Saturday, February 2, 2008
Anniversary of a Rape
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.