“When the bottom falls out of your
reality, you then pay attention to yourself, your fears, dreams
and needs in a very different manner.
You have nothing to lose in letting the smoke screens in
your life fall away.
As you can learn to look at your life
honestly, without excuses and self-imposed, preconceived
conditions, you will find the levels of fear and anxiousness
willingness to re-evaluate the current ‘you” and the
possibilities for a new “you” is what turns limitation into
opportunity and destructive, old patterning into viable, healthy
new paths of growth.”
Meredith Lady Young
Language of the Soul: Applying Universal Principles for
does one heal and grow from an unthinkable traumatic experience?
It helps each of us when others open their hearts and
tell their stories. In this issue and several following,
personal stories illustrate how we can move beyond staying a
victim and how to use painful events to grow spiritually.
Know that the events that wounded us, whether or not they
are as severe as those in these stories, can deepen our
relationship with our Self and be used for the upliftment of our
consciousness. To raise our
consciousness out of the consensus reality of victim/victimizer
consciousness, takes tremendous courage and vigilance.
these courageous people to impact you and show you the way out
of trauma. Their sharing is
very personal and each of them hopes to show you that no matter
how challenging a life situation, there are ways to grow and
heal from the experience.
of the best teachers and healers are the wounded healers who
have healed themselves. Here is story number one. In the
following months you will read others. If you are drawn to write
your story, send it to me.
Number 1 Nancy
was a psychologist in the prison system in the state of Maryland
when two very traumatic events coincided many years ago. About
two weeks after the death of my father, I experienced a sexual
assault at work. This
was more than a very difficult time for me.
took place by an inmate, one who earlier had been one of my
could this even happen, you might ask? To answer simply there
were many things out-of-order that day.
Each inmate must, for example, be accounted for at all
times. Routines were not up to standard during the change of shifts
that late afternoon, in at that moment.
This is some of the data to explain how this assault
would such an abhorrent experience happen to me, a good person,
with good intentions, and spiritually based?
I asked myself this many times.
There were other questions and thoughts haunting my mind
too: “Why was I singled out?
What did I misread?
Where was my intuitive guidance?
How did I miss this one?
There must be something wrong with me, with my ability to
What did I do to bring this on?
How could rape be for anyone’s highest good?
I thought rape happened to those who placed themselves at
risk and/or didn’t follow the ‘high road.’
How do I continue my life when I feel so desecrated,
dirty, and violated? How can I ever return to my work? Where do I begin? What
is the value of anything? I
wish the rapist had just killed me so I wouldn’t have to feel
all this pain. I
don’t want to be alive. Why did this bring on the breakup of
my marriage? How
will I handle my overwhelming feelings that consume me one
minute, then seem so not a part of me the next?
Do I have the courage to make sense out of this?” My
mind wouldn’t stop at times.
I did heal enough emotionally to be able to ask, “What is the
purpose of this experience? What is it telling me?
What does it mean for me in terms of growing positively
from this?” I entered counseling and was able to return to
work and resume my graduate studies as a doctoral student.
It was not easy and I did stumble around in my pain,
anger, fears, doubt, and depression many times.
healing continues today, many years later. After a long process,
I did recover and I have created a new life that I love. I will
never forget this experience; however, I can put it behind me
and enjoy my life.
was my inner healing process like and how have I moved out of
the victim/victimizer pattern and belief system?
Sound possible? Earlier in my life I would have thought
no. One important thing I have learned through this experience
is that there is a deep, spiritual strength within to draw from
that I did not know existed. I had to mobilize tremendous
courage to face my fears and shadow, or unconscious side, to
review my life, my beliefs, and to learn the many lessons from
this experience. I
am continuing to learn about myself and heal even as you are
reading this passage. Let
me explain, in a minute, how I am taking responsibility for this
negative feeling experience and healing myself.
I must preface this discussion of moving out of duality thinking
of the victim/victimizer pattern by looking at the bigger
picture, with compassion for all that the human part of me, or
anyone else, goes through in such a trauma.
Getting to the bigger picture must never deny the pain
and suffering on a physical-emotional-mental level that I have
gone through. Nor does it deny either that the human, physical
world personality of Nancy took a long period of time to process
this event in order to heal and grow from it.
point needs some explanation here too.
Taking responsibility for my own life does not imply that
I am to blame for being raped, or that I consciously caused this
event. Our culture encourages the belief that women are
responsible for the crime of sexual assault by provoking the
victimizer or by failing to protect herself. This thinking
protects the male from being responsible and conveys that this
act would not have been committed if the female had not invited
the attack, by dressing certain ways, drinking, drugging, or
being a promiscuous person. Unfortunately, I have found these
stereotypical attitudes to be prevalent. This type of thinking
places blame on the one whom is assaulted and interferes with
the perpetrator taking responsibility for past actions, which
includes correcting behavior and paying the consequences.
is a very common line of thinking of people that investigate
such crimes, as well as, family and peers who react to the rape.
