You’ve seen the posts. They’re taking social media by storm today. People are reminding you exactly how often it happens by tweeting #MeToo. The amount of times that this hashtag has been used is unnerving. It’s a ridiculous reminder that sexual harassment and abuse has happened to someone you know, probably more than once, probably more than you ever thought could happen.
Here’s my hopefully not triggery, definitely not graphic #MeToo story.
When I decided to publicly tell the world that I had been sexually abused, life got a little busy. People got death threats, my home address was posted online, and I eventually got kicked out of college for talking about the fact that I had been sexually abused years prior. You can read all about that right over here. (Yeah, future employers, I graduated from a much better college. Cum laude. Hire me. Anyway.)
The reason why I made the original Facebook post came after months and months of therapy, in which I was trying to remember how to talk about it. See, for the two years prior to that infamous Facebook post, I was in a religious boarding school in the lovely city of Gateshead, England, where I was told by two rabbis in particular, on a daily (at minimum) basis, to ‘be normal’. Be normal, Miss Nemo. Be normal. By ‘normal’, they meant, don’t you dare talk about it. Be normal, they meant, by writing letters every day and giving them to this one rabbi, instead of actually talking about it, with words that come through vocal chords, words that could connect, words that could heal. Be normal, as in, the word ‘rape’ cannot come out of your mouth. Not even to that one rabbi, not even in the letters, which I am pretty positive he never read. Be normal, as in, even if you have a concussion, you may not forget that you are not allowed to talk about it. And if you do, you will be kicked out of school. You will leave the country. You will not be normal.
So. I was normal. I tapdanced the way they wanted me to in those skirts which had hems that measured exactly four inches below my knee, because that was what was normal. But the little bits of me that couldn’t handle normalcy anymore bled out in heavy black eyeliner. The other girls were pretty freaked out by that, but, as one of the rabbis put it to me, it was better than self-harm. When I came to the United States, a country where my stay wasn’t threatened by the insistence that I had to be normal, I gave the fuck up. I tossed the name Nemo. I fought for my religion, but lost that too. I lost friends, family, loved ones. But I couldn’t keep it inside anymore. I couldn’t stay silent.
Now, these rabbis definitely don’t have Facebook or Twitter accounts. (I remember this one time one of them referred to Twitter in class, and all the girls giggled awkwardly, tittering that he, a holy rabbi with a disturbingly white beard, knew what Twitter was.) But I wish they did have accounts. I wish they would log in to their Facebook and Twitter accounts today and see the posts from the thousands of people who are whispershouting that it happened to them, too. I want them to know that for some reason, this is becoming normal. And it needs to stop. This canNOT be normal anymore. They cannot let this be normal. The word is rape. Rape is not normal.
I want them to know that I left England on July 17th, 2012. And I want them to know that on October 17th, 2012, I stopped self-harming forever. Yeah. At the time of postimg, that will be tomorrow. Tomorrow is my five years. I want them to know that when I got to a place where I started to talk about it, I started healing. It was hell. It was five years of hell. But tomorrow, I will make it to the half-decade mark of wanting, trying, begging to live.
I, Chapin, in this body, am a perfect, whole, passionate, dedicated, courageous, beautiful, precious human being. Sometimes I wear too much eyeliner.
And I am goddamn fucking normal.
© Chapin Langenheim, 2019