Posted by: Hannah | 10/17/2017

#metoo

In 2014, Elliot Rodger uploaded a manifesto to YouTube detailing his desire to punish women for rejecting him. He drove to the University of California, killed 6 people, wounded 14 others, and then shot himself in his car.

We were all shocked. And scared. We heard the words of his “nice guy” manifesto and we heard echoes of our own lives. The Twitter campaign #yesallwomen launched in the days immediately following the murders, and women shared their stories of harassment and assault and stalking and intimidation and all the other myriad ways that we have experienced fear because of the actions of men.

Blogging was more common then so a lot of us wrote longer pieces. I did, too. Today I read it and it was a gut-punch.

I start off by blaming myself for all the times I was harassed, threatened, or touched against my will.

And I keep on in that vein for… longer than I should.

In 2014 I believed that I had invited unwanted attention from boys and men because I had low self-esteem and craved validation.

In 2014 I blamed myself for not speaking up when I was in a situation where I felt threatened or harassed.

In 2014 I didn’t know that someone coming up behind me and giving me a neck massage as I twisted away and said “no” wasn’t just fucking annoying and upsetting, it was assault.

In 2014 I thought – just like Mayim Bialik does now – that I invited harassment by dressing and acting in a way that sent a signal men couldn’t ignore.

In 2014 I bloody well spent far too much time excusing men for their behaviour, by blaming myself for somehow inciting it. I didn’t ask myself why I was letting them have a pass. I didn’t ask myself why I was taking responsibility for their actions. I just. fucking. rolled with it, and right now I’m mad at myself all over again for not seeing that I deserved respect no matter what sweater I was wearing or what song I was dancing to or who I hung out with at school.

In 2017 I know better. I know that the onus is on men to not harass and assault, not on me to prevent them from doing so. I know that assault and harassment is about power, not sex. I know that I didn’t speak up in a lot of those situations because of the power imbalance; I was afraid of what would happen afterward, afraid that I’d lose my friends or my support network or my roommates or my job.

I wasn’t silent because there was a part of me that wanted to be objectified.

What happened wasn’t my fault.

Three years on from #yesallwomen and here we are at #metoo. And I have to think things have changed, at least a bit, because Harvey Weinstein is now an unemployed pariah and I am seeing men speak up in ways I wouldn’t have imagined after Elliott Rodger. In a post-Bill Cosby / Roger Ailes / Bill O’Reilly / Donald Trump world, women are finally starting to be believed.

So, I’m sad for 2014 me. And 1996 me. And 1992 me. And all the “mes” going back to the first time I remember a boy putting his hands and mouth on me in a way that scared me, when I was four and he was twelve.

But 2017 me, she’s mostly angry. Angry and speaking up. The anger overrides the fear, and I’ll take it.

 

 

 

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Posted by: Hannah | 09/17/2017

spiral

I really thought I was doing better.

I’ve been sleeping and not waking up feeling like I never even closed my eyes. I’ve been snacking less and moving more. I’ve signed up for skating lessons and gone to scary movies and taken on a new client and not gone down an “I-don’t-deserve-this” spiral when Michael insisted that I should have a laptop that isn’t quite literally held together with Tuck tape and swearing.

I took on a new client. I made eye appointments without needing to steel myself for days first. I even took the kids to their end of season baseball party and was able to successfully make small talk with other parents and I didn’t need to nap when I got home.

So I guess I am doing better, now that I put all of that down… but today felt like a big step backward and right at the moment I am awash in guilt.

When I was a kid we rarely played with our parents, you know? A whole-family activity was a rare and treasured thing. And while I’m not saying I necessarily want to go back to those times, there are days when I look at the waiting faces of my sons and wish to Christ that they would just go find something to do, some tree to climb or mudpit to dig or bike to ride or something that would take some of the pressure off of me for once.

Today was one of those days. I kept smiling through teeth clenched ever-tighter as I did laundry (none of it mine) and dishes (why must they take out a new cup every single time they need to moisten their mouths?) and vacuumed (mostly hair from the dog I never wanted) and at every stage they were there, waiting for me to be done so they could bring me new requests.

