SEXUAL ABUSE: OUR COUNTRIES MIRROR OUR FAMILIES

Although it is starting to come out in the open in the U.S. …
This occurs not only in the U.S. but all over our world.

There is a growing list of men who are being exposed for having sexually abused women, men, and children … not only in the recent past but in years long ago. This ugly and painful aspect of the patriarchy has been known, yet kept secret, for far too long.  For too long there have been:  the one who perpetrated the sexual abuse, the one who was victimized by him, and those who colluded with the perpetrator – each for his or her own reasons. We recently got a very public glimpse into this dynamic when the accusations against Harvey Weinstein in the U.S. (and abroad) started coming out into the open in the public realm. An even more public view of the perpetrator-victim-colluder dynamic is being seen as Roy Moore, candidate for Senate from Alabama and former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, denies his sexual abuse of young women and even worse … of children. Those in collusion with him, support his denials with all sorts of guises – from his “godliness,” to the guise of his “innocence,” to claims of dirty politics by the other side, to the insistence on voting for him even if he did these things … just to keep the other side from winning.

This plague of sexual abuse – isn’t only limited to male abusers. It also includes women.  But still it is part of the patriarchy – which includes men and women. And the women who stand by their abuser husbands are definitely part of the patriarchy.  Just like the women who stood by Clarence Thomas were part of the patriarchy, when Anita Hill was exposing to the world his sexual abuse.

The sexual abuse aspect of the patriarchy – and the destructive patriarchy itself – must end. How? Through healing to the root. When? Now.

***************************

When the sexual abuse is over…
The end has only just begun.
The end of sexual abuse in the church.
The end of sexual abuse on the couch – in the therapy room.
The end of sexual abuse in entertainment, by producer, director, agent, actor.
The end of sexual abuse in business – the board room, the CEO’s office, the supply room.
The end of sexual abuse in the doctor’s office, the hospital, the ambulance.
The end of sexual abuse in sports, by coaches.
The end of sexual abuse by national and world leaders, by government officials, and
candidates running for office.
These brave women and even men … they’re exposing the abusers, one by one by one.
The numbers grow and flood the news.
The exposure gives hope to millions of women and also to men.
Hope for the end of sexual abuse.

But alas, that will not come
until …
the exposure of sexual abuse in families
all across our nation,
all across our world,
has taken us closer to the roots of the painful experience …
closer to the source of the wound that causes the wound of sexual abuse.

Though committed by men and women alike,
sexual abuse is a scourge in our world.
In too many places, an accepted scourge,
a normalized scourge,
a way of life.
A wound that’s passed down,
generation to generation,
mostly by men.
Acted out upon women, and other men,
and innocent children.

Innocent children …
needing, trusting, loving freely,
hopeful, growing, expressing, being.
Innocent children
stopped in their tracks.
Frightened, frozen, running away,
frightened, angry, fighting against …
Stopped on the path to becoming their selves.

Innocent children …
Powerless in the face of the sexual abuse.
Powerless in the face of the grossly distorted sexuality.
Powerless in the face of the grossly distorted use of power over them.
By someone who …
once was an innocent child sexually abused himself.
Once was an innocent child powerless in the face of distorted sexuality.
Once was an innocent child powerless in the face of distorted use of power.
Once was an innocent child who so deeply wounded,
turned into someone else.

Those who have been sexually abused in their families,
alone in a patriarchal family culture,
are terrified of telling their experiences of being sexually abused.
They’re frightened of not being believed.
They’re frightened of being blamed and scape-goated.
They’re afraid of being humiliated, threatened, abused.
They’re terrified at the possibility of being cast out, abandoned.
If all those possible consequences of talking
are intolerable to an adult in the entertainment industry,
how can they be at all bearable to a child?

When the sexual abuse is over …
The end has only just begun.
The end won’t be completed until
we want to know.
But we don’t want to know.
Too few of us want to know.
Too few of us want to know the truth.
Too few of us are willing to go through the fear
and through the painful feelings
the truth will bring.
Too many of us want to defend ourselves against
the truth and all those feelings …
the consequences be damned.

And they are …
the consequences are damned by the willful defense
and denial of the painful truth.

So when you defend against the reality of sexual abuse –
somebody else’s or your own …
you fan the flames of sexual abuse at its roots.
And when you defend against the reality of sexual abuse –
the abuse you, yourself have committed …
you fan the flames of sexual abuse at its roots
in your family and in families all over our world.

But should you dare to end your denial …
you have begun to contribute to the end of this horrible wound.
And should you dare to dissolve your defenses against this painful wound …
you have begun to feed the end of this terrible wound.
You have begun to feed the end of the wound of sexual abuse
not only out in the world in public arenas,
but even more importantly …
right at its source …
right in the homes of families all over our world.

© Judith Barr, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

“WE’RE NOT AFRAID!” – That’s Not The Truth!

“Don’t be afraid.”  “Don’t live in fear.”  “Don’t feel terror.”
This isn’t just the American way. It isn’t just the way of the West.
It’s likely the way of the world.
And contrary to the perhaps well-meaning intent of those who say it,
teach it, encourage it … rather than helping us,
that philosophy and way of life cripples us, individually and communally.

After the attack …

After the recent terrorist attack in New York City, many people responded by saying things like Mayor Bill DeBlasio said on the “Morning Joe” television program:1

“And I talked to a lot of them Joe, I talked to a lot of them. I’ve got to tell you their attitude was one of resilience, strength, persistence. They’re not going to let terrorists change our way of life. It made me very proud of New York City.”

What if their attitude wasn’t one of resilience, strength, and persistence? What if it was one of defending against the fear they felt?  What if it was a coping mechanism to cope with their fear without feeling it, working with it, utilizing it to move toward real resilience and strength?

And what if our way of life does need to change? What if the very occurrence of a terrorist attack is a mirror to us of something we need to examine within ourselves, something within that we need to heal or resolve, something in our lives – inside or out – that does need to change? Perhaps even our attitudes about feeling our fear?

Mayor DeBlasio continued with:2

“But to the point you made – we made a decision last night to keep those schools open, to keep people on their everyday lives because, look, it’s so important to not give in, to not blink when we are affronted. And I got to tell you – I’m sorry those kids have to go by that site but I also think it says to them, we can overcome this, we are stronger than this, we’re better than this.”

What is so important about not giving in to feeling our feelings? What’s so important about not blinking when we are affronted? Why are we so afraid of feeling our feelings? That’s the important question to ask ourselves: How and why have we created a world in which we are more afraid of our feelings than anything else?

How and why does this fear of our feelings get passed on generation after generation after generation …
in families … and from there, into societies?
3

How has it become a part of the fabric of our culture?  Here’s a nutshell description of something that has a deep, destructive effect on all of us:

     As babies and small children, pain and even more, trauma, are unbearable.  When we’re that young, we will feel and express our feelings for a time, but our reflex is to shut them down, cut them off, bury them … even moreso if our parents don’t respond to our feelings and our expression of pain in a healthy, soothing, way. Even moreso if our parents don’t take our feelings seriously. Even moreso if our parents caused our painful feelings. Even moreso if our parents are triggered by our feelings. Even moreso if our parents can’t tolerate our feelings because they can’t tolerate their own. Even moreso if our parents’ parents were the same way with them when they were babies and young children. 

     This can take place without a word spoken. Just putting a crying baby in the crib and walking out, closing or perhaps slamming the door behind you. Standing over the child in a threatening way. Refusing to respond at all, and just going on about your business.

     Of course it can take place with words, too. Telling the baby to ‘shut up.’ Telling the child, “Don’t cry or I’ll give you something to cry about.” Calling a little one a “scaredy cat” or a “big baby” when the child is crying to express feelings.  Telling a crying child “you’re too sensitive.” Insisting, “boys don’t cry,” or “big girls don’t cry.”  Or even imposing, “People in our family don’t cry.”  All of these interfere with a child’s natural way of feeling and expressing feelings.  All of these rupture the connection to self and to knowing self, within a little person – and then the big person that child becomes.

     This happens to too many children in our world.  More than we know. More than we can even imagine … but need to imagine.

     And once a child’s natural flow of feelings and expression is cut off, that child will then impose the same on others. Peers, partners, and children in his/her life.  

     This gets passed onto others and also taken out into society.  And then all the children, now adults, in society make this the societal norm.  Just as our leaders have done in the face of terrorist attacks. And then the leaders are re-enacting what they experienced in their own childhoods … but this time with their citizens. And then the leaders are also re-enacting what the children-now-adults experienced in their young lives – not responding to the real feelings their citizens are having. And the citizenry responds in the re-enactment like automatons, not feeling, just functioning to please the authority figures in their lives. 

So what’s so good about not giving in? What’s so good about not blinking? What’s so good about not feeling?  It makes it possible for the authority figures to control us. It makes it possible for the authority figures to not be confronted with their own feelings, fears, and re-enactments from their childhoods. And it makes it possible for us not to be confronted with our own feelings, fears, and re-enactments from our childhoods.

Leaders saying “Don’t Be Afraid!”

Again after the recent New York City attack, Stephen Colbert said on his show:  “New Yorkers will never live in fear.” How many millions of people watch Stephen’s show? How many millions of people are affected by him every day?  How many millions of people take what he says to heart? And for how many of those millions is his statement a repeat of what they grew up with?

Our leaders can be people in every arena of life who impact us. Comedians, media people, spiritual leaders, doctors, business leaders, and more. And this isn’t only occurring in America … UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on “Morning Joe” after the terrorist attack in London:4

 “The city is now getting on with its business.
All our transportation systems are running.
Parliament is continuing its work.
It is business as normal.
That is the way to defy these people.
The worst way to lose the war on terror is to be terrified for a second.
We are not terrified and we will go on.”

When I heard him speak, I could hear his parents teaching him this. I could hear him being told “don’t be terrified for a second.” I could hear him being told “You are not terrified and you will go on.”  I could hear him making decisions to not be terrified so he would win, not lose. I could hear him making childhood decisions to defy those who terrify him … and imposing those things from his childhood on his followers.

What is so good about defying?

In my experience as a depth psychotherapist, I have witnessed the damage caused by defiance. I have seen people who have used defiance as a defense in childhood when they needed it, but when they carried it into adulthood, it has undermined them, sabotaged their possibilities, and caused harm to them and others. Maybe it saved their lives as children. Maybe it helped them feel powerful to be able to be defiant – although in truth, it was pseudo-power. But as adults, there is a more truthful, integritous way to take care of ourselves than to defy.

A related example: Many years ago I worked with someone. I’ll call her Sharon. She was in a group of therapists I was leading. Over time, she shared that she had a successful practice, was close to her family of origin, had a family of her own, and numerous friends. She didn’t reveal many wounds from childhood. She seemed to the group members to be, as people would say, ‘together,’ and was respected by all of them. I saw all of this, but I was uncomfortable. Something wasn’t revealed yet that reflected itself in the angry set of Sharon’s jaw, the way she was in her body, and the invisible wall she put between herself and others, including me.

One day in group, a very long time after the group was formed, following another member’s deep feeling anger work, Sharon said to him, meaning to support him: “The best revenge is living a good life.”  There it was. The clue I needed to what wasn’t in alignment for Sharon. The clue for what was distorted and unhealed.  The “good life” she was living was her way of carrying out revenge. On whom?

Now I could offer her help I wasn’t able to offer before … so she could heal to the root the revenge she was taking and the wound(s) from which it originated.  As we worked deeply, her jaw softened over time. She held herself differently in her body – not like she was fighting all the time. The invisible wall thinned and thinned allowing people to be truly close with her, not just the guise of closeness. And the good life she was living was real, an act of truth and love, not a guise for revenge.

The impact of revenge and the impact of defiance are very similar… both often hidden under a guise of goodness and both harmful and destructive, each in its own way.

More Leaders And Citizens Saying, “Don’t Be Afraid!”

After the attacks in London, Theresa May said:5  “We are not afraid and our resolve will never waiver in the face of terrorism.”

After the terror attacks in Brussels, the Archbishop of Wales counseled, “Don’t be afraid.”6

Following the Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher shootings in France, citizens of Paris were heard repeating,  “Meme pas peur,” the meaning of which is roughly, “Who, me, scared?”7

Michelle Obama, in her final speech as first lady insisted:  “So don’t be afraid —- you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid.” 8

To top it all off … we have accepted Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous quote, from his first inaugural address, as almost an American motto:9

“This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

And my response, from decades of helping people do inner healing, from a lifetime of seeing the impact of an individual’s wounds on society …What if the only thing we have to fear is not fear itself, but our fear of our fear?  What if our fear of our fear keeps us disconnected from ourselves, from our feelings, from the life that flows within us, from the truth of who we are? And from the possibility of the healing that can help us move on in truth and integrity?

