“I have learned now that while those who speak one’s miseries hurt, those who keep silence, hurt more”. - C.S. Lewis
It’s the truth.
I wish I could move on to babies and how eucalyptus oil in the humidifier can do wonders for a toddler’s cold, but today I can’t. Because silence can be deadly. And speaking truth is more my style than pushing it to the side to live miserably congested for decades and decades.
I just came home from the Together Live event in Nashville with a few of my besties. And I feel so good. So open. So honest. And although I wrote this two days ago as a draft of thoughts, I had to edit it tonight because inspiration doesn’t only come from beauty as we re-learned tonight. It comes from pain too. First the pain, then the rising.
Here’s the thing. The news sucks. Facts suck. And life is hard. And watching and reading all the stories this week about women speaking up to talk about an epidemic problem not only in Hollywood, but around the world, it made me well, sad, and also relieved. Also a little less alone in this world with experiences with men that are no less than extremely inappropriate.
Truth. I can recall so many vivid memories of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. I’m pretty sure every woman globally has…hence the word epidemic. And that's astounding. But it's been silence. Crickets. And this week, it's busted wide open. And when something like this inundates your feed with a monstrosity of your peers openly stating their case, it suddenly allows your heart to unload. And in my case, it goes way back. And although I never met Harvey Weinstein, I’ve met quite a few along the way that have injured my psyche a bit and then some.
When you’re somewhere between 9-13 at a sleepover and you wake up in the middle of the night to see a shadow of a man standing at your bed and then abruptly walking away, you’re scared. And confused. And although my recollection is only that of maybe once or twice of this dream, I was awake or half awake and I remember seeing a physical being. I didn’t feel assaulted, wasn’t talked to, or touched that I know of (because I was asleep), but I was frightened. And confused. And felt unsafe. I was a kid. And kids don’t know what any of this means. And they shouldn’t have to. They shouldn’t have to wonder what that meant or try to make sense of it. 30 years later it still feels like a riddle unsolved. Unsettling. And again, unsafe.
Somewhere between the age of 12-15 I was hungry for babysitting jobs as I knew my thirst for new white Keds shoes in September was in full effect, I landed all the babysitting jobs. Friends, neighbors, neighbors of friends, I wanted them all and I was attentive, loving and responsible. The Dad’s, not so much. Excited to get my ride home followed by possibly 30-50 bucks was overly enticing as I knew my favorite fashion staples weren’t just a pipe dream. The overly tipsy Dad that kissed my cheek and hugged me tight after he dropped me off? Weird. Inappropriate. But I didn’t know any better. I was 12. Twelve years old. I’m 41 and I know better. No, he didn’t touch me on my private parts, but he took advantage of snuggling a 12 year old and getting a good night snuggle and wet (gross) kiss on the cheek when obviously he should’ve paid me my babysitter money and drove on home.
At 20 and a waitress in Hollywood I met everyone. EVERYONE. Warren Beatty was my first customer. Total charmer. Jerry Seinfeld, class act. Shaquille O’neal, Johnny Depp, they were all very kind and very appropriate. And although I didn’t meet Harvey Weinstein, I did meet a very successful Hollywood producer (who will remain nameless) and his pervasive attention and insistent “can we have a drink later?” was nothing short of a turn off. I knew who he was, and every day I auditioned for movies and television, I always dreamed of meeting a producer like him. But here’s the thing. Married and way old and not my type, there wasn’t enough tequila in the free world to get me to do the dance with this guy. Nothing. But he persisted until finally I gave up his tables to another waitress. Hollywood is weird. Entertainment is weird. I’m 41, I’m still in entertainment and I still think it’s weird. But I also know what feels right. And these memories and unfortunately a laundry list of a few more, they don't only feel not right, they feel yuck. And cue to the little innocent 6 year old girl I'm sleeping next to tonight and my heart is raging.
The word predator is not something I take lightly. Looking back, and resurrecting those memories of inappropriate behavior, I’m sick. I’m not cool with any of it. In fact, therapy once took me to this place and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to re-visit, because this. No woman or girl should ever have to be a victim of sexual misconduct or assault. Or rape. EVER. And every boy, (including my own) should learn and know the difference and the consequences between interest and assault. And speaking up is the only way to make it stop. The world today does you no favors and it is our responsibility as people to not be silent and to teach our children the proper tools to be good humans and additionally spread the good word and promote wellness, kindness and healthy behavior to people everywhere. If we are teaching our children any different then we are doing them a huge disservice.
Yes, men and women, boys and girls, while it will always be a subject of great debate, it’s also what makes the world go round and has great love stories in many cases to boot. I was single once, I flirt, I get it. But having a talent manager have you meet him in his office at 6 pm and offer you a drink and then another while bullshitting you about the right auditions is probably not a good idea and wildly inappropriate. And no, please do all of us a favor and don't try to judge me and all the other girls who didn't know better, because when you're 20 and learning the curve of Hollywood, it takes a few meetings to actually learn that this isn't in fact the way to do business, but rather a huge conglomerate of injustice.
In today’s world, lines need to be drawn and changes need made. Obviously. And perhaps we, mothers, can teach this early on. But more importantly, the subject matter (when voiced) like it is this week in social media and news thanks the Weinstein scandal) can only do all of us a favor by showing the world of men and women, the magnitude of the problem. I’m not one to open a can of worms but silence on this subject and of this magnitude is deadly. And when you’re raising a young girl who doesn’t know the world is filled with people who want to take advantage of you and hurt you on purpose, you don’t take this issue lightly. You educate yourself, your daughter, your sons and your peers in hopes that one day when they come across someone who wants to promise fame or fortune for sexual favors, or take advantage of you because he can, let it be known that climbing the ladder to life and to success means finding your truth and falling down occasionally, but never and I mean never sacrificing your integrity willingly or unwillingly to a man who has zero.