The news broke this morning. Time’s person of the year is not the president, a religious figure, an outspoken celebrity or notorious figure making headlines. It’s all of us, and the stories that a sea of us have been yearning to share with the world, to rid our own memories of, or to speak out against. The simple words #metoo are starting to speak for all women and men who have been sexually assaulted, for victims of abuse, rape, and taken advantage of, then shamed into silence. In honor of a movement which is long overdue, I wanted to share some more of my own writing on when I was abused, and it’s aftermath. #metoo.
I wrote a musical about being sexually abused and what followed, I speak about it, I share my story to help others. The biggest thing we can do is continue to speak out. Let the world know this is an issue that keeps happening. Let the world know we must stop it. Paint it, shout it, share it.
In honor of #MeToo, I wanted to share an excerpt from my upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour, on who I will call, The Monster...
I trusted my voice teacher as a mentor and someone who would always be there to inspire me. I’ll never forget how he was the person who introduced me to Joni Mitchell.
Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” was the first song my voice teacher ever played me.He thought I might like it. I had never heard of Joni before. It opened up a world. I never realized that you could write so personally and vulnerably like that about nature, love, life, spirituality - this was everything I loved about making art - how it can connect us so spiritually to the world around us.
When he introduced me to Joni, he introduced a part of myself to me , and from that day on, I felt forever indebted to him. My religion was trees, and now, he was the holy symbol, the Buddha of tree-ism.
Thus marks the day my voice teacher became a god.
I’d spend the next week taking my nature walks, and now, instead of taking in all this inspiration for myself, thinking “oh, I gotta tell voice teacher about this awesome tree poem. He is gonna LOVE this!”
Then my voice teacher started sexually abusing me.
All of a sudden, I become a space-cadet. I tried to take those same nature walks I had just taken the day before.
My first nature walk I couldn’t connect with nature. The trees felt hazy to me. I was used to having nature “open me up,” and now a big part of me felt closed off. Instead, all of my inspiration seemed to go to my feet. I started to walk faster.
I wasn’t used to this kind of energy - feeling nothing mentally or even emotionally. I could only feel this mechanical energy, where all of a sudden I could pace, jog, run for hours and didn’t feel a thing - I didn’t know why.
I went to class every day not quite feeling like myself. I remember taking walks like I used to do with my nature, and feeling so inspired, now I was numb.
I felt like I was hiding something from the outside world. I felt ashamed having a secret. , like there was something wrong with me.
I felt drained, not like myself anymore, not musical theatre-loving Amy.
I didn’t care about how I looked or what people thought of me.
I lost the beauty in my world. I lost the innocence of youth and the spirit of youth, that carefree lightness. I remember trying to say to Monster (let’s call him that) and I was very upset inside, and I thought at least I could confide in him, just because I had no one else.
So I told my abuser:
“You know, I really wish we could go back to being student and teacher. “
And he simply replied, “Well, in life you eventually have to lose your innocence. Our connection was so great that you know neither of us would have been satisfied had we just remained student and teacher. The pull was too intense - neither of us could help it. It would have happened sooner or later - that’s just the nature of soul mates.”
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to think. I bit my lip to not feel anything because there was no point. There was no one I could tell who would understand so why bother. I turned off my feelers, my emotional radar, to save myself. I felt like no one was there to watch me or help me, just like there was no one there to grieve with over my lost innocence.
“Now I’m all grown up, right? I’m numb, I’m weary. My innocence is lost in the world. Is that what you meant Monster? Is this how I leave never-never land and become a responsible adult? Now I’m grounded, like you always said I needed to be? I call it more like stuck. What did you think you were doing? Did you really think I had to lose my innocence so early? Or did you know that you had just made a major mistake, had caused a major calamity and now you were busting your ass trying to cover it up?”
I couldn’t stand my abuser but I felt like he was all I had at my lowest point. Plus, an ember in me kept hoping that one day the normal Teacher would pop out of this monster’s body and it would be like none of this ever had happened. I couldn’t give up that hope because then my whole world would fall to pieces. Yet it did.
The five stages of grieving a loss are shock, anger, sadness, bargaining, acceptance. The shock of my losses made me so numb, I didn’t know if I had a heart anymore. I forgot how to cry.
I missed out on so much of high school and that’s where I really feel it the most. All those people who looked up to me now watched me pacing back and forth like a hockey puck being hit by imaginary players. I lost my identity. I lost my body. I lost my pride.
How do I come to accept those losses? Can beauty be lost and found again, perhaps in a different form?
As the artist, it is my job to make a mosaic out of them.
Anyway, this is some of my writing, in my name, but with our voice. I hope this inspires you to come out and share your own story. Or if anything, just say #metoo.
Amy is currently touring with her performances and presentations speaking out against sexual assault. See more of Amy’s original artwork, learn about her speaking, or catch her touring Gutless & Grateful, her one woman musical, to theatres, colleges, conferences and organizations nationwide. Learn about hermental health advocacyprograms for students, and find out how to take part in the#LoveMyDetour movement, and learn about her upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour at www.amyoes.com.
Follow Amy Oestreicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/amyoes