Photograph by Katie Schuessler

I’m taking a look at what it means to practice self-love in the midst of one layer of #MeToo.

Do you ever feel like reality is screaming at you? It’s like, hey! Hey, you! I’m going to keep showing you the same thing over and over again until you get it. Got it?

The trouble is, I JUST DON’T GET IT.

And so repeatedly, sometimes for days in a row, men say things to me and I play it off like I don’t care, or worse, like I get the joke and I think it’s funny too. And while I’m externally all cool and calm and smiley, inside I’m feeling the twisted discomfort of something’s wrong. It’s a growing sharpness that is getting stronger every time I try to swallow my intuition. And the more I develop internal awareness, the harder it’s becoming to ignore this awful habit.

In fact, in the last week, it’s become so glaringly obvious that I’ve started to chuckle in the aftermath of the violations. “Okay, reality, I hear you,” I mumbled into my tea the other night after a particularly scathing encounter with a man at the laundromat.

Sometimes, before I laugh, I’ll leak a few tears, feeling sorry for myself and thinking of all the things I should have said. Then I realize what reality is asking of me: step up to the plate, Katie! Say how you really feel! Be honest with these men.

It’s a conundrum, though: what would I say to my boss who — in front of several staff members — has just made a joke about me wearing my new apron to school without any clothing on underneath it?

What would I say to the man who laughs at me after I say that I hope my evaluation is gentle, telling me it sounds like I’m talking about something else?

Honestly, what could I say to help these people see that what they are vocalizing to me is truly not okay?

Perhaps it’s as simple as that. “Hey, what you just said, it’s not okay with me. I know I just laughed and pretended like we were pals, but the truth is, it’s not okay.”

I’d like to cordially invite reality to serve me up another inappropriate remark from a man. I’d like to accept the challenge to grapple with my survival-mode reaction of getting all chummy with the perpetrator, and instead choose to buddy up with myself. Because those tears I shed before I chuckle are not about the men.

They are about the way I have continually betrayed my own instincts.

As a woman learning to love herself after many years of self-loathing, I am truly starting to comprehend that I’m going to have to take a stand — thanks to what reality has been not-so-subtly shouting at me. I don’t really expect the offenders to learn from my assertions, but the act of speaking up will support this journey of blossoming into the empowered, beautiful, strong, intuitive, sensitive, creative woman that I am. Being real about my discomfort is a huge step in honoring myself. If it feels safe, I encourage you to try it, too.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store