poetry

Violation Normalized. {poetry}

 

Years ago, in my forties, I attended a weeklong Hoffman personal/spiritual growth course in an attempt to support getting my life and health back.

This is the story that inspired the poem as written below:

***

On the first day, we are called to a large room to introduce ourselves with an exercise where we each stand in front of the whole group to share something vulnerable we have never told anyone before. I am shocked and it feels way too confronting. I want to run, but I’m frozen at the same time knowing I cannot.

One man in his forties bravely steps up to face us, dropping into his past memory, wearing his yuppie suit and sporting his badge which says ‘Lost Boy’. He suddenly looks so crestfallen and lost, sharing his desperately sad story at age seven being sent away to boarding school.

I am mesmerized, so touched by this courageous man daring to be so tender and real, I want to go and hug him but my mind is working overtime. Others quickly follow, all so powerful. I am in hyper-anxiety, hugely out of my comfort zone and frantically trying to think of what I might say when it is my turn.

I have no story. I am totally blank. There is no escape. My name is called. Holding my breath, somehow I am propelled to step out of my chair as requested. I’m blank and in shock, but as I turn to look at the unfamiliar faces in front of me, a clear memory surfaces out of nowhere, that I have not remembered in 30 years.

I seem not to be in control as the floodgates open for this hidden story that I have no idea even exists. The words fall out of my mouth so fast without censorship, despite feeling startled with so many faces staring back at me.

Where on earth is this story coming from, who is revealing it after so long? I don’t know that this is one of many stories that I have repressed. I don’t yet appreciate why I have total amnesia under the age of 11 in my house. I don’t yet know that this is why Bob Hoffman has a powerful statement in his marketing material, about how all of us learn to ‘put whipped cream over garbage’ as a way to survive.

I’m simply on auto-pilot with Hoffman safety and permission, where somehow the gag restriction on this particular memory has temporarily been lifted.

Time stands still and rushes crazily at the same time, words appearing from nowhere as my story is re-membered and given voice. I can’t believe I am sharing the intimate details which I have never told anyone, not even to myself, and that I am sharing with a group of complete strangers. But I am. I am in two places at once, back on a train going to Germany at age 14 and here in this room in my forties.

Suddenly it’s over. I have no more words. I am stunned and I sense that so are all the others because there is a deathly silence in the room. I walk back to my place, shaking and deeply moved. My legs are wobbly just as they were back on the train at age 14. I feel incredibly vulnerable wanting to run and hide as shame kicks in, but at the same time, somehow more alive and surprisingly liberated.

It’s a strangely comforting feeling like I have in the 12-step rooms. I am part of a nourishing community of people wanting to heal by delving deep into their psyches, and I am here, trusting to the resonance, loving acceptance and cohesion already being created.

Day One on this Hoffman intense week and I begin to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of my life and how I came to normalize one of many violations that took place. I recognize what a powerful medicine it is to have an enlightened witness or group of empathic souls who can hear our stories, and more importantly, how this co-creative field helps us heal the invisible scars we have all endured.

Many years after this Hoffman training at age 58, as a result of going through menopause, I find myself writing this poem below, when encouraged by a friend, to use only three words every line.

The issue of my feminine sexuality continues to be a healing topic, as it is for so many of my generation, and I want to give voice to the brave shadow work that is necessary, to return back to these exiled, fragmented and lost places within us that are desperately seeking love, deep compassion and reconnection.

It is our collective, global awakening and healing on the planet right now to complete these unfinished conversations, and so I share this story with gratitude to the Hoffman process because what I heal in myself, I know I help heal for others.

{Photo credit: Sofia Livingstone}

I only remember
Traveling to Germany
On a train
With a friend
Fourteen years old
Free summer holiday
Boy’s school trip
Father in charge
With no warning
And no preparation
A sudden shock
My body changed

What to do?
Perhaps I dared
To mention this?
Innocent young girl
Hoping for help
So very confused
Mother in panic
Furtive and rushed
Clearly she said
In frustrated voice
It’s the ‘curse’
Worst thing ever
Swimming is impossible
We must control
This terrible ‘problem’
You have caused

“I know best”
She who ruled
And dictated from
Dark Age parenting
Alienated from body
Made it clear
Who was I
To question this?
No personal power
Boundaries long gone
Acting on command
My friend mute
In the sidelines
Frozen and shame-bound
I crouched down

Rattling train compartment
Mirroring body tremors
In my ears
Silent word ‘pariah’
Contracted and exposed
Knickers pulled down
With no explanation
No kind words
She rammed hard
Broke my hymen
Penetrating hard object
“I am Tampax”
Harsh internalized patriarchy
Mother’s directing hand
Stealing my virginity

Momentary screaming pain
What just happened?
Vagina in shock
Trauma locks in
I have left
Wise internal voice
Saves my life
“Pull yourself together
Show no emotions…
Mother knows best”
So without choice
Stoically zipping up
While broken inside
I quietly die
Yet another death…
One of many

I am now
Pubescent, young teenager
On the outside
Able to swim
Business as normal
On the inside
Fragile owner of
Clinical white object
Phallic and hard
Invading my space
Done and dusted
Devoid of love
Matching my own
Sense of objectification
Disembodied, sterile, dry
Compliant and conforming
Bleeding from inside
Body and soul

Stark initiation recall
Implicit cellular memories
Body sensations that
Haunt me still
My body remembers
New-found womanhood
‘midst sanitized shame
Rejected body fluids
Bruised and defiled
Without honoring ritual
It’s so clear
I’m not immune
To ancestral legacy
Hidden epigenetic trauma
Teaching body-hatred

These ghostly imprints
Passed down through
Generations of shame
Toxic masculine programming
Driven patriarchy and
Demonic religious agendas
Attempting soul murder
Silently brainwashing and
Disinfecting feminine wisdom
Creating anaesthetized, disembodied
Sweet, immature maidens
Performing in stilettos
Taming our wildness
Pleasure as forbidden
Controlling this life-force
Potent womb power
Blamed yet again

Oh but now…
Everything is changing
You buried us
Forgetting we’re seeds
You blamed us
As dirty whores
It didn’t work
We are forged
In the darkness
In Mother’s womb
We are rising
With fierce compassion
Across the globe
Dragon’s fire blazing
Mothers and daughters
Sisters in circle
Reclaiming our dignity
Honoring our rights/rites
Holy sacred warriors
Emissaries of light
Resilient, fully prepared
Prophetic destiny assured.

***

Sofia Livingstone lives in Liguria, Italy on an isolated olive tree farm, with her partner and four footed ones, distilling perfumed roses and creating natural produce from the land. Writing alchemic stories and poetry saved her life from soul murder, and is the creative medicine and joy that fuels her life. Sofia has been on a long journey with extensive trainings of all kinds, to heal individual and inter-generational trauma with the ‘brutal grace’ of chronic, debilitating illness as her initiation and greatest teacher. She is a ‘trauma-informed, shame midwife’, a wounded, mystic healer, inspired to help jumpstart other beating hearts, so that they too become the author of their own lives, reconnecting with their divine sovereignty and the intimate territory of their soul.

***

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