These days I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but I am a woman who from an early age was subject to nonconsensual, inappropriate sexual attention and aggression. Those incidents took various forms, the worst of those being date rape.
While I don’t identify myself as a victim and these incidents happened many years ago, the complex and profound emotional impact of those experiences live in my body and psyche. They have shaped the direction of my life, the quality of my relationships, and who I have become as an adult.
The reason that I am impelled to discuss this now is that the issues being raised by the current electoral race have had a surprising and unexpected effect on me, triggering thoughts and feelings that I thought that I had successfully worked through long ago. Evidently this isn’t the case because here I am, years later, reliving negative emotions from the past. It has been frustrating, disheartening, and strangely debilitating but has given me a fantastic opportunity to process my experiences, re-examine my life, and re-claim my power as a woman.
I have chosen to share the following information with anyone who may have a similar story and might benefit from my journey.
In the early years of my life, the intensity and depth of the emotions associated with the unwelcome violations of my body, mind, and spirit were at times overwhelming. At first my primary coping mechanism was to mentally check out, to place my mind in a state of detached fantasy. I soon recognized that this strategy wasn’t particularly productive but it was the best I could do at the time.
Eventually I devised a more successful coping strategy which was to channel the intensity of my emotional energy into pursuits that empowered me. Over the course of my lifetime I became a national record holder as a competitive athlete, earned a second degree black belt in martial arts, and achieved worldwide recognition as a technical cave diver and explorer. I have matured into a fiercely independent woman dedicated to living a non-conventional, positively focused, adventure-filled life. My work as a life coach and energy-clearing practitioner is dedicated to the empowerment of people, particularly women.
To support a healthy state of mind, body and spirit I have created a flexible work schedule and the means to travel extensively. I visit remote settings in nature to immerse myself in the pristine energy field of wild animals. Much of my time is spent in the open ocean swimming freely with cetaceans and other large marine animals.
It has taken time to get here, but through determination and the discipline to keep my focus forward and on the future instead of my past, I have established a beautiful, balanced, fulfilling lifestyle. I have a tremendous amount of fun and blend laughter, passion, humor and play into everything I do.
My biggest challenge as result of the difficult experiences in my youth has been in the realm of intimate relationships. It has taken far more courage to cultivate emotional intimacy within a committed relationship than it has to participate in any adventurous activity I have partaken in as an individual. It’s something that I continue to struggle with and probably always will. But it is a priority for me to share my life with a partner within a healthy, monogamous relationship so I am willing to take the risk and do the work. The most challenging aspect of this is my ability to trust.
Fortunately at this phase in my life I am drawn to strong, intelligent, accomplished men who are secure in their masculinity. Men like this are appropriately expressive in their sexuality, they can and do respect women because their confidence is based on an internal measure of self worth instead of an external need for validation.
I no longer have the time, desire, need, or interest to be involved in any way with men who fundamentally disrespect women. I have the means and ability to not associate with men of that level of consciousness and they are not a part of my daily reality. Nevertheless I occasionally experience moments of raw vulnerability triggered by exposure to insecure, morally bankrupt, misogynistic men who blatantly express sexually inappropriate words and/or behavior. It’s rare but it happens, and I’m embarrassed to admit that such exposure impacts me at such a deep, core level that I have trouble breathing. And because it happens, it means that I have not yet successfully cleared the emotional residue from my past experiences from my system.
As mentioned above, the electoral race has brought this issue into my awareness in a consistent, grotesque, and pervasive way. While I’m typically able to ignore and dismiss most disparaging comments or behaviors by random insecure men, this situation has been overwhelming. Day after day, the increasingly disturbing words and actions of this toxic front-running candidate are broadcast through every possible media outlet. His despicable behavior is an ongoing topic of focus and conversation that has infected our collective consciousness and has enraged countless women and those who care about them.
On a personal level the unwelcome onslaught of this misogynistic energy has triggered waves of emotions that have resurfaced within my body and energy field. I have felt dirty, violated, and as though I want to crawl out of my own skin. Which has ultimately been a good thing, because it has made me realize that it’s time to get this poison out of my system for once and for all.
Until now I have never openly discussed the existence of sexual abuses from my childhood and early adulthood, except for edited fragments shared with a few close friends. No one has heard the full extent of the incidents or details of those experiences, nor will I ever share them. There are many reasons for this as anyone who has suffered the effects sexual abuse well understands. To be honest, it’s not necessary to discuss the details and perpetuate the drama— what is important for me is to let the collective energy of those experiences go, through open disclosure.
As a supremely private person who is not accustomed to expressing my vulnerability, it has taken a lot of time, careful consideration and bravery to speak about a topic so painful and close to my heart. It is sad but helpful to know that my experiences and feelings are not unique. They are shared by thousands of women who like myself have stoically and silently carried the weight of similar wounds for most of their lives.
To quote Michelle Obama: “So many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect… but here we are in 2016 and we are hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it. And all of us are doing what women have always done. We’re trying to keep our heads above water, just trying to get through it, trying to pretend like this doesn’t really bother us. Maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak, maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet, because we’ve seen that people often won’t take our word over his… and maybe we don’t want to believe that there are people out there who think so little of us as women.”
Well Michelle, I’m no longer willing to swallow my emotions and remain quiet. Aggressive, sexist words and actions hurt. They cut to the core of our being and denigrate our spirit. But the admission of my pain is not a sign of my weakness, instead it is proof of the weakness of those who have attempted to denigrate me and other women. I have not only admitted the depth of my pain but have transmuted it into the fiery energy that has fueled the creation of my extraordinary life.
Expressing myself in this way has been extremely cathartic and empowering. In breaking my silence I have released the emotional residue from my energy field and set my spirit free. I can now see a man like Donald Trump for the pathetic, insecure man that he is without feeling an emotional charge. Instead I only feel pity and compassion. I guess in my own way I am saying to him and men like him, “You’re fired!”.
I’m a fighter and a spiritual warrior, known for my clarity, insightfulness, and integrity. This has been a process of moving into full alignment with my truth to reclaim my voice and power as a woman who has earned it. It feels fantastic to be grounded and whole… to have ‘made my life great again’.
My hope is that others may be inspired and empowered by my coming forward with my personal story. I’m already feeling a resurgence of the light, joy, humor, empowerment and spiritual fluidity that is the essence of who I am.
I would like to thank Michelle Obama for her grace, class, and eloquence in addressing this issue and for giving voice to what many of us feel but few have ever expressed. And I thank her for inspiring me to have the courage to finally give voice to thoughts and feelings I have silently carried with me for my entire life.
Here is the speech that inspired me: