I’m coming to you today with Rachael Maddox, Sexual Trauma Resolution educator and healer, to talk about healing with integrity! We discuss how your niche calls to you in unforeseen ways, where trauma hides in the body, and being a Secret Bad Girl.
I want to make one thing abundantly clear to all of my coven RIGHT NOW: Rage is not just ok, it is essential.
If any of you have this idea of me that I sit in my room with sage and crystals in perfect peace and harmony 24/7, you are wrong. I am human, with many nuanced emotions, and rage is one of them.
There is a lot to be angry about in this world. Especially now with the growing numbers of Nazi groups and white supremacists creating fear and threatening minorities. With privileged males taking sexuality away from women. With our gay and trans community getting stripped of their rights. With poverty. With hunger.
Social change starts with rage. Rage is a constructive, funneled emotion that fuels the need to end discrimination. It is not hate. It is not cowardice. It is a channeled fury that promotes activism.
The difference between rage and hate, is that rage comes from a well thought out philosophy. It challenges social constructs. It is a retaliation of our values being jeopardized. It is the effect of being threatened to our very core.
Hate, on the other hand, is a byproduct of cowardice and fear. Instead of learning, growing, evolving, and accepting, there are those that choose to block themselves off from the world and use fear to create fear. That is not rage. That is not anger. That is gutlessness.
Rage takes Strength. Rage takes courage to let the lions head lay on your lap, and to combat fear with knowledge and tenacity. Standing up for what is right is imperative, and those of us with an innate privilege in our DNA have the highest obligation to use it for change. Strength and privilege are not synonymous.
As symbolized in the Nine of Wands, we must persevere in times of conflict. We must stand up for our communities and make this world a little safer every day for those who live in it. Now is not the time to be silent. Silence makes you complicit.
Take the recent Taylor Swift case, for example. She was sexually assaulted and took it to court, and everyone stayed silent. Even those she had donated money to and supported in their sexual assault cases didn’t say a word. Just because she really isn’t very likable.
Standing up for what is right IS NOT CONDITIONAL. Sexual assault is not ok just because the victim isn’t your favorite person. Racism is not ok just because it doesn’t affect you. Using the word “faggot” is not ok just because you didn’t mean it like that.
I can’t stress this to my community enough: What is happening right now is NOT OKAY. And as reasonable people with voices, we must use them to start AND CONTINUE the dialogue. If you see a friend, family member, employer, whoever, who is being discriminative and blindly abusive, CALL THAT SHIT OUT. Collective change starts at an individual level. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Because they will find others who think like them, and light IKEA tiki torches and march in the name of hate.
I’m begging you, witches. Use your voice. Use your big, beautiful, bold, strong voice to make a difference. Even if you don’t think your voice will promote change, because you are just one person, if everyone thought like that we’d be in majorly deep shit. In fact, that’s pretty much what’s happening now. Stay woke, and stay witchy ( *)
On Monday, we spoke about forgiveness and spirituality when it comes to trauma. But instead of focusing on forgiving who harmed us, I think it’s more important that we forgive ourselves for the emotions we feel as we go through the healing process. It was not the clothes you were wearing, how much you drank, what you said, or how you said it. Abuse is abuse, and nothing will change until we make that abundantly clear.
So, to promote SELF- forgiveness, I’ve concocted a special ritual for victims of abuse (sexual or otherwise.) I think it will help to stimulate growth and strength.
Be well and be strong, for you are a survivor.
Rose Quartz (for unconditional love)
Rose incense or Sage
A water basin
Use sage or incense to purify the area. If you wish, smudge in a pentagram formation to call in the elements to help you through this. Also, use the smoke to cleanse your rose quartz of unwanted energy.
Sit in a comfortable position on the floor, with your white candle in front of you. This signifies purity. Sprinkle the black salt completely around you in a circle for protection, light the candle, and take out the journal.
Write down everything you can remember about your assault. I know this is difficult, but in a clear and objective manner, write down what happened. If you start to cry, it’s ok. Just feel through the emotions. Once you are done. Fold the piece of paper in half away from you and set it down,
Stare into the blue light of the flame and call in it’s power. Call in it’s passion and will for survival. Stare into the blue flame until you, yourself, become hot.
