Dear reader, please know that in my vulnerability of sharing you may be triggered. If this happens just know that you are not alone. I see you, I hear you and I share to show you I stand with you. I wrote most of this in October of this year and it has taken some time and a lot of courage to post. I stand in solidarity with women across the globe ... "Me Too"
I will always remember the day when I became "me too". I fought for my life, then pretended I was dead, vomited on myself and came too when an officer was covering my body with his jacket. I could not understand why this was happening to me - too. It was the summer of 2012. In the hospital as I lay there unable to move, drugged and being readied to be transported to a rape clinic so they can collect evidence, I listened to the doctors and officers talking. I listened as some of them cracked jokes, and implied questions of what I did to get myself into this situation. I wondered the same thing.
During the ambulance ride to the clinic, I could barely move or breath and remember the feeling of the single tear streaking its way across my face. It was the last tear I cried for weeks.
I was numb by the time I got to the clinic. I lay there helplessley for the second time that evening as I was invaded. The rape doctor put blue dye in my crotch and probed around scraping and cleaning, taking pictures that I knew would be in some file for others to look at. I was showered and given a blue jumpsuit and a teddy bear and told that a detective would be outside to talk to me and that there would be a cab to take me to a hotel room. I was being put in hiding for a week while they searched for the perpetrator. Meaning - I could not return to work, my home, my life but had to live in a hotel in hiding with no contact, no support, no nothing but this teddy bear and a blue jumpsuit for the next week. I was even given a $25 gift card to buy some food leaving me feeling like I had won something in exchange for my dignity.
I cringed, as I didn't want to walk to the front of this clinic alone, and cringed more as I didn't want to ride with this man in a cab anywhere, let alone some strange hotel room. I felt nasty, dirty, used up, dried up, in pain, and most of all suicidal. Questions of "why me?" flooded my mind and I felt a complete disconnect to my body. It was a stranger who had betrayed me with weakness and I wanted nothing more to do with it.
I waddled my way to the front of the clinic to meet with the detective. He asked me lots of questions and finished the “interview” with "well, by the way you’re walking you obviously didn’t have it that bad"… as though my grimacing in pain was some sort of over dramatic display like some kid having a tantrum for not getting candy in a grocery store. I felt shame, I felt scared, I felt as though I must not have been tough enough, worthy enough, woman enough and somehow this was my punishment from God for not being good enough. This detective made me feel worse. Like I was a failure at even being raped good enough. On the long ride alone with the strange man in the cab to a strange hotel with my teddy bear, I kept asking my self how did I get here, why and what did I do to deserve this. I began to recall my childhood...
I grew up under a very abusive mother who taught me well how to be “woman”. I had known of rape and was taught clearly that only weak women had that stuff happen to them. I often heard girlfriends growing up talk of assaults happening to them, and from the careful training of my mother I was taught that they got what they asked for, that they were weak, deserving of abuse and didn’t know how to play the game. That if you wanted to survive in this world you had to be strong and not “allow” that to happen, and by this, I mean, allow those guys to have you, better yet to be a real woman… go for them first… cause then it’s not assault and then I could say that I never have been taken advantage of… like it was some sort of privilege that kept me in a higher class of never having said no and not been listened to. This was a cunning little game of survival in a childhood of violence, drugs, abuse and dysfunction.
In 2005, after my first son I found myself wanting relationships with women for the first time. It was confusing for me having lived a life preaching how women were dramatic and I'd rather be friends with men. Not long after that I watched a movie called the "Red Tent" and knew that I lacked this connection to women. I realized then that what I knew of being a woman was all wrong. I felt called to find women and build friendships. I found yoga and began a women's circle in my home which I quickly shut down to join one that was starting at the same time. It was in this women's group that I found the awakening of the divine woman within, with labor like pains of realizing all that I had missed and never knew.
I found myself in this women’s circle, belly dancing with a group of women for the first time. We were free dancing, and in the midst of creative dance expression, a birthing happened. You see I was pregnant... but not with a child, but rather pregnant with this idea inside that there was something more powerful to being a woman than what I was taught and grew up knowing. I was pregnant with this desire to find connection with my body, with other women with some truth that I knew was out there but couldn’t yet find. I wanted to find out what being a woman was really like and that is why I was in the women’s circle in the first place.
The music was playing, I was wearing a skirt for one of the first times in my life and there were about seven women in the room. I watched as we all were allowing the music move our bodies, shaking our hips, waving our arms and rolling our bellies in the slow sensual and graceful way. What was happening? The roll of the belly awakened something in me and I began to cry, to weep even. This was the day that I broke in tears in the realization of what the strength of a woman really is had been kept a secret locked away from me like some treasure that I was destined to never find. This secret of the woman, this pandoras box of truth flung wide open in that moment and tears began to pour out of my eyes as my brain tried desperately to comprehend what was happening to me. I began to feel. I cried not because of the realization that I was dancing with a group of women and felt powerful, but in fact cried for the lies and deception of woman hood that I had been taught and that I had lived out for over 30 years, I cried harder knowing that in fact all the women in my family had lived out this wicked trickery being both perpetrator through ignorance and victim of the murdering of the divine magic of the wild woman that we are.