It is not fear that cripples us …

And what if Roosevelt’s fear of fear was his own personal fear, from his own young wounds? And what if he thought it was his fear that paralyzed him? What if he transferred his own experience onto our country and added his own personal injunction not to feel to the cultural injunction against feeling that already existed?

It is not fear that cripples us. It is the fear of our fear, our burying it beneath our awareness, and from that buried fear, our creating frightening things in our lives and our world – without even realizing it. It is not fear that cripples us. It is the fear of our fear and the resulting inability to safely feel it, process it, utilize it for healing, and to let that help us move on openly, naturally and organically, rather than hardened, defensively and forcibly.

We can utilize these times we are in to weave a new underlying fabric of our societies:

From one that cuts us off from our feelings and therefore from ourselves
to one that supports us to feel our feelings safely –
name them, know which are for just feeling and expressing safely,
which are to use as healing,
and which are to act on in safe and healthy ways.

From one that cuts us off from our feelings and therefore from ourselves
to one that helps us, through our feelings,
reconnect to ourselves, each other,
and the Earth we live on.

I can imagine our world with that new fabric of feeling.
Can you?
Will you create it with me?

© Judith Barr, 2017

NOTE:  If you are from the Middle East or the Far East and know examples of leaders who have told their people not to be afraid, please send the examples to me. It will help me to help people see that this occurs all over our world, and the effect it has on us.

NOTE 2: Feel the difference between what the leaders above have said to us and what German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a terrorist attack in Berlin:  “”We do not want to allow ourselves to be paralysed by terror. It might be difficult in these hours, but we will find a strength to continue living life as we want to live it in Germany, in freedom and openness and together.”  She didn’t say, “Don’t be afraid.”  Instead she said, “Don’t be paralysed by terror.”  What a difference to have a leader who doesn’t banish our feeling our fear, who encourages us not to be paralyzed by our fear, who acknowledges it might be difficult, and who offers to us a way to accomplish this – find our strength.
(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/angela-merkel-berlin-attack-terrorism-response-statement-germany-lorry-christmas-market-a7486246.html)

http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/710-11/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-appears-live-msnbc

http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/710-11/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-appears-live-msnbc

3 You can read more about this dynamic in other blog posts on Polipsych. And you can hear more about it on the mp3 or audio cassette, Feeling: A Form of Prayer, part of the series: The Spoken Word on Behalf of the Feminine, for men and women alike.  http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/feeling-a-form-of-prayer/

http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/boris-johnson-attacker-s-values-will-not-prevail-904638531896

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0rJrIcKvvg

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/its-hard-not-afraid-leaders-11097237

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/11/paris-france-scared-reason-151116055018370.html

8 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/01/06/michelle-obama-dont-be-afraid-you-hear-me-young-people-dont-be-afraid-text-of-her-final-speech/?utm_term=.d1b6874be106

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057

IT’S A YEAR LATER AND …

It’s anniversary time!
Anniversaries are deeper, more complex, and more profound than we know …
including the anniversary of the 2016 election in the U.S.

Almost a year has passed since the 2016 election. The anniversary will be on November 8th. Anniversaries are intriguing times. On some of them we celebrate. On some, we mourn … or continue to mourn. Some we acknowledge and honor the occasion. And others we may not even consciously remember. But somewhere inside us, there is an awareness or memory of the anniversary … and it is experienced by us in different ways, no matter how deep it is buried, no matter how aware or unaware we are of the experience.

Let’s say a parent or a sibling died when you were very young … too young to know dates. Every year on the anniversary of that loved one’s death – leading up to it and following it, too – you might feel lost and alone, and not even realize why. You might feel heavy-hearted, or you might cry easily and frequently without any obvious here and now cause. Maybe your chest will ache, right where your heart is.

Or perhaps you were in a car accident when you were a teenager. Whether or not you even remember the actual date or the event itself, when the anniversary comes ‘round, you may have physical symptoms that are your body’s reactions to the accident and its aftermath … perhaps back spasms, headaches, or even an illness that is your body’s way of remembering the accident.

Maybe you needed surgery at some point in your life. On the anniversary of the discovery that you were ill, on the anniversary of the surgery itself, or even through the time and space between the two, you might find yourself ill again … once more, without any awareness at all of the anniversary or the events that originally occurred.

On the anniversary of a painful event in your life, both childhood and beyond, it’s also possible that you might create something in your life that could show the anniversary memory is in the process of trying to come into consciousness. You might act out in some way. You might find yourself drinking, binge eating, being short-tempered, driving less safely than you usually do, picking a fight with someone close, or not wanting to get out of bed.

To help resolve the “anniversary syndrome” (my phrase), it takes bringing the anniversary and the original event into awareness. It takes working with and through the experience that occurred the first time. It takes feeling the feelings and expressing them in a safe and healthy way, with someone who can support and help you with all that’s inside, and for the purpose of healing.

In the United States, we are right now in the immediate lead-up to the first anniversary of the 2016 election. It is affecting all of us … not just in the U.S., but all over the world. Not just in our awareness, but also beneath our awareness. Not just the adults of our country and world, but also our precious children. The impact is from the here and now – the current year since November 8, 2016. And the impact is from long ago – anything from our past that has been triggered by all that has occurred in the outer world since last year’s election.

It is impacting us in ways we need to explore. It is impacting us in ways we need to work with. It is impacting us in ways we need to heal … first within ourselves and then in the world outside us.

It’s the anniversary of 11/8/2016 – the election in the United States.

How are you reacting … on the surface, a little beneath the surface, and way deep within yourself? For your sake, for your children’s sake, for the sake of us all … I urge you to do your healing work with this anniversary.

© Judith Barr, 2017

CATHOLIC PRIESTS, COSBY, WEINSTEIN AND MORE

CAN YOU SEE IT?

This occurs all over the world, not solely in the U.S.
But recent events in the U.S. are instructive to us all.

