On Loving

(Originally posted elsewhere on January 22, 2017)

This is inspired by the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity, the honor to listen to, to get to know. I have used words here which they spoke that started a beautiful fire in me. Thank you for being.
———————————–
They say my words are divisive –
That by talking about the problem,
I am
the problem.

But now is not the time to be silent.
Now is the time to defend
those who need it most.

Because my sisters may not look like me –
They may not love like me
or have faiths like me,
They may not talk like me
and they may not choose like me

But we come from the same earth,
our bodies our own by nature of our existence.

Silence is not always Golden.

They tell me my behavior is divisive –
that in my reaction to problems (what’s done is done)
I am
the problem.
That in proaction (we’ve seen this before)
I am
the problem.

Gaslighting and psychological warfare,
you tell us the pains of our reality
are unreal just because they aren’t real
to you.

Gaslit and self-doubt,
I will not go down this road – not again.
Never again.

Now is not the time to be silent.
I put a target on my back –
unwelcome commentary
about women’s rights
being for women who can’t find a man (comments on posts about feminism reveal in one swift motion the need for feminism)
about my body: ugly, fat, undesirable, incapable
about my intelligence: have none, mislead, uninformed
about my education: have none, mislead, uninformed, didn’t work to acheive it
about my success: have none, entitled, lazy, didn’t work to acheive it
about my problems: have none, other people have it worse, apparently unallowed to care about more than one thing at once
about my loyalty: have none, traitor, unpatriotic, disobedient, not understanding that revealing problems does not mean no longer loving something
about my maturity: have none, can’t be trusted to make sound choices, naive, mislead, you’ll grow out of your concern someday, you’ll understand when you’re my age
about my life experience: have none, don’t have enough, what I have isn’t good enough to condescend to
about my concern: misdirected, unnecessary, stupid, laughable, baby, bleeding heart, empathy is for pussies –
but I’ve heard it all before.

Nothing you can try to insult me with that hasn’t already been said.

In worst case scenarios
I put a target on my back for
monitoring,
stalking,
violence,
death.

But I have love in my heart,
and I am not afraid.
I have love in my heart –
divine –
flowing openly and freely,
the way it was meant to,
for the planet,
the universe!

Saying what is right,
doing what is right
in love for the rights of others,
even when saying and doing so
appears to necessitate me risking everything
and gaining nothing for myself,
despite it being difficult and scary
are not optional.
They are the rent I pay
to live in this world
and when I die
that debt will be paid in full,
a debt I am glad to pay.

Because even when someone’s chains are very different from my own
we are still in chains together.
What harms them, harms me.
An attack on them is an attack on me.
If we don’t fight for other’s rights, there will be no one left to fight for ours.
I feel the pain of discrimination deep in my soul,
and even though we may receive it in different ways,
your suffering is my own.
My loyalty is not to my country –
my country is disloyal to me when it
bombs, tortures, rapes, kills my innocent civilian neighbors
or does nothing to stop it when someone else does
unless there is selfish gain to be had.
My loyalty is to the people of this planet,
and every person is my neighbor,
for I am a citizen not of a nation, but of the world.
Unjust suffering, wherever it may be, is an injustice, an offense to us all.

My body was created
for the purpose of loving.
It is a sacred vessel
for my sacred heart.
My existence is defined
by the love I put out
back into the world
despite all the harm that has been done to me
in my short life.

They may have stolen
my safety
my privacy
my consent
my ability to sleep soundly at night
my virginity
my innocence
my comfort
my soundness
my trust

But they could not destroy my heart,
a piece of me uncorruptible.

Love is truth
Love is vulnerability
Love is sensitivity
It is empathy and protection
Love is unselfish
Love is doing the right thing
Love is doing the wrong thing and feeling sorry
Love is feeling sorry and changing
Love is realization and it is growth
It is is connection and unity and
love is speaking out
Love is healing
and freedom
Love is sacrificing for yourself to give to another
Love is setting boundaries
Love is being firm
Love is letting someone go who cannot respect you
It is telling someone they hurt you
Love is someone telling you that you hurt them, and accepting it is undeniable
Love is admitting when you were wrong
Love is self-reflection
It is admitting to our prejudice
Love is courage
Love is respect for existence
Love is resisting disrespect
Love is changing the things you cannot accept
It is putting the needs of the many above the comfort of a few
Love is feeding those who have no food
Love is intuition
Love is planting seeds
Love cannot be expressed when there is fear overriding it
Love is not fear

I am not alone and our love is not our weakness.
It is our biggest strength,
our greatest asset,
our driving force,
our weapon of mass creation,
our protection,
our only certainty,
our life’s purpose.

And we are a threat to every system of
corruption,
greed,
manipulation,
theft,
enslavement,
and oppression because of it.

Now is not the time to be silent.
Now is the time to speak the truth in the age of misinformation and fear.
Now is the time to sing in the streets the music of hope.
Now is the time to join forces and make allies, new friends.
Now is the time to find our commonalities in the face of those who desire our division, the division of the idealists and the dreamers, the activists and lovers. As long as we are the ones divided, we cannot rise up.
Now is the time to rise up.
Now is the time to celebrate each other and our successes, while comforting each other in our temporary set-backs.
Now is the time to dance into a revolution, and oh, how we want you to join us in dancing.
Now is the time to know ourselves and never apologize for it, never be deceived into believing we are anything but extraordinary.
Now is the time to be fiercely gentle, and caring, and loving.

When they go low, we go high.

Now is the time to learn how to expend and convert energy. Pick your battles. Be resourceful. When someone hurts me, I will not give them my fear, but instead will take the pain they gave to me and convert it into love for someone else. You cannot create fear or love in another, but you can give all the necessary conditions for it to arise. You give me energy in the form of your poison, and I will take it and use it to do good in this world.
It is not the people whose hearts are full of cruelty who leave this world a better place than they found it. They do not pay the rent they owe for existing.
Now is not the time to be silent.
Now is the time to sing and preach and relentlessly speak the truth of love.
Now is the time to dance.
—————————–

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'”
– Matthew 25:41-45.

“I have loved in life and I have been loved.
I have drunk the bowl of poison from the hands of love as nectar, and have been raised above life’s joy and sorrow.
My heart, aflame in love, set afire every heart that came in touch with it.
My heart has been rent and joined again;
My heart has been broken and again made whole;
My heart has been wounded and healed again;
A thousand deaths my heart has died, and thanks be to love, it lives yet.
I went through hell and saw there love’s raging fire, and I entered heaven illumined with the light of love.
I wept in love and made all weep with me;
I mourned in love and pierced the hearts of men;
And when my fiery glance fell on the rocks, the rocks burst forth as volcanoes.
The whole world sank in the flood caused by my one tear;
With my deep sigh the earth trembled, and when I cried aloud the name of my beloved, I shook the throne of God in heaven.
I bowed my head low in humility, and on my knees I begged of love, “Disclose to me, I pray thee, O love, thy secret.”
She took me gently by my arms and lifted me above the earth, and spoke softly in my ear, “My dear one, thou thyself art love, art lover, and thyself art the beloved whom thou hast adored.”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Dance of the Soul

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Alive

I’m having such a difficult time today, as well as the past few days. For the past few weeks, I have been working on what is basically an autobiography, memoir, something??? About all this wild, unthinkable stuff that has happened in my life from grooming abuse, underground clubs, the sexual exploitation industry, radical politics, mental illness and more. At this point, I have covered what I feel is most important from about 5 of 9 years I am trying to write about, sitting at 102 single-spaced pages and currently 64,989 words.

 

For two weeks, I pumped out page after page, working for hours at a time late into the night, avoiding and putting school on the back burner, needing to get it all out, no place seeming like a good “stopping point” even for the night. I write until I can’t keep my eyes open, pushing the limits and crashing in exhaustion and trying to recover from the emotional downward spiral as I continue delving deeper and deeper into the worst of it.

 

I essentially have to relive some awful times in my life (along with some good times too) in order to heal. Writing has been an enlightening process feeling the pain, resentment, and anger shedding away. I feel for the first time like I can let go. But I also have had to break my own heart putting so much into words, remembering terrible crap along with all the amazing times I will never get back and all the people I shared so much with who are no longer in my life after everything. I may be beginning to let go, truly let go for the first time, but no one said it was an easy or one deminsional process without complication, mixed feelings and conflicting perspectives. I feel so free and overjoyed at times. But the more I let go, the harder a part of me tries to hold on. I am splitting trying to make sense of it all. Confusing feelings that seem to contradict each other and working hard to overcome.