Take your piece of paper and set it over the flame, watching it burn as the memory becomes part of your past, and not who you are as a person. Before the flame grows out of control, throw it in the water basin.
Take the mirror, and stare into your eyes. Find the deepest part of you, and repeat three times:
“My body is merely a vessel, and no harm can come to my soul unless I allow it. I call in strength, power, and forgiveness to propel me forward into healing.”
Then put the mirror down, hold the rose quartz to your heart’s center, and imagine a pink light emanating from the stone and connecting with your heart. Imagine it slowly enveloping you in it’s radiance, and chant “forgiveness” as it grows.
Sit in meditation with this illuminating light for as long as it feels comfortable, and when you are ready, snuff out the candle, thank the elements, and break the circle.
I hope this proves to open the gate of healing for you. Stay witchy ( *)
Kristen Johnston was recently on my favorite podcast (you guessed it, What’s the Tee?) and she mentioned an article by Nancy Colier. In this article, titled “Letting Go of Toxic People: When Staying in it is Not More Spiritual,” she details the immense pressure we put on ourselves to be open and forgiving to those that have wronged us, for fear that we have not achieved a heightened sense of spirituality.
When it comes to certain trauma, like abuse, we are taught that forgiveness will set us free. And when we still have emotional responses to triggers or actually seeing our abuser, it’s possible to feel that we actually haven’t forgiven at all.
However, these emotional responses are a product of our reptilian brain, the oldest and most basic part of our brain that is only focused on survival. While you can decide on forgiveness in your prefrontal cortex, your reptilian brain may not follow suit. And that is ok. In fact, the forgiveness we practice should be turned towards ourselves. Rather than pushing the limits of our instinct to be “higher” and more “elevated,” we should accept ourselves for what just is.
If you have experienced this kind of immeasurable betrayal, as pictured in the Ten of Swords, forgiveness is not something that just happens because you decide so. There is a natural ebb and flow to healing, and while self exploration will help move things along faster, you cannot cut corners on healing from trauma. This is because new questions arise every day, concerning what you did to deserve this kind of treatment. And the answer is nothing. The answer is forgiving yourself for every feeling and honoring your emotions. THAT is where the spirituality lies.
As the Five of Cups suggests, it is time to move on and forgive. But the only person you owe that to is yourself. And in time, once you’ve accepted your space and have healed properly, you may forgive your abuser. But, as the article above stresses, you don’t need to push yourself in that direction. Your fight/ flight/ flee responses will always try to protect you, and they don’t need to be shamed. Suffering through these responses by being around your abuser, just to prove you’ve forgiven them, is not helping anyone.
So, forgive from afar. Protect yourself and honor yourself first. You don’t owe anyone contact if it doesn’t serve you. Remember that, and stay witchy ( *)
My relationship with sex has been a complicated one. It must have started out with the pressure of losing my virginity, because I slept with a boyfriend of four days “just to get it over with.” This kind of set the pace for devaluing my body, and I didn’t even know the power and sacredness of my sexuality.
It also didn’t help that I caught that boyfriend cheating on me with his neighbor. This incident created a haphazard idea of sex. That it just didn’t matter.
The road became more and more cluttered when I realized that I so desperately wanted, NEEDED, male attention. I was craving love of any kind, so I would drunkenly throw myself at men and then become puzzled as to why they weren’t in love with me. Like, why isn’t this like in the movies???
Further down the line, I would try to pretend that my unsuccessful tactics, and the inevitable outcomes, didn’t bother me. I was just going to Samantha Jones myself through life and hope someone respected me along the way. But sex or not, I didn’t respect myself. See whats wrong with this picture?
Then, as you know, I was raped. What a freakin doozey that was in my sexual landscape. That turned everything upside down, flipped it, and reversed it (thanks Missy.) Now fear was a factor. How was I supposed to land a man if I couldn’t let him touch me?