Sexual abuse of the young and vulnerable by the rich and powerful has been brought out of the halls of secrecy into the light of day. The part of the Catholic Church in childhood sexual abuse came out in the open many years ago – brought out by the Boston Globe in 2002. More recently we’ve seen this in the cases of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. And after Harvey, men in entertainment and other arenas of our world, as well … James Toback (screenwriter/director,) Ben Affleck (actor,) Chris Savino (animator,) Roy Price (entertainment executive,) Lockhart Steele (Vox media editorial director,) John Besh (celebrity chef,) Mark Halperin (author and political analyst.)

It is a healthy step for our society that journalists are finding and documenting the stories of sexual abusers. It is also a healthy step that those who have been abused by them are coming forth and speaking out. Each step taken helps us get closer to the root. But we’re not there yet.

A number of things from this past week give us glimpses that can lead us to the root.

  • Corey Feldman, of the movie “Stand by Me,” has spoken about Hollywood’s secret of childhood sexual abuse of children in the entertainment industry, expanding the view past young adults and adults.
  • Ashley Judd’s statement in her interview with Diane Sawyer, that “we act like we’re between 3 and 6 years old in those moments,” meaning the moments when someone is starting to or in the act of sexually abusing us. We usually do regress to a young age within ourselves when traumatized. And sometimes it’s to the age we were first traumatized when we were children.
  • Ashley, responding to Diane’s question, what would she say to Harvey if she saw him today, responded: “What I would say to Harvey is, ‘I love you, and I understand that you are sick and suffering, and there is help for a guy like you, too. And it’s entirely up to you to get that help.’”
  • Ashley also described her response to her getting out of harm’s way and away from Harvey by making a deal with him to do what he was pressuring her to do after she won an Oscar in a movie he produced. “Am I proud of that? I’m of two minds: The part that shames myself says ‘no.’ The part of me that understands the way shame works says, ‘That was absolutely brilliant. Good job kid, you got out of there. Well done.’”
  • Alternet published an article recently, whose title is, “How on Earth Is Corporal Punishment Still Legal at School in 19 States?”1
  • “Law & Order: True Crime” is airing a television series about the story of the Menendez brothers’ murder of their parents and the real cause of that murder. Whether the brothers are in jail or not, whether or not you believe the series’ portrayal of the real cause as the brothers’ having been sexually abused and threatened by their parents, the series is clearly showing us all some of the deadly consequences of childhood sexual abuse.

All of these point to the root – the part that hasn’t yet been brought out into the light of day. What is coming out into the open is not just about powerful men out in the world today sexually abusing women, men, and even children in the arenas in which they work – entertainment, media, politics, business, spiritual, and more. It is showing us the outpicturing into our world of what occurs every day in families all over our country – and the world.

Powerful parents – fathers and sometimes mothers, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles – who are kings and queens of their domains, sexually abuse children in their homes, where it can be done in secret. Or if others know – like the extended family – they collude in keeping the secret. The children are vulnerable and innocent and terrified. The very people they are supposed to be able to trust are the people sexually abusing them. And others who could protect them are not protecting them … at all. Even the law in the US, which should be protecting, ends up colluding in the abuse by protecting the abuser.1

People are afraid of looking at what their part is in the perpetuation of this family dynamic. People are afraid of seeing how their part of the family dynamic outpictures into our world outside the home – whether they have sexually abused others, whether they have been sexually abused, or whether they have colluded in the sexual abuse in the home.

It is urgent that we look. It is urgent that we see. And it is urgent that we each heal our part in what is showing itself out in the world, but starts in our childhood homes.

We can see the huge, damaging impact it has on ourselves and on others when we don’t. We can see and feel the destructive consequences for ourselves, our families, and our societies, when we don’t.

This is the root of what we’re seeing in the exposure of sexual abuse in our world today. Healing it necessitates going to the root.

All of us, those who have been sexually abused, those who have colluded with sexual abuse, and those who have sexually abused others …
All of us who are part of this are sick or wounded … and our society is, as well.
All of us who are part of this are suffering … and our society is, as well.
There is help for all of us … and our society, as well.
The help for our society depends on all of us, each one of us individually.

And it is entirely up to each of us to get that help.

Will you do your part?

© Judith Barr, 2017

1 To learn more about how the law can be used to dehumanize and allow abuse in our country and world, see my article What Is Beneath the Willfulness in Our World? at http://judithbarr.com/2017/10/01/beneath-willfulness-world/

 

WHAT IS BENEATH THE WILLFULNESS IN OUR WORLD?

My last article – What Is Happening with Healthcare in America?1 – revealed the undercurrent of what is really going on with healthcare in America:  Willfulness. Attempting to do or doing something, the consequences be damned.  I explained about willfulness and its roots and its occurring beneath many guises.

Now we need to go deeper. To the deeper current beneath the willfulness we’re experiencing in our country and in our world. The current of dehumanization. Layers and layers of dehumanization that have not really been dealt with … because we blame others for dehumanization and try to punish them, while neglecting to find the layers of dehumanization within ourselves, and while refusing to focus on the healing of dehumanization – both within ourselves and others.

Come explore with me …

Decades ago, in the first book I read as part of my training to become a psychotherapist, the author spoke about the fascist within us, within every one of us.  I had never heard anyone acknowledge this before. I was so glad to know that somebody else knew this truth and was teaching this truth to everyone who read his book.

The “Little Fascist” Dehumanizes

Eric Berne, in his book, What Do You Say After You Say Hello?2 wrote about the “little fascist” in all of us. The part of us that is “a little torturer who probes for and enjoys the weakness of his victims.” The part of us that is vulnerable to those who call it into action – like a Hitler, an Osama bin Laden, a Putin, or even a president of the US, or many of the current leaders in our societies today. Some of us are so vulnerable to being called out into action, that we will respond in kind. Then there is not just a leader dehumanizing, but also many of the lower level leaders and many of the citizens. And some of us are vulnerable to the calling out in a different way. We hide our “little fascist,” our dehumanizer, from others and often even from ourselves. This also feeds the dehumanization – actually just as much as the acting out version –  because the “little fascist” unclaimed, unacknowledged, unhealed, colludes in secret with the “little fascist” being acted out.

