I am Going to Write Something True.

secret chapter

Let me first clear the air about the title of this piece. Me sitting down and saying I am going to write something true does not mean that everything I have written before this post was false. Tonight I felt the familiar tug to write and when I sat down to start this is the title that flashed across my mind. In that moment I knew it was time. I am ready to be seen in a truth I have not shared.

In this post I am going to share a chapter of my story I have never read out loud before. I have held this pain, I rescued this piece of myself many many moons ago, and now I am ready to share this small piece of a guarded part of my soul.

When I was 23, almost exactly this time of year 10 years ago I was raped.

I was raped by a friend. I did not call it rape, I called it complicated.

Complicated in that I blamed myself, complicated in that I knew him personally so who would believe me?, complicated in that when I told one of my best friends the very next day she also blamed me and minimized it – you should have known better, you know how he is.

He was excused and I was blamed. I never spoke of it again. I threw away my ripped shirt and bra, I made peace with the fact that I was never getting that missing earring back, and put healing ointment on my ripped ear that the earring had been torn from.

I got tested a month later and every month after that for 6 months to ensure my body was safe from what happened. He used a condom but still, this felt like the one way I could control something when everything else that had happened that night made me feel powerless.

By 23 I was so skilled at disconnecting from my body in times of trauma that it did not take me long to adjust and “get back to normal” as if nothing ever happened.

As if nothing ever happened is the lie I have been telling myself since childhood, I knew how to play this game.

I don’t know what my feelings are towards him. He shared his darkness with me that night, AND I know he is more than just that moment, he is more than just that darkness. AND I do not ever have to be okay with it.

I can know all of this AND I am not obligated to forgive and forget. My healing does not depend on my forgiving him or forgetting anything. My healing does not depend on him at all. My healing happened when I finally went back to that moment and rescued that girl who I abandoned that night when I was scared and in pain. It happened when I allowed myself to finally hold the pain, and shame, and fear, and rage I had spent a decade ignoring.

I am one of countless women who have experienced sexual trauma. We each narrate and make sense of our story and experience in different ways. This is the first time I am sharing this piece of myself so openly and while I am not sitting in shame about allowing myself to be seen in such a raw form, writing it and this sharing feels clunky.

Many of our stories we tell so often that they have a natural flow and ease rolling off the tongue or falling from our finger tips. My truth is: trauma stories rarely do. They feel clunky and misshapen, sometimes uneven and without that flow. I believe that is because these are our unspoken truths, we have never given these experiences words so when we finally try I think it takes time to find the words that fit, and sometimes there just aren’t any words for experiences – that is okay too.

This is my raw, unfiltered truth:

I was raped by a man who I know now was never my friend. I was shamed into silence by myself and (knowingly or unknowingly) by my friend. It may have taken me a decade but I went back for myself and I saved that girl. I took that shame and like an alchemist transformed into love. Nothing that I have ever done or that has ever been done to me in this life has made me unlovable. I am love.

 

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Nelsonian Knowledge

I am alternating between two books right now, both from the little free library near my home. Both Sides Now was my book of choice last night mainly because I accidentally left my other book in the car and I was not in the mood to go retrieve it in my nightgown.

Both Sides Now is an enthralling read, it is the kind of book that makes you lose time because you are so in it, AND it is intensely anxiety producing for me. Last night I could feel the palpitations wanting to start, my levels of panic rising with each mini chapter I would complete.

It is a memoir that details the intimate moments of excruciating loss. Loss on a level that most of us hope and pray never to experience. Loss that we do not want to even recognize can exist because then we have to see a truth no one wants to face: if it could happen to them , to could happen to me.

This morning I woke up thinking about how I do it, the thing we all do. I sit secure in the knowledge that I am going to live to see the end of this day, that everyone I love is going to live to see the end of this day. That my health will be with me for years and years and years to come because I am only 33 and have my whole life ahead of me.

I do know better.

