My Me Too Journey

Me at age 16

I have been thinking about sharing this story for a long time now in support of others who have been through similar and even more challenging experiences. It is scary for me to do this and it feels important to honor those who have had the courage to step up and risk so much to bring what has been in the shadow for them – into the light.

With the September, 2018 current events playing out so dramatically I find I am deeply and powerfully affected in ways I had not imagined I would be.

It is Personal – Not Political 
This is NOT about a political ideology. I do my best to stay out of  the “this is right and this is wrong” political polarization I see happening, especially as it has escalated in recent times. Sharing my story is not meant to further fuel the polarization as that is not helpful.

What I am sharing is what I’ve experienced and how troubling it is we live in a world that continues to minimize the challenges of sexual abuse victims. In addition to the main story I am about to share – I have experienced sexual assault and harassment in other arenas listed in my timeline below.

Those in positions of power have had free reign to terrorize and abuse both men and women in many of the places where we should feel safe and protected including home, family, work place, government and religious institutions. Something that seems so striking to me is the denial of the abusers and the lasting impact these experiences have caused so many, including those in personal relationship with the victims. I was married to a victim (explained further on) and the effects were traumatic for him and ultimately his loved ones, children, family, friends and of course Me Too.

For me the question is – how to do we heal and forgive while also creating a climate of accountability for all involved? How do we do this without turning it into a political circus so genuine healing can occur? I don’t have answers and it seems the answers have been illusive. Yet, the courage of the women and men who have come forward to share their Me Too story is already having an impact in raising awareness around how prevalent this has been and continues to be. Often simply being heard, believed and supported affects a potent and under estimated empowering start to the healing process.

My Me Too Story
When I was 13 years old (in 1969) my father molested me. I didn’t even know what the word molested really meant when it happened. It was many years before I fully understood that was what had happened to me. The impact on my life has been far-reaching and long-lasting. I was so ashamed and terrified by the events that took place I never spoke about them with anyone including my younger sister (a little over a year younger than me) who was also molested at the same time.

Neither of us had the ability to speak about what happened to us even though we were both in the room when it happened. I was 40 years old (1996) when I finally gathered the courage to ask my father for a boundary so I could feel safe around him. I was fortunate to have support from women who had been through a similar experience. Without their encouragement I wouldn’t have been able to ask my father to stop kissing me on the mouth when we said hello or good-bye. I made it clear I wasn’t accusing him of anything but due to this event that occurred 27 years earlier I simply needed to limit our interaction to hugs.

Finding the courage to ask him for that boundary was scary and I had a feeling it could and most likely would have harsh consequences because that was how my father had always treated me. I was mostly prepared for the possibility and of course it did happen.

My father’s response was to go into a rage – deny it happened – blame and shame me for bringing it up – and call me a liar. He was certain I had to be lying because he had no recollection of the event. Never mind that he was drunk when it took place.

1996: I am age 40 with Nicole who encouraged and supported me to ask my father for a boundary. Photo by Divina del Sol

I was Punished for Speaking Up
He angrily set out to punish me as severely as he possibly could. Luckily, I did not experience death threats like Christine Blasey Ford. I was, however, disowned and disinherited. My father made it clear he wanted nothing to do with me or anyone who would remind him of me – meaning my children, his grandchildren – ever again.

16 years later my father died (Age 81) and true to his word he never spoke to me or my children again. I was fortunate to have a counselor (8 years after he disowned me in 2004) who upon hearing my story shared with me that my father was clearly an extreme narcissistic personality disorder and the greatest gift he could’ve possibly given me and my children was to disown us. She assured me that there was nothing I could’ve ever said or done that would’ve changed the way he was.

Narcissists, especially extreme narcissists, can never admit to having ever done anything wrong. They are really good at blaming and shaming others – as well as rewriting in their minds whatever happened – truly believing their version of events. We are so seeing this play out in September 2018 with total denial and a vengeful, angry “I will get back at you for putting me through this” response.

History shows that women (and often men too) who come forward are usually re-victimized, disbelieved, and punished in some way creating the reality that it is not safe to come forward. Hence, much of the trauma around what has happened to so many stays in the shadows.

It’s time for men and women to support one another in changing the culture so that sexual predators can no longer hide in the shadows using intimidation and fear to get away with their crimes.

My Timeline on this Issue
Some of these events below are describing how men have made assumptions about me and acted on those assumptions. Others may be my assumptions about what I thought they were thinking. I keep remembering more so this list is still in progress.

Age 13 My Father Molested Me as described above.

Teenage years I also experienced (well into my 40’s) catcalls and whistles from men working construction or driving by. I was conflicted because in a way I liked the attention (believing I wasn’t attractive) but also I felt unsafe and uncomfortable at the same time.