There is a lot of goodness in people. But there is destructiveness, too. And if we try to claim our goodness but hide our destructiveness, we leave a clear pathway for our destructiveness to play itself out in the world … directly by our own hands or seemingly indirectly through the hands of others.  Both are happening in our world today. And both are happening in the US today.

Dehumanization Under Sanctuary of the Law

In her book, How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow?,3 Liza Lugo writes:

“What we are now witnessing in the 21st century is the fracture
or complete breakdown of families, societies, and governments
as a result of centuries of dehumanization that have taken a toll.
More natural disasters (tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, etc.)
merely uncover the reality
of the national disasters we have created
by granting sanctuary to dehumanization via the law.”

Ms. Lugo understands and speaks what I am saying here … that the dehumanization we are seeing now is longstanding. It is not just occurring for the first time now. The reality of dehumanization is being uncovered from a long-time existence under the protection of normalizing cultures, leaders and citizens in denial, and under the “sanctuary,” as she puts it, of the law.

It’s one thing to have a “little fascist” within yourself. It’s one thing to have a “little fascist” within acting out in our world. It is yet another step deeper to have that dehumanizing part of ourselves exist and acting out under “sanctuary” of the law. This, of course, has occurred limitless times in the life of our world. To name a few …

Examples of Dehumanization Under Sanctuary of the Law

Racism and slavery all over our world, including in two supposedly civilized countries, Great Britain and the United States, where it has definitely existed under the sanctuary of law. And where the after-effects of that sanctuary include the repeated transmission of dehumanization from generation to generation, whether the law remains as sanctuary or not.

According to Berne,4 the prejudice against darker people is one of the ‘genocidal’ “aspects of human nature that have remained unchanged during the past five thousand years regardless of any genetic evolution which has taken place during this period; they also remain immune to environmental and social influences.”

Berne is acknowledging that we cannot change the aspects within us that dehumanize people … from the outside. If you read him closely and take in what he is saying, you realize: We cannot “teach” the end of dehumanization. We cannot legislate the end of it either. And we cannot pray away dehumanization. It is clear, as you read, that the changes need to come from ending the transmission of dehumanization from generation to generation in action, thought, and feeling through inner healing, from the inside out.

Another example of dehumanization under the sanctuary of the law: Once Adolph Hitler was elected in Germany, he had free reign to dehumanize people in a holocaust he created, under cover of the laws he put into place, with the aid of those he gave license to act out their “little fascists,” and with the collusion of those who denied their own “little fascists.” It was horrifying. It was agonizing for those who experienced it and for those who witnessed it from nearby and from afar.

And yet another example still – completely blatant in the US today:  In contrast to the immediate help sent to Texas after Hurricane Harvey, and to Florida after Hurricane Irma, witness the lack of immediate help after Hurricane Maria had devastated Puerto Rico. Mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, has pleaded for help. She has told us they are dying. She has told the government “You are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.” She has reminded us Puerto Ricans are Americans. She has appealed to our humanity. And from our President, she has received dehumanizing responses:

*”such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in
Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

*”they want everything to be done for them when it should be a
community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic
job.”5

A final example for today: The laws in the United States related to child abuse have loopholes in them, loopholes supposedly included to provide freedom to parents. Freedom to what? Use force against a minor child in their care, if:

*it is reasonable?
*it is reasonably related to the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the minor, including the prevention or punishment of the minor’s misconduct?
* it neither causes not creates a substantial risk of causing, physical harm (beyond fleeting pain or minor, transient marks,) gross degradation, or severe mental distress?6

This is dehumanization of children under the law.
Force against a minor child is not reasonable!
Force against a minor child does not  reasonably relate to safeguarding or promoting their welfare!
Force against a minor child causes physical harm!
Even force that causes fleeting pain.
Even force that leaves transient marks.
Any force against a minor child causes gross degradation!
And severe mental distress!

I work with people who experienced some or all of these as children.  The impact on the child is severe, moreso if the adults in his or her life believe it is not.

Rulings like these mean that as of 2017, the US is not on the list of countries that have completely prohibited corporal punishment of children.7 Quite the contrary, according to the same document, “Corporal punishment of children by parents or other legal guardians is legal in the United States and social acceptance is generally high, through allowances made for ‘moderate physical discipline.’”8

The US is supposedly one of the most civilized countries in the world, according to Americans, the most. Yet look at us! This is dehumanization of children under the sanctuary of law! This is the “little fascist” in secret if you are in denial, yet right out in the open if you see and acknowledge the truth. This is the “little fascist” in leaders – governmental, business, and spiritual – in parents, and in everyday citizens.

The Roots of Dehumanization
and It’s Transmission to the Next Generation

And this is a perfect place to show the generation-to-generation transmission of dehumanization.  If you experienced the “little fascist” in your parent(s) under some form of the guise of “for your own good,” then they dehumanized you. For a young child, dehumanization is even more unbearable than for an adult. A child doesn’t even yet know she exists. A child doesn’t even yet know he’s a person.

A child doesn’t even yet know she has dignity simply in her being. A child doesn’t even yet have words to express what is happening to him, and perhaps no one at all who will lovingly receive his expression – in words or even beneath words, in sounds, cries, movements. The child can only repress the experience and the feelings, while building defenses against it. One of those defenses inevitably will be “the little fascist” who dehumanizes … others and themselves.

He will dehumanize a younger sibling, a weaker classmate, sometimes a pet (not strict de-“humanizing,” but so close it fits). Later she may dehumanize children she babysits for, her parents, other adults like teachers. And still later, she may dehumanize her students, and he may dehumanize his employees, his spouse and his own children.

When he dehumanizes those younger than he, himself, they will respond as he did … repressing the experience, repressing the feelings, and building their own dehumanizing defense against the pain of the experience. When he dehumanizes those older than he, it is inevitable in most cases that they will be triggered by him, and respond either as they did when dehumanized as children, or by responding to him in kind … dehumanizing him in whatever form they took on as their means of expressing the “little fascist” in themselves.

In other words, the ‘little fascist” is a defense. A defense passed on and on and on through generations within families and outside families, too. In other words, if your parent(s) dehumanized you, that created the birth in you of your “little fascist” who will dehumanize others, and perhaps you, yourself.

Until you heal the early wound of dehumanization and until you heal the “little fascist” within yourself, you will continue to be part of the dehumanization that is still taking place all over our country, and all over our world. You will continue to be part of the dehumanization that is becoming more and more audible, visible, palpable all over our country, and all over our world.

Glimpses of Humanizing

There are signs of humanizing … touching ones I’ve seen in person and via media over the past few days.

Recently, on the television show, Designated Survivor, Kiefer Sutherland as President Kirkman, said to his staff:

“You have all dedicated yourselves to public service,
and you serve approximately 326 million Americans,
most of whom you’ll never meet or ever know.
It is imperative that we not become numb.
The people that we serve, they …
they have faces, families, hopes, and dreams and stories.
And they are our fellow Americans.
And by virtue of that bond alone,
they are worthy of our sacrifice our commitment and our service.”

And in the movie Nise: The Heart of Madness, in 1940’s Brazil, Dr. Nise da Silveira works in a psychiatric hospital in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. She refuses to use the electroshock treatments that have come into use for schizophrenia. Against the violence and dehumanization, she confronts the room filled with psychiatrists after a cold, heartless demonstration of the treatments:

“He just needs to be treated like a human.”

And later she confronts a psychiatrist:

“You use your patients for your sadistic experiments.
Brute force is the only advantage you have over them.”

Bravo to Tom Kirkman and the writer who created him. Brava to Dr. Nise da Silveira and what she co-created with the people she helped.

The question is … are these signs of the humanizing sides of these people, with the dehumanizing sides still buried deep and ignored, and still at play in our world? Are these signs of the humanizing of these people, after the healing within themselves? Or are these glimpses for us of the possibility of real humanizing … after the healing takes place?

How Do We Heal Dehumanization?

Again … until you go beneath the guise …
until you go beneath the part of you who looks like the two examples above …
until you heal the early wound of dehumanization …
and until you heal the “little fascist” within yourself …
you will continue to be part of the dehumanization that is still taking place all over
our country, and all over our world. You will continue to be part of the
dehumanization that is becoming more and more audible, visible, palpable
all over our country, and all over our world.

You can’t put this on other people. They are just magnets for your own dehumanization and your own dehumanizing. They are just mirrors of your own “little fascist.”  If, in truth, you do love your children … you need to heal the “little fascist” within you. If, in truth, you do love your country … you need to heal the dehumanizer that lives within you.

There is no way around this. There is no way over this.
Until we heal our own experiences of being dehumanized …
and until we heal the part in us that dehumanizes …
we will continue to be part of the escalating dehumanizing in our world.

“…Whoever is not aware of this force [the “little fascist”] in his personality has lost control of it …
He who pretends that these forces do not exist becomes their victim …
The solution is not to say, as many do, ‘It’s frightening,’ [which it is] but rather ‘What can I do about it and what can I do with it?’9

© Judith Barr, 2017

1 What Is Happening with Healthcare in America? I recommend your going back to read this article.

2 Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? pp 302 – 305 “The Little Fascist”, Copyright 1972, Andre Deutsch edition published 1974 in Great Britain; Corgi edition published 1975.

3 Liza Lugo, How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow? Racism in 21st-Century New Orleans, ABC-CLIO Praeger Publishing, March 31, 2014.

4 Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? p 305 “The Little Fascist”, Andre Deutsch edition published 1974 in Great Britain; Corgi edition published 1975.

5 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/914089003745468417 and https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/914089888596754434

6 http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/progress/country-reports/usa.html The wording I’ve used, though somewhat paraphrased, is from the link above, under the section on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 2015 ruling.

7 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal_punishment_in_the_home#Laws_by_country

8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal_punishment_in_the_home#Laws_by_country

9 Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? pp 302 – 305 “The Little Fascist”, Copyright 1972, Andre Deutsch edition published 1974 in Great Britain; Corgi edition published 1975.

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH HEALTHCARE IN AMERICA?

THE UNDERCURRENT

What is happening with healthcare in America?
You may think it’s about politics. It is not.
You may think it’s about policy. It’s not.
You may believe it’s about good financial planning. No, it’s not.

If you know people who will be impacted by the Graham-Cassidy bill up in Congress now, you can clearly see that the bill will cause great harm to them. It will cause great harm to millions of others in our country, too. Perhaps even you, yourself … if not now, at some point in your life.

Physicians, as part of their passage into practicing medicine, commit to do no harm. Some of them do anyway, but many don’t. Have you ever heard of a governmental leader committing to do no harm? I haven’t either. But it needs to be part of the passage into governing or leading in any way.

So, if what’s happening with healthcare in America isn’t about politics, or policy, or good financial planning, what is it about? It’s about human willfulness. My understanding and definition of willfulness is when you do or attempt to do something – the consequences be damned. The key phrase: “the consequences be damned.”

And that is what is happening with our healthcare. That is what’s happening with our ability to have safe, secure, affordable, and accessible medical care when we need it. People are willfully attempting to destroy our healthcare system for their own benefit . . . under so many guises.

And how do people become willful? It is a defense we create when we’re young, a defense against wounds we experienced in our lives long ago. Perhaps our parents, or someone else in our young lives, willfully did things that harmed us … the consequences be damned. Perhaps we reacted in kind. Perhaps we passed it on to others more vulnerable than we were, or maybe even willfully harmed ourselves.

Willfulness is a current in each of us. Some of us don’t know about it at all. Some of us know about it and have healed it. Some of us know about it and try to keep from acting on it, not knowing it is possible to heal. Some of us know about it and act on it with awareness and intent.

Most of us deny it even exists – in others and in ourselves. How is it that so many of our leaders are acting on their willful aspects all at the same time … in relation to our health and well-being? Our denial has allowed it to come so far out into the open that it has become undeniable.

So now we have a choice.
Even though it is undeniable, we can still attempt to deny it – in ourselves and our leaders. We can, like little children who want to deny that mommy or daddy is willfully doing harm to them, transfer that onto our leaders, and want to deny that in our leaders. And we can, like little children who don’t want to “get in trouble” deny it in ourselves.

Or … we can see the willfulness, name it, hold our leaders accountable for their willfulness, and stop them … while at the same time exploring, discovering, finding, and healing our own willfulness. Then, and only then, can we be certain that we are not coming from a place of willfulness, but rather that we are coming from a place of real truth within ourselves, and from a truly loving place at the same time.

© Judith Barr, 2017.

HARVEY AND IRMA

The foreboding that came with the forecasts of Harvey and Irma was real.
The trepidation that preceded the hurricanes was real.
The dread as they came closer and closer escalated.
The panic as they hit was beyond measure.
The surges after the landfall, terrifying, as well.
The devastation done on every level of being, surreal, yet all too real.
The trauma experienced mentally, emotionally, and physically was massive.
The impact long-lasting … longer lasting than we even want to know.

For those of us who don’t live where the hurricanes caused their visible, physical damage … most of us are on to other things. Certainly, the media is. Those, however, who lived right there in the wake of the storms are left with unimaginable months and even years of grieving, clean-up and restoration, along with triggers to be triggered every time clouds darken the skies, winds start to blow, rains come, there is a forecast of a hurricane … who knows what might trigger the memories and feelings from Harvey and Irma?

Who knows what might trigger the memories and feelings for those who witnessed these mammoth storms? And who knows what these storms themselves may have triggered for those living through it up close and personal, as well as those living through it from afar?

We all go through storms in our lives – inside and out – and those storms stay with us, some in our awareness and some beneath our conscious memory. Birth is a storm common to us all. Being born is like a storm to a tiny being. Just imagine – pushed, out of control, by forces bigger than you, out of your home toward someplace unknown, flooded with feelings you can’t even express, and it feels like – and may even actually be – life and death!

Even if we just explore the example of birth, the original experience is a trauma. The memories and feelings of that trauma are long-lasting. The cues that can trigger memory and emotion are beyond count. The attempt to hold at bay the experience in all its painful and frightening aspects is beneath consciousness for most of us. And how many of us realize there are consequences in our lives – individual and communal – that come from the storm of being born and our attempts to bury and hold that storm at bay?

For starters … we hold back on giving birth in our lives. Perhaps we hold back on allowing new inspirations that could change our lives – our personal and our global lives – for the better. Perhaps we hold back on putting those inspirations into action. Perhaps we put them into action but then freeze half-way through, three-quarters of the way through, or just before the moment of birth. Defending ourselves, without our even realizing it, from feeling again and re-experiencing the storm of our own birth into this world.

And if this is true of something so natural as birth, imagine how true it is of other traumas – unnatural traumas we experience even as tiny little children! Abuse, neglect, loss, abandonment, and more. These traumas occur more often than we imagine. To more children than we want to imagine.

Those children – each in their own way, each related to their own personal storms – are triggered when, for example:
The foreboding comes with the forecasts of a storm. (Dad comes home to find Mom in a bad mood.)
The trepidation comes that precedes yet another hurricane, real in their own life. (Dad storms out and slams the door.)
The dread escalates as the storm comes closer and closer. (Dad calls from the bar and says he’ll be home in an hour.)
The panic is beyond measure as the next storm hits. (Dad walks in the door and yells at Mom as he walks in their room.)
The surge after the new storm’s landfall is terrifying, as well. (Mom is sobbing and screaming; the children are sobbing, too.)
The devastation done on every level of being, is surreal, yet all too real. (The imprint of the storm on everyone is real.)
The trauma experienced mentally, emotionally, and physically is massive.
The impact of the storms before and yet-another-storm is long-lasting … longer lasting than we even want to know.

And those children – ourselves included – take steps to defend ourselves against the floods of memories and feelings. As children, these steps are crucial for our sanity and our lives. As we grow, those same defenses are in place as part of our being, and they become reflexive and involuntary in response to certain triggers. But those steps may also create new steps and new storms and new terror and devastation.

One of the first things I learned in my training as a depth psychotherapist – our defenses end up creating the very thing we are defending against. So, we end up creating more storms when we defend against the original storms. The storms we create may be emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. This could help us understand how we have played a role in the drastic changes in our climate that are giving birth to new bigger, and more devastating storms.

If we don’t heal our storms, we won’t be able to sense, see, hear, feel, or act upon dangers when they are right in front of us. We may freeze, fight, or flee instead of taking the kind of action that is needed.

As harm begins to appear on the horizon, if more of us had healing from our once-childhood storms – now storms within us – the dangers we are experiencing now in our world might have been stopped … awhile back, long ago, or in their tracks.

With each original storm, there is so much grieving, clean up, restoration, and healing that needs to be done – within ourselves. And with each storm after that, the repair needed on every level of being is multiplied beyond measure.

But we can heal from our original storms, and the many storms we experienced after that in our young lives, and those we re-enacted in our lives as we grew. By healing, we can help decrease the storms in our lives, in the lives of our children, and in the lives of our world.

By healing, we can help decrease the storms that are within our control. And perhaps there are more storms within our control than we can imagine before we do the healing. This is the hope! The healing is the hope!

© Judith Barr, 2017.

NOTE: This same understanding could be related to the earthquakes in Mexico and New Zealand, wildfires in the western US, flooding in India, terrorist attacks in Europe, and more …

BACK TO SCHOOL

ACKNOWLEDGING THE TRUTH WITH HEART

As we begin the new school year, with all our hopes and visions,
it seems crucial to acknowledge that …
we are living in challenging times,
we are having feelings triggered within us that are affecting us and our precious children –
both in and beneath our awareness,
we need to pay attention, tend to our triggers and the feelings at their roots …
in order to help our children, heal ourselves, and help to heal our country and our world.

If we try to rise above this truth …
if we try to get around it …
if we try to block it out …
If we try to close our eyes and our ears to it …
If we try to further close our hearts to it …
If we try to fool ourselves into believing our children are fine,
just because they behave the way we want them to,
function the way we think they should,
succeed the way we expect them to …
If we try to fool ourselves in the same ways
about ourselves …
If we refuse to take action to heal our own triggers and the feelings within,
Instead of helping ourselves, our children, our Mother Earth …
we will be feeding the patriarchy’s efforts to get us to not feel our feelings …
we will be responsible for the vicious cycle’s continuing and escalating even further …
personally, familially, and communally.

In her beautiful, conscious, heart-touching song “Open It Up,”* Canadian singer Jennifer Berezan reminds us of so much we need to work with and work through.

