Friday, February 29, 2008
To You I Say This, by Sarah Elise
You are the first human being to give me unconditional love. I have never felt loved by anyone until you. Not profoundly adored, never the recipient of empathic love. You are birthing me, and I you, each day, out of pain, into the imago-womb of one another. Good Love does not hurt, and your love is so good. Thank you, my darling heart holder of the moon. Into the wind we swim, our children tucked closely to our bodies. How could we ever let them go? We could not. So we do not. And you, my dear man, I count your breaths against my body, I feel in the air the shape of you, I see your soul which makes the sunlight dance and dazzle.. This is our way. In me you see beauty, in me you see dancing, in me you see sparkling soulfire. You SEE me. I am seen! All that is magnificent in me you mirror, all that is flawed and caged, you love and soothe. This is a first. I have never felt SEEN. Nor have you. The pain we turn not upon each other, for we have risen above that. Transcendent is our understanding of one another. Easy, not always. Of course not. We have had a casting of harrows, a spearing of betrayals layers deep, thrust upon us by the ones inhabiting what was. The past. The now. Thrust upon us by the slithering indifference of those who made us feel invisible. Unwanted, unloved, unworthy, zeroed, castigated, alone, lonesome, shall I go on? We endured, your pain different from mine but not so different. Are we not all alike in these ways? Your smile is mine, my spirit yours, one and whole within that very oneness. And so we go, healing wounds in one another. If we can not feel our own pain, past and present, how can we help another? If we can not face our trauma-seared child-selves, as saturated with horrific fury as that is to do, how can we face one another, eye to eye, brimming ocean to brimming ocean? Without it? That would be the path of Unconsciousness. We can not, and so we do, and that is the difference. Awake to one another, seeing one another, seeking the gleeful child in one another. And so we go, holding hands and holding hearts, hearing words and making love our art. And so we go, the children we created in our unbreakable embrace. The only thing broken in our family is the cycle... the plague of disconnection, the black death of abandonment, the total annihilation of feeling invisible to those who chose to close their eyes to the wonder of the children we were, and still are. For my love, we were not invisible, but others blind. Here, Love is all there is. And so my love, we go.
Sitting Zen counting your breaths,
from the Buddha to the sea,
I try to explain,
this union, this feeling of oneness, this connection with you,
Your stillness resides in me as a cloak of flower petals.
Your eyes are ablaze with hypnotic hues, they follow me,
everywhere, you are there within me, you feed me,
You give me Nourishment for my hungry heart.
Written for my husband.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Finding Angela Shelton
Sarah Elise Stauffer, a mother, writer, and artist., 02/19/2008
Angela Shelton traveled across the US in search of women who shared her name. Her idea was to survey these women and get an idea of how each one was progressing in life. The unexpected began, and she discovered that 70 percent of them had been raped, beaten or molested. A survivor of childhood incest, physical abuse, and date rape herself, she knew in her soul that she was touching the surface of something huge. She made her documentary, Searching For Angela Shelton, and even confronted her father on Father's Day. This book chronicles her amazing and insightful journey into the belly of the beast. She breaks her own silence and helps others do the same. Sometimes harrowing, sometimes funny, and always poignant, Angela Shelton searches for and ultimately finds what she needs to find to heal and live a joyful life. Her book will help anyone who reads it do the same.
Also recommended: Come Back, Mia and Claire Fontaine Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold Lucky, Alice Sebold
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Magnet Affirmations handmade, make them, your own creation healing your own self
Make Affirmation cards, use collage images and pictures of yourself, and words like "I choose"
When holding your inner child, find a picture of yourself at the age you feel you need nurturing. Hold that picture to your heart. Hold yourself that way.
Write letters to your abuser and the entourage of enablers.
Curse, threaten, release rage upon. Relish this. Send it, or don’t. I have written several since the last one I sent in 2004. I cut ties then, so I have not actually sent them, sometimes I save them, other times I burn them.
Breathe in your fears and anger and grief, then breathe out love, peace, and joy.
Make a vision board
I am safe now.
I am sane.
I am able to relax.
I choose to soothe myself.
I am free.
I am creative.
I am passionate.