Just after lunch (which I cooked and cleaned up from) they lined up in front of me and announced that they wanted to go to a friend’s house. All three of them. Right now, please. Because said friends have all kinds of Nifty Gadgets and Cool Video Production Capability and they are working on a movie, like duh, they’ve been working on it for MONTHS and they want to finish it, mom. And I just… I couldn’t. The notion of calling up this other family and saying “hey, take my three kids for the afternoon because they’ve decided the only thing that will bring them happiness today is screen time at your house, aren’t you lucky?” just broke me, in a straw / camel’s back kind of way.

And so I lost it. I didn’t scream, I didn’t yell, but I was extremely insistent that they need to go find a thing to do in this giant house full of toys and activities or the giant yards full of same. And the more I talked the worse I felt until finally I fled the room in tears.

The thing is… my kids are good kids. They do amuse themselves a lot of the time. They play all kinds of imaginative games. They dress up and rampage through the woods behind the house. They invent board games. That movie they’ve been working on with their friends for months? is actually a real thing with a written script and a score composed by 9 year old Ron. They didn’t deserve to hear me telling them that they need to stop looking to me for entertainment just because I am having a tough weekend for reasons I haven’t yet identified.

And so… guilt. Only partly assuaged by ordering a new winter coat for George and some shirts for Harry (who has grown enormously in the past few months and thus basically needs a whole new wardrobe).

I tried playing a board game with them and now I’m trying to write. Of course George is still hovering on the fringes because he really does seem to be incapable of playing alone but soon it will be time for supper, and then evening and then bed, praise jesus, and hopefully tomorrow things will look better.

 

 

Posted by: Hannah | 03/22/2017

in which March once again kicks my ass

Every year I about halfway through January I say THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT and I AM GOING TO MAKE A REAL EFFORT TO EMBRACE WINTER and I WILL REMEMBER THAT IT’S ONLY THREE MONTHS LONG REALLY.

And every year this lasts until about mid-March, when I simply cannot take it anymore.

The fact that my annual meltdown coincides with March Break is almost certainly not a coincidence.

The last couple of years I have pushed through March Break with a combination of daily outings, ample screen time for my own kids, lots of treats and fun dinners in the evenings, and a general air of “it’s a vacation, let’s treat it like one”. It works, mostly, but it’s still exhausting.

Then on Monday morning… school was cancelled. There was a snowfall overnight and the forecast was calling for freezing rain, and so the decision was made not to send them.

It was a long day.

I had nothing planned to keep older kids amused. The weather was too crappy to play outside. The youngest dayhome kid had a streaming head cold and should have been at home resting. I had completely redone my living room the day before and just wanted a little time in the afternoon (hellooooo, naptime!) to sit quietly in it with a cup of tea but alas, it was not to be.

Then last night Ron started vomiting right before dinner. And Harry grew out of all of his clothes basically overnight so I had to take him shopping – and all the stores had summer gear only. And I woke up with a throbbing migraine and HEY GUESS WHAT NO SCHOOL AGAIN TODAY.

(Yes, it’s a previously-scheduled PD day. Yes, there is one every year the week after March Break. Yes, every year I think it’s bullshit even though I am usually #teamteacher. There is always bad weather in NS this time of year and the kids end up with one week off and then a second week all broken into bits).

So my point here is that March sucks. It suuuuuuucks. Yes, there will be the odd day – like today – when the sun comes out and the temp goes just above freezing. You can tell when it hits 5C because Canadians ditch their gloves, hats, coats – even their pants – in a desperate attempt to A) pretend that 5C is warm and winter is over and B) to soak up all the sweet sweet vitamin D they can because deep down we all know it’s just a tease. Yes, the birds will start to come back and the tulips will start poking their little green shoots up through the snow. The time change will happen so the sun doesn’t set until 7PM. These are all good things.

And yet.

This is the time of year when I could vacuum three times a day and not even make a dent because the dog & cats are all shedding their winter coats. Mittens are getting lost. Boots are getting too tight. There is enough snow on the ground that the kids need to wear snowpants but there are also mud puddles everywhere so they really ought to be in splash pants instead, and guess how waterproof snow boots aren’t? We are all tired of root vegetables and hearty comfort food but the fresh veggies are only *just* making an appearance in the stores, and those at extortionate prices.

We are just all bloody damn tired of winter, is what I’m saying, and after doing my best to jolly everyone along during January and February (and half of March) I have nothing left in the tank.

Wake me when it’s April.

 

 

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