I’ve never been through an experience even remotely similar to the horrific attacks suffered by Harvey Weinstein’s victims. I don’t even want to pretend to have a frame of reference. I could not have more admiration for the brave women who have spoken out thus far, and who will find the strength to speak out in the coming days. Your courage is making the world a safer place.
The only personal perspective I can share is about shame. Because it’s not just Weinstein’s criminal modus operandi that recurs, again and again, through these stories. It is the victims’ subsequent pivot into a sickening feeling of culpability: that it was they themselves who somehow encouraged, or enabled, the attacks.
That’s textbook shame. Shame distorts truth. It coats the lens of your perception with a red-black viscous goo, convincing you that the deepest pits of your self-loathing are in fact the visible truth. It makes you suspect that the worst parts of you are what everyone around you actually sees, when they walk past you, and then whispers about behind your back.
I’ve taken a long look at shame these past few years. It is stronger and more powerful than just about any other emotion I’ve experienced. But at the end of the day, it is just that: an emotion. Emotion is not circumstance. It is a state of mind. And with time, courage, and honesty, minds can be changed, for good.
The strength required to fight through shame is formidable. But if you have the courage to share it with others, I can personally attest, you can and will move through it. Shame becomes not a habitual state of mind but a chapter that you’ve finished. It moves from your windshield to your rearview mirror. It becomes something that you survived, and are stronger and wiser for having lived through.
For those of you battling shame right now, of any kind, I strongly recommend linking arms with Brene Brown, starting with the TED talk below. I hope you find the courage to reach out to a loved one, or a friend. Or me! I am here for you. More of your friends are here for you than you realize. Reach out. You can make it go away.
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