I am beautiful.
I am healthy.
I am fit.
I am capable.
I feel normal.
I feel compassion.
I feel love.
I break the cycle of abuse in my life.
My life is mine.
Swing at the park. Ask your inner child to come out and play. Slide. Hang upside down on the monkey bars.
Open your windows and let nature infuse your home.
Even if you consciously want to heal, and are engaging in that process, ask yourself with some consistency, “Do I Feel I Deserve to Heal Deep in my Heart?” You’ll be surprised at how that little one within might feel. Many times I heard a big “NO”
Write poetry when you are in a panic
This terror, this insane asylum heart, this terrified sadness.
This soul weeping, a willow bent over a lake, breaking.
This panic stricken grief, hot and torn.
I hate being in this place.
Obsessing, a waste of time, but an odd relief.
I’m beating myself up, down, all around, barricading myself.
I’m following my parents fine example, How to Kill Your Own Heart.
Somehow it keeps me connected to them, when I judge myself, when I hurt myself, when I fuck myself.
That’s when I feel connection to mother, to father, those rathole phantoms.
It all must stop.
The Girl Loves herself,
Knows and Keeps learning how to access that love.
Loved, Loving, and Loveable.
We lie to make up for the truths we can not face yet. Dream of mine, 2004
We dare not devote ourselves to welcoming rivers of joy, (and many times without drugs inducing this pseudo joyous state.) We dare not choose joy. I wonder if we even know what the word JOY means. Joy is defined as :
c. To take great pleasure; rejoice.
We are vessels, we can fill ourselves with the fresh waters of joy, or be apathetic and leave room for pain and suffering that will overstay it’s welcome if we let it.
What is the difference in Joy and happiness? We can feel joy and not be able to manifest it. We need to feel and manifest it in our daily lives. It is not reserved for some future event. What else do we have if not our days? This is our time. Now.
Joy is more than happiness. Joy exists on an astral plane above happiness. Joy is the ocean feeding the rivers. Joy is transcendent. Joy is not grandiose.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are in adequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. Actually, who are you Not to be? You are a child of God.”
I can hear the negative people now, discounting this because they have been brainwashed to believe it is egocentric to think this way.
When we feel trauma and sadness, we need to pay attention, get inside that pain and heal it as a path in our lives. Balance is the key.
“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong…why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom.”
I have been afraid to stop focusing on my faults. I have been afraid to stop. If I stop, what if I let one thing go and I am suddenly swallowed up by my wickedness? Where does this come from? Abuse, religious brainwashing, perfectionism. It’s ok, we are not produce, taking a break and focusing on our strengths will not lead to us rotting.
We can work on ourselves without focusing too much on how much fixing we need. There is an undercurrent when a woman expresses true confidence and joy. She is arrogant, conceited, grandiose. It is no wonder we are starving for joy. We are searching like lost children, in relationships, in religion, in food, in drugs, not a coincidentally that many of the younger generations have tired to ECSTASY to experience this. Our searching can lead us to dangerous places, in the barren wasteland of drugs, empty dogma, denigrating un-reciprocal relationships. Mothers need to reciprocate in their relationships with their children. Children deserve this. It enrages me that I even have to say this, but I do because I know my own mother. It is not ok to make promises that you won’t keep, to not show up for a visit, even when she is an adult, to be an absent adult parent and an absent grandparent.
Create space for joy. There is room in you. Open your mind, and your heart to joy. Create a welcoming space for joy. Start in your home if it is hard to access internally. Make a vision board about joy, a collage. Find images that resonate and make something artful, hang it up. Joy is healing, it heals and it is healing. It is about freedom, the freedom to feel, to be yourself, you be anything, to BE. Just BE.
We deserve joy, we have suffered enough, our children have suffered for the sins of their parents, for abusers, for the pain of something that is not theirs to own. We need to look within and heal. Our relationships are suffering, we are projecting pain from the past onto our partners. The earth is suffering. Animals suffer. Enough.
But joy can not be fully felt when we can not and have not fully felt our suffering, our losses, our grief. Again, depression gets pathologized and many people end up repressing their pain even more because to be ‘depressed’ is considered weak and taboo. Sometimes we just need to give our love to depression. Depression is repression. Maybe we need to sit and feel it.
