Category Archives: truth

Claiming my Child ~ Re-Membering My Self

Shame ~

noun

1. the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous,etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.

2. susceptibility to this feeling: to be without shame.

3. disgrace; ignominy: His actions brought shame upon his parents.

4. a fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret: The bankruptcy of the business was a shame. It was a shame you couldn’t come with us.

verb (used with object), shamed, sham·ing.

5. to cause to feel shame; make ashamed: His cowardice shamed him.

6. to drive, force, etc., through shame: He shamed her into going.

7. to cover with ignominy or reproach; disgrace.

Why is it that shame, guilt and humiliation are often the first emotions running through our bodies when we are sexually abused?  When I am sexually abused.  Let me own the truth of my story.  Let me speak the words that have been silent within me for way too long.  Silent in words but present in my body.

I am tiny, small for my age.  Am I five years old or six?  Close to five, I think.  I am a Magical Child, meaning that I live easily within the Realm of Possibility, the world of my imagination just as real to me as the physical world around me.

So I am five, maybe six, years old, and am sent next door to the Wilson’s to fetch my younger sister.  She often goes next door to have tea with Mrs. Wilson or to play with their youngest child, Tim.  Mrs. Wilson is busy in the kitchen and I’m sent down to the basement to see if Susan is there.  Monsters live in basements.

Down the wooden stairs in the unfinished basement are two things I remember.  Black wrestling mats and a large pool table with enticing coloured pool balls.  And grey cement walls.  I remember the cold, stark walls and the many colours of the pool table balls.  I remember Timmy standing, silent and afraid, on the black wrestling mats.

There is something else in that basement.  The monster.  He is big, with big hands and big, fat fingers, and I’m sitting on his lap.  Or rather, he is holding me on one of his big, fat legs.  His legs are spread apart and my tiny, little girl body is being held on one of those legs, his big arm wrapped around me.  His left arm.  The hand of that left arm is inside my little girl underpants and his big, sausage finger is pushed inside my tiny, little girl vagina.

He is violating me in a way no little girl should be violated.  And I am filled with shame, humiliation and guilt.  Where does this come from?  What kind of world is it where a big man sexually assaults a little girl and it’s the little girl that feels shame?

I remember being held on the monster’s knee at the side of the pool table being told to play with the brightly coloured balls.  The very same brightly coloured balls that were so enticing, now revolt me.  I focus on the cool smoothness as I reluctantly roll the yellow ball back and forth.

Disassociating, I learn many, many years later, separating my Self from my body as those fat sausage fingers claim my vagina.  Disassociating, as my tiny right hand is wrapped around the monster’s erect penis, cupped within the monster’s own right hand.

I am five, maybe six years old.  I told no one.

Until fifteen or sixteen years later and the long suppressed memory surfaces with amazing buoyancy while watching a TV show about childhood sexual abuse.  The body remembers what the mind cannot.

I told my then husband the biggest truth of my life.  I gave voice to the shameful secret and was met with silence.  I tried again, but again the words were doused with a blanket of uncomfortable silence.

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And so I buried my poor silent Wounded Child far deep inside me.

Until now.  Now I surrender my voice.  Wrong words.  I give my voice with love to my Wounded Child.  To my Magical Child.  One day a horrible thing happened to my Magical Child that wounded her greatly.  She did nothing wrong and everything right.

Today I invoke The Opening of the Mouth*

It is time for what has been silenced to be heard.

It is enough!  It is enough!!

IT IS ENOUGH!!!

With these words I release that which is no longer serving me.  Which never served me – the guilt and shame that silenced my voice.

May all beings who need to be healed by touched the grace of healing.

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Jumping Into the Deep End of Conversations

I’m sitting with a cup of tea in the Monday night quiet, reading the latest Still Sunday post by the shining Annie Q.  My son Patrick sits at the kitchen table with his own cup of tea and his headphones on, listening to music as he works on his Art History homework.  Shared stillness.

I take a bite of my salty seaweed snack and read some wisdom words that Annie’s mama told her; thoughts and observations about relationships and the importance of communication.  Or rather, the importance of Important Communication.

“Make a commitment to the difficult conversations—not everything can be resolved at once but frequent kneading is necessary—and one may realize the life span of the relationship was barely a year and not seven.”

Kneading dough for ravioli....

