29 September 2018
Rage is a natural and healthy response, sisters
Women respond to rape culture
This is a hard time, sisters. How are you feeling? Are you grieving, or remembering/reliving old traumas? Feeling confused, or enraged?
These responses are all healthy and natural. We are standing with and among the survivors.
Like all of the staff, I am working long days preparing for the conference. In the background, I have been tracking the stories of women in the wake of the senate judiciary committee hearings and the testimony of Christine Basley Ford. I see rape culture everywhere.
For at least a week, I have been feeling a low level of rage stirring in my body. At times it intensifies and I pause to allow the emotions to surge through me. A furious bike ride Tuesday morning. Home alone for 15 minutes on Thursday evening, I yell, hitting the bed, and collapse into sobs. Why am I so enraged?
I draw from my needs-based language training, remembering that my feelings—in this case anger and grief—point me to underlying needs. I ask myself, what needs are not met, by this current display of rape culture? Many needs are not met. Respect. Safety. Valuing. Integrity. Honesty. A shared sense of reality. These are all basic human needs.
Christine says her story haunts her. Her story haunts me too. In the wee hours of the night I recount, digest, and integrate the #WhyIDidn’tReport stories coursing through social media feeds from my sisters, friends, family, students.
I lie awake integrating my own memories and stories—again. As I sort through my emotions, I continue to become more and more clear and un-confused. The poem, “Change”(below) written by Ellen Bass, author of The Courage To Heal, has long been a touchstone for me. I was 19 when a mentor directed me to her book. Thank god/dess for the women’s movement!
Some nights, I journal before I can move back into sleep. As Belleruth Naperstak says, "when I can accept my feelings, soften around them and breathe through them, I allow myself to heal." Her guided imagery CDS are at my bedside, with her heart-centered guided visualization “Healing Trauma” at the top of the stack. I listen to them regularly to support my sleep my continued healing through my dreams.
Take gentle care of yourselves, sisters. Everything you are feeling is valid and real. We are standing together.
"Change" from The Courage to Heal
by Ellen Bass
This is where I yank the old roots
from my chest, like tomatoes
we let grow until December, stalks
thick as saplings.
This is the moment when the ancient fears
race like thoroughbreds, asking for more
and more rein. And, I, the driver,
for some reason they know nothing of
strain to hold them back.
Terror grips me like a virus
and I sweat, fevered,
trying to burn it out.
This feat is so invisible. All you can see
is a woman going about her ordinary day,
drinking tea, taking herself to the movies,
reading in bed. If victorious
I will look exactly the same.
Yet I am hoisting a car from mud ruts
half a century deep. I am hacking
a clearing through the fallen slash
of my heart. Without laser precision,
with only the primitive knife of need, I cut
and splice the circuitry of my brain.