Almost exactly one year ago (literally – it was May 24, 2017) I published a hard, raw, potentially controversial post entitled,
I had finished watching the Netflix series for the second time (Ok..maybe it was the third…or fourth?) and felt so, so moved by it.
I could relate so keenly to 13 Reasons Why and its protagonist, including her mixed feelings about humanity and relationships and
Today, Season 2 was released, and I have been waiting for this moment eagerly. And with trepidation. I have so many questions.
Will it be as good as the first season?
Will Alex survive?
Will Bryce get what he deserves? (BTW, I am not sure if his name is spelled correctly, but I cannot look it up to verify right now without risking some major spoiler action, so, for the purposes of this post, it’s BrYce.)
How has the #metoo movement impacted the show?
How have my own #metoo revelations impacted the way I will be able to (or not be able to) watch?
Tonight, I will start Season 2, and I will report back, but, for now, here is the copy from the original post, when I was in a very different place in life, when my world was different than it is today, and when I could relate to Hannah in different ways than I can at this moment in time.
Today, I feel more brave and more determined than I did one year ago. Have I gotten over everything?
My Tape 6/Side B? I wish I could say that I have. I wish I could tell you that it is no longer in my deck. It is. It just makes me want to fight harder. I didn’t deserve that tape, just like Hannah did not deserve that tape, just like Jessica did not deserve that tape, just like…#metoo.
Here it is. My old post. And here are the 13 reasons why I could relate to Hannah Baker.
With mad love, some bravery and lots of hope,
I am a 32-year-old suburban wife & mom of two. I spend my days writing from home (I have a mommy-blog that landed me a book deal), having chai dates with my friends & driving carpool or to Whole Foods or through the drive-through at Wendy’s for a Frosty. And, I can completely relate to Hannah Baker.
I, like the millions of other people who have pressed “play” on Hannah’s first tape in Netflix’s controversial yet wildly popular show “Thirteen Reasons Why”, could not tear myself away from this beautiful, poignant, scary, horrific, brutal, brilliant show. In fact, once I finished watching the series, I immediately started to watch it again from the beginning. Perhaps it was because I was not yet ready to say goodbye to Hannah or Clay; perhaps I wanted to look at things more deeply without the suspense of how the season would shake out; perhaps I wanted to find some closure where I would never be able to. Or, more likely, I wanted to watch the show again because I had found a home in it. There was a place for me in the pain. I wanted to simultaneously shout from the rooftops and curl up into a ball in my bed, but I could not do either, and so I watched.
My high-school years are long behind me. I have stable relationships, a rewarding job, amazing kids and no suicidal ideations, but I found myself being able to relate to Hannah Baker so profoundly (notice that I cannot write “her character” because, for me, she is too real) and here are the thirteen reasons why:
Reason 1: I know what it feels like to be misunderstood and — even worse — mischaracterized. Judged. While I did not face scrutiny and scorn while actually in High School (I was happily ensconced in the group of popular but nice girls that was actually called “The Squad”), I have had to live this as an adult. Reputations are hard to shake, and as a mom with school-aged children, every place feels like a small town. Sometimes, the reputation is for being the mom who gives her kids ice-cream for breakfast; other times it is for wearing pajamas to drop-off; too often it is for much worse things, and, unfortunately as a warm person with an open heart, I have experienced this. Rumors fly, stories are spread, and good intentions are misinterpreted. So while I did not have an unflattering photo taken of me while scooting down a playground slide, I may has well have. But, I’ll get back to that.
Reason 2: Friendship is complicated. While I am supremely lucky to have the amazing friends, I have had to learn the hard way that not everyone is a forever friend. I have been betrayed, dismissed and disappointed by friends whom I once considered to be my family. I may not have had hot chocolate rituals at the local coffee shop, but I have definitely had FML heart-to-hearts which were later used against me. Social media does not help, as it breeds competition and jealousy. Friendship. It’s complicated. Even when you’re an adult.
Reason 3: Remember when I said that I would get back to the whole rumors and reputation thing? Well, here is the hard truth: The Justin Foleys of the world grow up. And many of them become suburban dads leading “lives of quiet desperation”. This “Tape” of mine is too personal to explore further on here, but I get it, Hannah. I get it. Though, for the record, I was never voted “Best Ass”.
Reason 4: I realize that I have chosen to live a lot of my life in public. I write about my family’s deepest, darkest secrets and I share Instagram photos of dance-parties and kale smoothies every day. But it also means that, quite often, people know where I am and what I am doing. I get criticized for things like not having included someone in my plans. My GROWN UP plans. I get judged for my choices (appearance/apparel/snacks). And, unfortunately, I know what it is like to feel like I have to look over my shoulder. I know how terrifying it feels to have no true safe-haven in which to escape. It is a horrible, horrible feeling.