And lo and behold, who is there to pop up? But my infamous ex. I felt comfortable around him, got drunk, and took him home on the first night. He stayed for the next three days. And rather than questioning if he should be at his job, I let our insecurities click and the rest is history.
So all of this leading up to my turning point was synonymous with the message of The Devil. I was ruled by obsession and trauma, rather than intuition, respect, and just plain logic. I gave away the whole fruit and couldn’t satisfy myself.
Nowadays it’s a whole different ballgame. I have done the work and thoroughly respect my body, but let’s be honest, we all need a little pleasure in our lives. I do not want a relationship right now, but I’m not above a hookup. The difference here is that I understand what I want, I communicate effectively with a potential partner, we are both 100% consenting, and there is no grey area of sadness and depression.
The Lovers describes a union and an alignment of values. That is the important part, and what I was missing the whole time. Trying to drunkenly (and half-assededly I might add) seduce a man into loving me and then cry when he doesn’t is idiotic. Being up front about what you need in a partner and seeing if your values align gives you a choice, and if you choose to give your body over to someone who doesn’t want what you want, you’re putting yourself in a compromising position. You’re setting yourself up for hurt. And to do it over and over and over again expecting different results is insane. You gotta revolutionize your sexy little world to find that happiness. Cuz it’s hiding on the other side of the bed.
Sex might be a plush display of love in a steamy relationship, or a taboo icon that is used for selling t-shirts and hamburgers, but it is also a necessary way of life. Sex is sacred, yes, but it is also fun and pleasurable and NATURAL. You don’t have to wear a chastity belt for the rest of your life in order to protect yourself. You just have to get to the root of your needs. If your needs consist of a sweet and quick release, then by all means sugar, get yours (while staying safe.) And if your needs consist of a relationship, get to dating! Communicate that you are looking for a partner and don’t settle for less. You can’t change his mind with sex. It has never happened and never will. Align your values before you get busy.
So sex wisely, my kittens. You’re worthy of a good time. Just be sure you protect your heart first, and stay witchy ( *)
More than an article to provide advice, this blog post comes to you as sort of a realization piece, courtesy of my recent trip and a conversation with my sister. Hopefully this can additionally add insight to someones life who may need it, however, this is meant more to be an exercise in self exploration.
Here at WitchyWisdoms, I write about my relationship with a heroin addict at length. I also use to word “codependent” to often describe myself and my struggles. But reflecting away from the self-help jargon has actually brought me to a different understanding, and it is becoming more and more clear that I am not a definitive codependent, but was one in a vacuum.
Let me elaborate: as a person who has struggled a lot with self love, self acceptance, anxiety, and depression, I have had many instances where I would exhibit reckless behavior to get attention. However, my happiness growing up was not contingent on that of another. My happiness was lost in the shuffle, and I would look for it in many different forms of addiction. Where codependency is more of a trait than an isolated incident, it was not ever something I embodied until recently.
After my rape, I felt used and unwanted. I felt as though I should be discarded because I was tainted. And at that very moment, my knight in shining armor, or rather a sheep in wolf’s clothing, stepped in and made me feel like I was deserving of love. This is where the vacuum begins.
Through a seemingly necessary dependence on him, because I now owed him my life and happiness, I could not risk losing him. And he played the game very well. Rich with manipulation and emotional abuse, he guided me through a very codependent moment in my life. But once I sought out help, did some digging, and did the work, it almost seemed crazy that I ever fell for his games. It seemed like he had dated another person entirely.
And that is what usually happens in recovery. Once you look back at the person who you once were, they seem unrecognizable to you. But in my case, and what my sister, who has seen me grow up in various stages, helped me to realize, is that I didn’t struggle with codependency before him, nor do I now. This isn’t something that is a hurdle for me to jump over. But given my circumstances and a perfect storm of feeling alone and down-trodden, I exhibited text book codependency.
