Many years ago in a job like many other I was told that my relationship with a fellow employee was not a good idea. That I, as the manager, should not be in a relationship with another member of staff. That if I continued this relationship then it would mean curtailing my current and future prospects the company offered if ….
As with many of the (slightly different but very similar) #MeToo stories, this happened decades ago.
My #MeToo story involves no sexual abuse. My body was not touched. The gender of the person telling me these things is irrelevant because this was about power.
Abuse is always about power. And – I think – power is only and ever a perception. In my case the perception of power to slow and halt my career as it was beginning to blossom. The perception of power to insist that my relationship with another could and should be ended.
I think maybe that those expecting compliance with such a request (as was being made of me) have had to make that same choice themselves. I think many were given a choice by the perception of power above them and they complied and were “rewarded” with a career like any other (i.e. the reward was not even a reward).
Many years ago my immediate and only response was to stand up and say that this as wrong and walk away – my #MeToo story had a different ending.
My career was “only” a job. Whereas my relationship was totally “me”. And there was no choice. I had changed jobs before and would do again. A job is a job is a job.
But my relationships? They were not at the beck and call of anyone. There was just me and one other who had that “power”. And, despite having had several relationships (just as I had several jobs), my relationships were the other side of a very wide and visible line. A line that was no one else’s – certainly not this individual’s “perception of power” over me – to cross.
The response to my walking away? A grudging apology. And that job passed like many others. But not because of that #MeToo incident. It was just another job in a long line of jobs because I got bored.
As for the relationship? That too passed. From a temporary-maybe-thing to the relationship of man and wife. And that was not because of this #MeToo story either.
That relationship has changed in the past 35 years. My job has changed as well. And I have changed as well. It comes with living – unless I allow “perception” to have power over me. Because I have found one thing remains the same – that I never even knew was part of me back then:
You do not have power over me. Not unless I give it to you.
And when I do give it to you – and find my reward was no reward at all …
That changes me in ways I did not foresee.