Age 16 Dated a boy who grabbed me inappropriately without apology, so I ended our relationship.

Also, that summer I was on a Greyhound bus (my Mom had left my sister and I to travel home by bus, by ourselves) sitting next to a young man who tried to put his hands down my pants. I tried to scoot away. When that didn’t deter him I demanded he stop and he did. I was terrified.

A boy I met while camping with my parents that summer showed up at my home wanting to have sex with me before he turned 18 the next month because I would then be jail bait to him. I was shocked and said no.

Age 19 to 21 I was sexually assaulted in college by 3 different male students. In one case I was too afraid to say no.

I was also assaulted by a co-worker during this time. He backed me into a dark room and pushed himself up against me. When I got visibly upset he back away.

Age 22 almost 23 with my Mom

Age 23 On a return flight from Hawaii with my first husband sitting next to me, a man sitting on the other side of me loudly exclaims to his wife that he had never seen someone so skinny with such big “tits” as me. She tried to get him to be quiet but he loudly went on and on. Everyone around us heard him. I felt humiliated and embarrassed.

Age 32 A home repair person “came onto” me when my first husband was not there.

That year I was also hired for a job as a leasing agent. Later the owner of the company made several remarks when I was alone in his office with him about how he wished he wasn’t married with children because I was so beautiful. I ignored his comments and avoided being alone with him after that never again feeling really safe when he was around.

Age 40 I was disowned and disinherited by my father when I asked him for a boundary.

Age 45 I was at a conference when a man (who I admit I was attracted to) began suggesting we could have a fling. We were both married so I said no and felt deeply disturbed by the incident. Some years later we did connect briefly.

Age 46 I was stunned when I found out my second husband had been sexual abused as a child, 12 years into our marriage. It was his “dirty little secret” because he was so ashamed it happened to him and had never planned on telling me. It came out because he was proving his point during an argument we were having.

Later that year, on a trip to Peru I was unexpectedly and passionately kissed by our guide. I was mortified it happened and equally mortified that I felt an attraction to this person. I didn’t know it then but it was one of many catalytic awakenings that help set me free when my second husband asked for a divorce 3 years later because he didn’t want to continue counseling and processing his own abuse.

At age 50 I happily married my BHE (Best Husband Ever). I had done a lot of counseling and personal work to come to terms with these prior events and I feel my current relationship with him reflects my success.

Me at age 62

I am now 62. (Note: in September 2018 at the time I am writing this article I was with a new group of women. They were shocked to find out I was 62 as they thought I was 42. I love that!) Most importantly, I am happier than I have ever been having reached a place of compassionate forgiveness for my self and others around these and other events that have happened to me.

Summary
I find myself reflecting on the challenge both women and men face around these issues. I experienced the devastating effect it can have on men first hand with my second husband. Based on what I learned about this issue since that revelation – I am certain my father experienced sexual abuse as well. He had it so well buried and repressed (having re-written his story so thoroughly) he was certain it had never happened to him but he had all the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms my second husband displayed.

This is a deeply complicated and painful topic for many and it deserves to be approached with great compassion as we learn how to shine a light on this long hidden shadow so it can be transformed through greater awareness. It will take time and willingness to create a different culture around something that has been repressed and denied for centuries. More on Forgiveness and Forgiveness practices and scroll down the page to find it.

Peter and Cayelin Ireland 2018 at New Grange

Willingness to speak up and stick together is creating change.
The Me Too movement will hopefully continue to inspire every one of us to speak up knowing we have the support of others who are ready to say NO MORE to the kind of sexual misbehavior that has such a far-reaching traumatic effect on its victims. It is time to support each other in having the courage to speak up. Sitting quietly by allows it to continue. A tsunami of change is already on its way.

Find out more about this movement and how you can participate. https://metoomvmt.org

Below is a link to an article about recent events that inspired me to write my story. I was in tears watching Christine Blasey Ford testify as it brought up so much for me. Brett Kavanaugh’s reaction reminded me so much of my father’s angry reaction bringing up so many feelings of not being believed, shamed and punished. I felt myself reliving it as I watched, knowing I am not alone and that many had the same experience helped me to write this and I am grateful.

