I just can’t write much today. I’m both gutted and enraged by what’s going on nationally related to sexual assault and trauma. I cycle between stunned immobility and anger-fueled empowerment. I’ve struggled about what to write–nothing? Repeat a post? But the feeling that I had to say something wouldn’t go away. And then I realized I’ve already said something. As a matter of fact, I wrote a whole book about it. Here’s part of it:
I wasn’t crazy about my job at the nonprofit, but I did enjoy organizing our annual conference. During my last year there, I was also responsible for presenting a talk on the importance of including women in treatment plans for alcoholics. . . An hour before my presentation, nervous about the talk, and with dozens of conference details for me to manage, the director asked if I could fill in at a meeting and take notes.
Now? Really? Of course I said yes. I walked into a conference room with fifteen men sitting around a table. I sat down, and the director said his name and asked others to introduce themselves. That man to his left introduced himself, then turned to the next person to do the same.
My heart sped up as the participants introduced themselves around the table. Soon it would be my turn to speak. My hands began to shake, and it became increasingly difficult to write the names of the attendees. All my life I had been terrified of talking in front of people. My throat closed up and my mind went blank whenever people turned and looked at me expectantly. I even took up needlework in my twenties so that I could avoid eye contact when surrounded by my first husband’s colleagues.
The introductions were getting closer to me. I practiced in my head what I would say: “I’m Patricia McConnell, and I’m the administrative assistant.”
I needn’t have worried. The man to my right said his piece and then turned his head in my direction. As I was opening my mouth to say my name, the man to my left spoke over me. It hadn’t even occurred to him that I would introduce myself. As the recording secretary and the only woman in the group, I wasn’t expected to have a voice. As I sat in stunned silence, my face hot with humiliation, the introductions continued around the table.
I would like to tell you that I began my career solely because of a deep-seated passion for animals. It’s true that this was my primary motivation. But underneath my love of animals, I was motivated by something else. After years of feeling like I had no voice, I wanted to be the one with something to say, even though I was afraid to do so. Everyone needs a voice and needs to be listened to. Including dogs. Maybe I could give them that. Maybe I could give it to myself.
A voice. Everyone needs to be heard, not just the powerful. That’s true of all people who presently are not being listening to, and it’s true of animals who are trying to communicate with us, without the luxury of language. Here’s to the efforts of brave people all around the world who are working toward using their own voices to say what needs to be said, and to hear what needs to be heard.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Here’s a photo illustrating much of what I did this week in an attempt to stay sane — garden. (I couldn’t bring myself to put these jeans in the washer. I threw them away. Surely they deserved a rest.)
Here is Maggie, reminding me to tell you that she GOT TO WORK SHEEP ON SATURDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOREVER YES SHE IS YELLING BECAUSE OMG SHE GOT TO WORK SHEEP!!! Our extensive physical therapy sessions and conservative exercise restrictions (and maybe Adequan injections twice a week?) are paying off. Her legs look really good right now, but I am still moving at a snail’s pace. I was going to work her today (granted, for 5 minutes max) but it’s rained 5 inches in the last 36 hours and the world is one slippery mud hole right now. Poor kid, she’ll have to wait for this next batch of ridiculous rain to stop.
Tell me something good. There’s always something, no matter how small.