This morning, a friend was telling me about how someone she loves treats her. Her stories sounded painful and brutalizing, even abusive. I wondered why she tolerated such apparent disrespect. She was describing someone who obviously doesn’t appreciate the gift of this friend of mine, who is such a love bomb. When I asked her why she didn’t give herself the gift of distancing herself from this person and make space in her life for someone who treated her with more affection, appreciation, and care, she said, “But he loves me.”
A teenage Icelandic woman is raped by her Australian boyfriend after she’s had too much to drink. In his own immature, conditioned teenage mind, he doesn’t call it rape. Because the media and pornography and the way fathers raise sons and bro’s egg on bro’s, he convinces himself that he was justified in taking what was rightfully his—her body, her vulnerability, her sexuality, maybe even her physical and mental health. She is traumatized by the experience, and in his own way, he is too. Her life unravels, and so does his.
Since we announced our new Soul Tribe subscription service yesterday, we’ve received some feedback via email and on Facebook asking the question, “How is it ethical to charge money for Soul Tribe? Isn’t it everyone’s birthright to be part of a Soul Tribe? How dare you exploit people’s loneliness and commoditize community? Doesn’t community require diversity, and doesn’t charging money limit diversity?” One woman said, “If you want to build a community where I share my expertise, then you need to square why your contributions are remunerated and mine are not." These are completely valid questions—many of them without clear answers—and I want to honor them by responding to you all. Because I HEAR YOU, and I care. And trust me, this is something my team has been pondering for four years, so this is not something we have been cavalier about.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because the whole point of this holiday is invoking a tender emotion—gratitude—that has been known in both spiritual traditions and science to open the heart, relax the nervous system, improve health, and deepen intimacy with our loved ones and the Divine. As Thanksgiving approaches, we pause, gather with our loved ones, and focus on giving thanks. It’s easy to be grateful for the yummy things in life—the child when she’s sleeping, a beloved’s sweet kiss, the sunset, the moonrise, and the feeling of joy in our hearts when our Soul Tribe is all around us, our hearts open, our voices raised in song, our feet swaying with dance. But the real practice comes when we can feel grateful even for life’s initiations, those challenging experiences that have the opportunity to either blow our hearts open or slam them shut.
Right now, I am at Esalen, in recovery in the wake of the death of my mother. Although grief can be consuming and the deathbed vigil with my mother was intense, I couldn’t ignore the #MeToo stories that were erupting in the news during this journey with my mother. So let me take a moment to add my two cents to the swell of outcries rising from women who are finding their voice. I know my mother would be proud of me for saying, “#MeToo.”