It Sure Has Been a Week!: A Feelings Atrium

It’s been a baffling, impossible, horrifying week in a baffling, impossible, horrifying year; we’re all exhausted and you likely are too. The unending public discourse around assault, the pain of survivors, and what counts as ‘bad enough’ for someone to experience consequences for their actions has been harrowing to experience, to put it mildly. So many of us are survivors of one kind or another; those of us who don’t identify as such still live with the knowledge that that is a precarious state that could change at any time, and that this culture of backlash and gaslighting is what would await you. Even though we knew this was true, generally speaking, it doesn’t make it easier to see. The news today that the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be delayed means that the potential of his confirmation is technically still up in the air, but also that this public conversation will be dragged on in a particular way, which to many of us feels unbearable right now.

There has never been any way to reassure that the American justice system will function in a way that provides relief to victims of harm, or accountability to perpetrators of harm. What we can affirm is the grace and power of survivors like Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford, and all survivors whose abusers will always have more institutional power and social capital than them. We can honor the complicated and difficult choice to articulate truth about harm even when we know we won’t get the support or justice that we deserve, and take care of ourselves and the ones we love by being intentional about how we do or don’t engage with it.

Most importantly, when we don’t have any guarantee of justice, we can at least lean on community — surround ourselves with those who see and understand who we are and what we’ve experienced, whether that looks like processing it or just sitting on a sofa together with some chocolate milk. When we have nothing else, we still have each other. Some of us are lucky enough to have that community in person; if you don’t (or also if you do!), you have this community and this post. Hang out here for a minute, say something if you feel like it or just read and listen if you don’t, and be gentle with each other, it’s hard out there lately.

On Being a Queer Survivor

The Autostraddle Guide to Queer Mental Health

The Trans Lifeline (US: 877-565-8860/Canada: 877-330-6366)

LGBT Helplines

National Resources for Survivors of Sexual Assault/Violence

State/Local Helplines for Sexual Assault and Violence

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42 Comments

  1. I read that we only have one source of willpower, like if we try to go on a diet, to study for a hard exam and to heal a broken heart it won’t happen from different parts of yourself. We can’t tackle down everything at the same time. So at times like this, we have to be gentle with ourselves (to be able to be gentle to others) because everyone is running out of willpower supply together.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you already did one good thing today (or this week), congratulate yourself, celebrate! It doesn’t matter if it was finishing your thesis, the dishes or processing some hard feelings, because everything comes from the same place (your strength).

  2. I’m struggling with dealing with men. Even in small situations. At work (I’m a receptionist) the middle aged male clients are the worst, if I ask them to fill out a form or something and they don’t feel like it, and they just look down their nose at me and do this little smile of contempt and I know I have to prepare for an argument where I’m not allowed to be angry but they are. And they know it. I know this is a tiny thing compared to assault but I feel like it’s those same kinds of men that think they can do whatever they want. It starts at a small level, with just that feeling of contempt for women that they have. How do you deal with something that ingrained?

    • I AM ALSO A RECEPTIONIST. I feel you, friend. I work in construction which is SO male dominated and I am having Troubles. I have started to weaponize cheerfullness, so when they get argumentative or irritated I just smile and really lean into the “I’m just the secretary, I have noooooo idea why my boss needs you do do this thing I just know that it needs to be done. Would you like to speak to him?” Alternatively, you can say your “boss” is out of the office, in a meeting, or unavailable, and if they get cranky and keep pushing you can be REAL sympathetic and like “oh I know this is so frustrating but it would really help me if you could just do x” and then do the smile again and look like you super need this man to save you from your meanie unreasonable boss.

      They fall for it, pretty much 98% of the time because of how much we devalue “pink collar” work. And in your head you can think about how stupid they are to think that you are really that stupid.

  3. At the end of my workout today I still had some steam left, so I decided to honor Limp Bizkit‘s „Break Stuff“ that had appeared on my playlist earlier and have a go at the boxing bag for old times sake.
    One song, not even three minutes and I managed to bust all of my knuckles open, despite wearing padded gel gloves.
    I hadn’t even realized I was that angry.