“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” Henry Miller
Welcome joy, feel the fear and welcome her anyway. That tidal wave we fear may be exactly what we need.
“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit. Helen Keller
I hope I am opening a new heaven to human beings who have suffered from sexual abuse. I want my relationship and mothering to do this for others. If we dare embrace our right to a joyous life, if we dare speak our truth in any form, we risk devaluation. My uncle called me an eccentric weirdo. He chose not to see my creativity growing up. When I was old enough, he became threatened by it. The fact that I ate organic really pissed him off, and he dismissed my newfound union with my soul as “back to nature stuff..” The underlying threat of violence in his tone threw me for a loop. I sensed what was coming. Martin [Luther King Jr.] attempted to define violence as the language of the unheard. I heard the unheard, I realized this incest stuff was infecting everyone unconsciously in that family, the perfect uncle was turning from me, and i could see in his silhouette colors of truth.
We have absorbed spiritual pessimism long enough, let’s attune to the beatific. Let’s own it.
“And the say came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” Anais Nin
This is exactly why I spoke out. No matter how betrayed I have been by my “family”, and I have been, by every family member linked to me by original blood, I dared speak, fight, live. It hurt worse to be stifled, quite, complicit.
The truth of our abuse. The abuse that was dumped on us, it is not actually OURS.
Calling the rape what it was, rape, to my grandmother was an abomination! Oh she recoiled in horror that I would dare use the word! “Rape?! How can you say that??” I once wrote Pops a letter and said “I know we have had our differences(amazing how I am apologizing for his violence!!), but I love you. I am sorry your son raped me.” She lit up on me like the 4th of July. “How dare you say that to your grandfather, ‘I’m sorry your son raped me? What a horrible thing to say!!”
"Oh please, what a horrible thing to DO!!"
And so it went, just like always.
What enrages and flabbergasts me is that out of 6 adults, I was the ONLY one who was sorry that I was raped. The only one. The next person in my life who was truly profoundly enraged, sorrowful, and hell-bent on validating my very soul was my husband.
The worst has happened. If we let it be that is. What we do to ourselves is often nearly as bad as the original trauma. That child was abused, neglected, manipulated, beaten, raped, slapped, starved, silenced, or any combination of those. There are people in this world who are willing to transcend their own denial and stand with you. I say speak your truth. People may not agree. You’ll be told to forgive and forget, you’ll be advised against anger. People may surprise you and validate you, which is amazing. Most times, people want you to shut up so they don’t have to think about the reality of what you are talking about.
This is why we have to fight for ourselves. Monsters fester in the darkness of secret-keeping. This includes secrets we keep from ourselves. Fight for the child you were, just as you would fight for any child. We do not have to listen to the voices of those who stand looking, ready to plow us down with their self serving negativity and denial.
Actually, we can reap great joy from devastating pain. Beauty can emerge. She wants too. We have to allow her too. You are already a survivor, now you can thrive. You can flourish and blossom. Do it, effloresce, germinate. Do not shrivel or wither for anyone. When you are knocked down or when you knock yourself down, get back up. You can be a warrior. You already are. Open to your innate luminosity. You can ride the moon across the diamond stars: you can slay the demon, for you have withstood the storm.
“The winds of grace are always blowing, but it is you that must raise your sails.” Rabindarath Tagore
I used to wince at the concept that I had any control,. But it is ok to not be able to feel completely empowered right away. It takes time. Do what you can, when you can. Control, true empowerment are two different things.
To do this healing, we must renovate our inner garden. We must propagate new beliefs and thoughts in our inner earth. Now we must beckon the pure moments, they need fertile loving. Our garden of joy is waiting.
No matter how dark or mangled your sense of self has become, you were once a child, and that child lives on inside of you. Bring her/him to the light and show her the path to the flower fields.
“From obscurity came forth a light and illumined my path” Kahlil Gibran
Call her name, lay her among the healings waters. No one can do it for us, though they can help us. Look for inspiration. At best, people can inspire us to be better ourselves. If you find fulfillment and healing in external places, use them by all means. When it all comes down, no one can do the work for us. Buddha can not make us go to therapy, Jesus can not make us quit drinking and start talking about what daddy did to us instead. That’s our job.
