I have a lot to say about Jian Ghomeshi this week. A lot. I am in awe of the developments in this story, as it resonates with me personally, and it resonates with me as a woman, and a huge media fan.
I almost saw Ghomeshi speak live and launch his (apparently terrible) book, 1982. I would have been ecstatic. However, I was heading to New York City that month and I had to move my trip forward a couple of weeks, to the same weekend as Ghomeshi’s Edmonton talk. In retrospect, I’m grateful for this unhappy coincidence, as it saved me from being even more confused, saddened and conflicted seeing someone I loved, admired and respected under scrutiny, guilty of something I am sure they did, something that rings true and deeply with me, and something that is frankly appalling and disturbing – and I don’t even mean just the acts themselves, but the image of Ghomeshi himself doing them.
Imagine what it’s like to be a fan of Ghomeshi’s, be in awe that he has reached out to you personally and invites you to spend time with him – you – an ordinary, star-struck fan of his work. Imagine going there, anticipating at the very least, an exciting and juicy story to tell your friends, and at best, the claim to fame that you’re dating the handsome, witty, smart Jian Ghomeshi. And then the unthinkable, unfathomable happens. And then you walk away knowing it’s you, the fan girl who showed up at a famous figure’s home, versus the powerful Canadian famous media giant that everyone loves, including you. So you walk away. And you might think, “I trusted him…”
So many people, adults and children, are placed into positions where trust is abused by a prominent and powerful person – even if that person is simply an authority because they’re older and bigger, or because they have made you feel like you’re small and unimportant. And once you’ve been abused by them in this intimidate, sick disgusting, violating manner, trust and respect are gone. They can never be reconciled. Sometimes the worst happens and other people in similar roles in those people’s lives are subject to that burden of mistrust and mourning. It hurts so badly that it’s maddening. Unless you’ve been so beaten down, so betrayed, and had so many pieces of yourself – who you were before, and after – this terrible betrayal and violation of trust, you could never understand the void it leaves. Sometimes it takes years to fill. Sometimes the only thing to do is accept that it won’t ever truly be filled and the only way to get past that is to move forward and ignore the void. It will come back occasionally, like now, when reading about Jian Ghomeshi and the fact that it took more than four women to come forward before anyone would trust these women and not the person who betrayed their trust this way. And then it will go away like a passing rainstorm. But the sidewalks are still damp, the windows still streaked.
Mourning the loss of trust is intangible and mixed up and you question and question and question how you could be so stupid, how could you be blind, how could you let yourself be placed into positions that allow you to be taken advantage of, how you could believe someone. That mistrusts takes from you when it causes you to pool with ugly sinister guilt. A part of the process of grieving over this loss is over time, realizing it’s not your fault. It has never been, never will be, and never could be your fault. Because trusting someone is not a reason to be taken advantage of. Trusting that you will be taken care of in the hands of someone you trust is never a mistake. The mistake is on the part of those who abuse that.
Losing that trust will render you scared of trusting everyone – everyone who is in charge of the legal system, every adult you might tell your story to, everyone who will ever ask you, “Why didn’t you say anything?”, and everyone who will take the fibres of your being, frayed and repaired over and over again, and try and rip them behind your back. You will grieve and mourn and even as time goes by, it may still hurt from time to time. Like now.