Now this is not to serve to look down on anyone who is codependent. I have my very rich share of troubles that I continue to work on, but this just isn’t recurring. It is helpful to see what your journey looks like from a realistic angle, because spending time working on something that isn’t an issue for you is not beneficial. And while, at the time, group meetings and books on codependency helped me tremendously, it helped the symptom of the underlying issue, which is most certainly trauma from sexual abuse. This year I will be searching out trauma counseling, and I look forward to sharing my progress with you all. Stay healthy and happy witches ( *)
If you can’t open the link (or just don’t want to) here is the short synopsis:
A woman was groped on a high traffic block in New York City’s East Village, and when she turned to confront her attacker, she was mercilessly beat before the attacker fled.
I hope I don’t need to express WHY this is so horribly disgusting.
A similar situation happened to me not too long ago, and, as a writer, I penned a short statement in my notes as I was shaking on the train on the way to work. Here is what I wrote:
This morning I was sexually assaulted in broad daylight.
A man came swiftly behind me and stuck his hand up my skirt. Without hesitation, I took my phone that was in my hand, encased in the largest case in America, and smacked him across the face.
He said “sorry” and ran away before I could grab him by the collar and take him to any policeman I could find. And while he got a nano-second thrill, I was left shaking and afraid.
I am still so shaken up by this event that I can’t think straight. I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m scarred, I’m hurt. But most of all I’m disappointed.
This shit HAS TO STOP. Every day I see men demoralizing women and it is not ok. WE ARE HUMANS. WE ARE EQUALS.
WE ARE NOT OBJECTS.
Now, my reaction to swing was a gut instinct. I feel that I need to protect myself by any means necessary, and I swing when I feel threatened. It was not thought of, nor do I condone violence, but it was merely a fight or flight mechanism. I fought. However, afterwards I couldn’t move because I was shaking so badly.
When this woman turned in a righteous action to defend her womanhood, she was beat down by a sick bastard who defended his right to treat her like a piece of meat. This is the type of shit that makes women feel helpless and afraid.
Now unfortunately I am no stranger to sexual abuse. This is an all too familiar occurrence for me and many women I know. I have worked through a lot of my emotional issues regarding these problems, but when things like this keep happening to women, it’s hard not to feel afraid and harvest some aggression towards men.
When I was sexually assaulted on the street, it took me down to my lowest level. Every piece of confidence was stripped from me and I felt naked and exposed. Anyone that sees me on a daily basis knows that that is NOT my personality. I am big, bold, and brassy on any given day. But when someone is treated as an object, its almost impossible not to feel objectified.
I hate that my attacker had that power over me. And this is why I immediately talked it through and wrote about it. Because I needed to take myself back.
People. We just made history. For the first time, a woman has been nominated the presidential candidate for a major party. It took far too long, in my opinion, but at least its damn progress. And we still have such a long way to go in the way we treat women. Men are congratulated for their sexual escapades, while women are treated like sluts. Men are forgiven for their taking advantage of women, and women are blamed for enticing men. Men are allowed to wear whatever they want, and women are either scrutinized for not being sexy enough, or for dressing to provocatively.
Men and women alike need to work together to end this abuse. Women, we need to band together to fight back, stop something when we see it, raise our boys right, and fight for respect whenever we can. Men, you need to remember that your mothers, your sisters, and your daughters are women. Would you ever treat them as an object, or subhuman?
As an avid feminist, I could go on forever on this topic. Instead, I’m going to invite you to do something to start making a difference in sexual abuse towards women.
Well, if you feel compelled to do something, ANYTHING, in the hopes of gaining justice for this woman, and every woman out there, you can sign this petition from Change.org to remove Judge Aaron Persky from the bench for his clear leniency towards white male privilege and against women’s rights.
EVERY SINGLE DAY women are sexually abused and assaulted. We are treated less than. We are snubbed by our male counterparts when we don’t use our sexuality to get ahead. We are judged when we do. We are called bitches when we are strong. We are called bitches when we get stuff done (thank you Tina Fey). We are called bitches when we turn down sexual advances. This is a battle that we seemingly cannot win. But, in fact, we absolutely can. It starts with us, and again EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Lets make a promise to ourselves and to others right now that we will do everything in our power, no matter how small or how big, to end discrimination towards women. Stay strong. Stay feminists. Stay bitchy. And stay witchy. ( *)