We all have truth, a personal truth, like a personal mission in life. Caroline Myss calls these our sacred contracts. We have more than one truth. The first basic truth I had to face within myself was that in my childhood, I was a victim of incest, a victim of rape, sexually abuse from three until 10 years old. I have had to face clearly, my ‘family’, my original family betrayed me. They tried to silence me and did for many years. They made excuses for their inaction, their denial. They made excuses for my father. The women in the family fought each other instead of banding together against the man who abused me. Women will squabble over pseudo issues for eternity before they will look the patriarch in the face and say, ”Hey, wait one god damn minute!” If the patriarch was not an abuser, but is unwilling to get engaged and connected to the process of healing and therapy, he is condoning it on some level. That’s the truth. Men gotta stand up and realize being a man is about connection, not disconnection. Whether WO-Man or Man, Hu-Man is the same. I know this is rampant in incest family systems. Incest family systems are akin to alcholic family systems. For me, I was told to “just be happy”, “don’t be so super-sensitive”, “Don’t be so overly-emotional”. The most common thing I was told, from the age of 7, after I first disclosed to my grandmother, was “not to dwell on the past.” The past? It’s still happening! And even after it stopped, after I was raped, how can we not dwell on something like that? How is that dwelling? Under rug swept.
I was told to “stop feeling sorry for myself” all the time. That was painful. Excuses for my father were,”it was the drugs.” I was being groomed for a state of total denial. They wanted to trivialize the enormity of what happened, and save face. To save their faces, not mine. Any threat to tell was met with,”She’s going to ruin us!!” But I knew better. I believe we all do. We do.
“The only reason we do not open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that wer look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.” Pema chodron
We are mirrors. People see reflections of their possible selves in us. They see who they are, who they could be. This may terrify them, however subconscious. “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul.” Carl Jung
Friday, February 8, 2008
"Therefore, Ananda, be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge to yourself. Take yourself to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth as a lamp; hold fast to the Truth as a refuge. Look not for a refuge in anyone beside yourself. And those, Ananda, who either now or after I am dead shall be a lamp unto themselves, who take themselves to no external refuge, but holding fast to the Truth as their lamp, and holding fast to the Truth as their refuge, shall not look for refuge to anyone beside themselves, it is they who shall reach the highest goal."
-- Mahaparinibbana Sutta
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Recovering our sensual side, our sensual selfhood.
Put on make up slowly, while listening to My Funny Valentine, by Chet Baker.
Applying lipstick to this lilting groove is so very sensual. Notice if you get chills. Savor them.
Treat yourself to nice things. There is a huge difference between 'materialism' and the desire to surround oneself with things that make you feel whole, creative, and authentically you. Not everything has to be expensive! Do what you can to treat yourself exactly how you have been dreaming a man (or woman) would. Do it for yourself. Make yourself those love mixes on your ipod. This is not narcissism, so anyone who tells you that you are feeding your ego is in pain and dissociated from what true self esteem is and how to nurture it. They were probably abused, and are brainwashed. Not your problem. They say grandiose, we say just plain GRAND!
Adorning oneself with beautiful jewelry, luxurious lingerie, pretty peasant tops made from silk, these are all ways to feel inspired, sensual, and self loving. The more we can love ourselves the more we can love others, and the more we love others, the more we learn to love ourselves. One theory is that the ego sees any love directed at another as love directed toward the self. In this way, you can learn to love by loving others. But that's only one idea about how to love ourselves. The other thing to be cognizant of is that we can only love others to the extent we love ourselves. Love that is fraught with desperate attachment, expectations, and illusions is not really love at all. I've heard it all when it comes to people who are squashing your newfound and hard earned sense of self love and nurturing. For eons folks have been threatened by powerful and sensual women. Make this a mantra:
by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees.
