Reflections on #metoo

 

Many of you know who follow my blog, that I posted about my sexual assault at the hands of a female doctor this August.

As I watched Facebook this past week and saw a multitude of comments (both good and bad), I felt several emotions.  I felt sad, for myself, and for numerous women around the world.  I felt slightly triggered and needed to monitor how much time I spent on Facebook, because some comments got pretty ugly.  I felt thankful, that many women felt like they had a platform to speak honestly the harm done to them, and that they got to say #metoo in solidarity with other women.

I saw women try to sort out if they should say #metoo if they had just been harassed, but not actually assaulted.  I saw a few posts where women mentioned as a side bar that men and boys are assaulted too.  I saw men respond “I am listening.  I believe you. We need to do better.” Many emotions were stirred up in general.

Although my assault was committed by a woman, I know what it feels like to be a woman in this world, that often feels unsafe because of men’s actions.  I felt this strongest when I lived in Chicago for 4 years, and took public transportation and walked everywhere I went.  There wasn’t a day where I walked in Chicago that I didn’t experienced catcalling.  I knew certain areas of the city where I had to pay extra attention and walk extra confidently.  I knew that if I was walking alone at night, that I would be the one blamed if I was raped.

Slowly I started disconnecting, because that’s what feels safest.  I would make phone calls when I walked, because that felt safer than facing the fact of all the emotional energy it took to “armor up” just to transport myself to where I needed to go.  Maybe I could tune out catcalling or having unwanted stares by men, if I was focused on whoever I was talking to on the phone.

While that’s a simple example, it matters, because that was my way of numbing reality, of distancing myself from how much energy it took wondering if I would feel safe that day.  And not feeling physically safe matters.

I do believe the phenomenon of the “unbalanced masculine” is alive and well in our culture today.  Men are raised to be dominant, to be strong and not weak.  That emotions are weak.  They live in fear, because they are not culturally “allowed” to integrate their masculine and feminine sides.  Women, then react to this dominance, by putting up walls.  Not often enough letting their intuitive and tender sides come through.  To survive this world, you have to “make it with the guys.” Notice all the dualism here.

Instead of being both weak and strong.

Intuitive and logical.

Nurturing and Independent.

The beauty of #metoo is the solidarity amongst women that puts the response in the hands of men to be part of the solution of a safer, and more just world.

And yet, I also to write how the sexual assault landscape is much more nuanced than #metoo.  The stats are 1/4 women and 1/6 men.  Boys are assaulted by men.  Women are assaulted by women.  Women assault boys. Boys assault boys.  Girls assault girls.  Incest is prevalent.

As Brene Brown writes in her newest book, Braving the Wilderness, “Facebook is the catalyst.  Face-to-face is the connection.”  I wondered as I looked at #metoo’s all week, how all the talk and attention may have triggered many who have been sexually assaulted.  I hoped that these people had someone to talk to face-to-face.  Because Facebook may be a catalyst for awareness, but it’s not going to heal trauma.  And Facebook can be filled with such dehumanization, that some survivors may have felt like they had to defend themselves yet again.

To all survivors of sexual assault-you are so brave.

You are believed and heard and loved.

But I will be honest-not everyone has emotional capacity to hear your story.  To listen.  To grieve.  To take the steps of healing with you.  To understand that the affects of sexual assault last a lifetime, although tremendous healing can occur.  But you will always walk with a limp.

However, some people can.  I sincerely hope you find those people.

Because to me, from here, we raised awareness on Facebook, now we must have the courage to have face-to-face conversations.

Does every survivor need to tell their story?  Absolutely not.  They get to decide the time, place, details, who will be listening, basically every detail.  They must feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe.

But maybe we all should ask this question, “Am I a safe enough person for someone to tell their sexual assault experience to, if he/she/they were ready?”

Maybe another question, “How would I make sure this person felt exceptionally loved and brave and believed after he/she/they told me?”

Sure, part of the solution to the rampant sexual harassment and assault in this country is political.  And yet, maybe the first step is being a safe person.  Being available and willing to listen without judgment.

And believe me, as a sexual assault survivor, there always could be more and more safe people in the world.

 

 

Advertisements

Theological Musings on “Body”

What if Christ came to earth in a body, so that we actually could let our bodies lead us spiritually?

What if Christ healed on the Sabbath, so that those who were sick or blind or paralyzed could actually experience rest for the first time in their lives?

What if we knew “I and the Father are One” because we tuned into our bodies to let us know if we were disconnected or in harmony?

