I am fortunate and grateful to share with my readers this exquisite essay by writer Sally McGee that speaks to all of us #metoo survivors with such grace and courage.
Sally McGee is a writer, community organizer, and nature conservancy advocate living on the Oregon coast. In the 1970s in New York, she worked tirelessly until rape survivors were treated by legal authorities with the dignity and respect they deserved as victims of a serious crime, instead of the blaming-the-woman mentality that prevailed for decades.
MELTDOWN by Sally McGee
The phone rings.
A neighbor was calling looking for a reference.
Some people I know want to rent his house.
Unable to get a letter of recommendation and having heard some unsavory things, he was looking for information.
Could I tell him anything?
I begin to shake and find it hard to get words out.
The man is big and menacing.
Often unemployed, he has drinking and anger management problems.
The police have been called.
What can I say?
I find it hard to talk and begin to stutter.
I am surprised at how shaken I am.
Things get worse as the week progresses.
The night descends and I crawl into bed.
The nightmares begin.
Growing up female in an out of control family, I was often afraid.
I wake feeling disjointed.
Something is trying to rise from my unconsciousness.
What my body knows, my brain has not yet figured out.
I am confused.
Monday I think is Friday. Wednesday is Monday.
Get it together! You are scaring people around you.
It is the trauma that is being brought forth from early childhood.
The trauma triggered by 11 white Republican men wanting to grill a sexual assault victim while her attacker looks on.
A woman who thought she was going to be murdered, the weight of a male body pinning her down.
His hand on her mouth stifling her screams while his friend looks on.
Some on the committee have already pronounced her guilty.
Senator Orin Hatch, well established member of the Republican power structure, next in line after the Speaker if something untoward happens to the President and the V.P., has pronounced her, “Confused”.
Virtually the same thing he said 20 plus years ago during the testimony of Anita Hill before the Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings and we know what the men did then.
If they win this one, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.
Too many women are watching and feeling the attack on Professor Ford to be an attack on them.
Old traumas are being re-lived.
Traumas that will spell the death of the Patriarchy.
And I say, “Thank God”.
Some years ago I spent 8 days in the Trinity National Forest in Northern California backpacking; 3 women, 3 dogs.
Leaving, the hardest part was saying good by to the trees.
There was no wrapping my arms around the trunk because of their mammoth size.
But I leaned into them and quietly spoke of my love.
The surprising thing was the response.
Clearly they said, “We love you.”
This forest burned in the fires of 2018 but destroying the Redwoods is next to impossible.
They were here in the beginning.
One of the oldest life forms.
Their presence is a gift that uplifts me and sustains my life.
And for them I am grateful.
With trauma in the news every day, I vow I will not be defeated.
All is not lost.
Life goes on.
I live in a community that was logged 100 years ago.
The trees were cut down and removed but their life not destroyed.
Many came back and today I walk among them some 60, 70 feet tall.
They are unusual looking because the cut made 100 years ago was 10 or more feet above the ground so the tree I see today has very large roots high above the ground.
I make my escape running to Sanctuary, the family home in Portland where my daughter and her B.F. live.
The house was built in 1915 and is in one of the older, close-in neighborhoods.
Craftsman houses and Bungalows surrounded by very large trees that were somehow spared 100 years ago.
Sanctuary and I am safe.
Surrounded by family and loving neighbors.
Children’s voices ring out.
It is music to my ears.
I rest and sleep.
Thank you, Sally McGee for your lovely words.
For a survivor like me in this treacherous time in our nation, your words are my balm and sanctuary.