Awe

Brief meditation on the current news and the nature of survival. (Heads up for topic of sexual assault/triggering/Epstein.)

♦ ♦ ♦

Yesterday, I read the charges filed against co-defendents Epstein AND Trump for their numerous violent sexual attacks on the same 13yo girl in 1994. It was awful, but I’m used to awful—and the almost-clinical tone of most legalese is generally easier to get through than more evocative writing on the same subject.

And then there were a few words, a halfway-rendered visual image in my head. . . suddenly I’m dizzy, light-headed : my arms are burning : : it hurts to breathe : : :

More than 12 hours later, I still can’t say to you what those words were. Not that I don’t know, you understand. I am perfectly clear what tripped the trigger, but they are surrounded by a giant bubble of silence and darkness that threatens to pull me back in each time I reach to pull those words out.

I’ve been here before.

Maybe you have too. In which case, we both know we’ll be here again, at some unpredictable time.

Expectation of the unexpected.

If you have never been assaulted, if what you know about rape trauma and its lingering impact is an outsider’s sympathy, I beg you: take whatever horror you imagine and triple it. Quadruple it. Magnify by a thousand-thousands the worst existential destruction you can contemplate—and know that you still won’t have it right.

Now take that bottomless pit inside your imagining and look again at the courage of the dozens of Jane Does who have gone on record about Epstein.

Look again at the bravery of Dr. Ford. Of E. Jean Carroll. Of every woman on the NY Magazine’s Cosby cover, and every woman who told herself she was seated in that empty chair.

Look at the children whose words are taken down in ‘significant incident reports‘ about assaults while under ICE and BP custody.

Look again at Emily Doe at Stanford.

Look at every Jane Doe, Joan Doe, and John Doe in every rape deposition for a hundred, hundred years past and a hundred, hundred years yet to come.

I am in awe, not just of their speaking out but of their survival. From the depths of my rage and my despair, I am in awe.

I am in awe.

I am in awe.

I am in awe.

I am in awe.

I am in awe.

I am in awe.


Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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