Recently written about and on the tips of many tongues–Why have the ‘me too’ survivors been silent until now? After all, if they had spoken up they could have warned off women who were later similarly abused. Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein has opened a can of worms and burned the house down. We could agree that is the one good thing to come of this, and a very good thing it is, too. Women across the world have gained the courage to say, ‘me too’, whether it be sexual harassment, rape, sexual bullying or paedophilia.
What causes the silence?
Well, for starters there are real physiological reasons why people go silent after trauma. referencing Nora Samaran excellent article Psychological Harm is Physical Harm: Why Survivors Lose Their Voice, during trauma, a key language centre in your brain temporarily shuts down. It’s called Broca’s Area, a furl of neural matter in the left half of your brain, behind your left temple, above your left ear.
The hippocampus, an important part of the limbic brain involved in ordering emotions, memories and events, is shut-down by stress. It is cortisol sensitive and can atrophy with the continued onslaught.
Since our limbic brains keep us alive by keeping us connected to the people who matter, this part of our brain is exquisitely attuned to interdependence and the rhythms of human connection. In plain language, people enduring physical or psychological abuse can have a hard time holding aspects of experience together because of the neurological harm caused by the abuse, further weakening them.
The amygdala, also called the reptilian brain, is our body’s fight or flight trigger. It is connected to our survival but in situations of chronic stress, it can start pumping out stress hormones 24/7 triggering the body to be ready to run. “This traumatic stress can impair the pre-frontal cortex. shattering a survivor’s capacity for higher order thought.”
The Little Mermaid Syndrome
It’s a tiny almond-shaped section of our brain that handles our memory, speech and visual cues providing us with our most primal instincts: fear, hunger and arousal. I’ve often wondered about all the David Icke and co. ruminations regarding a Reptilian takeover. Is it just a metaphor for people operating solely from the reptilian brain, interested and aware of only their own survival, living from a place of greed and fear?
I am a ‘me too’ as alluded to in an earlier article, Letter to my Mother. The story of the Little Mermaid has always meant a great deal to me for I definitely experienced the stealing of my voice through trauma, unaware there was actual physiological and neurological science to back up my experience. Like the Little Mermaid, I went through years and years as a silenced person, perpetuating my trauma.
Understanding the science can also help come to terms with the shame so many sexual abuse survivors feel, and the accompanying worthlessness. Working as a healer, I would always know when I was treating a survivor by the degree of shame. Why do we all feel this shame? I think it is because we don’t scream. In the dark silence of my bedroom when my stepfather came in to touch me,
I froze like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
My mother did not protect me, in fact, her physical violence was another factor. I did not scream. There is a sort of disgusting residue of complicity in this, despite the absolute horror, despite being paralysed with fear.
It has taken lifetime time to get my voice back. It has really only been recently and to some degree writing these articles that you are kindly reading, witnessing, that has brought that part of me back to life. I look back on a string of incidents where I was literally paralysed. unable to act. Sometimes impacting those I loved dearly. And also the thought that I am meant to just ‘take it.’ Somehow, somewhere, I did something very wrong to have had such terrible things perpetrated on me as a child. Thankfully that journey is over and it has left me with deep compassion for all suffering I may not have otherwise had.
In all of this, there is an awareness of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Despite these handicaps I have loved deeply and dangerously, danced long, sang softly, thrown myself headlong into the arts, painting, theatre, film making, writing, had an exquisite child, married twice and travelled the world, probably driving many people crazy along the way but also sharing deep authentic communion with lovers and strangers, with family and friends.
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything). That’s how the light gets in
~ Leonard Cohen Anthem
I know the abusers are often survivors of abuse. I know Harvey Weinstein is a sick f**k who needs help. I know we are all deeply interconnected and this is a cultural sickness of disconnected people who prey on others to feed on life force they feel they do not have. And maybe there are demons. Yes, I think there are.
During this ‘me too’ moment when a surprising number of my girlfriends have spoken out, a few dear male friends have secretly messaged me ‘me too’. They feel they cannot disclose this for fear of ridicule. So many good men seem to feel they cannot even weigh in with messages of support. We need to include these good men in this campaign and while sending a message of strong boundaries NOT ANYMORE, make sure that these perpetrators get help. When we stay silent, we enable.
Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.