I wonder; would I have heard this a life time ago, when I was seventeen years old, a Damsel in Distress meeting her rescuing Knight?  Would I have heard the meaning in these words short years later as I walked up the aisle to marry my Dark Knight?

Earlier today I’m sitting with my good friend of twenty-five years, drinking peppermint tea, looking at the view of the ocean and talking about relationships.  We have a shared parallel history; we both married and had children very young, we both married narcissistic men, we were both horribly betrayed.

Yet, we are both ultimately grateful for the gift that those betrayals brought us – an awakening and freedom.  An awakening from the illusion, delusion and chimera of our marriages and the freedom from the fantasy and the exhausting effort of maintaining those illusions.  A freedom to live in Truth.

We shake our heads at how hard we worked to imagine our husbands’ as we wanted them to be, as we believed them to be.  How difficult it was to see the glass ball of the illusion when we lived inside of it.  A snow globe filled with falling lies.

If not for my Dark Knight, I wouldn’t have my four children.  If not for the wounds my Dark Knight inflicted on me, I wouldn’t have fallen into my dark night of the soul and embarked on the most difficult and rewarding journey of my life.  I wouldn’t have embarked on my Life.

This blog is, in part, my commitment to the difficult conversations in life.  To not sweep aside the shattered shards of broken illusions, but, instead, to hold the blood covered pieces up to the light in examination and illumination.  To show my children what is possible in a time of crisis.  To show my children not to shy away from speaking the truth or initiating their own difficult conversations.

I am grateful for Annie Q’s mama.  For the gift of her daughter.  And for the gift of wisdom she imparts to her daughter.  I aspire to be that kind of mama to my own children.

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Filed under Archetypes, truth

To Thine Own Self Be True

**I wrote this in 2006, shortly after the illusions of my life were suddenly and painfully illuminated.  Then, as now, I strive to live in the truth.

          —————————————————————————————————–

Veracity is adherence to the truth.

Veracity is the heart of morality  ~ Thomas H. Huxley

my hand outstretched over a background of summer grass, the word truth written in red inside a red heart

Love the Truth

What does it mean to live in the truth?  Is it true that to be dishonest is to be amoral?   Can you keep a secret, or tell a little white lie, and still honour the truth?   I find myself growing wings and embarking on a journey to discover what living in the truth means.  It has become my quest, my search for the Holy Grail, the only way I know to learn and grow from the tsunami that has hit my life.

Nine months ago, as my twenty-four year marriage was exploding and my world was dissolving and evolving without me, my soon-to-be ex-husband asked me a question, “What do you want in life?”

I sat with that question for a while and the answer came to me – I want to live a life of truth.  After living for so long with my head planted firmly and deeply in the sand, with my eyes and ears cloaked in so many years of lies and denials, I needed to be immersed in the truth.  I needed to know what that looked like, what that felt like.  I needed the truth to guide me on my voyage of discovery.  I needed to know what living in the truth meant.

Galileo said “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”  In this ‘age of enlightenment’, my spiritual quest for the truth is not unique. A search on Google for “inner truth” spits out 5,500,000 possible matches; over 2000 titles on enlightenment are available from Amazon. As the baby-boomers hit middle-age and beyond and are confronted with the undeniable truth of their impending mortality, more and more people are becoming seekers, looking to uncover their own meaning of life.

I set out to discover my own truths.  Eihei Dogen, one of Zen Buddhism’s most prominent figures, wrote, “If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”   I believe in a Higher Power, that everything happens for a reason, and that wherever you are, is where you are meant to be.  These were the truths I carried with me on my journey.  When I was falling into the abyss of grief and fear, they were my lifeline which kept me from drowning.  I studied dozens of books taking notes and highlighting as I went, journaling about what I read and learned, discovering insights about my life as I wrote.  I began seeing a psychologist to help unravel my ‘self’ from that of my ex-husband and to slowly peel back the layers of protection that covered the truth.  I began to unwind and separate the threads of my truth from his truth.

I spent time cleaning the clutter from my closets and cupboards, filling boxes for a garage sale and giving away bags of clothes and shoes and in so doing I began to clear my mind as well.  I learned how to practice meditation and incorporated that into my daily life.  I began to sit in stillness, to immerse myself into whatever thought, feeling and emotion that flowed through me. I began to find the truth hidden within.  My discovery of myself and my truth became my vocation.  Peeling back the layers of the onion to reveal my authentic Self has been the most wrenching yet rewarding task I have ever done.