I have worked with individuals and families that had their lives uprooted by a new reality when death and illness came to their doorstep in unexpected ways. I have been of the front lines of a cancer diagnosis, I have been in the fox hole with the families and individuals during certain aspects of treatment, I have co-facilitated caregiver support groups for other terminal illnesses, I have experienced the fallout – sat in the emotional aftermath of loss with family members and loved ones.

I have also experienced much of this first hand in my own life with family and friends.

So I do know better.

I know better because I have sat in the hospital room with my 20 something year old family member who was about to undergo treatment when just a few days before the news came that the cancer was back. I know better because I carry the stories of a close friend who lost all her hair because of the meds she had to take, I know better because time and time again in my young life I have witnessed and experienced my own suffering stemming from this broken illusion of time, and control, and certainty in a future that none of us have ever truly been promised.

Still, I sit in my willfulness ignorance as often as possible because I am not ready, and I am not sure I ever will be ready to face the truth: All we have is now. That is all we ever have. This exact moment. That is it.

This morning I sent my husband to work with a silent prayer on my lips that the Universe will bring him home to me this evening. I prayed for this today and that everyday this will continue to happen until we are old and ready to face our mortality with many happy full years behind us. I said this silent prayer to the Universe all the while secretly knowing that there will never be a time in my life that I will feel as though I have had enough, I will always want more from life no matter my age or experience.

So I will go on making plans, and planting gardens, and dreaming dreams of things to come. I will look to the future with hope and certainty AND I will be thankful right now, this very moment, for all that I have. Love, connection, the privilege of knowing what it feels like to be wrapped in my husband’s arms, every experience I have had in this life of mine because none of it was promised, not one day, not one minute. To argue with my husband is a privilege that I take for granted while another person might be willing to give up everything to argue with a loved again. When we both return home tonight I will remember this and I will  be grateful.

Sitting with this uncomfortable reality, allowing myself to set down my willful ignorance about life’s harsh truths, makes it so clear just how truly entitled we all are every single day. One of life’s fundamental truths is that nothing is ever promised yet we walk around every moment of every day so sure of the next.

now

 

I Choose Shadows AND Light

shadow work

Last night I was having a conversation with my husband and this morning there it was, my exact feelings put out into the world by another. You can read the post I am referring to here.

I strongly identify with this writer’s perspective on spirituality and life in general because what she is talking about is the AND. I had a hard time in my younger years with my experiences in formal religion because there was no AND allowed, even then I knew that was not my truth.

There are times even now where I struggle in interactions with individuals who claim to be spiritually enlightened. I show up with my shadows AND light and I feel shunned. I have been made to feel on occasion that there is only one right way to experience myself this way, and again, I know that is not my truth.

My version of spirituality, my whole life, will always include both. I will always choose my shadows AND my light. All parts welcome, no parts left behind. That is how I will love and how I will heal and that will be my life’s work.

Self-Love Can Survive Any Drought

self-love can survive any drought

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time in quiet meditation creating. From that came the inspiration for a piece I painted this afternoon.

Cactus came up during my creating over the weekend and when I started thinking on what symbolism I see, this is what I came up with.

Cacti are like all other plants in that they need water to survive, that need looks different for them compared to many other species of plant however. Cacti are able to survive barren conditions and drought thanks to their ability to self-sustain by storing water inside. Cactus are not only able to survive these harsh conditions, they grow. They grow in conditions that would cause most plants to wither and die.

I related this back to inside love versus outside love. We have no control over the love we receive from others, much like plants cannot control the weather and when it will rain. In times of emotional drought/disconnection those who depend on that outside love and validation may struggle while those who can self-validate and experience love from within/self-love will not only survive these times of solitude, they will continue to grow and bloom because of the love they are able to show themselves.

In this way self-love is this self-sustaining property that allows us to operate with little fear of outside disconnection for we know all we need to thrive and grow lies within us.

