Category Archives: Feminism

What Are You Willing to be Criticized For?

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and I’ve been playing over and over in my mind a line that the Rector said during the sermon.

“What are you willing to be criticized for?”

This post has been brewing in my head for awhile, months actually. I’ve started and stopped it three times over the last nine months, walking away from it, with just a jumble of thoughts left typed on the page, saved for another day.

This post started after I wrote the piece about Brock Turner, and the dumpster fire that surrounds him and the judge in the case. I revisited it after he was let out of jail, and my piece was syndicated on another website. And then, last week, I went on a rant of thoughts after a piece of mine ran on Scary Mommy.

A month ago, I wrote a piece for Scary Mommy, titled ‘My Grandpa was a Sexual Predator. Thank God My Parents Listened to Me’, and it was published last week.
This piece is the most vulnerable and exposing piece I have ever written about being abused, and I questioned whether or not to even share it on my social media.

The trolls tracked me down and came after me with a vengeance. I have a very strict rule of never reading the comments, and I made the mistake of breaking this necessary rule.

The aftermath of that piece being published is what compelled me to finish writing this post today. So, bear with me, because this rant is long, but important for me to say.

Not only did trolls tear me up, they tore my parents up. Now, I want you to think about this. In order for these trolls to contact me, they had to click on my bio on the Scary Mommy website, go to my blog, find the ‘contact me’ section, click on the email and then write out the email. That’s a lot of effort to email nastiness.

The other phenomenon that has been happening for the last eighteen months, is that every time I write about the abuse, I get a slew of emails offering me advice. I get offers to find me a therapist, offers of hallucinogens to help me move past my trauma, and emails from people smugly telling me that they ‘got over’ their abusive childhoods or when they were raped.

So, I’m going to break alllll of these down for you.

First of all, the details that I have written about are barely a drop in the bucket to what happened. The piece that was published last week had details in it that only my therapists knew, and I was cautious in putting those out there. Frankly, it’s no one’s damn business to know every detail about it unless I want to tell you. I hold some of it back because there are innocent people in my life that I love and am protecting from getting hurt. I don’t have to share details, but I do because there are people out there that need to know that they are not alone in their struggles with the aftermath of abuse.

I also want to be clear that there are only so many details that can be included in an 800 word essay. This abuse and rape that occurred happened more than twenty years ago and some up to thirty years ago. Times are very different, statute of limitations are different, and evidence collection is different.

To clear up all of the readers out there that continue to email me and recommend that I get help, please stop. I retired three therapists and a psychiatrist for goodness sake. I got the help I needed many years ago, which is how I am able to write about what happened to me.

There seems to be some confusion that when people talk about something hard that they have experienced, that they need help. I don’t see it that way at all. I find that the people that need the most help, are the ones who don’t talk about their problems. This does not mean you need to constantly talk about your past. I mean that I am able to have conversations about what happened because I have processed my experiences.

I’ve written extensively about these experiences. About the hurt and the anger. About the eating disorder that followed and my hesitancy to trust others. And yet, I have held back from fear. Fear of what people will think about the recesses of my mind. People are appalled at the fraction I have shared. But if I pulled the curtain back all the way, and the horror show appears, what will happen? Will people think something is wrong with me? The answer is probably and most likely based on the emails and feedback that I have already received.

Envisioning this shame is what has held me back from fully writing what I want to write. From stripping it all back and finishing the next draft of the novel I’ve been working on. I’ve been terrified of what people will think when they see the damage that was actually done.

I’m tired of holding back.

It wasn’t easy to get to who I am. It was HARD. Really damn hard. In addition to the therapists and psychiatrist, there was therapy on the daily, weigh-ins at the doctor, and the entire time feeling the weight of shame for something I did not do. While I left all of the therapy, psychiatrists and weigh-ins behind twenty years ago, the shame is something that has never gone away. I took on shame of someone else’s actions. It’s their shame, not mine. I should feel hurt, and angry, but not shame. I have shame about the aftermath because that was the truly repulsive part. While the abuse and rape were grotesque, the aftermath was the real calamity.

We need to start talking about the chaotic disaster of the aftermath of trauma. Of what actually happens to a person when an intrusion happens to them. We are doing a disservice to people to lead them to believe we can all have a happy ending without trudging through the truly gruesome wreckage that will follow.

People think I can’t get over what happened to me, as if I am paralyzed and can’t move forward because I am telling a part of my story, the story of who I am. We all have parts of our story, how we grew up, who raised us, who was instrumental in shaping our minds, where we went to school and who we hung out with. Experiencing abuse is part of my story, one part that I am not willing to dismiss to make people more comfortable.

