Archive for the ‘Truth Telling’ Category

On Losing My Mind and Losing Robin

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Mary DugganBy Mary Duggan

Robin William’s death from suicide was announced the morning following my big brain meltdown. One of the dearest hearts and most amazing brains had come undone and the loss left me shaking my fist at the talking heads and the grieving friends and colleagues. It is not, I raged, that suicide needs to be viewed with compassion because it is an expression of mental illness. It is because, I screamed to my tiny little forum of two sisters, it is the final and fatal expression of a sick brain improperly treated by a medical community that just doesn’t get it. It is a brain disease – not a mental illness – and it will continue until we move beyond the psychotropic inadequacies of the pharmaceutical industry and re-connect our brains to our bodies and feed them. (more…)

Remember, Write, Release

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

by Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

The blogging police always recommend a limit of 700, or so, words. A few weeks back I sat down to capture a simple story – intending it to be part-three of a triptych of stories about me, mom and baby sitting – the formative endeavors and experiences of my entrepreneurial youth. I knew I would be hard-pressed to come in anywhere near 700. I never ever come close. But I never expected some 10,000 words!

A simple story that I had long wanted to share proved to be a little richer and more finely layered than I ever imagined. Door upon door opened. Windows were thrown wide with gauzy curtains flapping and gathering dirt and dust. I awoke each morning exhausted from the memories streaming and screaming all night long. Everywhere I turned there was a drawer opening itself in front of me, doink-ing me in the shin and demanding to be sorted through. I spent days in my pajamas, oblivious to the come outside and play summer finally unfolding around me. What is happening here, I implored my sister as she plowed through a first draft of 3,000 words? I am not sure this story will be of interest to anyone. It’s too simple. No one will care. I care, she said, because she is an extraordinary sister. Forget the word count, just tell the story.

mary freshman longwd

I remember 14-year old me.

And so I followed the crumbs. Some 10,000 words later I experienced a fatigue so profound that I could feel my brain shutting down for repairs. And again a reminder from my sisters. This cleanse we are pursuing so diligently this summer is not just the release of physical toxins. It must be a spiritual and emotional cleanse, as well. I am still not sure about the long and leisurely telling of this story.  But it has gotten itself told. As stories are so often prone to do. Fingers crossed that it gets itself read, as well.

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About the author: Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

We Broke The Rape Rule: After Words

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

I assault you. It is violent and criminal. But you remain silent. You do this to protect your family and possibly yourself. But you only really protect me – the rapist. This is the rape rule.

Breaking the rules with a blog post last week was difficult for us as a family. But we were shown nothing but kindness and respect in return. It proved to be an exhausting but healing experience. Our post hardly went viral; but it had strong legs and our message was carried all over the world. Many responded publicly on the blog. We managed extensive comments on four separate Facebook pages. Followers of our Twitter account graciously and widely retweeted. Clare pushed and promoted and pushed some more.  Readers wrote e-mails; some from as far away as Italy and France and New Zealand while one came from our next door neighbor. Others had memories and feelings and thoughts still so painful after many years that they chose to share them privately via Inbox.

It is behind us now. What will never be fully behind us is the rape. Because it altered our family in ways from which it never recovered.

Rape takes place within familiar systems: the military, collegiate athletics, churches, schools – we all know the tragic and harrowing stories. We know how the systems failed to protect the children, the soldiers, the athletes –  how they mainly protected the rapists. But the overarching system that has taken the biggest hit of all is the family system. It is hard for families to recover from rape. Perhaps the finest book on rape and the family is the masterpiece novel by Joyce Carol Oates entitled “We Were the Mulvaneys.” It broke my heart to read it years ago, because I know the story too well. Because we were the Duggans.

Whether you have been raped by a priest, a coach, a commanding officer, your boyfriend, or a stranger, your first and often only recourse lies with your family. Tragically so many women who are raped come from family situations that are too broken to know how to respond, too dysfunctional to be able to respond or too overwhelmed to do anything that is effective. Ours was a truly decent family – full of children with lots of amazing attributes and abilities but lacking finally a father. After some thirty years of marriage and eleven children he left – forever – and nothing was ever the same. Nothing was ever fully okay again. How could anyone expect it to be when at the helm was one extraordinary, heartbroken, exhausted, fierce, proud, overworked and overwhelmed woman? A woman with an ingrained sense of shame so enormous that it often overshadowed many of her better instincts about justice and fairness and love.

Shame is not always wrong. It is often appropriate. Rapists should be ashamed of themselves but never are. Victims are always ashamed of themselves and should never be. These roles need to be reversed. The various systems within which we live need to address this topsy-turvy morality rigorously. And it needs to be addressed within the most elemental and essential system of them all – the family.

There is no place for shame or blame for rape victims; for healing to begin they must be heard and trusted completely. The very occasional and aberrant pathological liar crying wolf can not be allowed to diminish the stories of the real victims. Vigilante family members only further traumatize the rape victim – as do outdated police and court procedures. Rape victims must have guarantees that their wishes will be honored. They have to be afforded time and a place to heal. And they have to own their stories forever.

Recovery for so many rape victims means the story just goes away. Families are called upon to never speak of it again. It is just too painful, too ugly, too awful. I can understand this. We, as sisters, rarely speak of Annie’s rape. And then only because we have to. But I want to make sure that before the veil of silence is drawn a just ending has been guaranteed. That desire is what triggered our intense desire for Julian Fellowes to write a just resolution to a rape story line playing out in a manor house in Edwardian England. The rape at Downton Abbey was a rape at work; a workplace that is also the home of a family. And so two systems intersect: home and work; family and employer. Which will prevail? Will either prevail?

My sister Annie is proof that happy endings can and do occur. It was not her fault; but the system failed her miserably. And so we focus now on her present. We love the parts of her that survivorship has created. She knows how to take charge when the situation merits. She is vigilant about protecting children. She has courageously stood up to another rapist when a child’s life was in the balance. She has eyes in the back of her head and impeccable instincts about creeps and losers and predators. She is nobody’s fool and a ferocious advocate for anyone  being taken advantage of or being misrepresented or worse. At the absolute darkest moment in my life she defended me and paid the most unimaginable price for doing so.

Annie laughs when we call her “Officer Ann” because she knows it comes from us loving her keen and watchful eye on the boogie men in our midst. I think it is because her rage has been allowed and her story honored that she is able to be so incredibly loving, so hysterically funny, so bold and so brave and so kind. Despite it all, she has managed to write a wonderful story for her life. She is writing it still and joyfully so.

Annie and Mary. Bad ass in the Badlands, June, 1993.

Annie and Mary. Bad ass in the Badlands, June, 1993.

 

About the author:

Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.

Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

 

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A Rape at Downton Abbey

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Mary Dugganby Mary Duggan

I read a discouraging post on Facebook recently. I was a “bystander” to a conversation between two friends. One of the two wrote that she had not been watching Downton Abbey since the episode depicting the rape of Anna Bates. She found it to be just too intense, too ugly for her tastes or something to that effect. Her comments filled me with rage. I wondered, who among us gets to be too sensitive to witness the very real and tragically common crime of rape?

I am a HUGE fan of Downton Abbey and I applaud the show’s creators for including this crime in their story line. I can’t wait to see how they handle it. I am holding my breath and praying they handle it better than our family did when my dear sister, Annie, was raped as a young woman. So far the wisdom and compassion the wonderful Mrs. Hughes is showing gives me great hope that I will not be left frustrated and angry. I hope that Julian Fellowes writes a story with a better outcome for his Anna than was written for our Annie. (more…)