  4. Went to pick my mother’s civics nerd brain about some political situations I had been speculating about for a work of fiction and feel like I got assaulted again(my words mean nothing and I just have to wait for the whole thing to be over which is decided by not me).

    “The most shameful act of bipartisan politics I have ever seen”

    The whole thing is a sham to her, the woman who stood her ground and refused to adjust a “really spoiled” boy’s conduct grades so he’d be a prospect for the football team of a prestigious high school.
    His rich daddy came to talk to her and everything.

    And was outraged with me at the gall of Brock Turner’s father “don’t ruin a promising future for a couple of minutes”

    Right now all she wants to talk about is “that fiction in Congress” and I can’t tell her to shut the fuck up
    Won’t really and truly stop unless given a reason and I cannot give her the reason.

    Thus the trapped feeling like I’m in that hotel room again, waiting because fighting didn’t work and my words certainly didn’t work.

    Like if I go incommunicado when interacting at any point it’s because my words and ability to word are feeling useless.

  5. Some music recommendations

    Bricks Are Heavy is a 1992 album by L7 an all female hard rock band
    It’s mostly a nice hard alt metal sound, but not thrash for you more tender eared folks.
    “Shit List” is an excellent song for those in the rage stage

    Live Through This an album by Hole all female grunge band, good for cathartic ugly crying

    Rage Against The Machine’s self titled album is the one with “Killing in the Name”
    I don’t know how to describe them other than genre bending hard rock put together by politically aware AF youth one of which has a political science degree and in their thanks section listed Huey P. Newton founder of the Black Panther Party

    Tribe 8 is a dyke punk band, like the mother of queercore bands and I can’t pick one song it’s just not possible.
    Femme Bitch Top is a hot song tho, belongs on a playlist for preparing for play time.

  6. I went to the art museum today and on the walk home I realized I was instinctively holding my keys in my fist in my jacket pocket, the way I do when I’m walking home from campus late at night and don’t feel safe…except this was in broad daylight.

    I also broke down crying in a cafe cause not being able to find my rewards card was apparently the last straw in a massive heap of straws of this terrible terrible week.

  7. Almost forgot!

    A Warm Place

    it’s a very chill song, I know it says Nine Inch Nails but trust me it is calming and warm.

    And uh Hildegard Von Bingen was this nun who is like a lesbian heroine, first lady playwright we know of and her music survives to this day so if choral music is good with you check her out

    She is also an official saint so there’s metals, cards and candles of her.

  8. My mom and I spent the whole day texting each other back and forth with commentary on the hearings, and then when I got home from work I sent her a picture of the large glass of wine I’d poured myself and she sent me one back of her glass next to the mostly empty bottle of wine. I’ve never been so appreciative of having a mom that gets it.

  9. I nearly had a panic attack (I don’t usually have issues with anxiety) thanks to the news cycle yesterday and unloaded my anxieties onto a queer friend because I don’t feel like I can talk about them with my straight friends. Men make me uncomfortable because I’m worried one of them is going to assault me again and I can’t defend myself.

    One of my professors decided to lead a discussion session on how to write about sex that actually helped my anxiety. He asked if anyone was uncomfortable with talking about sex because of the political situation at hand, which made me less uncomfortable with a small group of straight cis men.

  10. Dr. Christine Blasey is my grad school professor. These last two weeks have been so surreal as my brilliant, kind, and funny teacher has had her life publicly torn apart. She is a hero and patriot, but also just a really good teacher who goes the extra mile for her students. I just feel very sad for all that she has had to go through and will have to keep going through.

    • Wow. If she is the kind of person who appreciates a hug and if you have the kind of relationship with her where you could give her one, please give her one from me (probably from all of us).

      I had a long talk with my mom with other night. She said – my lifelong-devout-Catholic mother said! – that “there is something about those Jesuit schools, a lot of Jesuits are good people but those schools produce boys who think they’re God’s gift to the world and especially women.”

