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I have to practice that a lot, because sometimes, I am not so good at it. I often find myself struggling between the right to be angry and hurt, versus the desire to be happy and mostly free of anger and hurt.

I say this, because there are lots of internet posts about *The Invisible War. I have lots of thoughts on this development, on the topic that it addresses. Some are not so generous, some are angry, and sad, some are filled with gratitude.

Being a whole person who has been hurt this way, isn't easy. It is a perpetual work in process, like the art of forgiveness.

It is perpetual, because the need to forgive for deep and grievous wrongs emerge over and over. You don't just forgive big wrongs. The memories are refreshed from time to time. And so forgiveness needs to be refreshed as well. And that is when you find yourself forgiving over and over.

Forgiving yourself for not being strong enough.

Forgiving others for their lack of understanding.

Forgiving the world for going on despite the extreme issues you faced at any given time.

I realized a long time ago, on this path of forgiveness, that it doesn't mean you have to repress your negative emotions or deny them. That part of forgiving yourself is in acknowledging the power that anger, bitterness, and grief can have over you, so that you can express them and at some point, finally begin to put them aside and make room for happier emotional states.

Grief plays an enormous part in this process. Survivors grieve for their lost, former lives and selves. They will be angry and bitter about the acts themselves, but also about the lack of understanding by society regarding what they have been through.

Sometimes in the process of forgiving, that it turns into something else. It turns into a shit list of grievances. I realize now, that often that has to happen first, so you can acknowledge the depth and complexity of the pain and the aftermath, before you can turn loose of that negative energy.

You cannot forgive if you are still in shock. Forgiveness happens with cognizance. That is why it can take so long. If you are still bouncing between moments of lucidity and rage, or lucidity and shock, or lucidity and grief,  forgiveness can be a slippery fish.

This is the reason we need cathartic releases of these intense emotions.

I learned though, that when you have an emotional catharsis, that each one is unique. That once you have a cathartic release, that the next one will be different, even if only slightly so. That you never have to express the same anger or hurt again. And in that acknowledgement, you realize that no matter how much you hurt, you will make progress. You will keep moving forward, even if you don't realize it at first. Each cathartic moment is another shackle cast off into the wind. There may be more, but--One down. One less to go.

I eventually learned to feel gratitude, even for things that others might not understand. I could have gone through life, blissfully unaware of injustice, unaware of life's depths, or my own emotional spiritual depths. And these traumas, however much they hurt me, were also doors to transformation, to a deeper, more examined life.
I am grateful for that, even as it pains me sometimes to remember how I got here.

I feel gratitude towards the people who acted out in front of me. They played out scenes that when reflected upon, gave me great insight into the human condition, into myself, and into society in general. It was like being in a forest fire, I was burned badly, but being in the heart of it, I was able to see, and name and later recognize the mechanisms at work, and even stop them in subsequent situations. In those moments, I ceased being a victim and became instead an active observer, a teacher, a protector, and a mentor for a time. My trauma was not in vain. It served a purpose and so do I, and that purpose was not and is not passive or powerless.

Oh I still get very angry sometimes. But now I have more tools that I use to cope with it, to temper it, and to transform that energy into something useful and healing, rather than letting it eat me up on the inside. Like I said--a continual work in progress.

I learned to not carry water for the people who hurt me and scare me. That was one of the hardest lessons of all. To realize on some spiritual level, that their acts of violence or intimidation or harassment had a deeper component. And it was to pass off--unjustly their psychic and psychological baggage, that had twisted them so terribly that they felt entitled to hurt me in any fashion. I am grateful that they became a living example that taught me not to do that. To be mindful, to not perpetuate that chain. I endeavor at that daily.

I see all this talk of this new awareness. The anger I temper now, is one that comes out of me like a enraged scream--What took you so long?

I don't know how to quantify that yet. I don't know that it's fair of me to have that thought. It simply is. And that's okay. I probably won't watch that movie. Being triggered like that, pushes me into a hadopelagic existence that denies me the beauty of life on the topside.

I have no desire to be stripped of my power and hung on a hook like meat, especially now that I understand I play the part of both Inanna and Erishkigal simultaneously. I know too much of the underworld already.

The stark existence in a societal hell, helped me to refine my notions of what the good life should be. What bullying is even in it's most subtle forms, and it allowed me to understand with greater certainty and comprehension, what human rights are, what humane is or should be. This allowed me to observe, first hand, what it means to be humane and compassionate in deepest sense of those truths. Yet another blessing in disguise.

This experience also outlined for me, a curious construct. Our society has primitive drivers. We know that intellectually, but perhaps fail to embrace this in it's wholeness. When a person has been victimized, our society loves nothing more than to revictimize the target again and again.  Their injury becomes a weakness, a scab that society cannot stop itself from picking. We seem to be torn between who to blame more, who to hurt more, the target or the perp? Some day, I hope we grow out of that as a culture.

In the meantime, I refuse to carry more water for the people and institutions that hurt and betrayed me. They must carry this themselves--I will not be their personal, psychic, garbage scow and you shouldn't either. Perhaps when they look at the contents of what they have foisted upon others, they too can become mindful and compassionate, and learn to live in a better way. This is not a vengeful thought, more like a mother who has announced she will no longer do your laundry or clean your room. Well maybe it's a bit more serious than that, but you get the picture.

We have said, as a culture over and over, that women and children are not chattel. Now it's time to put those words into action. We shouldn't have to burn our bras or scream with signs, in order to encourage the rest of society to do what is right. Seriously, these concepts are not difficult to grasp. And making them a reality is pretty simple too. The secret is, that you just have to want to.

I also learned that I am in no way required, to keep punishing myself in the absence of duly assigned tormentors. Surviving what I have, does not mean I don't deserve love or a family or friends, or success, nor does not mean I have to give up good, consensual sex. {I know that last one is going set off some alarms somewhere, but it bears discussing frankly}.

This is really important for survivors of sexual trauma and harassment:

 I don't have to be ashamed of myself as a sexual being, and that by being a sexual being, that in no way detracts from my humanity nor my womanhood. I am eternally grateful to whatever it was within me, or in the world, that gave me the strength to find a suitable and loving partner who gives me all the love, compassion and pleasure that all sentient beings deserve. I am filled with gratitude with regards to his patience with me, on my journey of healing.

No rapist, no harasser, no prudish busy-body gossip is worth giving up a healthy sex-life. You might have to fight for it. These types of traumas can twist you, especially that part of the psyche, but it's worth the fight [if you think it is]. This goes back to carrying that water for the perp. They can't have a normal sex life and so they impose that abnormality on you and set your life into a flat spin.
You can marshal the power to stop that spin and then some. In the spirit of your being, you can refuse what they have offered you, and claim something better. Let them have that back, even if it's only in half prayed meditation. Give it back to them. That is their baggage, not yours. Don't carry it for them.

When you survive such things, it is like a giant picking your person up and setting you on a different path. It's a journey. It doesn't come quickly or easily. You will have bad days and good days. But you can reclaim order, you can find healing and wholeness. You can produce love and accept love. You can be great or just good.

There is a place of strength within you, and if you can find it; from that place, you can speak your truth and it will resonate with all the soulfulness of your innate humanity.

I don't write on this often, because I have to have a powerful urge to do it. It is the only thing that overcomes my fear of being so public with my experiences and thoughts. My experiences and thoughts will not be true for everyone or even most people who have survived such things. If someone out there finds a bit of truth in here that helps them, then it was worth it. If it helps you process your own pain and facilitate your own healing, then it's worth it. Even if it does so by inspiring you to think 180 degrees out from everything in this particular diary.

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