Right now there’s a lot of women around us experiencing immense hurt and anger. The Kavanaugh hearing and Dr. Blasey Ford’s brave testimony has conjured up old wounds, unresolved issues and heavy emotions for many. You see and hear it all over the place - women everywhere have been unexpectedly blindsided and shaken to the core.
I am a sexual assault survivor who has been unexpectedly blindsided and shaken to the core.
Silent for far too long, I have found myself with a desire to share my story with those I am close to since Dr. Ford shared hers. Not to jump on a bandwagon, but because it is time. I realize that I have carried this heavy weight for too long.
I have spent the past two weeks vacillating between anger, sadness and being okay - sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis. This is new for me - to feel so vividly - and brilliantly - and violently. At times I want to stuff it back down. I want to throw myself headfirst into a new project to distract myself. I don’t really want to feel all these feelings. I want to go back to pretending it doesn’t really matter anymore, but I won’t let myself. I know that finally processing the anger and sadness is a healthy step. I’m scared, but oddly excited to see where this new-found bravery will take me.
But I’m also confused. This is new territory - allowing myself to truly feel.
I feel shaky, raw and unnerved. So I share with those I trust because I have an immense yearning to be heard and seen and validated right now. I need my people to reassure me that it is okay to not be okay for this moment in time.
What I find too often, however, are edicts from friends and loved ones to look for silver linings, to “women up” or to channel my anger into a vote. I logically know that these directives are meant to comfort, but they don’t. It feels like a dismissal and I find myself questioning whether I am selfishly taking up too much space with my story. I feel shame for wallowing in sadness and pity. I feel the opposite of validated.
We have a rule at the SheHive, “Don’t fix unless invited.” It means, don’t give advice unless you have been asked to provide a solution.
I violate this rule about 10 times a day - because I’m human and because I have a lots of really awesome advice I’m not actually using.
But, more than anything, I violate this rule because I am a woman - like so many other women - with hyper-developed empathy. Which means, if I’m not vigilant and aware - when you are in pain, I am in pain. And I don’t want to be in pain, so I’ll pull out all my best tips and tricks to get you “fixed” and to get us both back to a place of comfort.
But when we try to “fix” each other - we rob each other. We rob each other of opportunities to process, to reflect, to learn and to grow. Worse yet, when we try to fix each other, we send messages to each other that it is not okay to not be okay. Not even for a minute.
It’s okay to be not okay, lovely. Let’s all stop pretending otherwise.
And let's try loving our people by approaching them with curiosity instead of solutions.
How do you hold space for those you love? Inspire and lift up your Hive by sharing your story in the comments below.
With much love and gratitude,
I hope you have a wonderful family full of supportive, loving and intelligent people. And, if you do, please know - I’m jealous! I’m jealous because my family is full humans - opinionated, flawed, and sometimes stupid people. And included among those stupid people are some bullies.
Mind you, they aren’t your run-of-the-mill schoolyard jerks who kick your shin and take your lunch money. These bullies are lovely-looking, usually very-nice people, who hand you a cocktail and then tell you how you don’t know enough, aren’t good enough, and basically suck. I have left many encounters with these bullies, dumbstruck and shaking my head, wondering how I ended up feeling so awful after such a nice party.
Part of my personal growth has included a good deal of work on standing up to people who would like to make me feel small - including the bullies in my family. My evolution has involved dissecting the encounters I have with them, translating the seemingly “helpful” comments on my life and explaining why I feel like shit afterward. At some point I decided to start standing up to these people both in my head and in real time.
At first it was horribly scary… my voice trembled, my knees were wobbly. I began to say things in response to the veiled insults such as, “I disagree,” or “Excuse me, but how is that relevant?” and other conversation halters.
I’ve gotten better at simply refusing to tell certain people about the details of my life, they aren’t safe enough to be trusted. I’ve based my interactions with them on how they ACTUALLY show up for me.
Case in point…
This morning, a distant cousin who has political views that are opposite of mine, shared an article on social media that made my blood boil. I have been fighting with said cousin, in my head, ever since.
I have crafted a thousand well-researched opinions. I have cut and pasted all the facts that I could to support my point. I have even thought about unfriending my cousin.
