I´m sorry i´ve been a little AWOL. It´s been a week of processing, thought provoking enquiry, meditation, practice, assessing, writing, re-writing, remembering, hiding, dissolving, weeping, breathing, meditating, re-re-writing, indulging, connecting, clarifying, affirming, sensing, feeling, doing, producing, re-re-re-writing, doubting, judging, hurting and finally doing.
It took me a little bit, but i finally made it back here. After numerous blog posts i’ve written, i haven´t quite had the balls to go through with posting them. And there was even a draft post about that. Perhaps i´ll share it another time.
But for now, onto more pressing matters. A strand of a topic that´s been resonating this week, and a subject i´m very curious about. Harassment. Or let´s call it by its other name: bullying.
How to even begin dissecting this in a way that clarifies my feelings without making me sound like a complete buffoon. I´ll try and see how the words come out.
When someone is behaving in a way that makes you feel very uncomfortable or who hurts you in any way, is´s not acceptable. I am not only talking about an obvious violation such as physical force or abusing personal space, but also the psychological and threatening behaviour which is equally harmful.
This week i´ve been regressing to a time in my life where i´ve been bullied, physically abused, assaulted and generally disliked for being who i was. Arguably, if you´re spending energy focusing on this, you are likely to attract more of the same, and sure enough, yesterday, like most days, i received a few verbal shout outs in the street commenting on my physicality which i subsequently ignored. Further into my walk, i was followed by a man, who made sexual advances. As a woman, and as many friends of mine confirm, one becomes “attuned” to the crazy, and adjusts behaviour in a way to ward off this kind of unwanted attention (which may i add is generally because you are a woman, and for no other reason). So i took the usual method, kept calm, tried to get as far away from him as possible, and ignored him. Making it to my destination, i proceeded to enjoy my evening, a rare opportunity to dance and connect with friends. Then an unfortunate turn of events ended up with a very intense and disturbing situation – another man, this time who told me i wasn´t giving him attention, and thus that made me all manners of things (insert offensive name calling here) and made it ok to physically and verbally abuse me.
Now my aim is not to create some kind of man-bashing post, i can definitely affirm that i have received just as much unwanted harassment from women too, but i am interested in how it became ok for women to constantly be critiqued, judged, harassed and in some cases attacked for the way they look?
I consider popular culture´s sorry excuse for entertainment, the rise of “celebrity” culture, the way women are displayed, commented upon, objectified (yes this is nothing new I realise), pulled apart, told they are too fat, skinny, old, young, “what the hell are they wearing?!” and “who do they think they are” kind of bullshit. I agree, of course, that it´s a problem that men also experience, but not to the same degree as women. It seems acceptable to define a woman according to her looks alone, and as this is tolerated in mainstream culture, it suddenly gives right for everyone to comment and have their two pence worth of judgement. I won´t begin to get into the rise of those hideous gossip magazines, directed at women, with their poisonous messages to encourage them to pull down other women and suddenly, where the hell are we? What happened to sisterhood? Brother and sisterhood? To supporting each other, elevating each other, encouraging each other in positive ways to progress and evolve?
In a nutshell, i want to go on record for speaking out against harassment, in any form. Know that it isn´t ok. That not feeling safe around someone else is not ok. And that to feel alone and powerless about it is not ok. Harassment is a form of bullying. Trying to pull someone else down for the sake of another’s own “gain” or ego.
Arguably the advice i heard from my youth “ignore it, ignore the names, ignore the people who throw rocks at you, you´re better than that”,”they are just jealous” (jealous?!) or to “grow a thick skin/some balls” is all well and good, but what happens to that victim down the line after years of packing this stuff away? This week i pondered and found that actually, it´s very rare for deep rooted pain to ever go away. We can forgive, but can we easily forget? With each recurrence of harassment (in any form), the reinforcement of confusion about why the victim was targeted grows stronger.
The consequences of bullying and harassment are dangerous and in some cases heartbreaking. So i want to talk about it. And encourage anyone who might be feeling victim to this kind of behaviour to talk about it. For us not to accept this as something that happens “kids will be kids”, “girls will be girls”, “men will be men”, “just ignore it”, “they will get bored soon and go away”. That it´s ok to tell someone if you don´t feel safe. That you can seek support, or at least connect with others to know you´re not alone. And hopefully by more people talking about the effects of bullying and harassment, we can begin to recognize it´s not ok. In any form. To challenge the “taboo” and make others aware this unfortunate behaviour is unacceptable.
At least that´s my hope for now.
So onto resolution. For me, although stepping into one´s painful stenchy past hurts although excruciating has been a path to healing. Last year i wrote a book which i found harrowing but also liberating. That the stuff from “back then” i had learned to live with, didn´t need to be my dark secret and hold me captive for the rest of my life. That i could use those experiences to work on myself. And be aware of others stuff. But most importantly acknowledge that the incidents had happened in the first place. And that was at least ten years of denial stored up. Yiowch.
And that´s also one of the ways i found yoga. Which may i add is an ongoing process of going into myself, who i really am, how i feel, how i deal with difficult situations, how i release difficult feelings, and stand in my own authentic truth.
I´m not saying it´s easy to just let go of things at all. We have to work through them, try to understand them (i will add this is the most challenging part for me), if we can´t understand them to find our way to accept that they happened, and to hopefully move forward, fully accepting, but not dwelling in the victim zone. To instead step forward into our own power and not allow the cycle to be repeated. To be more compassionate to others who are going through their own challenges. We all have our “stuff”, we are all human and experience pain in relative forms…we are all the same…so from me and my “balls” above, let´s all try to support each other in this wonderful, challenging and magical life eh?