Yes I feel deeply affected by this as do so many who have been through similar (or worse) experiences. Regardless of how this all plays out – I am grateful for the opportunity to dive deeper into how sexual assault affects us all. Even if you have never been sexually assaulted it has likely affected someone you love – partners, family, friends, co-workers. I know from personal experience it creates a lasting affect on all relationships – until and even after choosing to deal with it. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/09/28/brett-kavanaugh-christine-blasey-ford-assault-claim-gender-divide/1459557002/

Comments

  1. Dear Cayelin,
    Thank you for your courage and forthrightness in telling your story! It is truly Our Story, isn’t it?
    I have watched you grow into a strong wisewoman and teacher and I feel blessed to affirm you and your work. I applaud the seasoned sister circles and communities that we are both a part of. May we continue to pave the way for the younguns’ coming up as best we can and may we continue to age with as much consciousness and grace as possible.
    It was so wonderful to hang with you this summer in Ireland….I love the picture of you and Peter!
    Please keep me on your mailing list.
    Much love to you!

  2. Dear Cayelin, Thank you for sharing! I knew we had childhood issues in common, as Ive felt our ‘neuroses’ bumping up against each other a bit through the years! I also know that all the work we’ve done on ourselves has greatly facilitated seeing the Light in everyone else, as we grow in the Knowing of our own worth. I SEE YOUR LIGHT AND KNOW YOUR WORTH!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for all your selfless giving over the years. I’ve been wondering if you were coming to Delta for thanksgiving, so we could go to Needle Rock?! Call or email about that. Thank you SO MUCH for the reading on my son. He is on suicide watch now, so please pray for him. GOD/DESS BLISS. Merkaba

  3. Much love to you Cayelin.❤ Your candid sharing is one of the many things I value in you. Finding my courage to share as well. #metoo

    • Thank you Teresa, I so appreciate your supportive words. Much love to you and I so know you will find your courage to share because I know you care about bringing this shadow to light. ❤❤❤

  4. YOUR postings, writing and information have illuminated and advised me and opened my world of Astrology so much. I wish to so thank you for your being YOU: I share your information, promote you and often while talking with clients share that they need to meet you when visiting the SW ./… Thank you so much again for helping me keep fresh and teaching me so much. LOL at 75 i am still learning from you. Namaste carol barbeau

    • Thank you so much Carol. I am deeply honored and humbled at the same time. I feel so supported by you. Its a gift to know you feel you can learn from me. Part of the challenge for me as I was growing up was not feeling valued and I have carried that feeling into my adult life even though I know its not entirely true – the imprint has remained. Thank you for reminding me I do have value. It means more to me than words can say. ❤❤❤

  5. Thank you for the courage to speak up. From out of the shadows, the truth emerges and this collective healing can continue.
    May you always be a light that shines into darkness.

  6. Hello Cayelin Dear Sister🌹
    I am currently sitting in a Casino having a Beer waiting for Ken to gamble his winnings.
    We have been arguing since I have been so Upset FEELING so many Emotions since Dr Fords Testimony.
    I toooo have a long History of experiences which Now I will not share—only cuz I am not prepared to GO THERE Right now!
    Only to say I Hear you I Know You even more now . I Respect and Understand You💜. I Too have been disowned and dis-Inherited by my father who did the same To me at age 35 an Intimate down the Throat French Kiss after showing up at my Home unannounced to talk about HIS sex Life with Me his daughter—I was shocked and sacred and Discusted and Outraged!
    The Story continues with chapters and years of Layers and Finally figuring out both my Parents who both abused me differently are Narcissists. The Family patterns continue with both of my Brothers in different ways—luckily not sexually to me But patterns to Their daughters. So as it goes another Generation Of Girls-Women continue to find Patterns to Understand and Hopefully Heal💗

    • Thank you so much for sharing Nan. Thank you for hearing and understanding. I hear, respect and understand you too! I very much appreciate your courage and also your description about an intimate down the throat French Kiss – as that is exactly what happened to me along with other things at age 13 – that I didn’t know exactly how to describe because its so unsettling. So thank you for that too!

      AND oh my – who but a narcissist would show up to talk about HIS sex life with his daughter? I to find it is shocking, disgusting and outrageous.

      I join you and support you in your on-going healing process imaging you have done so much already and yet there are always more layers it seems especially with what is going on now! Supporting one another is so powerful. Thank you again. I have tears in my eyes as I type this response and connect with all the responses here! I am so grateful!!!❤❤❤

  7. Thank you for Sharing on this very public forum. We all have our stories.
    I am being haunted by pictures taken of me over45 years ago which have been posted online without my permission with present day photos added for this power hunt to manifest in real time. Online sexual violence leads to stalking harrassment and vulnerability.
    The abuse continues. The victim continues to be blamed.

    • Thank you Gael and I so hope you are successful in getting the pictures taken down. I also imagine that we become a force to stop the abuse for ourselves and those who follow. ❤❤❤

  8. Thank you, Cayelin. Your story deepens a bizillion times more my admiration and respect for you. May all the stars in all the galaxies shine love on you!

    • Thank you Rhonda. I so appreciate you encouraging me. It means more to me than I can possibly express in words. ❤❤❤

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