You see I grew up with a goddess-like mother. She was sexy, turned heads, fun, wild, crazy, would fight a man and win, would get her nails done and go to a job as a correctional officer in a maximum security prison. She was fierce in jobs that she chose and fierce in her drinking and winning games of darts and pool with men. She was tough as nails and wild beyond her ability to reign it in. She was also a drug addict, a dealer and mentally unstable. She was a bartender and a k9 correctional officer however her addictions led her to also be an inmate in the very prisons she worked. You see, I admired her, loved her, worshiped her and idolized her character. I thought she was what a woman was supposed to be. I lived in her shadow, in her abuse and knew of things that were degrading but thought them golden bits of knowledge. I was taught by her how to be promiscuous, how to know of sexual things before I had even lost my virginity, knew how to smoke in a way that was sexy, and what lipstick was really for…. And why we should wear bright pink.
The day I learned and embodied the truth that this was all lies, I broke and cried for the many generations in our family of the so called wild woman who was nothing more than a turned-out, child who had been sold to falsehood, a perpetuating cycle of the animalistic female who was seeking worth in sex, makeup, over dramatic displays of charisma that enticed men and threatened other women, angry displays of character, and the careless attitude for the true things of this world. The day I learned of the big lie, was the day I was flooded with these memories. The flood of memories came as though a bandana had been taken off my blindfolded eyes. (oh the lie nearly killed me).
Memories of my wedding night and my husband leaving to drink with his buddies instead of consummating our marriage. The next day calling my mom crying and being told to shut up because he was the best thing that ever happened to me. The day of announcing I was pregnant and before a congratulation could come, I was being told how to best take care of my body so it wasn’t ruined by the baby and I would still be wanted by a man. You see being wanted by men was what I thought made me worthy. The being coached by my mom not to breast feed my first child cause it would ruin my nipples, and the pain and agony as my husband wrapped my chest and breasts with a brace wrap so the milk wouldn’t come in. My mom coached me on that specifically that this pain was good for me. I mourn to this day that I was robbed of the chance to bond with my first born this way.
I remember being told to let my baby cry it out… This is when I began to break free of the mold. Everything in my body said no, and I held my son more. I began to feel my intuition of motherhood and let it run how I began to parent. I refused the onslaught of advice from people and my mom and through this I began to question what being a mom would look like for me if I did this the same way as my mother did. I held my son, I told him he was beautiful and worthy, I cried that my breasts had dried up and I couldn’t give him milk and grieved that this opportunity had been robbed of me. I was done being stole from, done trusting what I had been taught. I held my son close and remember praying prayers of thanks that he was a boy and perhaps I could break the cycles that had been in my family. I researched for myself and found truth that my intuitive notions were right, that breast feeding could be so good, that holding my child was okay and that showering him in love was my greatest gift I could give. This “rebellion” from my mother’s way was criticized, but it planted powerful seeds in my soul that years later would come to blossom into a forest of the awakening of the wild woman within.
It was grievous to remember the day I started my moon cycle and was handed a tampon by my mother with the words good luck. I was still a virgin, and no one even told me what a tampon was or how to use one. The pain I experienced with that cardboard stick still up my vagina made me hate being a woman. I seethed in my anger and wished I had been born a man. I skateboarded, cussed, refused makeup and I taught my self how to hold my liquor and be hard. I hated that we had to wear makeup, that we had to have sex to be liked, and began to hate girls that wore dresses and did their hair. I thought women who wore pastels to be weak, and even worthless and I began to live my life in blindness and perpetuate the cycle that I hated by continuing it. I was unknowingly living out all the words my mother, my father and everyone I had met over the years who had told me who I was, who had told me my worth, and who brainwashed me to perpetuate the cycle of being their victim, their property, their scapegoat, their inconvenience. My anger became violence. But I would be violent and wanted and show it in a way that was “sexy” to be a “real woman”. This was the beginning of my lies. The believing I was too much and not enough. The falsehoods of believing that someone else had the right to tell me who I was and how to be. Yet I thought I was doing it of my own free will. No… I had been primed by a society, by a lineage, by broken men and hurt women to be something I was not. To be seen and not heard, and if I wanted to be heard scream in anger.
