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If somebody tells you their #MeToo story, it’s likely that it is the first time they are speaking about it. Here’s what NOT to do when they are speaking.
When somebody tells you about their ‘me too’ that happened many years ago, listen to them. Do not interrupt with quick fixes. Do not tell them that it could have been worse or to close that chapter and move on, or don’t take them out for drinks before they finish. Just listen.
They have been planning this moment for a while now- debating about whether to tell you or not. This is probably the first time those emotions have found words – know that they are talking over the voice in their head that goes, ” Shhh…” So please refrain from thinking about a response when they pauses for breath. Today, just listen and stay.
It’s OK if you don’t know what to do with the information they have confided in you. They have been alone and lonely with their ‘shame’ for so long. This is their way of taking back control – of baring their soul. They don’t expect you to turn into a superhero and beat up the bad guy. Nor to anger you into wanting to thrash somebody to bits. They are just trying to explain the occasional coldness, their lack of blind trust, or the boundaries around them that they guard with their lives; hoping that you will understand. So please, please do not make this about you. Please don’t be mad at them for not telling you earlier. They were just afraid of dimming down your light with their darkness that they have grown to fear.
They are still the same person that you knew till yesterday. Nothing has changed. They have just taken a major leap of faith.
You may feel like you are walking on egg shells as you listen. But today, your friend is walking on a mine field, knowing full well that if this step turns out to be wrong, they will withdraw into that person you have known till this moment, never being able to forgive themselves for being stupid enough to believe that somebody could understand what they were saying. They will never dare to speak of it again. So please listen. This is important.
You may ask questions about how they dealt with it. But please do not ask why they were out at that time, or why they were alone in the room with somebody, or why did their brain freeze when it happened. Trust me, they have been beating themselves up with the same questions every day. They don’t need to hear it from you.
You can tell them that you didn’t know that stuff like this could happen. You can tell them that what happened was wrong, that it was not OK, that you’re sorry that it even happened. You can tell them that you are OK if they want to set boundaries in your relationship. You can ask them what you can do to help.
You can thank them for trusting you enough to tell you this.
Even if you are the kind of person that instantly feels better with a hug, today, ask them if it is ok to hug them before giving them one, and know that from now on, you are more trusted than the rest of the people in their life.
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
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