Reason 5: I can absolutely relate to Hannah’s “Courtney Tape”. I have been thrown under the bus several times (see Reasons 1–4). But, so that this is not one giant sob story — because Thirteen Reasons Why is not, either — I am going to say that on my Tape 3 Side A, I can relate to Hannah because I once slow-danced to Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met” with the guy I really like, and it was magical. I’m very lucky to call him my husband.
Reason 6: Being taken advantage of by men? On Valentine’s Day? On a random Tuesday? Check. I wrote about my history of sexual harassment (and more) back in November and that piece explains it much better than I can do here. But I get it and I am happy to tell you more over a milkshake, sometime.
Reason 7: I know what it is like to feel supremely, abjectly lonely, even when in a crowded room. When I had severe postpartum depression, I felt like the pariah; the only one who was feeling sad in the sea of happy, enchanted moms around me. I was supposed to be glowing, and yet I was not. That is a terrible feeling.
Reason 8: I write. I have written blog posts. Poems. Songs. A book. And these have both brought me joy and also caused me pain. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable with song lyrics or a particularly sensitive blog post & while I believe that vulnerability is beautiful, it can also lead to hurt. Like, when I wrote a freelance article about my children getting glasses and was reamed out by angry readers who claimed that I had “no idea what REAL problems are!”
Reason 9: Justin Foleys of the world? Yes, you get a second tape here, too. I have been hurt by men in some serious ways, both physically and emotionally. And yet I have been paralyzed. Like Hannah frozen in the closet, I have been frozen out of fear for my family & safety (see Reason 1). Have I wanted to speak out? Take legal action? Come out of the proverbial closet? Every single day. But I am too scared. Like Hannah watching Jessica’s assault, I have been too scared, as the repercussions seem even more horrifying than the acts. I would be branded for life, so instead, I sit, silently, and I cry.
Reason 10: I have made mistakes. I have taken the wrong ride home.
Reason 11: The Clay Tape. I have fallen deeply in love. I am deeply in love. AND I have suffered from PTSD. This has impacted my relationships. But, like Hannah when she was finally connecting with Clay, my past traumas have cycled through my brain like a horrible, unyielding montage, forcing me to push that love away. But, you guys. The Clay Tape. Clay is one of the good guys. There are not many so if you find one, hold onto him. Do not let him go. And now that we are adults, even if you tell him to, hopefully he will not listen.
Reason 12: This is almost too painful to type. I can relate to Hannah and when I watched the pain in her eyes shift to an eerie nothingness, I felt for her. I have been there. I hope that no woman ever has to feel how that powerless abyss of nothingness feels. My poor, sweet Hannah. This has been the hardest episode for me to re-watch. I have to close my eyes. But I feel her.
Reason 13: I have cried out for help. There have been times, especially at the height of my postpartum depression, when life seemed so bleak and I had lost the will to go on. Thank goodness I had a dedicated network of family members, friends and a treatment team to support me. It is because of this group — my tribe — that I am here today. Do I know what it feels like to want the excruciating pain of life to end? Yes. Is that hard to type? Of course it is. But that is my truth.
Hannah Baker was a beautiful girl with a promising future ahead of her. She was talented, witty, cool and so many things that other girls would love to be, but she could not see it for herself. By taking her life she did NOT get revenge on the people who had harmed her. Rather, she hurt the people she loved most. I am not here to judge her or anyone who loses their battle to mental illness. However, I do want to say that while I can relate to Hannah’s despair, I can also say that now, on the other side of so much pain, I see light. I see hope. I understand Hannah’s choice, but I wish that it had ended differently for her. I wish that she had asked Clay to stay and that he had listened and that they had walked down the school hallway, in their fancy dance clothing, the other students flanking them in awe.
And that is where we are different. I am one of the lucky ones. So while my daily life can seem chaotic or charmed, crazy or comical, chai-filled and, at times, crushing, I know that I am so lucky to be able to live it. It is not that the thirteen reasons I named do not matter. They do and they impact me every single day, just like they did for Hannah. But, for me, I know to ask for help.
So, I implore you to do the same. No matter how bad it seems. No matter how lonely you feel. No matter how much you think that you are alone and no one could possibly ever feel like you do, I am here to tell you that you are NOT alone and that I DO feel like you do. I am a mom and a wife and an advocate and a dance-partier and a sufferer. And if I can do this, so can you. Keep on fighting. I promise, it will be worth it.