 

I just felt compelled to write this because I’m excited and hurt and happy and feel like I’m dying. This is what recovery looks like, this is what PTSD (yes, I was diagnosed) looks like, and it will hurt. But someday you will remember the good times and no longer feel that you are betraying yourself. You will look back at what happened and be able to hate it, but see with a whole heart through new eyes that you survived and you would have never known just how strong you were without it.

 

Even if someone hadn’t gone through the wild, devastating shit I keep behind closed doors, that doesn’t mean others can’t relate to the process of hurting and isolation and sadness and work and recovery. It doesn’t matter to me whether what you went through was “worse” or “better” than what happened to me. There is no such objective thing. I see you and you may feel like you’re barely getting by, but you’re doing the hardest work and you are alive. This happened and you felt like you would die, that you wouldnt survive the event, the conflict, the loneliness, the emptiness, the flashbacks, the nightmares, the insomnia, the damn near frequent anxiety, the intrusive thoughts, the suicidal ideation, the fear, the hatred, the desire for vengenace, the hopelessness, the defeat, the speaking it aloud for the first time, the feelings coming back… but you did every time. You are still here. You are surviving and every day is a god damn battle.

 

They act like only soldiers can be traumatized and yet all the statistics show that abused children, abused adults (primarily women), and prostitution and rape survivors have higher rates than even military members. Our battlefield is our head, regardless of how the PTSD came to infiltrate our minds. Every day we fight for our will to survive an enemy other people cannot see.

 

You are alive and I am so proud of you for all the work you’ve done. You are alive and you are fighting for your life. I salute you and your courage. For many people bravery and courage mean the same thing, but this isn’t necessarily so. Bravery is something we use to describe someone who isn’t afraid. Courage is something we use to describe someone who is afraid, but does it anyway. And this is definitely courage – your survival, my survival. I want everyone and myself to know that. Your demons cannot control you anymore and your heart is pure. We are alive and that is something beautiful. 