No, I’m not ‘over it’, but I am living the life of my choosing, and I moved forward many years ago. If you tell me that you got ‘over’ abuse, you are lying and doing a disservice to anyone who experiences abuse. Stop it with this narrative. No one ‘gets over’ it. Science tells us that brains are fundamentally changed after trauma. When you tell someone they should get over it, you are telling them that if they can’t, they should feel shame for experiencing valid feelings.

I have a lot of people tell me ‘but you look so happy’. I look happy because I am happy. I chose to accept that the aftermath is a disgusting mess, but if I went through it, that I could have my happily ever after. So, I went through it, I worked my butt off, with the goal in mind that I would spend the rest of my days on my terms. When we do not give people permission to acknowledge the hardest part of their story, the aftermath, they can’t get to their happy. Happy endings don’t happen by accident, they happen when you blindingly claw out of the black abyss, claw mark by claw mark.

When I talk about my unsightly aftermath, I talk about it because I know my strength. I have no question that there is nothing that I cannot handle, because I have looked evil in the face and decided how my story would end. I have never felt more confident in my strength than I do today, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes others feel. I will continue to write my truth because there are others that need to hear that you can have the life of your own choosing after trauma.

To the trolls who continue to send me hate mail and question why I write, I say this: You are the reason victims do not report. You are the reason that the cycle of shame continues because when a victim shares details of THEIR story, you question their behavior and not the perpetrator. When you are nasty to people who are willing to tell their story, the victims around you keep their mouths shut because of your judgment and you are implicit in the cycle of abuse continuing.

So, to end this long rant, I end it with saying I know what I am willing to be criticized for. After the hate mail I got last week, I wondered if writing my truth was worth the criticism and hate. It is worth it, and the sign I needed, I heard in church yesterday. I, and I alone, own the ending to my story. I will continue to write my truth and I will continue to talk about the ugly aftermath. It’s important that someone does so that when someone else is in the midst of their terrible truth, they know that they can choose their own ending, too.

This is What “20 Minutes of Action Looks Like” /NSFW/Trigger Warning


Brock Allen Turner raped a woman behind a dumpster. His father, Dan Turner, has said his son’s lenient sentence “is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action” and more stomach-turning excuses, which you can read here.

I read his dad’s statement, and my hands shook for two hours. Then, my whole body started to tremble. TWENTY MINUTES OF ACTION. TWENTY MINUTES OF ACTION. TWENTY MINUTES OF ACTION.

I don’t even know where to begin with the levels of disgust I have for this. I do, know, however, where to begin to describe what “20 minutes of action” steamrolled into my life.

This is what “20 minutes of action” looks like:

I refused to take baths and have exclusively taken showers for the majority of my life.  I hate getting into the pool.

Why?  Because my abuser used to ejaculate on my hair after “20 minutes of action” and then would stick me into the pool or the bathtub and gently clean his cum off.  If someone saw a seemingly loving male relative with me in the pool, they were wrong. He was washing away his evidence of his disgusting behavior, knowing that if my 50 pound body fought back, he would drown me, as he tried to the one time I fought him in the water.

Does this make you cringe? Does it make your stomach turn? It should. And yet I refuse to shut the hell up about it. I will keep talking about abuse because the only people that should be ashamed are my abusers and the people who were complicit in the situation.

My kids, like most children, love to get in the swimming pool. It takes all of my emotional energy to get in the pool with them. All of my emotional energy to watch them squeal with delight in a simple joy of childhood. In those moments, I feel like I am drowning even though my head is above water, suffocating under the weight of the memories that feels like I breathe them into my lungs every time I wade into a swimming pool.

Twenty minutes of action has robbed me of 20 minutes a day where I weigh myself and mentally check my lifelong struggle with anorexia. Twenty minutes of action has cost me 20 minutes a day of joy a day with my kids because I worry daily about someone touching them and am suspicious of all of the people in their lives.  Twenty minutes of action steals 20 minutes a day I have to use a catheter on myself to empty my bladder, a by-product of scar tissue from the abuse and weakened bladder muscle from anorexia. Twenty minutes of action causes 20 hours a year sitting in a doctor’s office dealing with the physical ramifications of those actions. I wonder 20 minutes a day if I’m too damaged for my husband to love me. I worry 20 minutes a day if I am too damaged to parent in a way that doesn’t rob my children of the simple joys of childhood.

