Sunday, September 30, 2018

I Support #MeToo

The pain that I see in my friends' posts, my loved ones' conversations, and in the countless interviews I've seen in the news in response to Kavanaugh's hearing, as well as in the last several years of the #metoo movement, have deeply affected me.
I have hurt people. Mostly without realizing it. Sometimes I did realize it, but I justified it by saying that other people laughed, so it was ok. Hurting people was never the end goal; the goal was usually to make people laugh - but if some people got hurt in the meantime, well, so be it. I was driven from a young age by a need to make people laugh - I found it to be an effective defense mechanism against an otherwise cruel world. But occasionally, I perpetuated that cruelty unto others.
One time, I broke up with a girl in a really cruel way because it sounded funny in my head. Why would anyone try to be funny in a break up? I have no idea. I can't even begin to understand my own logic at the time, let alone explain it. All I know is that I recognized the cruelty even as the words were exiting my mouth. I do not regret breaking up with her (it was not a healthy relationship), but I have regretted the way I went about it for years. I even wrote half of a play about it once, but I didn't finish it because the friends I had shown it to said the male character was way too vicious, and they didn't like it. (They didn't recognize that character was me, and I didn't have the courage to tell them. I also didn't feel right watering it down, so I just set it aside for a time).
Sometimes I was cruel in a way that I instantly regretted. Other times, it took a while for me to recognize how much I had hurt someone. (And I also don't mean to imply that my life has been spent inflicting one cruel joke after another - I hope I have ultimately brought more joy than pain to others over the long haul - but there were enough cruel moments in there for me to feel the need to share this.)
My wife is one of the most empathetic people I know. When we met, I was not in a great place in my life - but she listened, loved me, and made me feel like I meant something in this world. She also taught me that there are a lot more ways to make people laugh than just being cruel. Over the last 10 years, I have listened to her, I have grown with her, I have developed a far keener sense of empathy and compassion than I even knew I was capable of. Most people who have met me in the last 10 years probably would not have recognized me in the previous 30.
When the #metoo movement began, I listened - to my wife especially - but also to many others.
In addition to waking me up to the horrific experiences of others, these stories have made me reflect upon my own bad behavior. I know that I have been a terrible person at times, and that I have caused people pain.
When people say that Judge Kavanaugh couldn't have been guilty of hurting someone in his teens because he's "so nice now", I call bullshit. Maybe he found God (or lost God), or maybe his wife helped him to become a better person (or not, because based on his testimony, he certainly doesn't SEEM like a nice person). But, even the nicest human being in the world is capable of hurting others. This does not mean that anyone (even Kavanaugh) is incapable of redemption, but it certainly means that an effort must be made.
If you have hurt someone in your past, please acknowledge it - at least to yourself. Listen to others. Reflect on your past. Promise yourself and others that you will do better - and actively work towards doing better. None of us are perfect. All of us are human and fallible - but if we can't even acknowledge our own shortcomings, then how can we expect it of others?
I am deeply ashamed and sorry for my actions which have hurt people. I truly wish I could undo those actions, but I CAN work harder towards being a better person today. The world is far too cruel as it is without my dumb ass adding any more to it. For all those who've shared #whyididntreport and #metoo messages, please know that I'm listening, I hear you, and that your words are having an impact. Please don't ever feel that you need to be silent. These messages break my heart, and they make me want to be a better person. I know I'm not alone in this. And neither are you.