I am not invisible

“What if it was your daughter/sister/friend,” they say. All the advertisements about abuse, assault. “What if it was a woman you cared about?” As though you have to know a woman to care that she was raped or abused – put through one of the most traumatizing things a person can go through, a heavily gendered crime centered on making female people the target. I don’t have to know a woman, I don’t have to know anyone who comes forward and admits to having been raped, abused, harassed, assaulted or otherwise victimized to care. You are not alone and despite a world where sexualized, objectified female bodies are put on display to the point that we think something meant to feed infants are sex organs for the male gaze, where we hear jokes about rape on popular TV shows and listen to music about whistling at cuties, hitting women, and lyrics repeating a steady chorus of “I know you want it” followed by “I’m gonna tear your ass in two”…there are people who believe you. I believe you unconditionally. You will not be put on trial where I assume you’re a filthy lying slut until “proven” otherwise.
The world treats us like this and it is not fair and it is not okay. I am not a court system, and neither is the judgmental, victim-blaming society who readily and enthusiastically wants to take part in your story as though they have a say, a real idea about the truth when they weren’t there to live it. A witch-hunt, a seemingly medieval ritual of metaphorically tarring, feathering, stoning and humiliating women in this cyber world before she ever has a chance. As though society is the court system and your character is on trial, when these people should have absolutely no say and no opinion on what happened, again because they have no fucking clue about the details or the reality. They just want to throw their stones and destroy the “Evil harpy” who dared come forward because we all know that rapists are disgusting, scraggily strangers in the bushes and can never, not ever be beloved average men (which IS the reality). Society (and the corrupt court system) ensures that the REAL person on trail here is the victim – what what she wearing, how many men has she slept with, was she drunk, did she know him? Let’s find anything we can to speculate on, reframe, twist to make sense why she would want to hurt this poor innocent rapist. The rapist is no longer on trial – socially or legally. We are. The traumatized survivors who will NEVER get back what was taken from us, NEVER be able to return to who or what we were before this person decided to take it all. Look at any comments on a famed rape trial and you will see rape culture in action – “whore”, “liar”, “she just wants to ruin his life”, “tramp”, “poor guy, he had so much potential”, “even if she was raped, she should’ve just kept her mouth shut.” It’s no wonder we don’t come forward.
rainn
Your courage to speak to me about what happened to you is all I care about. The court system is biased and corrupt. There is evidence many police officers have biases, inadequate training to work in the best interests of a rape victim, and some actively work to silence rape victims (watch the documentary “Audrie and Daisy” available on Netflix). Teen boys who are football stars are never punished for raping 14 year old girls because “Their future looks so bright”. College victims are forced to stay on campus with their dangerous attacker who is allowed to stay as well (and punished in no way, shape, or form) because he’s wealthy and has good grades and the school doesn’t want to lose donations or appear dangerous by reporting it, which goes against Title IX. Famous men who punch their wives in the face keep their jobs and fans – fans who go on to call his wife a bitch, a slut, any other derogatory gendered slur they can, a liar. Did you know being the wife of a police officer makes your chances of being abused rise from 1 in 4 to 1 in 2? That’s right – 50% of women married to or dating police officers are physically or verbally abused. Brock Turner rapes a woman behind a dumpster and because his parents are rich and he’s an A+ swimmer does 3 months in jail and nothing more. Rapists futures and reputations are held above the devastating psychological and potentially physical damage they caused to a living human being. We want to believe rapists and abusers are strangers in the bushes. That people we know, nice guys could never do something like this.
Rapists ARE fathers, sons, friends, brothers, cousins, uncles, nephews, teachers, pastors, acquaintances. You could have a great experience with someone and find out they raped or abused someone else. Rapists are not monsters we can point out across a room. We hear about serial killers who rape and we hear about violent men, but especially in the generation of kids being brought up in a culture that views sexualized violence on a daily basis, including 11 year old boys (the average age) viewing gonzo pornography on the internet, rapists are normal people. We live in a culture that actively silences rape victims, allows rape to continue and lessens the perceived severity of the crime. We live in a culture that capitalizes on sexual violence and perhaps unintentionally encourages rape through masculinity socialization and the open mocking of rape victims along with their attackers receiving no punishment.
rainn2
 (In addition to that statistic, nearly 60% of rapists are white males [data available on RAINN website)
“He is a good guy!” Okay, maybe to you he was, but to someone else he wasn’t. It isn’t so black and white when it comes to that. Real men rape women. Because of the culture we live in and the lack of education from birth onward when it comes to consent, respecting boundaries, and the frequent display of gender disparity sends messages to children as they grow up. Because so many boys and men don’t know what consent looks like, especially when they’ve been exposed to gonzo porn which normalizes sexual violence and creates a conditioned arousal response to sexual violence, they commit sexual assault without even understanding that that’s what they did. Some men rape women and have no idea they raped her because there is a fundamental lack of understanding, again, because our culture does not proactively and consistently provide proper sexual education, AND it thrives on gender disparity. That does not absolve men of responsibility in any way shape or form. There is no excuse ever for raping someone. Ever. EVER. Men also have been interviewed about viewing women as prey, talking about the coercive methods they use to rape. Some men are sexually aroused by fear. Some men don’t care anything about what women feel, they just take what they want. There are lots of reasons and lots of ways this happens.
I have been abused and I have been sexually assaulted more than once. The people who did it are well-liked by others who know them. They are kind, intelligent and average. You like their facebook posts and remember them fondly. That doesn’t change that when it came to me, they were also selfish, manipulative, forceful, and harmful. Your experience does not change my very real one. Your lack of insight into that side of these people who intentionally do not reveal that side of themselves to you, lucky for never having had to see it, does not mean it doesn’t exist. It just means you don’t know about it and never had to suffer the aftermath of the actions they took and are ultimately responsible for.
I am your daughter, your sister, your girlfriend, your friend, your niece, your granddaughter, your cousin, your volunteer, your client, your student, your acquaintance in your life who was traumatized and forever impacted by sexual violence, among other things. I will never be the same and I can never go back to the way I was. I have been in therapy for 6 years and still working on the same things, trying to cope, trying to heal, trying to survive. I have been through 6 different medications trying to deal with the symptoms of PTSD. I struggled with eating disorders, suicidal ideation, and self-harm. I am the person you know who was groomed, abused and sexually victimized, very likely only one of several others in your life who are too afraid to talk about it to you because you add to the culture that makes them afraid to do so. We are here and we become invisible as a result of victim-blaming. I will not stay invisible. I am your daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, niece, granddaughter, cousin, volunteer, client, student, acquaintance.
Do you care about rape now?

