As a general rule, when things like this happen, I get pissed and become more committed to fighting for the issue of stopping sexual violence. So yesterday, I blogged about where we go from Steubenville. But shortly after that, I crashed. Like full-on emotional nosedive crash. The kind where you want to curl up and hide under your covers and ignore the world for a month. Or a year. I just felt so tired. So exhausted about the amount of pain we've all had to witness or experience in the past month.
And then, like a miracle from the universe, this man leaves a comment on my blog. This man who I have never met and who I have no idea even how he found me. This is what he wrote:
I'm sitting here with a lump in my throat and tears rolling down my cheeks, and I don't know what to say.
When I was a very young man, in university, I saw a man dragging a woman to his car. He was powerful, twice my size, and deep with rage. She was crying. I ran into the street, looking for a way to help, looking for a police car to flag, but we were alone, and cell phones were still 20 years away. I didn't try to grab him because I was 150 pounds soaking wet, and he would have beat the shit out of me, so nothing would have changed.
I still feel the shame. I will never outlive it.
That night eventually brought me to martial arts, and I now hold an advanced black belt. I remember two or three situations in the last 15 years where I have stepped in to protect a woman in danger (and one time, a gay man).
I've never had to fight. Just the poise and confidence have been enough to make someone back down, or give the woman time to make a decision. One time, I don't think she chose wisely, but I gave her the opportunity.
So I like who I am now, but I still carry that weight. Thirty years ago, I might have been beaten senseless, or I might have averted a tragedy.
I want to go back. To do it right this time.
Someone I love dearly was raped, and her torment is like a knife through my ribs. That men can do such deeds kills me. That men like my younger self let it happen kills me.
And so I sit here, wiping away tears. I cannot change the world but, every once in awhile, I can change a mind.
I honor what you do, Christa. Never give up. Never lose faith."
And just like that...with this one raw and honest comment, he reminded me why I do this. And he reminded me about what kindness looks like. His words added glue to the fractured pieces of my heart and made me uncurl myself and get out of bed. Ready to go on again and keep fighting.