Healing Trauma Through Vulnerability #metooDina Saalisi
~ Saint John’s Wort Flower Benefits ~
As the days wane and darkness looms over the season, the radiant energy of Saint John’s Wort shines like a beacon amid the shadows. I feel myself filling with golden light, as I open to the warmth of this flowering star. Bright petals spread like arms, hold me in a dazzling embrace.
The quality of this essence is one of enlightened consciousness, illuminating an otherwise dim awareness. When one feels spiritually depleted and unable to feel enlivened, this ally emits a profound glow that allows for an awakening of cosmic forces.
A protective brilliance surrounding the outer body results in a luminosity of spirit. An elucidation of physical presence connected with emotional depth, this flower lifts us out of the darkness and bathes us in a healing light.
Photo by Dina Saalisi
Copyright 2017 Dina Saalisi Healing Arts
As I reflect on the recent deluge of stories of sexual abuse and assault, coming from millions, of all ages, every color, each gender, I am struck by the normalcy and magnitude of this horror. It seems we have all experienced sexual mistreatment in some form, ranging from lewd comments as we walk down the street to long-term, ongoing abuse by parents or partners.
I myself a survivor of incest and sexual abuse, have worked for years to reclaim this wounded part of myself and rise above the fear, shame and judgment accompanied by it. This public, online exclamation of “Me Too!” is exposing this insidious secret in a way that allows for a deeper healing to occur.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.
Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy…
…the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.
Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ Brené Brown
The recent outcry on social media, although empowering, has left many feeling scared and vulnerable. Being able to feel vulnerable, yet supported, is the key to healing this trauma.
In my work as a Narrative Health Coach I help others to heal, in part, by giving them permission to view their story through different lenses. Being able to develop new perspectives around “the story I tell myself” and not be defined by one aspect of the story is a powerful move that can only come about once we have allowed ourselves to recognize our pain and share it in a safe way.
My own experience of healing from sexual abuse trauma was engaged when I became part of a support group for incest survivors. After the birth of my first child, memories of being abused as a small child by my father, then later on by my brother, came flooding back to me. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning and when I did, my stomach was in knots all day. I began to lock myself away from friends and family and thought I would die from the pain.
I had been in therapy before and knew I needed to get help. Not knowing where to turn, I reached out to my local domestic abuse treatment center. I met with a therapist there and she was in the process of forming a support group for incest survivors. We met weekly with 6 other women, for many months. Each week we took turns telling our stories.
I can remember looking in the face of each woman as she revealed the pain of being sexually abused by a father, an uncle, a teacher, a brother, a priest, a doctor, a mother. My heart broke and mended with each story. And when it was my turn, I felt a fear that was almost unbearable. I remember my sweaty palms and sick stomach as I spoke, feeling as if I were in a dream.
When I finished, I looked around the room and for the first time, I felt like somehow it was going to be OK. From this place of exposure and vulnerability I was able to grow stronger and begin to shed the shame around what had happened to me. Now nearly 20 years later, I am working with others to guide them in healing this deep wounding by bearing witness to their story.
Shame by Dina Saalisi
I didn’t ask for it
By wearing something too sexy
Or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time
I was a girl
In my home
Alone with my poetry and open heart
You entered and stole something that wasn’t yours
And thrust upon me a heaping pile of shame
Now with arms of steel and a mended heart
I give it back
Shame on you
By bringing trauma out of the darkness and illuminating it, we become able to heal. Through our collective voices as survivors of sexual abuse, we are taking a stand in recognizing that we are not alone. This in itself is a comfort and a healing.
Today, the “support group” is a cyber-community, where we tell our stories and share our vulnerabilities. The next step is to go outside, smell the flowers, breath the air and talk with others, face to face, about how you are feeling right now. Allow your vulnerability to guide you, allow your voice to be heard, allow your burdens to be witnessed and held by those who have experienced this trauma too.
If you find this difficult or scary, reach out to a skilled therapist to help guide you on your journey. It’s good to remember that our perpetrators have themselves experienced abuse. Perhaps this vocalization will help some of them to find their voice and speak out about what was done to them.
We are in this together. As a community, we can give rise to a monumental healing of this pervasive abuse.