Dark Times

These are dark times. The week of Christine Blasey Ford’s appearance before those old white men in the Senate, was a hard, dark time. Listening to Ford’s testimony on planes, in coffee shops, at home, at work, women cried. Thousands of stories never told before have been told because of her courage. I heard that over and again, talking to women, watching the news, cruising Facebook, reading women’s testimonies. I heard over and again: I believe Dr. Ford.

Because of her, here’s my story I’ve never told anyone. I have never wanted to tell it, don’t want to tell it any more than Dr. Ford wanted to tell hers. I’ve barely thought of this ugly experience for 50 years, did an excellent job of not thinking about it, but now it has returned to follow me like a shadow. Bringing it into the light will make it fade.

I was twenty-one, naïve, put myself in a perilous situation. I had been in California a matter of weeks, knew no one. Feeling lonely and wondering if I should have moved there by myself, I went on a date with a nice young man I met while job hunting. He took me out to dinner, took me by his house to meet his mother. A few years later, that would have set off alarms. But then, I thought, “how sweet” and invited him into my studio apartment for a cup of coffee. I said no, but without shouting, resisted, but without making too much noise, afraid of anyone hearing, afraid of exposure, afraid of being evicted from the only place I could afford, afraid of being blamed, knowing I’d be blamed, ashamed, blaming myself.

Didn’t my mother teach me that women are in control? If things get out of hand, it is our fault. Idiot, I said to myself over and over afterwards. I stayed in the shower a long time, trembling, bruised. Idiot girl, idiot girl, I hissed through clenched teeth, slamming my fists into my stomach.

I never saw him again, don’t remember his name, only know that he was young and had straight, light brown hair. I don’t know how long I stayed depressed, afraid, ashamed. Fragments of that time appear as if lit by lightning, then go black again. I see myself locking the door, checking it again before going to bed, getting up in the night to be sure it’s still locked. Much is blank or as if seen through opaque glass. I was so ashamed. I never told anyone. When the #Me Too accusations started, I told my husband, the first time I’ve told anyone, five decades later.

I believe Dr. Ford. I know no woman who has not had ugly incidents, some she’s never told anyone. Every young woman endures the everyday variety: the man who follows her on a darkened street, the one who tries to pick her up and when she declines, threatens her. That’s just for starters. Too many women have suffered much worse.

When I was in high school and going out, my mother made sure I had a dime. Phone booths were everywhere then. She never said why, exactly. Just in case “something happened” and I needed to call. A few years before her death she told me about her stepfather, said, “I had to make sure I wasn’t alone in a room with him.” She pressed her lips together, changed the subject, said no more. Her generation didn’t talk about it. My generation and those after me haven’t done much better. Until now.

Now more of us are talking about it. More of us are trying to stop blaming and shaming ourselves. We can thank the Me Too movement and Dr. Ford for that, who made a wreck of her life, subjected herself and her family to death threats for the sake of truth, for a matter of principle, and then wasn’t believed, and then was mocked by the President of the United States.

Kavanaugh is unfit for the Supreme Court with or without his adolescent crimes. He lied or misled the Senate about his drinking, his biases, his ability to be an impartial judge. I stand with the 2,400 law professors, the Yale alumni and law students who expressed their opposition to his appointment. As for Lindsey Graham’s tantrum about this being “the most unethical sham” he’s seen in politics, I have a single retort: Merrick Garland. Talk about unethical. The Republican-controlled Senate doesn’t care about any of that.

Let Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court judge for life, become for life the symbol of unpunished abuse and rewarded bias. Let his undeserved presence on that court remind us daily of the dire need for change. Let this despicable Senate act galvanize our resistance. These are murky times, but there are beams of light in this darkness. Relieving myself of my own ancient, ugly scar, difficult as it was to do so, lightens me. Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez and the women in the elevator with Sen. Flake and all who have at last told their stories brighten our way. Let good women and men everywhere step into that light, take aim at those who confirmed Kavanaugh and vote them out.

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11 Responses to Dark Times

  1. Katharine Knight says:

    Brave, inspiring, true. Your light is our gift, too, Pat!

  2. Jenny-Lynn says:

    Holding your dark experience in the light, right now, for healing and for justice. I’m so grateful for the truth in everything you write.

  3. Jana says:

    Trump’s election was perhaps the most depressing thing of my life. Last week I was inspired to vomit more than five pregnancies ever did. Today the depression and anger are so mixed I find myself speechless. Thank you for your voice, Pat! I might never find mine again!!

    • dubrava says:

      Oh, Jana, I can’t imagine you without your voice, so articulate and to the point, always. It will return. Meanwhile, vote the bastards out.

  4. Jim Thompson says:

    Thanks for sharing this. You have our deepest sympathies for the trauma and our gratitude for your courage now. Linda and Jim

  5. winnie barrett says:

    Bravo Pat, and amen, sistah ! You have added one more voice to the “me too” and also the “we won’t take it anymore” movement. Together we can change the world.Thank you for telling your experience. I salute your courage.
    Yes, today’s political scene is vulgar and repulsive. The dregs are being dug up everywhere. May it be in the service of bringing it all into the light and transmuted into all life becoming fresh and new.
    And you bet I’ll be voting. Here in the Carolinas we are desperate for change. The time is now.

  6. sylvia montero says:

    My dear friend, sister, mother, reading your blog made me tremble and cry. EVERY Women seems to have a ” #me to moment” Need I say more. I believe in LOVE and the power in LOVE.
    Which I am sending you right now. Sylvia

  7. I tried to comment on this earlier, via my phone, but after writing it all out, I was dumped and told I couldn’t be logged in. Well, the bottom line: I find it heartbreaking to think of you and all the women I know who’ve spoken to me about this kind of thing over the years. It’s my believe that we will never truly progress as a species until this predatory crap is shamed away, and that can only happen when men shame other men, loudly and publicly. I think of all the gutless buddies of Kavanaugh who kept their mouths shut. Disgusting.

  8. mssarafd says:

    What a brave and compelling piece, Pat. Thank you for sharing it. And thank you for the hope that illuminates the end; we need that right now.

  9. Bob Jaeger says:

    Thanks, Pat, for this powerful piece, and for the rays of light in these dark times.

    Gerri and Bob

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