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What comes after #metoo?

metoo

Alyssa Milano’s suggestion that all women who wanted to show how widespread sexual harassment, sexual assault and abuse are use the #metoo hashtag has gone viral with variations being taken up in other languages.

Some find it empowering, some infuriating. Some simply have used the hashtag (personally, I didn’t go over my stories – I didn’t take all of them to therapy but I did enough work on it to know that, for me, it wouldn’t have been helpful to dredge things up to an even greater extent again this week) while others have pulled no punches in detailing the examples.

Some have seen their perpetrators charged, tried and jailed.

Some have never told a soul until now.

And some men (notably, the wonderful Terry Crews from Brooklyn Nine-Nine) have spoken up about times it’s happened to them. And the fact that it happened to HIM, in front of his WIFE, shows that even with people who stop thinking of women as sex objects and instead like The Rock (click HERE for the brilliant, Rock endorsed advice), size, strength and power doesn’t ensure safety.

When the sky turned an eerie yellow and the sun red on Monday afternoon, I imagined, for a few seconds, that it was the result of so many women’s rage. That our combined anger and rising to say ENOUGH had literally shaken up the world, changing the colour of the sky.

Reading story after story emerge, my emotions rollercoaster in a way they’ve been rollercoastering since 45* announced his candidacy for the Presidency. Sometimes, I feel jaded like nothing can surprise me. Other times, the outrage rises again. Sometimes, this feels empowering. Other times, I feel exhausted by it all.

On the Tube today, seeing  a strange (to me) man glancing at the new report I was reading in the paper, I wanted to ASK him, What do YOU think about all of this? What will YOU do differently, as a man, to help ensure more women and girls are safe if you witness dodgyness? Obviously, I didn’t. I realised also that while I was raging (again) reading it, my face was in normal Tube Face mode and no one would have known about the turbulence I was feeling.

I don’t imagine I’m the only one. So I thought I’d share some thoughts in hopes some of them may help you:

  1. If you’re a man, please pause and bracket your feelings about how the revelations make you feel and ask the women in your life what, if anything, THEY want you to do to support them. The whole ‘What women want’ thing is as ludicrous as trying to define ‘What men want’ as if we were one homogenous group of people who all think and feel the same. Just like you, we’re whole people. My favourite definition of feminism, from Gloria Steinem, is simply this, thinking of women as whole people TOO
  2. If you chose not to #metoo, honour your decision to do what’s right for you. ALWAYS do what feels best for you
  3. If you shared your stories, BE SUPER GENTLE WITH YOURSELF. It’s a brave thing to do. Brene Brown’s work around shame and vulnerability teaches us that when we share our vulnerabilities with people who can hold and support us, we can avoid shame spiralling. The internet is a phenomenal tool for putting us in touch with support we could never have known about before. It can also be used to hurt people. Block people as necessary. Turn off comments if need be. Honour what is right for you
  4. Let your loved ones know what support you need. This isn’t the end of it. More and more high profile cases are coming to light and hard as it can feel to stomach the brutality and injustice, there’s a power in truth coming to light. Again, quoting the glorious Gloria Steinem, ‘The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off’
  5. Keep reminding yourself that you are safe now. You survived. You are so much more that what has been done to you.
  6. Notice what you feel in your body. Pay attention to how you want to move your body, maybe miming fighting back or lashing out many years or even decades later (it may sound silly but so much trauma gets trapped in our bodies, it’s amazing the difference listening, tracking and moving can make – read Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger and Babette Rothchild for more if you’re interested). You may want to mime punching or kicking or screaming or any of the things you were unable to do as you did whatever you needed to do in the actual moment/s
  7. You may simply want to stamp your feet and scream and shout – let it out of your body. If this feels like too much, a walk or, better yet, a good run or energetic swim or push ups or any thing physical which honours the body’s natural fight/flight instinct.
  8. You may want to take up kick boxing or something similar. Lifting weights, becoming more powerful physically can be healing. Maybe dancing it out is more your style. Go to a class or even draw the curtains and go wild in your living room
  9. Drag out your mini trampoline if you have one and JUMP it out. Stamping feet can feel scary or too silly for some but with a rebounder, you can get similar effects
  10. Write a letter to the perpetrators you couldn’t protect yourself from. This is not to send but to get it all out. Burn it and maybe decide if there IS anything you want to say or do in reality (pressing charges etc). Again, whatever you decide, YOU KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.
  11. Journal the full spectrum of emotion as and when it feels helpful (if that feels too permanent, use looseleaf paper and burn it safely afterwards or even loo roll and flush it)
  12. Think about a time or imagine a time you felt happy, contented and at ease. Really comfortable in your own skin. It might be a moment from a holiday, from years ago or it might be something completely imaginary – when I was first asked to do this many years ago, I cried because I couldn’t imagine feeling so happily embodied and at ease in my own skin. I started out by imagining myself floating in the sea, far away from people. While I still adore the sea (in real life, too), I’ve built up a comprehensive mental library of happy places to imagine – time giving your brain a break from the horrors of the news / intrusive thoughts not only feels nice but has an impact on our physiology, reducing stress and boosting performance
  13. Woman or man, get whatever support you need and deserve – no one is broken beyond repair. Find a good therapist and/or support group. We can use the rage to heal and make the world a safer place for everyone.

What helps you? Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

* Self-confessed sexual predator and white supremacist President of the US – since Lawrence Fishburne calmly called him 45 on The Daily Show many months ago, I’ve found that this simple number helps take some of the heat out of the pain and disbelief I’ve felt since enough people disregarded his recorded boasts of sexual assault and voted for him anyway

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The importance of self-care when dealing with people impacted by narcissitic wounding

Parts of this post may be triggering and upsetting but I’m taking that risk because I hope it will be helpful.