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Reclaim SEX. We were used for sex, through sex, by our abuser(s). In our lives now, we must discern the difference. Sex that we CHOOSE, sex that is honoring, loving, healthy and fun, that is our new definition of Sex. We have to redefine sex for us now. Abusers steal our blossoming. But it never goes away. It is eternal within us and therefore I believe we can access it when we heal.
Healthy sex is a respectful thing, if a lover is treating us with disrespect, only caring about their needs, or demeaning us through sexual acts we are not ok with, or only caring about their needs, pleasure, and wants, that is not "honoring" sex. (Now, I'm not saying sex is only for ecstatic Rumi reciting lovers. Please! I know what it's like to be a single girl. Have fun, but be safe. Trust me, orgasms are much better when your partner honors and respects you. Sex encompasses so much more than just orgasms however.) It's really about union. It's about sharing your precious life energy, your essence with another. You must choose wisely. You are not here to service anyone. If we have abuse history, we may even think the sex we get is great, fabulous, wonderful, and we settle for it because we do not know any better. We were objectified. No one who is sexually abusing you is seeing you as a human being, but rather as an object. they do not see your fear, pain, and suffering. I remember this in myself. A guy I thought I loved and our sex life-good grief. The things I put up with, never speaking up when it hurt, when he was doing it too hard, when I didn't want to have sex but did because he would get angry and accuse me of cheating. We go auto-pilot and regress into that abused child who truly can NOT say no to Daddy, Uncle Billy, whoever.
Guess what: Sometimes, NOT saying NO when Daddy is raping us is the smartest thing to do. We are primal, we are surviving. If we say no, he may kill us. We deserve a medal for this!!
After laying under my own father, unable to protect myself, swallowing the shame, the terror back into myself, how could I know later that I had a right to myself? How many women lay there, waiting to be pleased? Yet they say nothing, they may not know it is there right to say anything, day after day, in a kind of slave mentality. NEWSFLASH: SEX is for us too! Hello?! Sex is natural, it's fun, it's beautiful, and it is for us! We deserve a delicious experience, a succulent sexual life. Absolutely. Men need to open us emotionally more. A lot more. Men need a lot of work and healing. Women do so much work, we are always fixing ourselves, going to extremes to be attractive for men, and for ourselves because we are our own worst judge. So many of us have bought the bullshit, we have introjected the patriarchal, male-centered paradigm dictating what we should be to be 'feminine'. We fight each other to gain the attention of men. We are divided by the church within ourselves, we are divining ourselves through fighting over men.
Let's talk about religion a bit: The traditional religions of the world have stolen a woman's right to be sexual. The church says that we can not be both spiritual and sexaul, seperating sex from spirit. They are dissociating us! Don't buy into that. I'm not here to bash anyone, I am talking about the system, the church as an institution which has been used for thousands of years to control women because they are afraid of us. Sex is something we need to be careful with, absolutely. Using it in a nonharmful way. There are emotions to consider, and diseases. And pregnancies we may or may not want. But back to the church and society, there are all of these images and media and cultural things that say that women are here for men. I vehemently disagree. There are many great books about the roles of women throughout histroy, and how the church has given the Goddess a bad name, vilifying anything woman-centric. This trickles down into our bedrooms and relationships. (One book if you are intereted is : WHEN GOD WAS A WOMAN by Merlin Stone). Enough about the role of the church, that's a whole other book-length post!!
