I attended an event last night, a gathering of women present to hear six women speak about what they are passionate about. I was fortunate to start off the evening with a story meditation about the Virgin Mary as a story of the Patriarchy. It was incredibly vulnerable for me, I channeled the message late yesterday morning, it had weight and freedom lining each letter and I was so afraid to share, but I did. Five other women got up and spoke after me, each one of them stunning in their honesty and inspiring in their vulnerability. It was an honour to to be a part of such an uplifting evening.
It was light, there was so much light. And today, in all things human and honest I am holding shadow. One of the women got up and told us about her Sexual Assault, and in particular how it stole her movement, she was a dancer, a ballerina. She quit ballet eight months after the incident much a mystery to her parents and dance community and entered survival mode in silence and secrecy, where she stayed for 14 years.
She told my story. I am a ballerina and I have the same story.
My rape stole my movement, stole my creativity. Because we live in a rape culture relentless in its victim shaming I didn’t tell anyone. I carried the story in my blood and bones for years until one-day siting in a circle of eight other women, all of whom were rape survivors sharing their stories, did mine, finally play out in fullness across the screen of my third eye. I was conscious of two of my rapes until that moment, and then, I was conscious of the third. Like a black and white movie playing out in front of my eyes, scene after scene of unconscious Annalise being unlawfully taken advantage of. This knowledge changed me. If I thought I hated myself before, well. I was headed head first into depths I could never have imagined. Feeling so immeasurably undeserving I became a shell less than human. I had been a good girl; I didn’t understand why. Why, three times? Why, me? … The judges daughter.
I struggled with self esteem throughout my life anyway as I had inherited genetic baggage of unworthiness and guilt – the kind that shapes and colours a world in black and grey and fear. So I struggled before, but after, I had no capacity left within me to believe that I was in any way deserving of success, not only success but deserving of what I wanted. Because in three life altering moments what I wanted spilled from my lips like soft broken prayers pleading that my NO would be loud enough that I could stay in my body, that I could live, that I could be honoured and saved by a word, that held at that moment all of my dignity. And No, it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough, not big enough, loud enough or strong enough.
These experiences defined the rest of my life.
I am now thirty-two, it is fifteen years later. I work in a misogynistic, sexist and weighted patriarchal field 40 hours a week, I work with men of a passing age and they are fighting for their survival. I experience on a daily basis language that triggers and offends me, language that reminds me how far we have yet to go in healing the world of the sorrow of living too much in the mind, and too far from the heart. Today, at least he was told by someone who overheard him how vulgar his words were, and I was given an apology. I don’t usually get apologies, and so today he gets another yellow card, a kind of forgiveness from me because I do think that his misogyny is accidental. So I keep praying.
My best friend, is launching her new dance company in Vancouver tonight. Luminesque. I’ve been thinking about and wanting to attending this class for three weeks. And, tonight I’m not going to make it. Because, I am grieving again, a sense of safety. I am spilling out a truth, wet faced and real into words on a keyboard that will hopefully find their way to a woman who needs to know my story to a woman whose story is the same. To a woman who wants so desperately to feel safe, with a chainsaw in her hands or nipple tassels on her breasts.
There is much beauty also because of it, there is a depth to me that few have ever witnessed. As a lover, I have yet to say I have been fully seen. But, there is a capacity I hold to heal another because of the places I have been, the sorrow I have known, and a willingness to fight to survive. I have have come back from these places. Perhaps, tomorrow I will make it to dance, and this written expression will heal sweetness into my void of worthiness that I could reach into becoming the power I know I am.
The Virgin Mary, is a story of the Patriarchy.
“… And so I tell you now, The Virgin Mary is a story of the Patriarchy, she was not what they have told us. She was vastness’ greatest dream she was more than man could see and so they tamed her. And told us of her power through the lens of shadowed light, of her capacity to reach a level of devotion so vast that it instilled within her the power to create life, and they took from her, her greatest gift, her child, reminding her of her place among men.
Imagine a Lion, free and wild.
Now cover and cloak this cat in a mantle and veil, what happens to her power, it sleeps. It goes into hibernation; it rests to reset. And so, let us not judge our repression and hold sorrow over missed-steps and lost direction. Let us simply remove the mantle, rip the veil, and wake up to our becoming. “
May Sweetness Find you
All my love,