What if Christ spoke the Sermon on the Mount in nature because those in the temple would not hear what he had to say?

What if Christ rose “still wounded”, so that those with chronic illness, mental illness, and lifelong disability could still find hope that woundedness is simply an invitation to transformation?

What if a weak body was celebrated in the church?

What if a disabled woman was a pastor?

What if we actually lived like we believed that “those who are weak are strong?”

What if the church actually listened to traumatized bodies: those marginalized by sexual orientation, race, gender identity, etc?

What if the church listened to people of color and have them reshape Christian spirituality–because most definitely that would lead to a more embodied faith?

What if the white church realized that striving for power and influence, (instead of turning to lament in solidarity with marginalized people), is not what Jesus is about at all?

What if the the church actually admitted that we don’t know much about the Holy Spirit (the breath of God) because we don’t pay attention to our own breathing?

What if we had spiritual practices in the church, which let us tap into our unconscious, so we can actually start to heal and change?

What if the church could be reborn so that it includes a feminine consciousness in balance with a masculine one?

A Return to Rest

I need days of solitude.  I took a complete day off in solitude and silence this past weekend for the first time in 7 months.  Note to self: 7 months is too long.

I could feel my off-centeredness.  My body was aching from all the transition of my job, of moving, of my body reacting badly to this Indiana summer.

I needed silence.  Silence to feel what I needed to feel in a safe space.  To discern the questions that I’m asking in this season of my life. To dream and laugh, but to do so from stillness.

I needed community.  I’m realizing that as I continue to practice contemplative spirituality, it is not just a desire, but an actual need that I experience sacred silence with other people.  My soul longs for this, and I would be unwise to block this cry.

I needed to listen more intentionally.  I needed to block out other voices to listen to the voice that truly matters.  I needed to see all the ways I yearn for control and external affirmation.

In living with a chronic illness, I feel more connected to the Divine in a community of silence and stillness.  Why?  I feel like my body is welcome to feel however it feels.  My entire life with God can come to the forefront; my interior life with God matters.

To be honest, in my experience thus far, my female body in its illness, has been left outside the church.  I come back to this reality often, as my old ways of doing faith have been stripped away.

Some questions I got to ask this weekend included:

  • When does the church celebrate and esteem the weak Christ, except at the crucifixion?
  • If a main call on my life is to live gratefully in a weak, vulnerable, limited body-how do I re-engage with the church calendar in a way that resonates with my experience?
  • How do I want to address my experience of patriarchy and the unbalanced masculine?
  • Right now, do I need more solitude or community?
  • What are my deepest raw emotions surrounding the fact that I must choose a worshipping community somewhat based on the building it is in because of my mold sensitivity?
  • What has come of all the things I’ve said no to?  How has this made my spirituality more robust?

Maybe I will write more about these questions in the future.  For now, I’m just grateful I had a full day of spacious time to ask these pressing questions.  And to those of you reading, may you find time, in your own unique way, to ask your questions, even as they differ from the groups you are in.

Autoimmune Disease-Result of Neglecting Feminine Consciousness?

These thoughts I’m writing in this post have been in me for awhile; I just didn’t have the words.  I needed to wander around for awhile before things started to make sense.

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s 2 1/2 years ago.  I dove into my healing with tenacity-my anger had a healthy place to be channeled.  The first many months revolved around lifestyle changes, doctor appointments, food prep and food reintroductions, and finding a supportive health community.  The first 6 months after my diagnosis I took care of myself full time.  I had no idea yet of how these practices were forming me.

After the physical changes seemed manageable, I dove into emotional healing–through spiritual direction, writing, therapy, yoga and meditation.  Finding friends who could compassionately listen to the fact that chronic illness takes a heavy toll on my body.  And being sick in a world created for healthy people is a daily challenge even on a good day.

What has taken the longest to articulate are the drastic spiritual shifts that have occurred.  No doubt that all these aspects are interconnected.  The combination of going back to therapy, starting a meditation practice, re-entering the world of bodywork as a patient, and writing publicly about my assault have launched me into the question, “Where is my intuition and vulnerability leading me?”  I don’t really know the answer to this question, but at least for now, I’m writing this post.  And this post speaks of the beginning of my journey into the Sacred Feminine.