Waiting and Feeling Out of Control

I was thinking about writing about other things, but something made me change my mind. It’s so difficult for me to wait. It’s not just “doing nothing” because so much goes on in the process of waiting. The stress of wondering “what if…” and imagining all the possibilities of what could go wrong wants to take over. I lose touch with the parts of me that know everything will be okay. I spiral into the chaos of desperately needing to feel in control, but feeling so completely out of it. When I can’t make someone email me, make something change, I feel so helpless.

The feeling of helplessness I know so well, it’s almost a familiar relief to be struggling in it. The shame and sense of being undeserving of relief and peace lingers from so many instances in my life that lead me to this thought process to begin with and continually seemed to reinforce its validity.

I panic and obsess when there are no answers and I am left, having put out what I needed to awaiting a response, a validation. I cling to the initial small sense of need and it grows and grows to become a monster. No longer is it a whisper of urgency, but a pounding sound in my head that I can’t ignore. “IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN NOW OR I WILL DIE FROM THE UNCERTAINTY” it screams. The further I fall into the chaos, the more gets sucked in to that tornado. All the other times I felt ashamed begin to flood me. All the embarrassments, times I was wrong, all the times I felt stupid or was made to feel incompetent, undeserving and unimportant. Reminders, evidence that I was right all along – I don’t deserve to have happiness. I don’t to deserve to be loved. I don’t deserve peace. Falling and falling until I feel like that’s all that’s left of me. Shame is all I am.

Something so small, like not having an immediate response from a professor about something important triggers a response in me that jumps to “I am undeserving of love.” From the outside, to just have those two statements presented would seem absurd. How can one be related to the other? It seems nonsensical, crazy. But the trauma underneath that is what leads me to that conclusion. I don’t have to go from point A to B to C and so on to reach conclusion Z. Repeated abuses, frequent “evidence” and more allow me to jump straight to Z. Because the presence of “A” in my mind, whizzes through the rest of the alphabet, so certain this time is like all the times that serve as evidence of my worthlessness. It’s a pattern in my brain, a pathway. The muscle memory of my emotions inside of my head follows the same old pattern. A worn road I am used to.

The process of rewiring your thoughts, of building a new road inside your mind is a difficult and long process. The more worn the old road is, the more difficult it is to build a new one.

After so long, 23 years of walking that road, it seemed impossible to even consider I could make a new one. Unthinkable even until a few years ago. But now I understand. I can see now where I want my new road to be built, and I have begun to obtain the skills necessary to build it because someone who understands taught me. It’s as much of a process of learning as anything else.

I do not need to feel ashamed for the process I am used to using to draw conclusions about my world. Of course that’s what I do, of course that’s how I feel when it was, for so long, the only thing I knew. I do not need to pile shame about feeling shame on top of it. Of course I feel shame.

I have to be understanding instead of accusatory and venomous with myself. Empathy is love. I can’t control the actions of people around me. I cannot force the world to work according to my anxiety. But I can control me. I can control my anxiety. I can control what I do and how I see my environment. If there is nothing more to be done, if I have done my part of the work, my 50%, then it is out in the world now for the other person to do their 50% of our interaction. I have to trust that those people will respond to me, will provide me with information, will interact with me so I then know what to do next.

If I believe that there are people in the world who will work with me, for me, instead of clinging desperately to the shame-lead belief that no one in this world would do so, believing instead that the world is ambivalent and disinterested at best and malicious and actively against me at worst (what a sad thing to believe, but of course I feel that way after the abuse) then my anxiety and all the conclusions I jump to – for example, that people are taking so long to respond because they don’t like me, want me to fail, believe I don’t matter enough and therefore ‘I have to hate them’ and start thinking poorly of them before they can actually hurt me worse (this is very black and white, trauma thinking) – begin to lessen and lessen. The quick opinion change/anger (splitting) I feel toward others comes from the black and white thinking which comes from the anxiety which comes from the deeply held beliefs that I am worthless, that people are all against me, the shame (which ultimately comes from the repeated trauma).

I need to get to the root of that – the shame – and work my way down to it. So, that’s what I’m going to do right now instead of losing myself to my shame.

I am angry at my professors because neither have responded to my emails about providing me with recommendation letters for graduate school, which need to be submitted within two weeks. I am also angry at myself for waiting 2 weeks longer than I should have to begin asking. One part of me feels angry at them, believing they don’t like me, that they’re not good people, that they don’t care about me, that it will be their fault. The other resents myself for feeling any of these things because I know that they are unfounded and not logical. I also feel shame because I know the ways in which I have contributed to my own discomfort and fear.

