Informative

Bags, Baggage and Guilt

When you fly are you the totally organized passenger who’s got a place for everything and everything in its place? Or are you the last minute packer who is frantically trying to make sure the basics are there crammed in every which way as you make a mad dash to the airport hoping and praying that your flight hasn’t started boarding yet?

I tend to be a bit of an over-packer who might be ready for the zombie apocalypse at the drop of a hat, but needing to have supplies to replace anything in my diabetic arsenal takes up a lot of space, and money (but that’s another story)

Recent events in the political realm have had me thinking about the emotional baggage that we all have. We may think we are suave frequent flyers who only travel with an expertly packed carry-on, but when we stop and truly unpack we realize that a semi truck couldn’t hold all the emotional and spiritual baggage we actually have. 

I can’t remember a time when more feelings are hurt, blood pressures rise and friendships are drastically altered because of a person being nominated to the SCOTUS. I wonder if CSPAN has seen an uptick in their viewership because of this political appointment? 

Social Media has started to take the place of tried and true news reporting.

All the wondering aside, I’ll try to quickly summarize the goings-on that have helped spur this post. 

  • Kavanaugh was recommended to SCOTUS by President Trump. It appears that he was one of many on the short list to be considered for this position
  • A woman who initially wanted to remain anonymous, felt compelled to share her recollection of events that happened back in the 1980’s between her, Kavanaugh and possibly another male student
  • All the people at the time were in high school and at a pool party where underage drinking was happening
  • She remembers that Kavanaugh and the other male student were making moves towards her that she didn’t want to have happen and she struggled while they attempted to restrain her and muffle the sounds of her struggling from the other partygoers
  • She was able to eventually remove herself from the situation and left the party
  • Due to fear she would get in trouble for her own underage drinking she didn’t share the events with her parents

Life continued for all the party-goers with graduation, then college, maybe marriage and kids then Kavanaugh goes on to become a Judge on the Appeals Court and it’s announced that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring. Out of all the potential candidates for the position Kavanaugh gets tapped by Trump to go before the Senate Hearing Committee and get approved for the vacant seat. That’s when things get interesting…

When news of the possibility of Kavanaugh being approved for the vacant SCOTUS seat reaches the woman who remembers that night at the pool party and being assaulted by him she feels compelled to speak up and out. 

We have learned quite a bit, but have also been overwhelmed with political pundits sharing their two cents and trying to inject their dislike or approval of President Trump into every review and sound bite they make. But out of all of this I want to make a few things clear to you. 

In college I was raped by two men visiting some of their friends who were upperclassmen at the same college I was attending as a freshman. I had been drinking even though I was underage. When I woke up in my own dorm room the next morning, my roommate and a friend of ours were there helping me make sense of what had happened in the hours before.

It was creepily helpful that the guys had felt compelled to write horrid messages on the fabric my mom had supplied for me to cover the 80’s era bulletin board that ran the length of my bed to make memories and draw silly pictures for myself and my friends. Those memories that I had started to collect then became evidence the local police took after I reported the rape to the Campus Police and then to the local PD. 

I did all the things we are told to do if and when we are attacked and assaulted. I didn’t shower until after a rape kit was completed at the hospital. I reported the attack to the police. I admitted I had been drinking even though I was definitely underage. I tried my best to recollect how the previous nights events occurred. My roommate had started out the night hanging out with the same crowd of people that I had, so she was able to fill in some blanks that I had in my memory. I was told that the Campus Police and local PD were going to do their best to find the guys and do an investigation into their actions, but unfortunately the only thing they could do was issue letters of persona non grata to them. 

The Campus PD really did do the best they could with the limits being a small private college. They offered to speak to my now former friends who had invited the guys to the campus. They checked in with me in the weeks following and even submitted my case to the County Prosecutor to see if it would be able to go to trial. I was willing to share my shame with a courtroom so that the jury could decide if the events really were assault and rape or if it was an unfortunate case of he said/she said and unclear consent. 

The County Prosecutors office came back with the decision NOT to bring my case to trial as they felt I wouldn’t be treated fairly and it could easily turn into a case of he said/she said. So I didn’t get my SVU happy ending after all. So that whole event got packed away in a corner of my life experience suitcase and started to collect dust. 

A few weeks ago I begin to see news stories about accusations being brought against the SCOTUS nominee from events that occurred in the 80’s. My interest was piqued so I began to read up on the situation and the more I read the more those memories, that mental baggage that I had mentally boxed up and packed away started to creep out of its compartment and I became more engrossed in the story as it unfolded. 

In 2015 when the Brock Turner case made national headlines and the victim of that rape wrote a letter to him I was riveted by her courage and willingness to be vulnerable and open to the world despite what she endured both during the attack and afterwards by the 24 hour news cycle focus on the minutia details about her and her attacker and social media trolls.

When the #MeToo movement gained traction last year I silently stood in solidarity with those who had been attacked, assaulted and molested. I saw over and over again, in conversations about those coming forward and the denials automatically submitted to the court of Public Opinion that discounting the victim and blaming them for being victimized is unfortunately almost an automatic response to any claim of assault or molestation.

As a survivor of an assault I want to ask you this; why are the responses to a person having been raped almost always: “What were you wearing?”, “What were you drinking?” Instead of asking the attacker: “Why did you do that?”, “They said no, why didn’t you stop?”, “We are not here on this earth solely for your sexual pleasure, do not treat us as such.” 

To sum up this emotionally draining post I want to ask you this:

Please take the time to sit down and really unpack your emotional baggage. It’s a way of seeing what you hold dear and important. It can also be immensely painful, but seeking help for unpacking the most delicate of bags can be therapeutic. There are also many resources to help you work through what you have gone through and work towards cleaning “house” as it were.

Being open and vulnerable can be, and usually is scary and life-altering, but allowing yourself to be bogged down with past hurts, failures and pain just make you like the last minute packer who’s praying that their flight hasn’t left yet as they peel into the long-term parking lot at the airport. Be the suave planner who has packed just the essentials and is patiently waiting at the gate when they open up the boarding for first-class. You are worth that.

Resources: https://greatist.com/live/sexual-assault-survivor-resources

Daughter of the Most High God. Well cared for and appreciated wife of an amazing man. Female, Christian, mother of an adorable & imaginative son, sweet & feisty daughter and a furry house pony, type 1 diabetic, slightly geeky, married to a most wonderful man who treats me like a queen, youngest of three, created in the 80's, lover of Christ; history and languages, animal lover, outspoken, caring and just down right cool. ;-)

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