This anger was bitterly infused with self hate that night when I fought for my life, then pretended I was dead. In those moment of praying to God for someone or something to help, I layed there believing that my worst fear had come true... I was the weak one, I deserved it, I was now a victim of rape and all my rage, hard-ness and anger was for nothing, I was a woman, and perhaps this was my fate. I didn't understand as I had just started to trust the magic of a woman... Was this God reminding me that I was wrong. Women are weak?
And here I was, years later, in tears, in a belly dancing skirt with a group of women who were holding me. I remember even feeling confused in that moment as I was waiting for someone to tell me to suck it up, grow up, or tell me that I didn’t have it that bad. I was waiting and was left with only the nurturing hands of these women on me. Them telling me I’m strong while I’m crying. Strong? I thought strength was tight jeans, a bottle of jack in one hand, a cigarette in my lips and telling dudes to kiss my ass. I thought strong was getting hit by a man and being able to punch back. I thought strong was making a man want me, making them fall in love with me and walking away. During my weeping, I am pretty certain I was literally feeling my brain re-wire itself, and with every hug, tons of stagnant - blocked energy in the body began to instantaneously melt away. What was happening? The seeds of that movie the "Red Tent" and the desire to have women in my life began to blossom into bloom in that moment, and I knew that the healing was happening.
I learned that the hidden power of grace and connection to other women and nature had been robbed from my lineage. I had never known that having women in my life was a good thing. I was taught competition, was taught territorial rights and actions, I had always known that there was magic in my blood, but the denial of this had led every woman in my family down a life of addictions and self-destruction through seeking approval of worth, our very birthright from external sources, from men. That broke my heart in a million pieces as I realized that I was robbed of being told the magic of my womb. I never got to know the power in the softness of a woman, I never was taught our connection to nature, to the stars and the moon. Oh, the beautiful connection to the moon…. I was robbed of the chance to put my hands and feet in the dirt and learn of my own magic.
This was my awakening. This was when I saw the truth of the patterns throughout all of history, in our ancestry, in our thoughts, words, actions, society and even in our bones.
I began to remember my natural instinct as a child to talk to the trees, to pray with rocks, to stare at the moon and skies as a child. I realized that I had always been aware of the true wild woman within. I had recalled the time I tried to take my life and know now that I was so desperate for the love and connection to myself as a woman, the divine creature I was born to be that I had taken the ultimate sacrifice, my own life. I grieved these shadows of my drinking, promiscuous bartending days and self-sabotage, I grieved over the critical and judgmental nature and competition with other women. I starred the judgmental shadow in the eyes of how every woman who was assaulted in any sexual way somehow deserved it... But this time I forgave that shadow and began to follow a new path. It was an overwhelming wave of an ocean that came over me during this and I felt as though I would drown. I opened up to these women about my sexual assault… (even as I write this now, I see the shadow of not even wanting to type the words…R-A-P-E.) Yes, I was raped. As the words of the experience bled out of my mouth, I realized that for far too long that this had actually happened to me many times over yet I had been trained well and was still fighting the shadow of believing that those other times weren’t assaults, that I deserved it. That I asked for it when I was drinking, or that I flirted back. No, dear shadow… no woman deserves to be the “me too”, No woman deserved to have another human being force himself inside you whether your shirt was tight, or you were drinking, or even if they were your boyfriend or girlfriend. None of that matters. I am whole and anyone who treated me less was also a victim and perpetrator. I even recall that during this awakening there was a small justification of this as though the event of rape itself was an initiation of some sort to connect me to the whole. Oh the tangled webs we weave.
My very being is a treasure now, I value myself more and more each day… I don’t talk to my mother anymore and for that I grieve, yet I know in my heart that this is what must be done as I begin to run barefoot and wild, singing and dancing in women’s circles, and laughing with girlfriends. I honor her for having carried these cycles to me and honor the great mystery for allowing me to awaken to the truth and change the cycles that have perpetuated my family for ages. I will not die of addiction, I will not give homage to a man who take ownership of me in any way ever again. I will not allow the sacredness of my womb to be forgotten and I will build my relationship with my sister moon and mother earth with intent to reconnect the ancestors that live in my bones to our birthright of woman hood. I have come home, back to my body, to live in my flesh, to love each and every scar, corridors of shadows, and shattered pieces of memories and experience. For all my sisters who are awakening to the wild woman within, to your power to your fierce power that is found in grace- I welcome you to take back what is yours, your heart, your mind, your body, your worth - your womb… for in our own sacred circle of the heart we will find magic again as we re=teach ourselves and the world the new meaning of me too. When you hear the awakening of the wild woman may you say in your heart “me too” and know that this duplicitous meaning is now our doorway back home.
I now can share my story and know that every time I share "me too" it gives permission for others to heal. I share now to stand in solidarity with the countless other women who have also suffered and share in hopes that we will continue to heal the wounds and join together to rise up and strengthen each other and awaken the powerful wild woman within.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
Keia Eden Lavine