      I watched Dr. Blasey Ford’s opening statement and damn, that is some next-level courage and integrity right there.

  11. Oh it has been quite the week. Thank you for providing this space.

    A lot of people lately seem to forget that queer survivors exist. And that victims and abusers can be of any gender. Or none at all! That’s been hard. My job (in media) is a blessing in disguise. I worked really hard to avoid the hearings yesterday (with mostly success), but my boss made my day today. He’s also a survivor and he gave me permission to sit out during part of a show that focused on the hearings. Meant a lot to be able to do that. He understands.

    I hope you all find that sense of self care and love this week. You all deserve it.

    Also for those who want to/have the resources I highly suggest joining a feminist choir because it is the highlight of my everything

    • I heard a while back that they have been working on a new album and I know you can’t rush these things but I could really use some new S-K in my life. In the meantime I’ve had the first two albums and One Beat on heavy rotation and parts of The Woods and No Cities and now that I think about it I’ve been listening to Corin scream my feelings a lot for the last two years and what would I do without them?

  12. Thank you for making this space during this fucked-up time. On Thursday I went to a march in support of Dr. Blasey-Ford and I know it was last minute but in my super-progressive town I expected a bigger turnout. And there were women just hanging out in the square eating lunch and I couldn’t help but think “why not just stand up and walk with us while you eat your sandwich?”

    The news crews there also only interviewed the men marching, they said “to get the male perspective on supporting survivors” but seriously wtf?

    I also had the joy of telling a male relative who was defending the asshole nominee that I had a very similar high school experience and I never reported it but I hoped I would have Dr. Blasey-Ford’s courage if it came to that. So not only do I get to re-live it every day on the news but also in the service of educating men and women who should know better.

    On the plus side I have been running out my rage which has been great for my overall health even if my feet aren’t too happy. So there’s that?

  13. I’m watching from across the pond and shocked and appalled. And it’s bringing up stuff for me that I’ve never told anyone. Not “serious” in the grand scheme of things but personally horrible. So when the women in work were discussing whether they believed her or him, I was really angry inside, but couldn’t articulate anything. Always believe the woman!

  14. I alternate between being jangly and on-edge, completely furious, and dissociating with fiction because I don’t know how else to turn my attention away from the news. I reread one of my favorite comfort reads from childhood yesterday, and will start the sequel tomorrow. (Patricia Wrede, for anyone out there who likes cozy fantasies.)

    I know “nature helps” is such a cliche, but yesterday I took my book to the creek that runs through town and the sound of the water soothed my nerves almost immediately. If you can get to running water, or nature in any other form, I recommend it.

  15. I am so massively angry. So, so angry. And so mad at the people in my life who don’t get it or don’t care (like my parents). I am seriously so over men and their entitlement. I’m bi and just started dating again after years of being single, and the idea of dating a man sounds so unappealing. TBH, it sounds awful. Logically I know there are non-awful men in world, but it really doesn’t feel like it right now. Thankfully I’ve met some great queer women and I’m making progress on finally forming my own personal queer community.

    I’ve also been thinking about my own experience with sexual assault. I was 17 and working at a grocery store. He was at least twice my age, one of my co-workers and the dad of a girl a knew at school. He came up behind me and groped me, and it was over so fast I wasn’t even sure it had happened. I think that uncertainty is why I’ve never told anyone, ever. It took me a long time to stop blowing it off as just groping, no big deal, and say that yeah, it does count as assault. I think that’s the hardest part – there are so many women out there who have had incredibly traumatic experiences, and I want to support them. It seems like my own experience is trivial in comparison, and not worth discussion when others have been affected so much more. I’m learning that isn’t true – and survivors of all types are stronger when we stand together. If there any survivors out there, know that you are not alone and you are believed.

    I hope everyone is keeping up with their self-care and staying mostly sane. I’m staying sane by volunteering for my local democrat running for congress. I spent five hours knocking on doors this morning, and it was the first time I’d ever done anything like it. I feel so empowered!

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