We just survived the worst season of California wildfires I can remember after living here over half of my life. While our lives and homes were not in immediate danger as so many others were, we did have to flee the San Francisco Bay Area as smoke evacuees because our air was poisonous, having been rated the most polluted air on the planet until the blessed rains came today. Yes, it’s Thanksgiving, so it’s a time of gratitude anyway, but this year, I feel particularly touched, deep in my heart, for the profound blessing of rain, clean air, the gift of life, and a community that wasn’t devastated as so many are. As apocalyptic natural disasters become the new normal, the need for radical gratitude ramps up. Thank you for this gift of love.
When I was teaching a workshop a couple of weeks ago, I made a flippant comment to a client. “Intimacy is not the same as unconditional love, nor is it the same as sex or compatibility.” My client wrinkled her forehead and took me aside later to ask me to expand on these distinctions between unconditional love, sex, intimacy, and compatibility. So this blog is for my clients—and any of you who might be confused (as so many in our bewildering culture are) about how love, sex, and intimacy can overlap, but rarely do.
I was raised as a young girl to be a good Methodist. Anger was not an acceptable emotion in my religion or in my family. Neither my father nor my mother expressed healthy anger. Instead, my mother grew resentful from over-giving and her resentment turned sour as passive aggressive pouting and stomping without clear communication. My father would suck it up, suck it up, suck it up, and then, unexpectedly and without warning, he would explode with harsh, terrifying rage. Neither of them were ever violent with us, but nobody ever modeled or tolerated healthy anger. When I expressed appropriate anger as a child, anger that should have protected me, it got shut down. I vividly remember having access to deep rage when I was tiny, but anger did not work to keep me emotionally or physically safe as a toddler, so by the time I was 4 years old, my anger mechanisms had been effectively disabled. I had been successfully domesticated, silenced into submission and ready to be conditioned into a docile, people-pleasing, compliant good Christian girl who would be ripe for tolerating dehumanizing behavior later in life.
Dear Ones, what’s happening with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford has taken a regrettable turn that makes me feel embarrassed to be an American. Let me make one thing clear. I do not consider this a political issue. I consider this a stand against our tolerance of violence against women. Period. I stand for zero tolerance of Democrats who assault women. I stand for zero tolerance of Republicans who assault women. I stood against Bill Clinton’s assault of women. I stand against tolerating Kavanaugh’s tantrum in the face of a credible woman standing up for herself in the face of an attempted rape.
Last week, I wrote a blog about the Kavanaugh/Ford hearing, and I sent what I wrote to a man whose work on shadow and masculinity I deeply respect, psychologist and spiritual teacher Robert Augustus Masters, PhD. Robert's latest book, for which I wrote the foreword, Bringing Your Shadow Out Of The Dark comes out today. I expressed to Robert my inner conflict around wanting to support women and their long overdue anger in the #MeToo movement, anger that is turning the tides and making it obvious that men can no longer expect to violate a woman's body and expect to get off without consequences, anger that is a form of fierce love, that says "No more" with necessary heat and demands change. But I also expressed my concern that there's so little support for the men who have perpetrated violence, men who have committed cruel and aggressive acts in the past but who might feel regret or remorse. How can men resist the temptation to deny their offenses and instead, seek rehabilitation, make amends, and atone for their wrongdoings? How can we as a culture facilitate such a shift?