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“The ego seeks to divide and separate. The spirit seeks to unify and heal.” — Pema Chodron
I had been looking forward to this past week for months.
My youngest son turned 21 on Thursday, and months ago, I made plans to fly out to see him in Michigan and celebrate. After all, 21 is one of those landmark birthdays. With him being the baby of the family, I was excited to go visit.
First thing Thursday morning, I called to tell him that I loved him. Then, I got on a plane to head his way and ended up spending the entire travel day watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimonies. It was a day I will never forget.
By the time I landed in Michigan, I felt emotionally and physically exhausted, even though all I had done all day was listen. But, I guess I had also absorbed everything that had transpired. I absorbed and related to Dr. Ford’s terror and her fear. I believed her story and I understood her reticence to step forward. I admired her sense of civic duty, her bravery, her courage and her honesty. I felt her pain. As she spoke, I wept. I wept for her and for all the people who have experienced sexual assault and who continue to deal with its lasting trauma.
Then, I turned my attention to Judge Kavanaugh and his testimony. I must say, I was unprepared for his rage and anger. Maybe it was because I was in a vulnerable state after listening to Dr. Ford. Maybe it was because I’m one of those people who struggle when someone explodes in rage. But either way, he caught me off guard and, I must say, it took me a few minutes to catch up with him.
To be clear, I understand Judge Kavanaugh’s anger, even his rage. I understand his pain and his frustration. No, I haven’t stood in his shoes, but I do have some experience with media onslaught and it’s horrible on every level. I also felt for his family sitting by his side and all that they’ve endured the past few days, just as Dr. Ford’s family has endured so much pain and public torture as well.
Both of these individuals have endured an onslaught that, as I wrote last week, has been unacceptable on all counts. It’s the type of onslaught that all of us should denounce.
Thursday was a day of testimony. It was a day to speak one’s truth. It was a day of raw emotion, raw rage, conflicting stories and different truths. Everyone I know approached watching the testimonies with feelings of their own. I’m sure even those who said they wanted to watch with open hearts and open minds (myself included) had a hard time not bringing their own feelings, experiences and opinions to the table.
I have two sons, four brothers and many male friends. So when the judge wrapped up his testimony asking the committee to think about the men in their lives — their sons, brothers, husbands and friends — I paused. I want what’s good for my sons to also be good for my daughters. I want my daughters to live in a world where, God forbid they ever face such a situation, they feel safe enough to speak up. I want them to feel heard and believed. That said, I want my sons to be treated fairly, too. I don’t want them to be trampled upon simply because they are men.
I’ve been around long enough to know how big a victory this is for women to be believed. I’ve been around long enough to know why women don’t come forward. I understand why they feel such terror. I understand how easily the mind can lead you to doubt yourself, to shame yourself and to push yourself back into a hole. I understand why women wait a lifetime to tell their stories, and why so many never do.
And so, after my son’s birthday dinner on Thursday night, I sat with my four kids to talk about the day. (My three older kids joined me in Michigan to celebrate their brother’s birthday.)
We spoke about civic duty. We spoke about Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. We spoke about drinking and assault, about men and women, about anger and rage and temperament. (I must say, the judge’s exchange with Sen. Klobuchar really stuck with me, and not in a good way.)
We also spoke about truth and doubt, about the importance of telling one’s story, and about the importance of telling someone you believe them when they do.
We spoke about our media and our politics today and about where we are as a country. I told them how I felt. I told them what an important day this was — and what an important day it will be — for our country, especially for their generation.
I went to bed with a heavy heart. I prayed for Dr. Ford’s sons, Judge Kavanaugh’s daughters and both of their families at large. I prayed that we will rise up as a country from all that is ripping us apart (just as Sen. Jeff Flake said Friday afternoon after calling for an FBI probe).
We have been ripped apart. We have been ripped open. We’re raw. I see it and feel it everywhere. As Sen. Chris Coons said, there is an “ocean of pain” out there.
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