Accusers and accused. There are many of these both in the news lately. Whose stories are true? What side do we choose to believe? And why do the stories seem to play out the same way each time?
At least that how it seems to me, but could we change the ending somehow? A woman comes forward to accuse a man of some kind of sexual assault from their past. The man is a high-profile figure so the story hits the news, but we all know that these stories have struck a chord because so many women have had similar experiences in their lives (including me).
Once the man stands accused, he usually claims he didn’t do it–in a very loud voice–until it turns out that we learn he did because other women come forward, or investigation into his past concludes it was true. So why then do these men say they didn’t do it?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially with the most recent allegations which are particularly disturbing to me, and I came up with this conclusion.
Many of us hold parts of our past we would rather forget (me included); ones that when we dare look back on them produce feelings of shame and regret. So rather than look at them, we compartmentalize them or even pretend they didn’t happen. We may actually believe they didn’t. Some folks are particularly good at this skill and humans are quite resilient and can learn to adapt to their dirty deeds and go on quite well.
What happens, though, when someone comes along and opens the door to the shame that has been hidden away and it shows its nasty head. The obvious reaction would be to say: no, no–of course I didn’t do that thing! It wasn’t me. That beast has been hiding so long it has become unfamiliar, a part of ourselves we have chosen to forget.
But, as this creature stands before us a while, I feel it should begin to take shape and start to become more visible. Letting it out of the box to stand out in the open and taking a good look at it instead of denying it, can actually help defuse its power. Because ultimately it is a part of us, no matter how bad it was, it was something we did. The first part of letting go is admitting to something.
At this point, if the accused could then face the accuser and simply say: yes, I did it, it was bad and I’m sorry I hurt you–how would that change the story? Would we all feel differently? Could then the accuser introduce forgiveness into the equation? Maybe. Hopefully.
And then maybe the healing could really begin: for everyone.