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?
I was with female clients all day yesterday and many of them were very triggered because of the Kavanaugh/Ford testimonies. The Senate hearing was activating PTSD flashbacks of their own sexual assaults. I was facilitating them through their traumas and referring out for expert help. As far as I know, I have never been raped or assaulted, but with the blessing and curse of the empath, I could feel in my own body the collective PTSD of the billions of women and children on the planet who have been assaulted like Dr. Ford. What are we doing? Are we in hell? How have we created a culture where this horrific violence is so ubiquitous? Men are supposed to be the protectors of vulnerable women and children. How have things gotten so sick and twisted? I felt the collective rage boiling up and bowling me over. I felt the power surge of women telling their stories and feeling like their stories matter. Perhaps the days of "he-said-who-cares-what-she-said" are over. The scent of rebalancing power is in the air. If men assault women, the natural consequence of abusive, violent, and unethical choices, even in youth, is that they may have a #MeToo finger pointed their way, and it could destroy their families, their career, and their social status. No more can they get a hall pass of "boys will be boys." If that's what boys do, we must stop this. As one of my shameless warrior abuse survivor clients coined the phrase while looking into the innocent eyes of her grandbaby, #MeTooNeverYou.