#MeToo. At this moment in history, this is a symbol of coming out, speaking our truth after being sexually harassed and/or assaulted. The numbers (1) are staggering. After we are violated, sometimes repeatedly, we suffer in silence. We adapt to what was done to us, all the time knowing it was wrong and unjust, and it wounds us in ways that are difficult to heal. Living with a festering wound inside begins to erode our sense of self and it must be released for our healing to begin. Speaking our truth is the first step towards our healing. But who can we safely share this with?
Wounds like these have not had a safe container thus far for us to speak into. We have all been taught to adapt and endure the suffering visited upon us by the Power Principle.(2) We assume we are alone in our wounding, that no one else has suffered this way and that no one will listen to what we have been through. Furthermore, if we speak up, we fear we are putting ourselves at risk of losing our jobs, marriage, and relationships. We fear that people will judge and shun us. Who wants to be left alone and isolated by calling out their predators? So we carry these wounds which fester inside of us (sometimes) for decades. Our silence is an adaptation born from fear. We must remember that anytime we hold back our truth due to fear, we are in relationship to the Power Principle. The Power Principle is a pattern of behavior where the core modus is to take another’s power by fearing them into giving it over.
Over the past 5000 years, we have suffered at the hands of the Power Principle as a foundational operating pattern both individually and collectively. It has normalized its position in the world through fearing us into adapting. People who behave from this pattern silence their victims as they usually hold positions of hierarchical power in our personal or professional lives. Over millennia, we have normalized this pattern of behavior. As we fear retaliation from the Power Principle, we remain silent.
Many of us who have been sexually violated have also carried a level of shame that is related to being such a victim. Our shame further manipulates us into not speaking up. The collusion of our shame with the Power Principle has kept us adapted to predatory behaviors that, as a result, have gone unchecked. In fact, it has been normalized. This has further wounded our individual and collective psyche. Gaining insight into our core patterns as unhealthy can be elusive when they are normalized by society.
At one level, the #MeToo Movement has exposed this pattern. We can see from media reports that people we would never have suspected, have been victims of sexual assault and are speaking the truth about what they suffered. I too was a victim of such assaults over the course of my life. Once I came out with my story many years ago at The Women’s Center in Wisconsin, I felt a release of internal pressure, a kind of ‘lancing of the abscess’, of the wound that had festered inside me for decades. I will never forget that session. But once the truth was out, I had to embark on the task of reclaiming myself, of retrieving my power from this wound, and reorienting how I was taught and socialized to adapt. From that moment forward, I could no longer adapt in the old ways, which were the only ways I knew how. How was I to transform my familiar patterns? I became aware that they permeated my life and many of them were not healthy. They contaminated the lens through which I interacted with the world and myself. I had to begin the difficult process of reorienting the axis of my adaptations and learn how to create a new and unfamiliar, yet healthier, platform from which to live. This seemed like a monumental task, but it was worth embarking on to reclaim my intrinsic power.
This has been a lifelong journey for me and for patients I work with who also carry this wound. Initially, after coming out as a #MeToo, I wanted revenge, I wanted to retaliate, I looked for people I could align with, others who had suffered like I had, to justify my hatred and retaliation towards my predators. But over time, I realized that my reaction in these ways, although normal and justified, was not going to heal me. It would add to the wounding inside of me and further amplify what I was attempting to heal. It would be just as unhealthy as the Power Principle itself. I had to find ways to respond differently to my pain, to go deeper into my True Nature, to find the areas of disempowerment that I had lived with all my life and to bring consciousness to them in order to begin the slow and deep process of healing. I realized this was a form of spiritual practice that I needed to cultivate and be faithful to all the time.
As you can imagine, this is a multi-layered and multi-faceted process, which can only be done incrementally. What I found was a cluster of core wounds that existed deep within me. During my healing journey, on occasion, brushing up against the surface of one of the core wounds sent me reeling for days. I had to learn how to cultivate parts of myself that had never seen the light of consciousness. I discovered parts of myself that informed me about the level of worth that I felt I deserved. These were very disempowering and a result of my adaptations to the Power Principle over time. I discovered the lens through which I viewed myself was distorted due to my adaptations. I realized these distortions were created by how I was conditioned to comply with the behaviors that were expected of me. If I didn’t, I was punished. These had now become predatory parts of my own psyche over time.
These wounds are not unique to me. They are within all of us walking this Earth. They may land in us differently and each one of us reacts and responds differently to them. Our responses are influenced by how we were raised, conditioned, and imprinted; how we were socialized and influence how we relate to the external world and also ourselves.
My healing process went through the many stages of anger, grief, and acceptance and still does. Sometimes these stages occurred simultaneously. I find the grief part of the process to be the hardest. Just when I think I am through it, it spirals me back in, but now when I grieve, I find myself retrieving parts of myself that need nurturing and alignment. When the grief arrives after even a small amount of reclamation, it feels less intense and doesn’t last as long. To me, this feels like progress. It is powerful to do this work and through it, I have uncovered uncharted territory within myself, which has connected me more and more to my True Nature, my Authentic Self. As I have accepted the reality of what I have suffered, I have begun to repair and heal my relationship with myself. I am learning how to love myself and what self-compassion feels like. Being a Sensitive, (3) this is very difficult work. In addition, these are skills we were never taught. This is the healing we must begin after we speak our #MeToo truth.
The #MeToo level of truth telling is the tip of the iceberg. It takes great courage and boldness as well as support from others to speak it. It involves great risk, but knowing others have suffered in this way is empowering. Now we must also create a container for the healing these wounds on behalf of ourselves and others so we can use these as catalysts to heal the unhealthy patterns we adapt to and live from, that society normalizes. This is a powerful way to find meaning in this #MeToo suffering. If we do, the Power Principle will have no chance of staying alive in a collective that lives from their truth and is committed to the inner work of healing and transformation. Maybe the #MeToo Movement can be seen as a catalyst for us to transform the patterns of relating from and with the Power Principle and for us to lay it to rest in our lifetime.
Maybe we need to create a circle of #HealingMeToo as our next step to heal #MeToo. It may be the powerful next step on our individual and collective healing journey.
©Feb2019 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press.