Even in the most loving of relationships, I know that we may feel like we have to go on through with sex when we don't want too. Quite frankly, many men get very upset when they feel they are being rejected. Another NEWSFLASH: Men do not have to be hyper sexual all the time to be men!! Again, we must redefine what being a man is about. In my relationship with my husband, not once has he ever in any way been upset, angry, or pouts if I am not in the mood. This confident reaction on his part is a big turn on! So giving one another the space to feel what you feel as you work on yourselves together creates space for sexual energy!! It does not threaten his masculinity. When I was experiencing many symptoms of flashbacks, panic, body tremors, and all the things that happened to be after I began truly facing the sexual abuse I experienced, he was amazing. I'll write more about this later, the actual things we did to nurture the process of healing my sexuality, or rather, rediscover that healthy, vibrant and sumptuous sexuality that was awaiting me inside myself. I realize I am lucky. At the same time I wan to stress that I made a conscious choice to be with him, and I stepped into another way of living. I went against the pattern, and I was consciously aware I was doing it. It scared the shit outta me! My unhealthy side was very upset. True intimacy scared the hell out of me. My sexual abuse manifested in me as a hyper sexual wild girl. I wanted to be as fantastic at sex as possible. (Like it's a sport! ha!) I wanted to give the best, most mind blowing blow jobs(again, pleasing the man), I wanted to be a sexually crazy and wild as possible. I had no boundaries around my body, or in my mind. I used drugs and then felt sexually powerful. ecstasy, Roofies, acid, mescaline, pills. I had no idea that real sexual power lies in a soulful place of true union with a partner, it is spiritual, it is completely uninhibited, and accessible without drugs. I could not look into the eyes of a person I was sexual with for long. I had to turn away and perform!! How many people have true intimacy? Can you look at your partner in the eyes and show yourself, your naked soul? A naked soul is more intimate than a naked body could ever be. Back to the sexual power I craved, that was the manifestation of my role models: my mother who was a promiscuous singer in a band with no boundaries, and a father who raped me. I was speaking through my actions. It was my language, of pain. There was a myriad of things to do to have sex and still not have intimacy. This manifested at my lowest point as taking painkillers and engaging in abusive sex, masochism. I would go into work with bruises all over me, like I was proud of them. It went on for awhile until something very bad happened to make me SEE what I was doing. (drugging myself for sex, just like my dad drugged me) I slept with people who were more than willing to engage in these kinds of sex. I'll go into it more in my book, but this is the way I began expressing my self contempt. only I did not know it was myself I held contempt for. I was unaware of my self disrespect. I just smoked 2 packs a day, took drugs, threw my sexuality around carelessly, and got myself into some very dangerous situations.
Healing is possible, I grew to look at myself and my sexuality as sacred and precious, and I yearned to rediscover my inner healthiness. Some of this was very sudden, as if a veil had been torn from my eyes. Some slower. I decided to be ready to accept my goodness. Be ready to accept your worth. Be ready to prove mama, daddy, uncle whoever wrong. rebel against what was instilled in you! Don't rebel by hurting yourself, that's what your family or abuser did. True rebellion is not doing the same that was done to do. Love yourself, that's where the true, empowered rebellion is!
I knew I had to make a conscious choice in a partner, and that's what I did. I removed everyone from my life that was unhealthy. Guess what? Most of them did not want me to choose Troy!! Of course!! My husband saw me as I could not yet see myself. He saw my healthy self, and he reflected to me through words, actions, and those beautiful silent gazes my inner sense of love for myself. There are men and women in the world who can be that mirror. We just have to decide what reflection we are looking for. If I can do it, if I did it, so can anyone. Blessings to all. Love, Sarah
Saturday, February 2, 2008
As I watered my lavender plant yesterday, it occured to me: I will be 30 years old next year. Holy you-know-what, Batman! Musings begin swirling away, I think of all the fantastic things I have seen and experienced in almost 30 years on this planet. Lucky for me, I grew up surrounded by horses and dogs. I met and married my soul mate at 20. We made two gorgeous babies together. We have traveled, uncovered one another’s passions and dreams, and discovered a depth of emotion and spirit together and as individuals I can hardly verbalize. I have created beautiful art; paintings, collages, cards. The ultimate for me, for us, is the artful creation of blessed togetherness: a healthy family. This family is a far cry from my early experience.
This February is the 19 year anniversary of the rape I survived. I was 10 years old when I was kidnapped, taken to a motel in New Orleans, and raped in every way one can be, for three days. I was already being abused by my father, my rapist, since age 3. This was the culmination of his sexual and emotional abuse of me, his only daughter. As I ponder, I think to myself, What drove me internally to not only survive, but want to thrive? What moved me toward that thriving after such trauma? I inhale the scent of my pretty lavender plant, I realize I am just beginning to answer that.
