Being a woman who has been on this planet & in this country a long time, I want to talk about what it’s like sometimes. Usually it’s pretty damn good, and I’m thankful for it.
The last few months I’ve been seeing a lot of ugly things about and toward women on media. I read a blog post about sexual harassment on the street, which brought to mind public sexual harassment I had experienced once. From a person I worked with. In his environment, a construction supply house. And I hadn’t thought of it as harassment, I just felt ashamed, not really knowing why. I realize now it was definitely sexual harassment.
I ran into him there one Saturday & I was picking up a part a mechanic needed “in the field.” This guy had an audience of guys working behind the parts counter, who knew me by phone, but I’d never met personally. His name was Joe. I’ve lost touch with him but Joe and his wife ended up having about 8 kids, maybe more, and I used to babysit for them sometimes. Not after this happened. His wife was a saint. He later went into the ministry.👀
I don’t remember exactly what was said but Joe said something personal & embarrassing about how I looked. And it was posed as a question, so I felt all eyes on me. Don’t remember what it was. I just know I felt: humiliated & sad. I never wanted to see those guys at the supply house again. I was embarrassed the next time I had to call them for something. It was the days before email. Some people would say my telling this out loud is making a big deal out of nothing. I learned this bc I have a big mouth, and sometimes talk very frankly about my experiences. This is your warning. 😊
Now, in 2016, I feel like he wanted to humiliate me, bc I had never seen him act like that to anyone. And I babysat for him! I was about 22, so I hadn’t learned to stand up for myself at all. It still does not come naturally. Sometimes standing up for yourself is viewed negatively, too.
This particular incident came to mind when I thought about street harassment. Thinking about this incident made me think about the number of times I’ve been sexually targeted, so to speak. This incident felt like that, and it was the least ‘sexual’ of the times I’ve been targeted. I remembered 4 more times that were overtly sexual. Once a stranger masturbated at me in a parking lot we were sitting in. A few spaces down. It was night & I was waiting for my sister to get off at the Shoney’s in Ashland.
Another time I was looking at the travel sizes at the drugstore, oblivious to the guy next to me until he ejaculated into the travel sizes we were viewing.
Another time I was at the Westhampton Library and noticed a preppy-looking guy, prolly in his late 20’s early 30’s. Looked like a Dad, cute. I was prolly 20. A few minutes later I was looking at books. In the aisle where I was there was a window at the end. I was engrossed in the books, then noticed this same preppy guy standing outside, outside this window, rubbing his dick through his khakis. I walked or drove quickly away after ea of these incidents.
There was something else I don’t remember at the moment. I had never thought of them cumulatively before a few mos ago! Oh, and in elementary school I was assaulted on an ongoing basis for about 3 years by a group of bigger boys. They’d circle around me & tease me & put their hands on my chest & crotch, through my clothes. And I wasn’t particularly safe after I told my Mom, which is prolly why it went on for 3 years. Although it tapered off after I told her. I felt more empowered, I think, to say stop. And it became a memory.
I remembered 2 more a few days later. A total of 6 times I have been sexually assaulted. This doesn’t include Joe’s or anyone else’s harassment. The last 2 incidents are a rape when I was unconscious, mid 20’s. And something with a great uncle when I was 10, that I hate thinking & talking about and don’t remember all the details. I remember the way I made sense of it, when it came to mind later, was I thought he was having a diabetic seizure. But why didn’t I run & tell my grandmother & aunt? It was at the beach. Memom was prolly on the beach & Aunt Louise was prolly sitting on the street side in one of those plastic folding lounge chairs w/ no arms, with the sides up on ea side of her. I remember being too scared to tell anyone, so.
To be clear my assaults occurred in these places: a library, a drugstore, in a parking lot in Ashland, VA, at elementary school, at a friend’s house and at the beach with my grandmother, in the cottage where we stayed. In the living room, watching tv.
So, that is everything I remember at the moment. Women get assaulted all the time. It starts young. Maybe it tapers off too. I haven’t been assaulted in 20-25 years! And I’ve done a lot of healing work around all of my experiences. Don’t feel sorry for me. Know that most women you know probably had or will have one or more of these things happen to her.
If you’ve read my blog you probably know a place in NC, Belhaven, is close to my heart. This summer I got to visit, and it was joyous. Other aunts, uncles & cousins who don’t live there were visiting. My generous uncle had a crew to cook & clean up. We had the best fried shrimp I’d had in a few years. And this incredible layer cake he gets in Currituck or somewhere on the way.
My cousins and I rode all over town in my uncles golf cart. It’s probably less than a mile from downtown to River Forest Manor, where we were staying. The house is being renovated and I told a little of its history here. While downtown, the golf cart ran out of gas and we were chugging and pushing home, and I was periscoping it, which was hilarious. It took 1/2 an hour to get back!