For a long time I was much like Gerbera Daisy, finicky in every way imaginable and very dependent on my environment to provide me with everything I need to feel love and connection/survive and grow.

Now I know I am evolving into my own breed of cactus. I still enjoy being showered with love AND when drought comes my way I am able to self-sustain with my own inner supply of love stored up just for me, my own special gift from within.

My prickly spiny exterior is equivalent to my boundaries and assertive attitude, protecting me against all who would mean to harm me.
My root system underground is my way to connect with others who are willing to go deep rather stay merely on the surface.

At the end of the day what keeps me going is me. I am the love that keeps my heart beating, I am the love that will help me grow. If water is the source for life to grow and love is equivalent to water, I am the source from which my biggest growth takes place.

Rachel and Bilhah

I finished The Handmaid’s Tale – sensational. As soon as I read the last sentence I put it down and picked up Red Tent, then I had a major Oh Shit moment. The foundation of these two stories are built on the same biblical reference. At least I am pretty sure it is a biblical reference, being a Godless woman I have never actually read the bible. I am to understand that this story, the story of Rachel and her handmaid/sister(?), is from the bible though.

The handmaid’s tale told the story from the point of view of the handmaid, the woman used for her ability to give birth, a woman who was reduced to little more than a walking womb.

I am not yet sure how Rachel and Bilhah’s story will be told in Red Tent yet. It appears to be from the perspective of Leah’s daughter, Dinah.

So what does this mean? This is the second time these women are being presenting to me. Two is my symbol fro action, it is the sign the Universe sends me when it is time for me to act. I am not sure what I am meant to do with the stories of these women though. What is my connection here?

I believe there is a strong possibility that this is all connected to motherhood and my work on that topic because I was originally called to read Handmaid’s Tale after attending the lecture around the dark side  of motherhood. I think it could also relate to the group work I am meant to facilitate with women.

It is not clear yet though. Maybe as I continue to read Red Tent and see how Rachel, and Bilhah, and Leah, and Dinah’s stories unfold I will know.

I have been leading with intuition lately and it has opened me up to so much receiving. I often do not know why I am receiving the signs/messages I am when they come through but I am beginning to understand that the why is not important, what is important is just to be open to receive.

 

Animal Meditation

animal medi

The second half of my meditation today was spent not on philosophical ponderings like the first half but instead on an inspiration shared by my new soul friend last week.

She was talking about how each of her chakral energy sources has an animal representation in addition to the colors and symbols already applied to the chakras. I totally identified with what she was saying and so took some time today to see what my inner knowing had to say about this.

I may explore this further in future posts, today I am only sharing the vision that came to me as I moved up my energy pathways starting at my root chakra.

My root chakra came to me the easiest, it is the gopher tortoise.
My sacral was blank, I cannot see anything yet.
I will come back to my solar plexus.
My heart chakra was also very apparent, I immediately saw the rabbit.
My throat chakra is the mocking bird.
I will come back to my third eye.
I do not have a clear knowing about my crown chakra yet but it feels light and airy, a winged animal like a butterfly, humming bird, or dragon fly. I will know when it is time.

Back to my third eye and my solar plexus. When I was done meditating on my throat chakra instinctively without realizing I was doing it I closed my eyes and put both hands, finger tips only, on my forehead on either side of my third eye. At first cognitively I thought I was doing this to brush something away from my face but then I turned my mind off and knew what I was doing. I massaged my third eye with my finger tips with my eyes closed and started seeing the color orange and red, like veils lifting, first orange then red then orange then red. I opened my eyes and saw in my mind’s eye the red fox. I sat with this for a moment and knew it was true. What was unclear was where he fits in. He came to me during my third eye meditation but he feels connected to something lower down, my sacral or what really feels more true is my solar plexus. Some how he feels connected to both my third eye and solar plexus. I feel like there is another animal that solely represents my third eye, as I said that I saw the two large eyes of an owl looking into me. I need to sit with all of this a bit more. The ones that came easy were the energy sources I have relationships with and where I most often experience balance. My middle and top chakras are areas where I am still building connection.