I recognize the thought pattern of believing it’s all or it’s nothing. My teachers either respond quickly when I need them, when I depend on them because they like me and believe in me…or they aren’t responding because they hate me and think I’m useless, and the part of me that likes to believe that is angry that they could “betray” me like this. The way I felt betrayed, unloved, and let down by multiple people, especially the people who abused me, is how I feel. A part of me wants to continually relive that pain over and over, or at least believes that the pattern I lived through with my abusers, the trauma that caused, is how the world works for unlucky me, and I am doomed to repeat it over and over.

I feel anxiety because part of me believes these things – that they hate me, think I’m worthless or at least unimportant. That I don’t matter, that they don’t believe I can succeed. I don’t want it to be true because it hurts. And although another part of me envelops myself in that anger and shame, masochistically embraces it, the rest of me doesn’t want to feel this pain, this pattern of betrayal and hurt again. I don’t want others to hurt me and I also feel anxiety because I hurt myself.

And yet I believe they’re all against me because it’s somehow easier for my mind to accept that I Am Bad and that’s why I haven’t heard responses than it is for me to wonder if maybe they’re teaching right now. Maybe they’re out of the office. Maybe they’re not feeling well. Maybe they have other pertinent responsibilities and they’ll get back to me. Maybe they haven’t even seen my emails yet. Maybe they’re thinking of how to respond. Maybe they’re writing the letter as we speak and will actually email me when they’re done. I Am Bad is easier to accept not only because a part of me deeply holds that belief after everything and I’m used to jumping to that conclusion, but also because it’s a concrete answer. I Am Bad is at least an answer. All of the others are “what if…” and don’t let me believe that I’m in control. If I have an answer, I am in control, even if that answer is “I Am Bad.” Not having an answer means being suspicious of them.

Waiting does not have to mean suffering. I will not let myself suffer. I did my part of the work, and now I will trust that they’ll do theirs, even if that’s to email me back and say “I’m sorry but I can’t provide this for you.” I have done my half. I am content with that. This application will be filled out. I will have my materials ready. I did wait a little longer than I should have, but that is not something anymore that I can change. I can do what I can do right now with what I have, and I have done what I can do. So, now I let it go. This doesn’t belong to me right now, and I will carry on and do other responsibilities I have. I will take care of myself and part of that is telling myself there are other ways to think than taking a path that without fail leads me to panic, hurt, fear, obsession, stagnancy, and feeling helpless. I am not helpless. I am used to the feeling of betrayal and I watch over my shoulder for it often, but I have not been betrayed. Of course I feel that way, but I don’t need to be afraid.

Just breathe. In, in, in, in, in, in, out, out, out, out, out, out to the beat of my heart. I will be okay because I am a capable, intelligent, introspective, understanding, loving, emotional being and most of all I survive.

 

Growing Pains

You have to be willing to look outside of yourself and see others’ perspective. Defensiveness prevents you from growing, it prevents you from being empathetic. There are many people who can’t stand the uncomfortableness of trying to separate themselves from the things they believe and take a look at how those beliefs may be harmful or based on incorrect facts. Questioning is not attacking, though we may perceive it to be so because of our defensive feelings.

Change is uncomfortable, but that’s the point. Growth isn’t without struggle. The growing pains of psychological expansion are necessary. The reactionary anger of defensiveness is a product of our fear. It is scary to confront yourself, scary to confront what you think you know because it means letting go. It means a part of us dying and being reborn. It means a temporary destruction of the ego. It means an uncertain new world where it’s possible we may feel that growing pain. And people tend to feel a little of it and back away, wanting to never experience that again. But it can make way for new patterns of careful, patient thought lead by love, fearlessness and courage, and truth when we break through that barrier and see the vast new space beyond the wall.

Living a life in a comfortable echo-chamber where everyone around you thinks you’re a genius because you believe the unquestioned same things they do means never bettering yourself and being dishonest with yourself. Exposing yourself to differences in thought with your defensive barrier down in order to be as objective as possible is how we either change because the new ideas made more sense, or solidify our previous ideas with better rationale to support it. Admitting we were wrong about something is a hard thing to do, but being able to is a significant act of looking in our heart and growing beyond what we were, which I believe is the point of this life.

