Me Too sits awkwardly silent, afraid to cause a ripple in the traditions of cheer and joy. Me Too feels like a single word will bring the party down. Suddenly, that confident voice that finally said, “Me Too” is self-conscious and already choosing to stay home next year. Me Too is afraid this time of year will never be the same.
An entire day goes by with everyone else carefully avoiding getting too close. Me Too feels ashamed, unwanted, unseen, ignored, and most of all, isolated.
For many of the new voices in the Me Too movement, a holiday season is anything but joyful. I know, I’ve been there. I was living in my trauma day in and day out – trauma pain doesn’t take a holiday. It felt as though I’d brought home a new pet elephant for everyone to meet. But my family didn’t know how to even say hello to the elephant. I left those experiences wishing I knew how to interrupt their discomfort and avoidance. And I felt like the burden wasn’t really mine – I needed my family to choose differently. Often my choice is to not attend. It’s just easier than bringing along my elephant.
This is how rape culture has grown into the crisis it is, by us not knowing how to talk about things that matter with those we spend the holidays with. Even the best therapists are going to say this isn’t easy. It’s not easy because we haven’t been practicing it. It’s not easy because we are afraid to say the “wrong” thing.
Take a deep breath, say things out loud to yourself in the mirror and it will be easier – especially because the rewards are so immense. As family systems start to choose differently, the rewards are in the strength and intimacy that comes from walking through difficult times together.
Here are some variations of what I’ve imagined my family saying to me:
I can’t imagine what you are going through right now. I’m glad you chose to come and spend time with us. If you want to talk for a few minutes at any time today, let’s find a quiet spot so I can listen.
I’m glad you are here and that I love you. Because of all the activity and kids running around, it might be difficult to actually talk without interruption today. Let’s schedule time this week, I want to give you undivided attention. I know your self-care is strong and I’m proud of you for breaking the silence.
I can only imagine how hard it is to come to a “party” environment when you are facing such pain. I’m glad you are here. Let’s keep taking a deep breath together and enjoy being with each other today. If you need a few moments to yourself at any time, this room would be a quiet place. Come and ask me to join you if you want to talk or just need my presence.
Using your words, reach out to that loved one and say, “I believe you.” “I see you.” “I hear you.” “I honor you.” “I love you.”
Above all, remember that Me Too is still a daughter/son, brother/sister, aunt/uncle, nephew/niece, cousin, mother/father, grandparent, and friend. And they need you now more than ever.
It’s time to be vulnerable and loving, even during the holidays.