Now that I have put this out into the Universe I am wondering what kind of symbolisms and signs will begin popping up. I am open to receiving what I am meant to receive.

Them Keeps Us Scared, Them Keeps Us Safe

Something I love about my new job, the number one thing I love about my new job, is the freedom. I had a meeting by phone today and when I was done I went in the backyard with Lu and laid in the hammock meditating for 45 minutes.

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I laid there and for the first few moments I counted gratitude.

It is 1:45 on a Monday and I am in yoga pants, braless, laying outside.
I get to decide when it feels right to do the work I need to do today.
I have a schedule that allows me to rise with the sun rather than yelled at by a clock.

I am so very grateful.

As I was counting my gratitude, staring up at the branches of Nana our Live Oak tree – who is not in fact ours but her own, we just share this land we live on- I started thinking of Ofglen and OfWarren and Ofrred, and the other handmaids from my book. I was thinking about these luxuries that I just listed and how they are just that, luxuries.

Being braless, having a say in what I wear based on what feels good on my body.
Having say in my daily schedule, freedom to rise and sleep and eat when my body tells me it is time. Living a life guided by my own wisdom about what is right for me.

These are all extravagant luxuries. Luxuries that the women in my novel would covet. To be able to go outside at all on one’s own accord, a luxury.

Then I started thinking bigger, outside of the pages of the book. I live in a world where the terrifying reality of The Handmaid’s Tale is someone else’s reality. There are women in this world who are forbidden to read therefore never given the opportunity. There are women in this world who have no say in what they wear, their bodies are given no consideration to what feels right and comfortable to them because the reality they live in states that their bodies are not in fact their bodies, their bodies belong to men. Their are women in this world that are used strictly as vessels, just like the women in this book. They are possessions, not people.

In the story Ofrred talks about how before the change took place she would read about women raped and murdered and oppressed in the news paper, when she was still allowed to read the newspaper, and think Oh that is awful and then move on with her day because it had never happened to anyone she knew personally. This was not her reality therefore it was not a reality for her at all.

There was this feeling of Us and Them and as long as whatever tragedy or atrocity was happening to Them and not Us then it was of no concern.

I sat with this for a while and it began to manifest. Us versus Them in this sense makes Us feel safe. As long as it is not happening to Us then we are safe. We are not morally responsible for what happens to Them, just Us.

Us versus Them has historically been used in another way as well. It is a classic way to create and build fear. It is the creation of a separation that does not actually exist. Politicians stand behind podiums warning Us about Them. Them, the ones who mean to hurt us, kill us, steal our jobs, rape our women, take what is ours. We elect people to protect Us from Them.

I sat with this for a while as well and then came back to my truth, that there is no true separation between Us and Them, only the separation that we as humans create. We have created this oppressive fear. We have created this divide to keep Us safe.

When I stand in my truth that all life is connected and the illusion of separation is in fact a fallacy this is the deeper truth that is uncovered:

Because we are all connected that means that if one person has darkness in them we all have darkness in us. If one person has light we all have light. If one person is capable of killing that means we are all capable of killing. There is no Us, there is no Them, There is only We. We all have light and dark and the potential to stand in there at any given time. What one person is capable of We are all capable of, for better or for worse.

I do not have answer on how to save the world with this knowledge, it is a knowledge many already possess yet here we sit demanding women wear bras and killing each other. Afraid or each other and thankful for the illusion of separation that allows us to believe some invisible line exists to keep Us safe.

For now I will hold my gratitude and cherish it because I understand that one woman’s oppression is also my burden to bear. I will look into the faces of those I meet and know that we are one and that their shadows are my shadows and my light resides in them as well. I will hold this truth sacred above all. I will hold this truth sacred.