ever change. Then I remembered what my teacher said about those times when we think we can do nothing: We can always do something. I asked for the names of sexual assault victims from among my friends on Facebook, and before the sun went down, I lit incense and chanted their names, or for privacy, their initials.

Christine Blasey Ford changed everything on Thursday. Maybe not in the way I thought at first. Maybe not in the way I’d hoped after her painfully honest answers. Beforehand, one expert said she needed to appear unassailable to be a good witness. When I was live-streaming the hearing first thing in the morning, my husband passed by. “How’s she doing? Is she good?” And I said no, she’s not good. She’s nervous. She’s wounded. Her voice is high and cracking. She sounds like a 15-year-old. When she told the prosecutor how the experience had affected the rest of her life—the anxiety, phobias and panic attacks—I recognized the voice.

It was the voice of a girl crying late one summer night about what a boy had forced her to do. Her fear and shame after. Feeling ugly, unwanted, and abnormal. The self-harming, anxiety and panic attacks. No longer belonging. Unable to trust. Being so different than she used to be, with no idea who she was supposed to be.

I hadn’t really put it together until Dr. Ford spoke. I hadn’t known it was one true thing: the trauma of being physically overpowered and dehumanized.

By now I’ve also seen the very same person do brave and big things, finding the seed of faith in herself. I’ve seen her give her whole heart to what she loves, and surprise everyone with her secret strength.

In the U.S., 30 percent of women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Today it feels like 100 percent.

No matter how many, no matter how few, no matter how long, no matter how little, we are the 100 percent. And we can always do something.

Photo by Daniel Jensen

9 Comments »

  1. You are right. She wasn’t “good”. She was, in my estimation, “great”. Believable, credible, strong and brave. She spoke for women everywhere.

    Comment by Jayne M — September 29, 2018 @ 6:18 am

  2. My 19 year old self is full of gratitude and my nearly 57 year old self is full of tears. Thank you.

    Comment by Bonnie Rae — September 29, 2018 @ 6:22 am

  3. I have never been physically sexually assaulted, though while on a cross-country trip with my new husband when I was 24, a man exposed himself to me on the other side of the car door. I was horrified and sickened. When my husband returned to the car, I said nothing. Absolutely. Nothing. In fact, I have never said anything about it. I wonder at that, not for the first time. It was a relatively small incident, and for more than 40 years it remains a vivid memory.

    Thank you for your words. Thank you for doing something. Thank you to all women everywhere for doing something. Someday, I pray, it will be enough. For now it is everything.

    Comment by Gretchen Staebler — September 29, 2018 @ 6:43 am

  4. We are all indebted to Ms. Ford. She was thoughtful and generous even in fear which was in true contrast to his anger and entitlement. She helped empowered the two women at the elevator with Senator Jeff Flake. So you are correct, we are now 100%. #ibelieveher

    Comment by Holly — September 29, 2018 @ 6:45 am

  5. Thank you.
    As I listened to Christine Blasey Ford yesterday, hot tears fell for her, for so many little girls and women, as well as the long ago scared little girl that I was…and for the 100%. You are spot on with your wisdom and insight and I thank you so much for the chant and the compassion of you and the sangha. Yes, we can always do something.

    <3

    Comment by Debi — September 29, 2018 @ 9:18 am

  6. I am elder now (85 in a few days) but vividly remember a boy in my 3rd year HS catching me in an empty corner to ‘mess with me’. This was in the days when “codes” were the thing – at least in my small farming community,”Nice girls and others”. Never could forget it… Thank you for the Prayers and your presence. Several whom I love – have struggled – meeting you, Maezen, has been a blessing. N.B. My hub is currently reading Mama Zen. Grandma is so happy!

    Comment by Mary Petro — September 29, 2018 @ 11:35 am

  7. Thursday triggered something really deep and I came to the realization that the reality is probably much closer to 100% than we want to believe. My older sister, my younger sister, me, my mom, my co-worker who came to work every day for months with bruises, the co-workers who were stalked by exes, the co-worker we had to issue a safety bulletin for when her husband gained unauthorized access to a workspace, my friends who came forward after #metoo started, and so many more. I honestly don’t think I know any woman whose life hasn’t been touched by harassment or violence. That has triggered an unfolding of my heart in unexpected ways. Some days it’s tears. Some days it’s prayers. It’s only been 3 days but it feels like a lifetime. Thank you for the prayers and these words. Sending you love and prayers as well Maezen.

    Comment by Jodi — September 30, 2018 @ 9:12 pm

  8. I think it is close to 100%. We are all realizing what we shuffled away because there was not language or reference to support our experience, and it is a travesty. I love you and yes, we can always do something.

    Comment by Kirsten Sopik — October 1, 2018 @ 1:47 pm

  9. […] This article was originally posted on karenmaezenmiller.com under the title “doing something.” […]

    Pingback by Commentary: We Can Always Do Something - Lion's Roar — October 2, 2018 @ 10:55 am

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