~ Leonard Cohen The Favorite Game
My healing journey brought me to the feet of many therapists, shamans and healers around the world including Black Elk, grandson of holy man Black Elk of the Oglala Sioux, Arwyn Dreamwalker and the Morningstar Lodge, first generation Rebirthers trained by founder Leonard Orr, first-generation student of Ida Rolf, Lama Tendar, acupuncturists, psychologists, psychiatrists, Reiki, ascension technology, cranial sacral therapy, Equine Facilitated Therapy with Sun Tui, sound therapy with Jill Purce, mystical Christianity, Kabbalah Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism and the list goes on in an effort to heal myself and become whole.
I am honoured to have learned from these masters, who taught me above all of the inherent goodness of humanity and the sacred alchemy by which the lead of the soul may be turned to gold. My ‘witness’, which protected me from going over into the deep end, was so strong it was almost a little schizo as I trained in modalities and then applied them to myself and later others. In the end, the modalities I received from Spirit, Creative Alchemy and with Christina Hagman, Body Communication, ‘got me there’ as did endless creative expression in paint and words and the love of family and friends.
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain
~ Kahil Gibran The Prophet
Something very good is happening. People are speaking out. Shame is dissolving in solidarity. People are uniting. I don’t think silence will rule anymore and sexual tyranny is ending. The Hundreth Monkey theory coined by scientist Rupert Sheldrake and called Morphic Resonance is when one tenth of the population changes. If one thenth of the monkies on a remote island learns how to open a cocoanut in a better way, all the monkies near by and far away even on different islands will begin to be able to do it. This is what’s happening with the UNSILENCING. Strength in numbers. United we stand.
Love, Stephanie the Metaphysical Muse
Here are some poems I wrote to exorcise the demons, among hundreds, first published in Burnt Offering, no longer in print. Please feel free to share your story here, on the FB site Metaphysical Musings, in the comments, your, ‘me too’ or your thoughts.
“Painting shall free me from fear” Kandinsky
When I painted
(A lovely girl
in the garden)
I followed the curves
(A sepia photo)
And as my hand
In the flowers
In the yellow
Blue and peach
(As I stroke
Mid-airBy dark eyes
I forgive her
Back at me
There’s something in the ear beating out a tune, a bold
tattoo, a battering ram. Something in the eye
gleaming at the edge, a star-stabbed sky.
The blood: slow-moving sulphurous
lead. And in the back, causing it to crack.
A skeleton. An Adam.
White worm features hazy defined by telly green glow.
An Italian man, pope in his pocket, slayer of women,
arms and the man.
All those years asleep in my memory.
Giggling at dawn we put eggs in your pants.
You roll with the crunch. Abhor violence
but marry my mother, a pistol-packin’ mama.
There is a snake that eats its own tail.
Insidious invisible man you coax your box to sonic cadenzas.
Devour your daughters.
Leave them wingless, pulled off at the root.
Their ghosts shell whisper still upon the shore.
One floats sceptre-thin.
Another rides headless hell-bound after hounds.
the borrowed ones;
salvation had its price.
Kingdom of riddles.
A yammer shrills along the gutters of the brain,
I cannot translate.
A rhythmic evangel eddies out of reach.
The tongue is torn.
Silence is complicity
Fury mutilates the earth
A mute Harmageddon.
The bells are sounding
notes of stone.
Goliath does not fall
but sways gently as trees
scours a landscape
A false priest performs last rites buried in the night.
Hooded dominus, mask impenetrable, says nothing
but sings for its supper.
A whore you are, the mothers say.
Freud too. Co-conspirators.
Judith got her way, beheading Holofemes.
Salome danced with beautiful John his head upon a plate
and all those gods they sacrificed castrated thrown to sea.
And then the frozen ones.
A statue of sea shells swirls on the sand.
Bloodless maidens. Silence is consent.
He is within and won’t wake up.
A devil circling my bed climbs inside.
Takes a knife
and cuts me top to tail
A red pupa emerges and sits on the edge.
I sleep for years.
There is a dream: A third child is a son.
And another: a man, golden-haired.
His shirt is pink, his heart a rose.
Strong hands stroke me kind along the side.
I curl a petal to his wing,
A warm land undulates soft and hard enfolds me.
Sweeps me sonorous.