Ultimately, however, I choose not to engage.
The decision not to engage came from a conversation we had in KeyHolder, Robin Breckenridge’s PIVOT series - a course on repairing and restoring relationships. (Which, by the way, I highly recommend! Just as I highly recommend simply meeting Robin. She is fabulous in a thousand ways!) In our PIVOT session two weeks ago we talked about setting boundaries with the people in our lives based on the ways they ACTUALLY show up for us. This is essential - most of us have boundaries based on what we would LIKE to be true.
Once a boundary is set, it is then up to ME to act accordingly. It is my job to not engage, disclose, or set myself up to be hurt. The other person will do what they will do and it is none of my business. My behavior is the only thing I can control.
My cousin is wrong, and mean, and in an outer relationship boundary where I put jerks that I will not allow to invade my life. This person is not someone I want to invest in and the relationship is not one I care to invest in. If we didn’t share DNA, my cousin wouldn’t be on my radar, nor would I be on theirs.
So I chose to not engage - to type nothing in response. I choose to let my cousin be wrong, and mean, and not a person I invest in.
I control who gets my time. I control who gets my energy. I control who gets my very valuable and very limited fucks. And when I am standing in my power, fully content with my choices, I am my best self.
This, my friends, is badassery.
So, what do I do when I do care and I must confront my bullies? Well, that’s a subject for another blog post. Stay tuned!
Are you giving the bullies in your life more time, energy - or fucks - than they deserve? Inspire others in your hive (and yourself!) by leaving a comment below making a pledge to engage - or disengage - how it best suits you!
Dr. Corrine Rogers,
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and SheHive founding member, Amanda Crowell Itiliong, is one of those ladies you know who has it. She balances her time being sick, helping with the community, and speaking about cancer and wants the SheHive community to be as educated about this issue as we can be!
While most types of cancer have seen dramatic improvements in treatment and lower mortality rates, ovarian cancer hasn’t seen much improvement in the past 30 years for a few primary reasons. Even if you are getting regular, annual gynecological exams and pap smears, you are not being tested for ovarian cancer. It might sound unbelievable in modern times, but there is no diagnostic test for ovarian cancer. That’s why you have to know the symptoms for yourself and follow-up if you have any of them.
Ovarian Cancer can be tricky because the symptoms are often pushed aside. Symptoms can sometimes be subtle, or they can seem like something else is the problem. We hear from women all the time that they thought it was a problem related to menopause or a bladder, stomach or intestinal issue. Another challenge is probably the result of how many of us were socialized when we were younger. We’ve been trained that complaining is rude and so anything that isn’t dramatic, we tend to try to ignore or at least keep to ourselves.
Amanda wishes she had known the symptoms myself before she was diagnosed, she also wishes that she had told others in my life about what she was feeling. Maybe someone who loves her would have encouraged her to go see a gynecologist and follow up if they heard what was going on with her. Early diagnosis is what gives a woman the best chance of living a long and healthy life after ovarian cancer.
In case you need it, Amanda - and all of your SheHive tribe - is officially giving you permission to complain because it can save your life!
If you notice one or more of the following symptoms that is new or unusual for you for 12 or more days out of a month, don’t panic!, but make an appointment with your gynecologist to follow up.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
While it typically affects older women, even young girls and young women can be affected. Amanda was first diagnosed at age 29. Even if you don’t have ovaries (such as after a total hysterectomy) you can, unfortunately, still get ovarian cancer. It’s called Primary Peritoneal Cancer and the treatment and prognosis is much the same as the most common form of Ovarian Cancer. About 20 - 25% of women with had a hereditary connection to the disease from genetic mutations such as BRCA1, BRCA2 or Lynch Syndrome, or from a close family history. Most cases of ovarian cancer however are just the result of an unlucky random gene mutation.
Ovarian cancer can happen to anyone who was born with ovaries and it's never anyone’s fault if they get sick!
Unfortunately, recurrence of ovarian cancer is the norm. About 80% of women who go into remission following initial treatment experience a recurrence of the disease.
Our best tool to save lives is early diagnosis!
For more information, to support ovarian cancer research, or to help women like Amanda who are living with ovarian cancer, please visit http://mioca.org or https://ocrfa.org.