Gaslight

Seasoned White House reporters have been shocked* after being told that what they’ve seen with their own eyes is not true at Sean Spicer’s first press statement yesterday.

I work with a lot of adult survivors of narcissistically** wounded parents. As babies and infants (throughout our lives but especially then), we need to be seen. To be loved and accepted and cherished for who we are. To be allowed to feel however we feel. Even when we’re furious.

When we’ve been seen as we are (often through therapy as an adult) and have learned to integrate our own feelings and know it’s OK to feel however we feel, we’re in a much better position to empathise with others. To, as Obama said in an interview with Oprah long before he ran for President, ‘Disagree without being disagreeable.’

Yet, to varying degrees, we’ve grown up having certain aspects of our personalities celebrated while others have been punished or ignored. The recent pink/blue merchandising (cutting out a most of the rainbow and attempting to force boys and girls to conform to gender stereotypes) is an element of this. Black and white. Boy or girl. Good or bad. Republican or Democrat. Brexit or Remain.

When a parent (or President) has a high level of narcissistic wounding, his or her needs always come much higher than the children’s (or population’s). Ultimately, many of these adult survivors, as a result of systematically having their needs denied and suppressed, often believe they don’t have a right to exist.

When certain parts of our personality*** are celebrated and others denied, it can lead to us (naturally) feeling unseen in our wholeness. In varying degrees, this can lead to narcissistic wounding. If we weren’t seen and allowed to be as we were, we’re incapable of seeing others as they are.

Watching a powerful press corp being treated like naughty children who need to be disciplined can be triggering. Trump’s team, with his ‘running war with the media’ is attempting to tell the press they don’t have a right to exist.

I regularly recommend Elan Golomb’s book, Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in their Struggle for Self, as she explains (using many personal examples) how the residual effects (including self-loathing),  can be overcome. No matter how grandiose a person struggling with narcissistic wounding might appear, there’s a very fragile core which doesn’t feel good enough.

The new President of the United States of America is a self-confessed sexual predator.

We saw the tape (apologies for the language but this is the President’s own language) where he said:

Pussygate

His ‘stalking’ of Hillary Clinton, literally following her around the stage like he was going to do something during one of the DEBATES was chilling to watch (although she took it in her stride and handled it with grace).

We’ve seen the tape where he mocked the disabled reporter and all of his denials that he did this even thought we’ve seen the tape.

We’ve heard his outrageous allegations about people from various ethnic groups and his endorsements by the KKK. He’s said he’s not racist then appointed an Alt-Right (neo Nazi rebranded) publisher as his Chief of Staff.

Just as the narcissistic parent blames the child for the abuse because s/he made him/her do it, the President, while campaigning, blamed the government for not having tighter tax laws that would stop him exploiting a loop hole and not paying taxes for years.

And I’m not even mentioning all the evidence of hacking and electoral interference by a foreign government. Again, his tactic has been to deny it.

 As an adult (with an online ‘echo chamber’ although I attempt to be open to as many opinions as possible, just not tolerating hate speech of any kind), this is crazymaking: It was termed ‘gaslighting’ after the films (Diana Wynard in the 1940 original and Ingrid Bergman – pictured above – in the better known 1944 remake) about the abusive husband who slowly (with the help of some of his staff) convinces his wife she’s going mad.

For a child, it can be horrific to experience that sense of being ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘stupid’ or ‘wrong’ because the adult you’re supposed to trust to raise you is telling you something you know isn’t right. It’s abusive.

Even adults who’ve had (as if there’s such a thing) ‘normal’ upbringings can be affected when, say, a partner uses such tactics and they lose their sense of self.

Many adults are being triggered by the news on a regular basis, straight back into that suddenly not knowing if the sky’s up or down.

Brene Brown’s amazing work around shame and vulnerability, and the need to embrace them – however uncomfortable – if we want to live wholeheartedly, can help.

We can watch some of the inspiring speeches from yesterday’s marches. (You might want to get started with Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Alicia Keys, Scarlett Johanson, America Ferrera, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Madonna).

We can connect with people, discerning safe people to share our vulnerabilities with so we can support each other rather than feel exploited by sharing with people who’ll use them against us.

As we connect and support each other, we can then reach out (as Obama advised) and attempt to talk to people who feel differently – not to dismiss their feelings but to attempt to hear and understand. I’m not talking about condoning hate speech and worse but attempting to connect with the best in people even when we’re flummoxed by certain decisions.

As always, you know what’s best for you. 

I really hope that enough of these reporters can stay grounded enough to keep calling out the lies, investigating properly, fact checking and not giving up.

What helps you stay grounded and in your truth no matter what someone else (who may, or may not have a high level of narcissistic wounding) is trying to convince you of?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

*again – it seems, for them and for us at home, as if we all keep thinking we’ve seen it all and then something else happens and we’re knocked for six again

**Psychosynthesis, a transpersonal psychology, is very much about looking at what – no matter how challenging the issue – might be trying to emerge at a soul level. We’re all on a spectrum in terms of narcissitic wounding

***There was a scene in the documentary about Trump’s background where he introduced his then toddler son as ‘smart’, ‘vicious’ and ‘violent’ as if the latter two were good things. Melania and others at the Hollywood Star of Fame ceremony being filmed all laughed like it wasn’t something to worry about. I really hope he has people in his life who seem him for all of who he is and who will nurture and support him as he grows up in this enormous spotlight

**** While I’m quite outspoken about my politics, I respect others’ choices as long as they’re not hurting anyone. In those cases, I feel I have a duty to attempt to speak up (as compassionately as possible). I hope that yesterday was just a warm up and that we’ll all (the marches were led by women but all genders were welcome) do what we can to support each other and fight to prevent the progress that’s been made being undone

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