My Uncle rented a luxury bus that had bedrooms, a kitchen, etc. He also rented some of the outer cottages that have been renovated (very nicely, I might add, they were skanky for a long time.) He also brought his cars. One of them is the the Rolls from Arthur, which my uncle got at an auction. ALS (which killed Dudley Moore, star of this film,) is related to Parkinson’s, which my uncle has had for 20 years. He’s only 10 years older than me and has lived such an active life. I got to drive his newer Rolls in the parade! Here are some pics from the weekend.
Here is Annie’s writing prompt #14. It is a lovely picture, but I decided to deal with the quote in the picture for this prompt. It says “If I let you in please don’t break anything.”
She told him,
“If I let you in, please don’t break anything.”
A wounded heart,
fragile like glass.
She longs to feel safe,
but what does that look like?
She must create it herself.
I was having a hard time downloading the picture prompt. Click here to view the picture before or after reading my little poem.
She swings listlessly in the mist
In an Alice in Wonderland tree.
Cruel branches, knobby and angular.
In the weight of her surrounds
She sings mournfully of her man
Who fell in spring at Monte Cassino.
I am writing in response to Annie’s Prompt. I’ve not written a lot with visual prompts. Usually my prompts are written. So, we shall see how this goes. I found the pic and prompt over at her blog in, Writing Outside The Lines. Here is the prompt: (I can write about the words on a few of the rocks, or all the rocks, lots of options.
I want to talk about the colors.
The sentiments-floating or sinking.
The purple Peace is lovely.
You Are Loved
What I want to write about are my feelings right now. They are wavy and very confused and hurting in a way that feels palpable to me. Someone recently told me they appreciated my complexity. That felt comforting. I am feeling strangely determined. I am feeling hurt. It is visceral. I feel it in my heart.
If I write will I comfort myself?
and busted my ass. It hurt like hell. I hurt my knees & then my cheek hit the asphalt. Oh, and I didn’t pass out or seize or anything. I distinctly remember my feet fumbling and the fall in detail. Every time I tried to sit up I got dizzy and couldn’t. It still hurts and I’m going to show you a pic or you can check my twitter time line I tweeted one…
However, right now, what I’m thinking is about when people who are jaywalking or not wearing a seat belt or something else entirely uncriminal end up with their cheeks slammed to the pavement and receive not only no care, but usually at least a little more injury. No sympathy, no comfort, no feeling of safety. The whole staff at the vet’s office came out & one of the vets and tended to me. Brought me ice, called my husband, a towel for my head bc I couldn’t move. Gave me a Coke. I was dazed for a few minutes.
Tim left work and brought me home, got me situated and iced. I’m injured but great.
I can’t imagine hitting my face on the pavement like that and not being in pain and injured.
I’m thinking about how many times a day this happens to people on the streets of our country. No one gives it a thought.
Makes me hurt for our society. And ashamed I participated in letting it get this way.
I wonder why the writing prompts for kids are more interesting to me than the ones for adults? I think the ones for adults are too involved, write too much of the story for you, maybe. Anyhow, I don’t have a favorite childhood toy, but I will tell you about some of my dolls. They were so important to me. I was a serial monogamist with dolls.
There was Baby Tender Love, Chrissie (with the blonde hair that grew!). My first doll was Thumbelina, which I sort of thought was because I sucked my thumb. She was a little doll, half the size of Baby Tender Love. Baby Tender Love had a real mouth to pretend feed.
Thumbelina might have had a pull string in her back that made her do something, but I don’t remember what. Or that may have been another doll. I remember mostly her size (small like me) and her beautiful dress, which I loved. Also, she had a soft stuffed fabric body, not plastic like Baby Tender Love, who I obviously remember better! It was a rust colored corduroy. I can feel it right now. I rubbed the heck out of that corduroy. She was quiet and sweet and really seemed to have a personality. I had a huge imagination. She may have been a hand me down, because I remember she seemed a little grimy. Probably from me carrying her everywhere! And maybe my sisters before me.
Once my Uncle David (who is 71 today!) was stationed in Korea after he graduated NC State, and he sent my sisters and me this beautiful Korean doll. She was gorgeous. I think I’ve written about her before. She was about 3 feet tall, and her elaborate clothes seemed like silk and she had a silk-covered china doll face. And I remember sequins. It was exquisite. I wish I could tell you more details about the doll. I don’t remember details well at all.
Anyhow, my sisters and I literally loved that doll to death. She became a ragged toy after we were finished with her. At the time we were probably 5, 7 and 9. Each one of us loved her. To death. RIP, Korean Doll.
Let’s see-I may have a pic, because I think I told this story before. I think we were about 4, 6 & 8. I’m on the left. I always felt guilty that we didn’t take better care of this special doll. Which seeing my age is a little ridic.