I needed to learn the truths about myself which I had long been denying – to acknowledge and take ownership and responsibility over my own actions and choices during my life and my marriage.  I needed to own and accept all my ‘selves’, the dark as well as the light.  Marianne Williamson, spiritual activist and internationally acclaimed author and lecturer, teaches us that “Emotional wholeness is the acknowledgment and integration of all our qualities.”

A sprinkling of rose petals frame the words Live in Truth with a small burning candle set inside a glass flower placed on the lower left corner.  In order to live in the truth, we need to live in all our truths, not just those that serve to present us in what we deem to be a positive light.  Williamson goes on to say that “We seem to have great resistance to looking at our lives, and our world, with emotional honesty”, yet to do anything less is to deny ourselves the opportunity to live a whole and complete life.

We also need to learn to separate our own truths from those of others, to take ownership over our own emotions and not to take ownership over the emotions and choices of another.  To take false ownership not only denies the truth within you, but also denies the right of responsibility from its true owner.  This was clearly demonstrated to me in the relationship with my good friend, Carla.

When I first learned about my husband’s affair, I was hurt, angry, devastated and humiliated.  My immediate reaction was to keep private the details of our separation as I learned to process and recover.  Carla was the one person to whom I entrusted my thoughts and emotions, and I asked her to keep my confidence.  I felt then, as I do now, that my separation and divorce and the reasons behind them, are my story to tell – when, if and to whom.

Several times during the ensuing months, Carla would accuse me of not living in the truth because I was not revealing the affair to the world at large.  Each time she confronted me with this, I would step back and question myself – by choosing to keep this part of my life private and asking Carla to keep this secret, did this mean I was not living in and acknowledging the truth?

Martha Beck, a Harvard-trained sociologist and an innovator in life coaching, compares secrets to stars in her New York Times best seller, Finding Your Own North Star.  She says “They’re hot, volatile concentrations of energy, and they have two ways of dying.  Over time, small stars simply burn out and cool off, becoming what astronomers call white dwarfs.  Massive stars collapse in on themselves, growing so dense that they create an immense gravitational vortex from which even light can’t escape.  They become black holes.”  I wondered whether my secret was a black hole and whether I was in danger of being sucked into its whirling vortex.

I meditated, studied, journaled and talked with my therapist about this.  I came to trust and believe my own instinct to find a way to define ‘black hole secrets’.  If keeping the secret causes emotional or physical pain to anyone then it’s a safe bet you’re in danger of being pulled apart by the black hole.  However, if the only discomfort felt is the need to gossip, then the only person served well by breaking the confidence is the person who is doing the telling. You can live in and honour the truth and still keep a secret.

The more I learned about myself, the more I began to trust the truth of my instincts and to listen to my ‘gut’.  As I learned to accept and take ownership over my choices, my feelings and my truths, I felt my reality shift.  A miracle happened in my life;  I began to lose the pain, fear and grief surrounding my separation and impending divorce.  A miracle is really just a shift in the lens through which you perceive life.  I realized my husband’s affair was not about me, it was about him and his choices and denials and his own hidden truths.

I let go of the life I had thought I was living and the future I had envisioned.  I let go of the person I was and surrendered to be the person I was always meant to be.  I learned from my past and stopped living in it.  I stopped projecting and expecting the future and instead, I work at living in the moment, taking comfort in the knowledge that what is meant to be – will be.  The I Ching states that “A light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized.”  This can only happen when we have the courage to face our self-deception, denials and illusions – to face things exactly as they are.

"The Seekscape" painted by my son Patrick O'Neill

I am still learning and discovering what it means to live a life of truth.  I will forever be on this voyage.  What I know for sure is that the truth is the only path to a whole and complete life.  I have learned from Mahatma Gandhi’s principal of non-violence which declares that “moral force emanates from righteous action”.  I believe, as Marianne Williamson states in A Gift of Change, that “while such force might not have observable effects, it indeed has effects on an invisible plane.  By simply standing in Truth – not only in words but through our behavior as well – we help create a wave of power that will heal the world.”

When I embarked on my pilgrimage I hoped to find healing, solace and peace.  I wanted to show my children what was possible in a time of crisis, to grow as a person.  I needed to learn from the earthquake which had destroyed my world.  I had no idea that I would find something much more powerful.  I would find my Self.

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Filed under Spirituality, truth