Disturbing blogs stay with me. A blog where the author describes his rape. At age seven his tormentor is the teenage son of family friends. The older boy taunts, terrorizes and threatens to kill him if he tells anyone. Not that it’s a contest, but truly this author’s 15 minutes of pain tops what happened to me. (Read my previous blog for reference.) I wrote about the incident that sets the course of my life. The rape blog narrates another author’s similar fate. Trauma side-smacks us into a time loop. We replay the events in our heads with digital precision keeping our bodies on hyper alert for years and years and years. Getting through a wisdom well like this is no soft swirl cream cone but a fierce eddy. The kind of whirlpool that creates suction, dragging the thinker down.
In the future everyone will have their own 15 minutes of pain. As parents increasingly punch check-out mode narcissists are made not born. For every teenage rapist there may be 20 or 30 or 40 little victims. Some will grow up to be addicts or sociopaths themselves. Others, will block or stunt, languish or anguish, or slide superficially over the top, believing nothing really matters. But for now I can only speak on this particular incident. The blogger’s shame, humiliation, anger and fear effect the writer for the majority of his life. He imagines, then plans methodically, to murder his rapist. The scheme creates a solace of revenge. Fighting back takes him out of shell-shock into a self-soothing, emotionally natural response to outrageous fortune.
One gift of a difficult childhood is the stubborn refusal to grow-up. We carry on in silently screaming trauma until an appropriately compassionate validating witness convinces us she believes. This can’t be done lightly, tritely, or by rote. Repeating “I forgive myself,” is no damn good if and when there is nothing to forgive. Repeating “I forgive him,” is useless, senseless, a balm for no one, least of all an unrepentant teenage rapist. Mo bettah be proactive, active, creative, innovative. What saves me are what no one can take from me: knowledge, skills, love, dreams, desires. Post traumatic stress spawns poets in addition to addicts. Prose writers, musicians, comedians, actors all may spring from tribulation. Being in someone else’s skin is welcome vacation from hole in my soul.
When his rape is finally revealed (decades later) our author discovers connection with other survivors who email him their stories. We find safety in numbers. Meditation, solitary or communal also helps. Not the sit in a chair mull, re-live, replay the event musing meditation but the truly no-brainer kind of meditation. When I practice Ashtanga yoga my mind is on hold. I concentrate on breathing, on mula bandha, on the slow dance of vinyasa to the exclusion of all else. The well-practiced repetitions are comfortingly familiar, even on the days when I’m ugly stiff. I also sit in hard-core Zen style staring at my wall, brain tuning to theta waves. I also practice an absorption style yoga meditation percolating on a single point. These practices rinse me, diluting the memory like water lapping stone.
For survivors (or thrivers if you prefer) time is not linear. Time wrinkles, fades, clumps and clouds in pranic/panic energy. Humans are subtle creatures. The ghost of earlier incidents halo present ones. “Be in the now!” or simply Be here now – is the slogan of my generation. But is that possible? Segmenting completely from “before” leaves me helpless to lift a fork, to speak English, to ride a bike. I need my past. On a cellular level memory is my ally. Millions of years of evolution (or five thousand if you prefer) trains me to be wary of fast-moving predators, cars, wind. My higher evolved brain then processes further – deciding if the speedy, loud, vivid motion picture is entertainment or threat. (I don’t make the rules, I just observe basic human nature.) Three part brain is basic.
Piggybacking on this prehistoric development is a relatively recent innovation: personality. My ego sorts information uniquely: I may hate horror movies and you may love them. Thus a less sensitive person can murder a rapist without pause for consequences. A more sensitive person may submit to a life riddled with addiction. The next time a yoga teacher, life coach or pastor chides you for having an ego, ambition, judgements, opinions – ask yourself if that person is arguing for the defense or the prosecution. Sans ego I’m left to trust someone else’s ego to tell me what to do. This is classic cult prep: get people to distrust themselves. Get people to stop valuing themselves. Get people to blame themselves in lieu of the bad guys. Forgiving a rapist doesn’t make me a “bigger person” it makes me intellectually lazy, as well as inconsiderate of the rest of the 7-year-old boys in danger.
Sudden time shifts from past to present can be dizzying. I really dislike being snapped back abruptly by a smell or a sound or qualifying trigger. Luckily, of late I find myself successfully crocheting stress into prana, knitting pain into equanimity. This morning I read a poem by Charles Bukowski. He writes, “baby” (as if I am his darling) “. . .if you’re going to create, you’re going to create whether you work 16 hours a day in a coal mine or you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children while you’re on welfare, you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown away, you’re going to create blind crippled demented, you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your back while the whole city trembles in earthquakes, bombardment, flood and fire. baby, air and light and time and space have nothing to do with it and don’t create anything except maybe a longer life to find new excuses for.”
Yes. This is true.
Recoiling prana back into my vortex spins cloth of that gold. Individual creativity is life affirming. Life confirming. Solidifies me when I’m streaming out of control. I wrote when I was child, as a teenager, as a young adult. I wrote everyday in college. I kept journals for years. I wrote constricted poetry and free verse. I wrote for the newsletter of my former church. I wrote travel pieces for a newspaper, scripts for a New Age audio. I wrote bad and I wrote well. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote because when I write I enter the “zone” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow. Flow expands me in all dimensions. Biblically speaking restores the years the locusts ate. Literally recharges me. This is unfolding the tesseract.
The good news is you don’t have to be a writer to get into the “zone” the whole science of yoga is a program for flow charting. Start a practice, an 8-armed practice, the kind with yama, niyama, etc. Make time for 3 sun salute A, 3 sun salute B, 3 favorite poses, 3 finishing poses – 3,3,3,3 won’t take you much more than seven minutes. If it’s fun you’ll experience time expand around the practice. Start with a modest expectation. Don’t hurry the process. Don’t drag it either. In traditional training the beginners commit to 30 days. Thirty days in-a-row. Forty was better for me. But be real. Maybe 12 out of the next 14 days is a reasonable place to start your yoga practice.
Now y’all play nice!