Harassment?

Two weeks ago, I got back from a 5,500 kilometre road trip. It was a lot of fun, at least it was from my point of view.

I live in the middle of Canada, there is a marker on the TransCanada Highway at a point west of me saying Longitudinal Centre of Canada to prove it. I was  planning to take a month and go as far as Vancouver Island on the West Coast.

I’m originally from British Columbia and have family and friends there. It’s a few years since I’ve been back and I had big plans to visit a lot of people, in a lot of places. The places part worked out.

The trip went surprising well, in spite of the fact it is winter in this cold and snowy land. There were a few rough spots along the way but they usually had more to do with wrong turns and trouble finding addresses.

Like in Regina Saskatchewan, the first night. I’d planned to go farther but major highway construction with detours made for confusion and the wasting of some hours. Thank goodness for cell phones and Google maps. My daughter bailed me out and figured out that I’d better go back to Regina for the night. The light of a new day, and a different angle, made all the difference and it was easy to find my way to Calgary Alberta.

I was excited to be stopping in Calgary for a few days, I was going to meet clients in person for the first time. It didn’t turn out quite like I expected but my time there still worked out well and I was looking forward to the return trip when I would spend another work week before heading home.

Armstrong, BC was the first stop on my continued journey. It’s famous for it’s Armstrong cheese, and Highland Grog flavoured coffee – at least in our house.  Roger’s Pass through the Rockies was interesting. I love the mountains in the winter. From there I went south to White Rock, via the Coquahalla Highway. The Coq, as it’s known locally, is a 6 lane highway through high mountains, with a speed limit of 120km. It was an icy trip, but at least it wasn’t the worst I’ve seen.

White Rock is a popular resort town on the ocean, south of Vancouver. It’s small in area but beautiful and fun to visit. Nothing else around it is small though, the growth since I was there last is amazing, the city is closing in.

While there, I also had the opportunity to make an overnight trip to Victoria, BC’s capital, to visit family. And as always, the ferry ride was beautiful, so was the city. If you enjoy travel I hope you will Google these places and see for yourself , you may even be tempted to visit one day.

The highlight of my trip was time spent with family and friends, I loved every moment.

Roger’s Pass is the usual way to get to Alberta so the return trip followed the same route.

While the trip itself was long and challenging, it wasn’t the biggest hurdle I had to face. The bigger hurdle was in the mental/emotional area. And it turned out surprisingly well.

I’ve mentioned before that I have major trust issues when it comes to men.

One of the side effects of my current lifestyle is the near complete lack of interaction with men. There are sightings now and again but not much else. Add to that the magnification of my trust issues caused by truths I’m facing on the journey to wellness and it’s double trouble. So, there were two parts to the angst I was feeling about the nearing end of this wellness journey, and the possible/probable interactions on my trip.

How in the world would I ever become comfortable around men again (since there are none anywhere in my life, except family), and how would it work to be out-and-about if I couldn’t manage it.  Then, the more immediate question – will my triggers make an in-person meeting awkward? We have a comfortable working relationship on the phone but I’m worried about seeing this client of mine in person.

As the days of the trip went on, my confidence grew, and I was ready to be more relaxed about things. I didn’t see Bill (not his real name) until the second week I was there. By now, it seemed like everywhere I went there were male people. It was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool…… and I found I could swim.

Bill was a major player in my second week there, as he arranged the use of one of their empty offices for me. Their office staff was four men and one woman. Out numbered everywhere. It was a comfortable stay and I think we parted with pleasant memories of the week. At least I did anyway. They were very kind.

Back home, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experience and to think about the reasons for the confidence I’ve found.

I think the biggest change in me has been centered around the thought that I had to stop expecting men to change how they treated me. Instead, I needed to decide what I would or wouldn’t allow. The result of this process was a clear set of hard and fast boundaries, in my head, and it has been a freeing experience.

There is so much more that could be said, and maybe should be said, with all the conversation over sexual harassment these days.

For now I will just say this. There are many things we, as women, need to do to keep ourselves safe but the most important thing, I’ve found, is to have set boundaries. It has changed the way I act and react.

Predators are looking for the weak. Boundaries give us confidence, and with confidence we appear strong. When we appear strong, men tend to change direction and back off.

Boundaries have allowed me to lower my protective walls (the ones that keep everyone out) and it feels good.

 

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