My #MeToo Story
I’m not exactly sure where you begin with something when you title it #MeToo. My initial thought is that I don’t want to discredit it or use it inappropriately. I’m a huge supporter of the brave women and men who have come forward. Because of their bravery I felt empowered to tell my story too.
For the longest time when I thought about #MeToo simpler instances of men in my dating life would come up. Instances that were less than appropriate, but nothing that any other woman hasn't experienced either in the work place or on a bad date. Of course, nothing inappropriate should ever happen in the work place or on a date, but as we know it can. But, my actual #MeToo story never seemed to register when I heard other people tell their stories because I kept it locked up tight where no one would find it.
The shame I’ve carried from it has remained so deeply tucked into my body that it was only up until a year ago that I started to unravel it properly. My heart had made a firm decision with my head to keep this secret hidden and to never let anyone know. Because when it happened everyone knew and I couldn’t escape it. I’ve spent every year since then hoping that no one would find out— until now.
My moment happened around the same time Monica Lewinsky was found to be having an affair with the President. I remember everyone talking about her. How fat she was, that she wasn’t that pretty, that he could’ve done better, that she was stupid to have done something like this. They instantly blamed her for the affair. As if a 22-year-old had that much power over the most powerful man in the world who was a known seducer.
I couldn’t believe the backlash. I couldn’t believe how people could judge her and not him for this. Sure, he was impeached but he went on with the rest of his presidency and continued to have a lucrative career in politics as well as his wife (who I voted for no less) who ran for president not once, but twice. I loved Bill. But, I also loved Monica and she was given no choice but to sneak away to London to try and start her life over since anything resembling a life or a reputation had been stripped away from her here.
Now where do I come in with all of this? No, I wasn’t an intern. I was a high school student. No, he wasn’t a teacher, but he was hired by the school and I spent a tremendous amount of time with him in an extracurricular activity that I was largely apart of.
I met him as a freshman in high school. Do you remember how young you were at fourteen? I do. I knew this man for years and grew to love him as so many others did. He was the cool guy that everyone knew and liked. But, at the time I had no way of understanding the flirting and insinuating was grooming me for what would happen later.
*While I will not name names or graphic details for my sake and others there was a brief romantic connection.
Your first love is hypnotic. It’s all encompassing. It’s blinding. Mixed with teenage hormones you become completely unhinged to what’s right or wrong. I thought I was in love with a man who was a decade my senior.
When my father found out It ended abruptly. He had him fired immediately. No one in my family said a word to me including this man. I was not prepared for what would happen after. I went to school the next day and he was gone. All I was left with were vague answers and glaring looks. Overnight I was instantly outcasted. I was blamed for having him fired. While I wasn’t reading The Scarlett Letter at the time it would’ve been fitting.
For falling in love for the first time I was punished severely for it. Kids wouldn’t talk to me. Parents wouldn’t look at me. I went from being a goodie two shoes who loved musicals and singing to a slut overnight. The ironic part is that I wasn’t a slut. Not at all. But, just like Monica I was outcasted and blamed and a man in authority got away with it.
Most people have a hard time in high school. Try hoping the breakup of your first love doesn’t land on the local news. Because that’s how serious this got. This was a real fear of mine. I was later asked not to continue in the extra curricular activity the next year and he was rehired. School officials actually let him come back. Let that sink in for a minute.
At this point I graduated high school early and went to college. I wasn’t allowed to walk on stage for my high school graduation. My senior picture wasn’t even posted in the yearbook. It’s like I was erased so that no one would have to deal with me again. Me, this 100 pound girl who was simply heartbroken.
This #MeToo moment changed the course of my life. I had planned to move to New York to continue pursuing musical theatre which I had trained my whole life in and was quite good at. Who knows if I might have made it? I’ll never know because I never went. The shame and abandonment of simply being a girl who liked a boy was debilitating. I was in a deep depression for years, fighting to make something of myself and beating myself up constantly for thinking I wasn’t good enough.
It’s no surprise that I’m a workaholic whose success doesn’t register with herself. I won my first Emmy Award at 29 and my second at 31. I’ve run two very successful businesses. One a bakery that won the popular show Cupcake Wars on the Food Network and ran for four years. The other a hair and makeup agency I ran for six years. I was signed as a singer/songwriter/producer to a publishing company and put out two records during the same time I was running my bakery and working full time on a tv show. I'm a creative content producer who's interviewed celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and John Legend amongst others and I run a full-time blog.
I did this alone. I did this because the treadmill of shame doesn’t stop for me. While I have always been driven since I was a young child the experience of people casting judgement on me at such a young, impressionable age did permanent damage that up until a year ago am I only beginning to unravel and heal. Because of this moment I have consistency hit my own self imposed glass ceiling and stopped when things would start to get really good in my career and romantic relationships. I would stop because that’s exactly what happened in high school. I was really happy and it was all taken away. It programmed my subconscious to believe it would continue to happen— until now.
I’m not here to cast myself as a victim even though it would appear that way. The work I’ve done on myself since that time in high school has been hugely healing. The man from high school asked many years later to see me and expressed how incredibly sorry he was for everything and for what had happened to me. He also told me how proud he was of me. I had been waiting for an apology and he gave me that gift.
We’re all flawed people who don’t make great choices for so many different reasons. I felt that it was time to finally come clean with my dirty, little secret after years of hiding it and hoping no one would find out. The truth is I’m not perfect. I’ve made some really dumb decisions and thank God, literally— thank GOD, I’m able to have the support of people who have loved me regardless and worked with me through this. My closest friends still are from college. They met me right after this moment happened. They knew me then and they still love me now.
I still battle with embarrassment and shame. I wish that I could’ve been spared that story. But, it’s always the hardest moments that either make you or break you. I decided that it wouldn’t break me. It’s part of what made me the woman I am today— a strong, extremely ambitious, successful, loving, forgiving, badass woman.
If you are in this spot right now from either a moment that happened a long time ago, happened a year ago or is happening right now please speak up and tell someone. Keeping a shameful secret doesn’t have to be the undoing of you. Don’t let it hold you back any longer from who you are and who you will be. Please don’t be ashamed of your past. You are loved and accepted whether you realize it or not. My hope is that for anyone reading this that you can feel empowered to find help and be honest about what’s happened to you. You can be stronger than you ever thought you could be by finding help and being brave enough to help yourself. Love yourself above it all and if you can’t right now, be kind to yourself until you can.
This letter was so hard to write and so scary to even think about publishing. But I knew to be true to myself I had to. This was part of letting it go, finally. No more hiding, no more shame, no more never ending treadmill, just peace.
Here are some resources to go to for help…