A repressed memory came back to me over the summer while involved in a spiritual experience. I was with my partner at the time and I remember coming out of the trance, and saying to him, “I was raped.”
The memory had come back incredibly clear to me. I had been aware that I was sexually abused by the grandson of our next-door neighbour. But in the midst of my parent’s separation, and crisis, I had also been raped by him and had blocked the memory out so much that it became buried deep, deep, deep within my subconscious for over twenty years. It’s still hard to remember it, as I was in a dissociative state, and in a state of disbelief.
I remember an ancestor was leading me while I was in the trance and I asked her, why did I forget, and she answered, “because you felt you had to”.
Once the missing puzzle pieces was placed where it belonged, I looked back on a lot of my outlooks, behaviours and ideas around relationships, sex, and fears around commitment. It all began to make sense.
And here I was left with this memory in the palm of my hands, knowing the only thing that my yoga practice has guided me to do: heal this pain.
But how could I accept? Where did I go from here? I was lost and looked for the answers in gurus and teachers. As I read and researched, “yogic wisdom for survivors of rape and sexual abuse”, I kept getting the same narratives.
“If the memory comes up, let it go. It happened. It’s in the past. You can either choose to let the memory run your life, or you can choose to let it go and stop replaying the suffering.” That was the gist. They weren’t telling me to forget, but more saying one must let it go to free themselves from the emotional suffering.
There was truth in it. Truth that I believed in...but I had found myself feeling empty at the answer.
Then I was reminded that some of these individuals had shook hands and practiced alongside sexual abusers. The Dali Lama himself had to speak up for the survivors of sexual violence within the Buddhist religion, though he was aware that this was happening. I believe everyone is more then aware, but the language has not really changed.
I do not believe the spiritual community’s intention is to bypass this trauma. But I do think the language gets lost in translation with a newer generation who is brave enough to face these real life traumas head on, and needs more than a wise intention to lead them through a deep healing practice.
So I have translated the words for you, in hopes that it may help you on your guide to spiritually healing:
“I’m so sorry this happened to you. This should have never happened to you. I love you, and I know you are worthy of so much more than any pain, trauma, trials and tribulations you have faced. And when you are ready, and you have the strength in your bones, choose your weapon for healing. I believe in you. I know you have it in you. Choose your weapon for healing.
How do you choose your weapon? Well - first it’s being honest with what you need and what you wish to do, regardless of how spiritual it looks on the outside. How clean, calm and graceful it looks. Healing isn’t always graceful, or calm, or spiritual looking. Whatever that means.
Do you wish to scream and cry?
Do you wish to dance out all the grief until you spin out onto the floor exhausted? Do you wish to get angry?
Do you wish to feel good in your skin and dress your best, and wear what you want? Do you wish to only share your most sacred energy with those you feel truly deserve it?
Do you wish to not share your energy at all?
Is it Greif? Activism? Taking the week off? Is it therapy? Community? Workshops? Is it knowledge? Is it meditation? Is it Yoga? Is it mourning? Is it simply being and processing?
The true answer resides in yourself. As long as you are not harming yourself, I feel there are many weapons for healing. Only you know what will work and when.
The key is to not bypass your feelings with the idea of trying to be “good” or “spiritual”. I think if we do that we are missing out on the true point.
Whatever it is that helps you say, “Yes, this is what has happened to me, and yes I will live with the fact that this happened to me for the rest of my life, but what has happened to me does not define my journey, my power, or my happiness.”
I think we need more words like this. I think we need more conversations like this.
I asked my partner to share this story with his uncle who is a shaman. He explained how my memory came back to me in the midst of a spiritual ritual.
His shaman nodded his head and said the words I had already found within myself, but needed some more confirmation and fuel, it was part of my weapon for healing.
“As painful as it was, it was beautiful what she experienced, because now she can walk with her shadow. We always run from our darker sides, not wanting to see or accept the reality, our pain, our trauma. Therefore we end up carrying our shadows with us. They control us without us even realising. But there comes a time where we must jump off the boat and swim to the shore. If we welcome and love our shadow, we can therefore welcome the shadows of others and true healing and freedom can begin.”
I welcome my shadow, so that I may welcome yours.
May you be loved, and cherished in all the ways you deserve. May we walk bravely choosing our weapon for healing, so that we may accept and love all the parts of us that define and do not define who we are, so that we may be honest aware and hopefully work towards a world where this does not ever happen again.
This blog is written by Liza Copla - Liza is a qualified 500 hour yoga teacher with more than 1000 hours of teaching under her belt. She explores meditations for healing, transformation and deep relaxation. During Liza’s classes, you’ll get the tools you need to take yoga off the mat and into your everyday life.