Even treatment personnel may fall prey to these attitudes. To
make matters worse many women have ignored their pain and
suffering when they have bought into this interpretation with
these kinds of accusations, believing they did deserve the
attack and did cause it, and therefore, stay trapped in a victim
position. Some have ignored their pain because of the disruption
it causes to accuse and bring charges of rape against someone
is not the type of responsibility I will be talking about in
this passage. Going to the soul level of understanding to see
the big picture, is not talking about this limited or distorted
type of belief of causation. I believe the intention of seeing
the bigger picture from my spiritual self helped move me out of
this duality thinking to transform my earlier interpretation of
the victim/victimizer pattern.
have learned that there is a match on an energy level any time
two people interact positively or negatively and I have spent
much time trying to understand the match between myself and the
rapist. Rape is a
crime of power, not sex, so the energy pattern I had to figure
out was about my power or lack of it; and I had to look at how I
was used by another in my disempowered moment.
I look back at my life at the time of the assault, outside of
the physical reality that allowed this crime to take place, I
see that I was a grieving, vulnerable person.
The death of a parent is a vulnerable time emotionally
for most people, as it was for me.
In this state of mind, I was not operating with full
power; I was no match for someone wanting to misuse his power.
Add to this my gentle, benevolent nature that is loving
and accepting of all types of people, along with the fact I was
at the place of burn-out in my job. I was drained by the demands
of my situation and personality.
This left me giving too much of myself and being empty
emotionally, as well as, spiritually.
to delve deeper. What are some of the awarenesses that I have
discovered that were triggered by this physical-emotional shock?
There are many. For one, I was tested on my belief and value
system by calling into practice unconditional forgiveness. As
the officers were taking the man who assaulted me away to a
super-maximum security facility, I motioned to them not to hurt
him. I did not want revenge and knew it could have been very
easy for this man to have “accidentally” lost his life that
day. My immediate reaction was to have compassion for this man,
being able to live my truth that separates ones actions from
ones inner worth. In
other words I accept the individual not his actions. Two, I grew
to trust the spiritual aspects of life more. By surrendering to
death, during this ordeal, I found that there is spiritual
comfort and strength given from loved ones that have died.
I also now know that life continues after death.
I met my recently deceased father during the experience,
which brought much needed comfort and direction. It got through
to me that someone could destroy my physical body, but never be
able to destroy my soul or spiritual essence.
the third thing that began the next day was realizing how loved
and appreciated I was by others as a person and in my job. As
word got out to the whole prison system, thousands of men
implicitly participated in a day of silence as a show of grief
over one of their peer’s act of betrayal and violence towards
me. Scores of prison personnel, both treatment and non-treatment
staff, called to console me.
are many more things that were brought to my awareness. One that
I now know is a major lesson for me is to learn what emotional
support is and how to receive that support from others. I was
forced into a role reversal of having to ask for help in my
deepest hours of need. It is still very difficult for me to ask
for help, but I know I could not have survived this experience
without it. I have also learned a lot about discrimination and
recognizing which people are wise to trust, who adds value to my
life and who does not. Some people that had been very close to
me, I have painfully learned, were unwise for me to be with in a
one of the most powerful things that occurred took place
immediately after the assault. I experienced an incredible
source of support. When I called for help and put out the
message that I had been raped, about ten employees ran to my
office tightly surrounding me with gentleness, compassionate
words, and embraces, providing exactly what I needed. Some
stayed with me to help and just be present with me, as I was in
shock, and had to go through the long, drawn out, exhausting
ordeal of reporting the incident and being interrogated by the
police and medical aftermath. Again, lessons in emotional
support and letting help in were presented to me.
issue that was not new but had to be confronted and healed was a
self-loathing at a deep level. This is not an easy thing to
face, but since this experience, I face it when it surfaces. I
continue today to make progress in appreciating my unique self
and set of traits, to never settle for less than what I deserve
in a relationship, and to recognize and appreciate my personal
can see I played a part in preventing another injustice to
society by removing a predator from assaulting someone else.
(The rapist was prosecuted and given a longer sentence in
addition to his current one being served for rape). It was
challenging to stay with the legal process and I acknowledge
myself that I did.
of the hidden gifts of this negative feeling experience was that
I received counseling for several years after the incident. I,
like many in the helping professions, gave to others but could
not seek help for myself. The counseling helped me face the many
things that were out of order in my life. The sexual assault
jolted me into the awareness that my husband and I separated and
realized there was no support or understanding for the person I
was becoming. With the support of counseling I was able to look
at my entire history of being victimized and not even
recognizing it, always taking more and more pain into my life. I
was willing to face my shadow or unconscious side, by opening up
to my fears. I got in touch with my worst, negating thoughts
about myself, as well as the terror I felt within at a deep
level. It was very
difficult to face previous episodes of assault that I had been
unable to completely accept or heal. I am figuring out how to
love and support the wonderful person that I know I am. Lots of
new and old people are in my life now.
My life is enriched with lots of loving friends and I can
now recognize and accept emotional support, as well as be more
open and less fearful of expressing my true feelings.
has been several years now since the sexual assault.
I have grown tremendously since this experience and
continue to learn and grow.
I am learning to trust my intuition, to face any person,
feeling, or situation that needs confronting, to ask for what I
want, and not be afraid of my power or to show others who I am.
this dark experience Nancy has created a totally new life for
self-inquiry helped her make many changes that put her life on
track with her life’s intentions.
Nancy did finish her Ph.D. and changed the initial
dissertation to that of “Understanding How Others Perceive and
Assign Blame to Rape Victims.”
She continues to help many others; she has been a beacon
of light to numerous other assault victims. Currently, Nancy is
enjoying helping others with a private practice.
One of the most joyful notes is that, ten years after the
assault, Nancy adopted an eight-year-old girl of a different
race. Mother and daughter feel they are meant for each other.