I was 24-years-old when my sales manager befriended me, told me I was smart, and soothed away my insecurities.
He gave me books to read: Jonathan Livingston Seagull and The Richest Man in Babylon.
He stroked my business ego and seduced me with ideas of success—mine.
Skilled in the use of the law of reciprocity, he promoted me and doubled-down by giving me the best sales leads, or at least suggesting he had.
He trained me to close sales like a champion. My sales soared.
I felt invincible.
My manager showed up at shows I worked. In his presence, I persisted in my pursuit of dangled rewards, accolades and money.
I stepped into a leadership role, hiring and training, in the office and in the field. I made a name for myself.
My ambition and hard work were paying off.
When my 27-year-old brother died in a car accident, my manager infiltrated my family by forming an unexplainable bond with my mother.
He found an in with her while she grieved her only son. This manager and my mom spoke on the phone for hours. She embroidered shirts for him with our company logo, as she’d done for me.
Mr. Manager also pointed out my husband and I weren’t a fit, as if delivering helpful facts, rather than planting seeds of poison.
This manager often “just happened” to be working close to my territory. He’d call to check on me. And oh, we should meet for a celebratory drink. Or to analyze the sales that slipped away.
My boundaries weren’t yet buckled down. I enjoyed his company. I was eager to succeed.
I leaned into the learning curve. For the first time in my life, I felt like a responsible adult with a career and a vision.
He was my manager. I thought he was my friend. I trusted him.
He manipulated me with calculation and precision I couldn’t see, or even fathom, due to my inexperience with treachery.
One night, this manager raped me in the office where we worked, the office that felt like home, the office I ran when he was late or absent, where I interviewed, hired, trained, took calls, and began to build my career.
My manager raped me when I was 24 and the world was an open door.
I couldn’t tell you what he was wearing or what I was wearing. I only know the date because it was his birthday and my first year in the business.
I was overcome with an unquestionable urge to repress.
For over a decade, I told no one. Not even my mother.
Now, I wonder about a night she came back to my house after an evening with him.
She said he was crazy. Their friendship ended as oddly as it had started.
Although we were close, she and I never discussed it.
It’s hard to talk about the thing you’re desperate to deny.
How convenient for a master manipulator/rapist.
Did he rape my mother, too? Would she, were she alive, be saying #MeToo about a man I introduced her to?
It’s a very real possibility I try not to bite down on too hard.
Now, I know: I’m not invincible.
I’m not going to pretend I am and go to work and about my business pretending it didn’t happen to me, pretending it hasn’t happened to others, and hoping it doesn’t keep repeating.
It’s our responsibility to talk about what’s become pervasive and perverted in our society.
Along with thousands of #MeToo sad, but true stories, I’m telling mine.
It’s no longer just about what happened to us as individuals. Now, it’s about what’s been happening to women collectively while we quietly nursed our individual wounds.
Truth only stays submerged in society for so long. #TimesUp. #MeToo.
No, we will not go quietly. That didn’t work for us.
We refuse to mirror denial any longer.