On most Mondays, there is a beautiful sliver of time between school drop-offs and pick-ups. This sliver of magic is my weekly holiday called "Mountain Bike Monday." Know that there is a big smile on my face simply typing Mountain Bike Monday. I start giggling the moment I drop Peyton off at school and look in the back of my little car to see my "other" girl, Electric Shark splaying her rugged, knobby tires for all to see. Oh yeah, it's on. And off I go, heading out of town, suburbia yielding to rolling hills; rolling farmland transitioning to dense forest where my beautiful trails live.
Some Mondays are solo adventures--others I'm joined by kindred spirits. It's never a race. Simply an opportunity to be present (with mountain biking, if you're not present, you just hit a tree) and enjoy the hell out of the beauty. Up and down, navigating through roots and rocks, finding clean lines to clear sharp turns--allowing myself to lose control and then regain it. Cathartic.
I usually arrive at the trail contemplating a thought and oddly, by the time the ride concludes my thought has noodled around and transformed into something else entirely. Today was no different. The drive over was a vehicle for the "me too" posts on social media. If you missed it, a thread surfaced in which women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed were encouraged to share "me too" as a status update. My disdain for copy/paste social media stuff runs deep, but last night after much trepidation I posted this:
Me too. As an adult, I have come to expect harassment and I've developed tools to deal with it. I'm rather scrappy and to the point in rebuttal--both verbally and physically. But as I snaked my way through the trail this morning, watching my awesome companions, Amy and Kalan power off jumps with force and speed, my thoughts focused on fear. How does fear shape our lives? It creates layers, doesn't it? Physical fear (like hitting a tree on my bike!). Social fear. Fear to make mistakes. Fear to speak up. Fear to find the right words. It goes on and on weaving its way into our very being, creating a lens through which we experience and see all things.
I was six years old the first time I was sexually assaulted. I will not share the details here, but what I remember most was how scared I was. Physically terrified by not only the force of the incident but the overriding fear of what would happen to me. Would I be able to get home or abandoned in a dark, unknown place, never to see my family again?
My story is not unique. 1 in 3 children experience sexual abuse. Completely vulnerable without the physical or verbal strength to defend themselves. These incidents are not about sex nor are they gender specific. Instead, they are exercises in power and entitlement.
I so desperately want to protect those who can't protect themselves. As I rounded the last corner of my ride, my entire body was engaged--strong and ready for battle. I don't have answers for the larger issue, but I have unwavering strength for my children--for finding words when they cannot and shaping a world for them in which they are loved and secure.
A big thank you to Kalan and Amy for providing so much inspiration today. You are fearless and lovely in every way. For local peeps, join me on a Monday ride! 10 am.