I am so sick and damned tired of no one giving a damn about the victims, and only caring about the future of the abusers. If this is you—take a damn seat. You are enabling future abusers and are complicit in their actions.

This is not a drinking culture— this is a culture that rapists know that even if they are outed and caught, the punishment is a slap on the wrist and the majority of people will care more about them than their victims.

As far as his very brave and courageous victim, whose victim statement needs to be read by everyone (read it here), I stand with you. Keep talking. Keep balking. Keep fighting.

My EPIC New Year’s Resolution

New Year's Resolutions

Have I ever told you about my first editor? I wrote a column in my early twenties for a local magazine where we used to live. It sort of fell into my lap after I had been named one of the town’s sexiest singles (I know, I know).

Anyhow, the editor of this magazine had a prolific career in publishing. He had lived and worked in all of the big markets, and moved/took this job to be near his ailing parents. He called me one day, out of the blue, and asked me to lunch. ‘I’m going to get fired’, I thought. But no, he wanted to tell me I needed to write, and in forty years of publishing, I was only the third person he had told that to.

No, I said. I believed that God and the Universe wanted me to do something with the abuse I had endured. What, I didn’t know, but at the time that was what I believed.

He stared at me intently. ‘I think you’re wrong,’ he said.

We would revisit this conversation on occasion, quite frequently, actually, and then I got married and had kids. And then we moved, our oldest was diagnosed with autism, and I chose not to go back to work to make his therapies a priority.

‘Have you thought maybe this is God or the Universe telling you to take this time to write that book?’ he asked. In truth, my old editor called me on my deepest dream that I thought impossible, that me, of all people, could actually write.


So, I started writing. I cranked out a book. And then our second son was diagnosed with autism. Everything went to the back burner.

Then, a few years ago, in late 2013, I started writing again. And then I started blogging, to keep me in the habit of writing, and it was an easy way to document the lives of our children.

Then, on a whim, I signed up to go to a conference in June 2014.  And there, in all their glory, were my people, my weirdos, the misfits whose brains were just as odd as mine, and for the first time in my life, I was with my people.

That’s an unnerving experience if you’ve never had it.  You go through life, you make friends, fantastic best friends, but they don’t understand the storm of words and ideas that swirl inside your brain and keep you up at night, the ones you keep to yourself for fear that no one will understand.  To be in the presence of people that understand just that, is almost shattering to your core. It’s a shift in the paradigm of your universe, that there are other people like you, that maybe your ideas aren’t so crazy and far-fetched, and that maybe, just maybe, this is where you were meant to be all along.

And so, all of a sudden, you think okay, maybe I can do this.  I went viral two months later. Okay, I thought, maybe my words really can make a difference. I started meeting other creative people, people who had the same shit storm swirling inside their brain. And then, last spring, I met Harmony from Modern Mommy Madness. Meeting her has been life changing, and I hope for each and every single one of you, that you each have a working partner and friend like her. The craziest and epic-dumbshit that sits in my brain I can tell her, and guess what— she has the same crazy and epic dumbshit inside her brain. We’re working on some of that epic dumb shit and it’s AMAZING.

Shit started to happen last year, good things, fantastic, set-your-soul on fire things.  But then the naysayers also started.

‘No one really makes it as a writer.’
‘That’s a cute/fun hobby.’
‘Thank God your husband supports you.’
‘Is your husband okay with you writing?’
‘You don’t have a degree in English.’
‘Hardly anyone ever gets a book published.’

The list goes on and on and on and on. It tapped into my fear of failure.

So I shut out the noise, and kept telling myself that I finally accepted (and that’s the biggest part and challenge), that this is my purpose in life.  I finally accept it, 37 years in, that my words are the what I am supposed to contribute to this world. That maybe I didn’t have to do something with the horrors that happened to me, but yet use those feelings to be a better writer, and reach those that need it the most, that I can use those feelings to tap into your inner core and question your reality and perceptions, that is what I am meant to do.  Maybe five people will read my words, or maybe five million.  I don’t know, and that part doesn’t matter.  What does matter, is that I move forward with the intention of living my purpose.

That acceptance is powerful. That power also means that the naysayers will get louder, and I will have to work harder to shut out the noise, and I might have to buy stock in ear plugs.

But, big shit happens when you finally have the clarity of your goal.

So, that’s my resolution.  To work towards the goal of doing more creatively, and writing more.  Small and large steps everyday, resolute in shutting out the noise. To own who I am, and to no longer cower in my fear of failure.

I want this for you, too. What are we going to do, together? To fight fear in the face and accomplish epic fucking things?

I can’t wait to see what happens.