Monday, March 26, 2012


Today I had a conversation which damn near shattered me, precisely because it has meant so much to me recently that I did not have this coversation sooner.

I don't feel freed.  I don't feel empowered.  I have, it may be said, an almost physically painful shortness of breath, and the most intense headache I've had in some months.

But I do feel *hope* - that what I chose to do to myself ... simply won't be a choice for for anyone again.


While I chose to leave at a mildly scoffing dismissiveness from the manager I spoke with "informally" at the time this happened, I know frankly and simply what happened was sexual harassment.  For me, this does not translate into lawsuits or punitive action against my company - I stayed on the alert for any escalation, and when my extreme and instant brusque, cold, keep-it-professional attitude apparently headed off any further "hopes" this person had in my direction, I nursed a quiet grudge, contenting myself with feeling I didn't have to do anything.

It was probably within the last eight or ten months I witnessed a woman having to speak with the same man, who was clearly discomfited having to deal with him.  I knew her well enough to ask her if he had disturbed her, when we were alone, and she did not specify what he had done, but it was clear that she was profoundly creeped-out by him.

And so, I know:  it's not just me.


When I was cc'd on a note from a higher-up responding positively to this person's interest in a permanent position with my employer:  I felt I had to say something.

This was a difficult decision to make, but not a lengthy one, and, rather dizzyingly, the opportunity to have the conversation came up extremely quickly.  From email to decision to dread to conversation:  something under two and a half hours.

Today was simply bloody difficult.  I had to have a conversation I stipulated at its outset I never wanted to have.  I had to present the situation, the context of why I was bringing it up, AND the context of why I had never brought this up before, professionally and coolly, honestly and somewhat dispassionately.

And I did.  And it is done.  I gave permission to the higher-up to use my name; and have already spoken with someone in HR, setting a time on Wednesday to have a conversation about this.

The worst of it is over - the event itself, long ago.  The conversation, today.  I am no longer stifled.

And I pray:  no other woman will have to make this choice.


And so for me, tonight ...  If not peace and power - then Big Bang Theory, set to "play all" (or perhaps a new purchase on Amazon, of a new season I can stream in my digital library) - and, if not the satisfaction of feeling whole ... then at least the contentment that I've done the right thing.

I am so blinking exhausted.


Leila said...

Your strength is amazing. I know this wasn't easy, but the right thing isn't always. I'm so proud of you.

DLM said...

Thank you, Leila. Strength really isn't an optional feature, so I try to focus on courage.

Doing this probably took less courage than it felt like today, but I am exhausted and suffering a crashing anticlimax ... after a day I had no idea would even hold anything climactic. If I were a writer, I might have cast this scene with some sense of triumph and accomplishment.

Life sometimes falls short at creative writing in the evocatively emotional scenes we have to play.