After a person is traumatized at a particular time, the fallout tends to rain heaviest on that day from then on, therefore it is known as an “anniversary reaction”. In other words, anniversary reactions are a re-triggering or re-experiencing of a traumatic event that occurs because of a time cue. We tend to be “triggered’ automatically on these days. A trigger can be anything from a smell, to the time cue being the date of the event, the texture of the carpet you happen to be walking on, or the weather. Thriving can seem impossible during these storms. I have had many issues to contend with, anxiety, post traumatic stress, panic, what I say to myself in my head.
What amazes me most as I write this is that the further away from this experience I get time wise, the more I am able to comprehend the horror of it, and the more magnified my thriving becomes. There is something about a bigger and bigger chunk of time in the space between me and the rape that enables me to look directly at it. To feel more fully than ever the horror at a safe distance of 19 years away is very healing. It is as if the distance propagates a more (w)holistic viewpoint. Wholeness is my journey, my destination, and my purpose. Something within me has always known wholeness. Something within me recognized wholeness early on, that is why I believe I was able to see it in and feel it to begin with. I recognized it because it was already in me. Continuing to create a whole, soulful, healthy marriage and family is essential to me.
My father told me he loved me all the time, I think he believes he does. For years I searched through the ashes of his actions for some sliver of love. I made excuses for him, I felt sorry for him, I longed for him. What I longed for was an illusion, for he would have to be a completely different individual to be what I longed for. I learned that based on truth, love can not exist within rape. My father and his “love” are myths, myths I chased for many years. Myths that helped me survive childhood without going insane from grief, myths that led me into abusive relationships and adolescent drug use. I thought love was possession, that I needed to be possessed, owned, that love was vehemently staking claim unto me. All things my father did. I clung to those myths all the while knowing my heart of hearts they were not real.
Deep in my consciousness I knew, I could not be fooled, the truth was rooted too deeply, this was not love! Aristotelian philosophy has a word for this vital force that was directing me toward self-fulfillment, self love, actualization of my divine potential; entelechy. Entelechy is a particular type of motivation, a need for self-determination, and an inner strength directing life and growth to become all one is capable of being. It is the need to actualize one's beliefs. It is having a personal vision and being able to actualize that vision from within.
Jean Houston wrote:
"Entelechy is all about the possibilities encoded in each of us. For example it is the entelechy of an acorn to be an oak tree, of a baby to be a grown-up, of a popcorn kernel to be a fully popped entity, and of you and me to be God only knows what…" [Jean Houston, THE HERO AND THE GODDESS: THE ODYSSEY AS MYSTERY AND INITIATION, Ballantine Books, 1992, p. 62.]
Incest and rape made me think I surely had no future in this world, in my body, in my self. Yet, there was a tiny seedling I held in my heart. A spark lived even as my father raped me, and it was one of wanting, a vision of a vibrant future, filled with laughing children, stars and color, hearts that loved, hearts that mended, safe hands. This propelled me along fiercely, I never let it go. I came close a few times, but I did not let go. No matter what he took from me, what my mind and spirit held he could never take.
I am still healing, unfolding, dilating, birthing myself into wholeness. It is a process. He did what he did for years, culminating in this act of ultimate violence and betrayal, yet all the while I held on to my visions; bluebirds atop picket fences, mother and father in love, children who knew in the depths of their being that Mommy and Daddy are in love not only with them, but with one another. Children nurtured profoundly, and ferociously protected as a natural extension of our bond.
In this month of love, I may have a rape anniversary reaction, or a few, but I know what I know. I see what happened to me, not as if it were happening to someone else, but me, a child. A little girl biting a red stuffed worm bent over a bed in a dirty motel. It is real. It happened. That was me. That IS me. I also know that a father can not rape his daughter and love her too. He could not steal my entelechy, my innate light.
The day I saw my future husband, that divine spark lit up in total recognition, it was as if we both saw into a mirror for the first time, “Oh my God, I look into you, and you reflect to me my beauty and you look into me and I show you your own.” It was magnetic, it was absolute. It was visionary. Mere potential becoming actuality. It was the first time my healthy self took over completely. Day by day, we actualize more love, the ever beautiful unfolding of human love. That is the path love, reflecting a person’s true divine potential and loving them into actualizing it. In spite of being raped, the prevailing theme at this time is this divine love. If that isn't worth celebrating, I don't know what is.