Healing

Sometimes the things we do won’t make sense to other people. Sometimes people get angry, even though what we’re doing, we do out of love. We deserve to do right by ourselves. You are not obligated to protect or defend the reputation of someone who hurt you. You are not “ruining a life” by exposing someone’s harmful behavior, and for others to imply it is your fault is to imply that this person is not responsible for their exploitative or abusive choices. That if you had just kept silent, the problem wouldn’t exist. But the truth is, the problem exists – we just carry it alone on our shoulders, making it convenient for others to pretend all is well. You are not ruining a life – they chose to do wrong and in that choice, took the risk of getting caught. Exposing your trauma at the hands of another is doing right by you – you deserve justice, you deserve support, and you deserve to not carry the weight alone.
Sometimes the people we love hurt other people, and even though we love that person, they have still done something wrong and they deserve to be held accountable just like anyone. We don’t like to believe that someone WE love, someone WE choose to spend time with, someone WE see the good sides of could do bad things to others. It seems unimaginable, and it may cause us to call into question our values, our judgement about people. We don’t want to believe that our judgement could be flawed, or that we just didn’t know what someone was capable of. But sometimes it is, sometimes we don’t. Predators are often excellent at appearing harmless – it’s how they manipulate their “prey” and it’s how they stay hidden in society. To cause doubt in the minds of us all. So when someone comes forward, we all say “no way! He’s such a nice guy!” and tell stories about our good experiences, forgetting that these are not monsters among us, but average people. A friend would never do harm, right? Bosses, family members, teachers, significant others.
Real men DO rape. The constant spreading of the phrase that states otherwise, while perhaps well-intended, erases the reality and reinforces ideas about what the rapist, the pedophile, the abuser look like. They aren’t obvious. They aren’t monsters or “unreal” men. They’re well hidden most of the time because they’re good at it, especially in a society that apologizes and sympathizes with rapists and enjoys a rape culture complete with violent porn and other forms of normalized, gendered sexual violence. Rapists are friends, brothers, uncles, fathers, cousins, co-workers, boyfriends, husbands. They have jobs, interests, and people who love them who would infinitely defend them, unwilling to even entertain the idea that he could be capable. People who would rather turn vicious and turn in animosity and verbal violence to the brave soul exposing her truth.The truth she has carried heavy on her back for five years, afraid to tell a soul. Her courage makes waves that resound out into this world. Her courage is an act of love. You don’t have to understand it. Just know this. The angry voices that belong to hard, closed hearts, their empathy and human capacity to love diminishing with every day they continue to put up defensive fronts, will never make a dent, come close to what that one act of bravery did. The blamers, the disbelievers, the cruel all echoing versions of the same tired poison will not change the world as we know it. Their repetition learned from others will keep it all the same.

Make no mistake, these hurtful sentiments will touch her heart, just like she feared all these years. But she survived – the violation, the betrayal, the flashbacks, the manipulation, the psychological abuse, the threats, the bruises, the emptiness, the panic attacks, the hypervigilance, the suicidal depression. The wounds visible and not have turned to scars. The reminders it was real. You see her as weak, and you taught her to see herself that way too. Yet another thing she overcame. The reality is that she came out the other side of hell alive with a fire in her eyes. She is stronger than you will ever be, ever understand, and the love she is capable of now is insurmountable, her voice now resounding. The effect of her loving honesty reaching out and touching the hearts of others who are afraid as she had been, that courage filling them too. Reaching far beyond the repetitive defensive poison others spew.

She survives, the will to live despite everything telling her she doesn’t deserve it. The shame he infected her with that whispered, yelled, screamed this at her now being purged. It was foreign, never hers to begin with. However impure she felt, how ruined, dirty, bad…her heart, pure to its core remained untouched. The more she listened, the stronger it got. The more she trusted herself again, the quicker the healing spread until it exuded out beyond her own body. She survives and she knows what that means now. She knows her own value, her strength, her power. She still feels fear, but she faces it with love in her heart.

Your violence, your shame, your hatred did not get me in the end. Your Ruin did not overcome me. Your self-loathing and selfishness, your narcissistic front, your envy, betrayal and your entitled theft did not destroy me. You tried to kill the light you saw in me, and even though it temporarily went into hiding until no one could see it anymore, I am resurrected, shining brighter than I ever was before. You could not kill me, could not break my spirit, could not take the love from within me because I am love, you see? I am love and now I am free.