_____________________________________________________________________

75% of those affected by autoimmune disease are women.  Researchers now know that in order to get an autoimmune disease, a “perfect storm” must present itself.  25% can be “blamed” on genes, yet 75% comes from a variety of environmental triggers-be it diet, leaky gut, a parasite or gut infection, stress, environmental toxins or mold.  Someone could have the genes for an autoimmune disorder, but not have the disease “turned on” because the gut micro-biome is in good shape.  (That is, my belief is that all autoimmune disease starts in the gut.)

The next question that surfaces is: “Could our lifestyle help these genes to not be “turned on” and have a full-blown autoimmune disease surface?

Well, if this is true, we have a lot of culturally pressures, that we must learn to resist, even if it feels almost impossible.  But generally what do we as Americans give into?

Our over-structured, over-scheduled pace of life.  Productivity.  Efficiency.

Stress.  Fear of Missing Out.  Accumulating Stuff.  Hiding Our Emotions.

Our body wasn’t meant to be this busy.  And people intuitively know this if they would be honest with themselves.  And this isn’t just about sick people.

We don’t know how to rest anymore.  And most of us, feeling hopeless, just assume we have to succumb to the busyness and connectedness of the world that isn’t going to change.

But I want to step back and say that the subconscious of our nation is toxic.  We have valued to the extreme, masculine ideals and neglected the feminine to our demise.  Pushing harder and doing more and making money isn’t ultimately fulfilling.  And my generation knows this.  We long for authenticity, for stories, for ritual, for meaning.


What aspects of the feminine consciousness have we neglected?

(And when I say feminine consciousness, this exists in everyone!)

We have neglected the earth, our bodies, rest, emotions, intuition, and friendship.

When we neglect the earth, when we decimate forests, when we throw chemicals on crops, when we mistreat animals, we endanger ecosystems, create contaminated soil (rotating crops and not just making corn for high fructose corn syrup would be a good idea!) and contaminated food.

When we neglect the body, we live in a dull, numb, and painful state.  We push too hard to be productive, to “make it” in today’s world, but we become deaf to our bodies’ cries.

When we neglect rest, we can no longer live in the moment.  We lose the ability to cultivate gratitude and to unplug from external and internal demands the mind is constantly making.

When we neglect our emotions, we hold in or lash out in anger, bitterness, and resentment. Forgiveness of ourselves becomes impossible.  Forgiveness of our enemy unthinkable.

When we neglect our collective intuition, we graduate smart people who have no empathy.  We have doctors who believe that many women in this nation are hypochondriacs.  We create a nation where many people suffer alone, because we don’t have guides of people following their intuition, or we don’t know how to find those people.

When we neglect friendship, work or family takes over.  Neither work or family are bad–yet we have more needs and desires than these.  We need different experiences.  We need to laugh.  We need people to keep showing up because they want to.


How do we wake up?

I feel like that question can only be answered in honest community, not just by reading this post and giving it a minute’s thought.  I’m confident though that in honest community, through stories and fights and listening, through prioritizing women’s voices-you might just find your way to an answer.  Investment will be involved though.

On a personal level though, I will speak of the practices that have been part of my “awakening.”

  • A mindfulness practice.  There’s plenty to pick from.  Choose one.  Stick to it.  Pay attention to the subtle changes.  Warning: no instant gratification here.
  • Yoga, or another form of mindful exercise that brings you into your body and out of your head.
  • Friendships with people who are open to growth and change.
  • Deep soul searching of ways we are harming the earth.
  • Listening to the answers to these questions:
    • What do I want?
    • Where do I hurt?

Having Hashimoto’s has shifted my spirituality in that I no longer have a choice whether or not I want to neglect my body or not.  So I’m letting my body speak, and I’m listening.  I’m integrating the feminine into my culturally-conditioned, unbalanced masculine soul.  I’m more willing to let my personal journey lead me into the unknown.

75% of people with autoimmune conditions are women.  That’s  a hard fact to come back to.  For in fact, the unbalanced masculine,  wanting to dominate nature has in fact harmed women most.  For women intuitively know that the health of the earth and our bodies are interconnected.

Yet if our collective longing is healing and wholeness, maybe then we will have enough courage to say, “We are all sick.”  Not broken, but in need of healing.  Maybe then we would lean on each other in friendship and tell our stories.  Speak of the evil in our own hearts and how we want to dominate the “other.”  Maybe then our relationships would be mutual, separated from roles of “giver” and “receiver.” Maybe we could learn to be quiet in community again, not needing to fix, but simply being present.  Maybe we could risk being awkward and breaking social norms.

Maybe, just maybe the swarms of chronically ill women in this country, as they commit themselves to healing–will be the wise healers, one of the most sought after female archetypes.