Last week I was honored to speak about my #MeToo art and the story behind it to the Soroptimist International of St.Helena. To this group of open, compassionate women, for the first time, I told my entire story of childhood sexual abuse at age 3, the abandonment, denial and betrayal by my family and the years of growing up with recurrent nightmares, anxiety, fear and distrust I shared some of my #MeToo art. Also, for the first time, I introduced my #MeToo Journey, a five-step process of Healing and Transformation that grew out of my need to move beyond the terror and trauma of that long ago experience. Creating the #MeToo art as an adult is Step 1 of that process leading towards Transformation. It is Truth Telling, the first step. Read on for my complete #MeToo Journey. It is a challenging and beautiful journey. Would you care to join me? The destination is Transformation.
My #MeToo art marks the first step towards that end. It holds the emotional, psychic truth of my experience of childhood sexual abuse. Abuse that my family denied. Abuse that left me isolated and alone, guilty, shamed and hurting from age three. Abuse that left me silenced, invisible, terrified and determined to protect myself as the adults would not.
Step one is telling the truth. Standing up and facing down the forces to stay silent, invisible.
The forces that demand we keep the boat steady , the water of everyone else’s feelings even and undisturbed. Currently there is a tsunami of truth telling from women. I’m honored to be a drop in this huge ocean.
On the journey to wholeness, healing and transformation after sexual harm, the first step is Truth Telling
Step two is Witnessing. Truth needs to be heard, received and acknowledged. It needs to be included in the consciousness of others who care enough to bear witness. The circle of inclusion that true Witnessing provides, draws the shattered soul out of isolation, abandonment and fear into community, safety and protection.
Witnessing requires love, courage, an open heart and the willingness to experience discomfort.
Both Truth-Telling and Witnessing requires courage.
I’m deeply grateful to all those brave people who gave witness to my experience; who stand before my art and see, not just the pain, but also, the beauty of creativity and the way that play and visual inventiveness can infuse the most distressing subjects. This is a form of communion.
It is a form of liberation for healing for both creator and viewer. It is its own kind of Beauty.
Step three is Liberation. Moving from the darkness of secrecy, hiding and isolation into the heart-expanding light and warmth of being heard and being seen by compassionate, empathetic, receptive others.It is Liberation from the prison of self concealment into the warmth, light and love of caring community. How did you "liberate " yourself from darkness?
Moving from the darkness of secrecy is liberation
Moving from the darkness of secrecy, hiding and isolation into the heart-expanding light and warmth of being heard and being seen by compassionate, empathetic, receptive others. is Liberation from the prison of self concealment into the warmth, light and love of caring community.
Step four. In this step of the #MeToo journey, we experience the Restoration and Belonging that comes from having ones true story and authentic experience received and integrated into the conscious life and story of the community. We are no longer wounded beings hiding in the underbrush and brambles. We are valued members of the tribe being brought into the circle of light and warmth of belonging and nurture. We are restored as individuals and as full, treasured members of the collective. And as the separating wall of secrecy dissolves, the community itself is expanded, enlivened and enriched.
Step five. Transformation. It is real. It can happen. It happens when the restoration to a caring community and the belonging that restoration generates heals the wounds of sexual harm and trauma. The community. The warm and tender place where the embrace of loving hearts heals the cracks and fissures. Community calls the broken pieces of Self into Wholeness. The Wholeness is the chrysalis with all the codes, all the information necessary for total Transformation: from wounded to healed, from victim to Victor, from excluded to Included, from caterpillar to Butterfly, from invisibility to Visibility. From disempowered to fully Empowered. Magnificence. Transformation. It’s real. For individuals, for every single person in community who cares enough to hear Truth, bear Witness, give Caring and Loving, embrace Transformation. It's there for us all.