To My Fellow Downers
I am a firm believer that silence of an issue exasperates the problem. That’s why I write these posts, why I’m working on a novel that brings the conversation to life, and why I always talk. Because, quite honestly, fuck silence.
I have met more rape victims than I can count. I always hear accounts of domestic abuse. Some people are shocked when I tell them this. But the truth is, we all know these people. We just don’t always hear them.
I saw an old friend recently, one that I haven’t seen in years. Within the first hour of meeting, she tells me that since the last time we saw each other she was raped. I wasn’t surprised, I’m used to the news. The surprise was that she so willingly told me this, so quickly.
“I’ve told guys on first dates,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “Ya, I’ve been assaulted. They look at me shocked that I would share such a thing, stammer, unsure how to respond. Some I never hear from again. But I shouldn’t be ashamed to say it, it wasn’t my fault but it does affect my relationships moving forward.”
“Whenever I bring up this topic people are surprised. But it’s never about the fact that this is a problem, just that it is being talked about,” I responded.
“Which is exactly why we should,” she said. I was filled with renewed purpose and a strengthened connection with someone that has had nine years and thousands of miles between us.
Readers… it can be so hard to start. There’s a reason these issues are silent, they’re uncomfortable! They make others uncomfortable and we don’t want to be associated with that, we want the conversation to flow and we want to be liked.
But let me tell you. I have been asked multiple times how I have such amazing friends in my life. And this is why. We cross those lines. Early. When these conversations start, it can go two ways. Someone can squirm and shy away. Okay, we can navigate away from that conversation. You brought it up, you have shown the light in their eyes and it was a little too bright. But the next time, it will seem less bright. Then less. Then it will be tolerable, something that can be spoken of, and another push in society has come. Another voice against a quiet issue.
The other reaction instantly bonds you with someone, fast forwarding what could have been years of relationship building. You will see this inner light comes out of them. Some chained up part of their being was just released, set free. Because of you. You will see it instantly. Their body language changes, their voice floods with relief. They lean in and words, words, words escape from this inner part of them that was always told… shush.
Which leads me to the title of this article.
To my fellow downers,Thank you. Thank you for speaking about the issues that aren’t pretty. Thank you for straying from the normal topics that shine a light on how great things are while ignoring the shadows. You could stand in front of us and showcase how perfect your life is, locking the skeletons in the closet. You could focus your conversations on what society deems as socially acceptable conversation and never stray from it because you know, we know, that will make people uncomfortable.We all want to be liked and when we bring up uncomfortable topics we know that we may not be. We know we may immediately be labeled as a downer, a radical, or just not seen as likable. We know there are people who will shy away from us because it doesn’t fit their view of what they want the world to be.Thank you for speaking of the world as is actually is. Because that is the only way we can change it. One voice at a time, one conversation at a time, and waves can begin. Waves of unity (#metoo), of acceptance (I believe you. I don’t victim blame you), and as these waves grow, as more voices stand together, as more fists raise to the sky… we can see more victims comfortable coming forward, surrounded by support instead of blame. We can see more rapists on trial where questions are less “what were you wearing” and more “why did you continue to advance on this person after the word no was said?”Also, my downers, thank you for having my back. For standing with me in this need to talk about the hard, the ugly, and the forever unchanging with dreams of seeing a shift.If it happens, it’s because of you.