Her song begins so touchingly:

“In the day, see the children playing in the park.
In the night, see them dream alone in the dark,
of flashing lights and burning clouds.
They know the terror of us all –
the fears we learn to shut away, shut away
as we grow big and tall.
Filling in the valleys where the waters used to flow,
shutting down the places where the gentle feelings grow.

“We’ve got to open it up, open it up, open it up now.
Why don’t we open it, open it up, open it up now?
When will we open it up, open it up, open it up now?

And it so honestly continues:

“ . . .When our hearts are filled with hidden fear,
the cries they cannot reach our ear.

“If we cannot face the darkness,
we will not see the light.
There is beauty in the day,
but there is healing in the night.”

This is my passion and gift – the way I live and the work I do with people …
To find and safely open up our feelings both from today and times gone by …
to do the healing in the night …
so we and our children can experience the true beauty in the day.

© Judith Barr, 2017

 *Jennifer Berezan, “Open It Up,” from the album “In the Eye of the Storm,” 1988. Jennifer sang and recorded these songs in the same times – the 1980’s – and about some of the same issues as those I talked about in my last blog post – “The Patriarchy’s Greatest Weapon Is to Get Us to Not Feel.”

NOTE: For a deep understanding of how we co-create and escalate the vicious cycle in our lives, our children’s lives, our world …
or truly help to heal it …
see the series in my PoliPsych blog: The Paris Trilogy

The Patriarchy’s Greatest Weapon Is To Get Us To Not Feel

Healing the Patriarchy From the Inside Out – Not Just From the Outside In

In the 1980’s, I took a leap of faith into a journey unlike any I’d taken before. Having been a psychotherapist in private practice for over a decade, poetry started flowing through me … poetry related to women and the healing of our wounds. *

It began with the wounds to our menstrual time,1 a call to turn what had become known as “curse” back into the sacred time it truly was on all levels of being – continuous cycles of birth, death, and renewal, month after month after month, leading us home to our deepest core selves.

It deepened further and expanded to wounds to our sexual selves through incest and other forms of sexual abuse, blatant and subtle, personal and cultural … wounds that had disconnected us from our own experiences of birth, growth into fullness, and death (orgasm itself is known as “la petite mort,” meaning “the little death”.) Painful wounds that had disconnected us from union – with ourselves and others.

It stretched across our lives into wounds experienced in our elder years, when “menopause” had also been seen as a curse, as a time when life was over; and when women had been seen as “useless hags” instead of as the wise women we truly are.

It reached into our emotional and spiritual selves through our feelings, our sense of connection, and our own deeply feminine power.2 It brought to light the profound power of our feelings (used well), out of the shadows of the wounding – humiliating degradation of feelings as “illogical,” “irrational,” “too sensitive,” “weak,” “crybaby,” “hysterical,” and more.3 From the very beginning of this journey, it called me to call women to become our true selves, or as I came to name it, “ourselves in truth and love.” 4

Many women were helped to heal through my poetry readings, workshops, newsletters, and then audio recordings. Many were helped to discover and work to heal deep wounding and trauma through these opportunities. This work I was so deeply called to was referenced by other women responding to their own parallel call, including Lara Owen in Her Blood Is Gold, and Alexandra Pope in The Wild Genie.

Many men were also deeply touched by my work, which surprised, yet delighted me. There were times in poetry readings and workshops when men were moved to tears. It was such a blessing to see in relation to the wounding I was helping to bring out into the open.

It didn’t take me long to realize I was not only working to help women heal their own wounding and trauma, I was also being guided to help heal the patriarchy in our country – and our world.5 Actually, this was evident from the beginning, from my very first audio recording, ”The Call of My Blood Mysteries.”  In some poems it was more subtle: “A Menstrual Journey: The Old and The Dark” and “A Menstrual Journey: The New, The Light, and The Possibility.” In others it was downright obvious: “I Live in The House of My Father.”  This poem named the psychological, emotional, energetic, spiritual levels of the patriarchy we grew up under. Here’s the beginning of the poem:

I live in the house of my father.
I cannot feel.
It looks like I have a mother,
but elsewhere she lives,
not with me.
I live alone in the house of my father,
and I dare not feel. 

Feeling is safe only with a mother
t
o hold me, feel me, let me know I’m safe.
It looks like I have a mother.
Not really. I don’t.
She lives in the house of her father.
No mother has she,
so she cannot feel either,
neither herself, nor me.

So I live in the house of my father,
and I dare not feel.”

This expression of the effects of the patriarchy not only reveals its impact on women, it also reveals the consequences for men. Men who cannot feel, men who dare not feel. Men who cannot feel their own authentic feelings. Men who cannot connect with themselves deeply and vulnerably. Men who cannot connect with others undefendedly (but not defenselessly) … because they lived in the houses of their fathers, with mothers who lived in the houses of their fathers.

If I had spoken only of this aspect of the patriarchy, it would touch every other aspect that existed and exists.

Without knowing how to feel safely,
without knowing what feelings it’s in truth to act on,
without knowing what feelings are guides to follow for healing,
without know what feelings it’s in truth to only explore safely
  with someone else or ourselves,
without knowing the boundary between having feelings and
  acting them out . . .
we inevitably contribute to the patriarchy, with or without our
  awareness.

Without being able to feel, we collude with the patriarchy. Without being able to feel and know what to do with our feelings, we feed the patriarchy. Without being able to feel safely, connect with ourselves and each other deeply and safely … we become part of the patriarchy.

My book and my blog6 illustrate how important our feelings are – both our conscious and unconscious feelings. Here I’m reflecting that importance in yet another way – through the lens of the patriarchy.

Some all along have been focusing on ending the patriarchy from the outside in – efforts and steps that needed and still need to be part of the response to the patriarchy, just not the only response.  Those efforts brought to the foreground the truth that men were not the only participants in the patriarchy. Women also acted in behalf of the patriarchy in many ways, both passive and active. Among limitless examples are these: Not only men, but also women who were misogynists, who hated women, including themselves. Women who handed their daughters over to their husbands – consciously or not. Women who supported male sexual abuse and harassment – like the women who supported Clarence Thomas against Anita Hill. Women like the Chief Elder played by Meryl Streep in the recent movie, The Giver, based on the 1993 novel by Lois Lowry. Women, like the wives and female “enforcers” in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, The Handmaid’s Tale, revived in Hulu’s video series last year.

Others, including me, were focusing on healing the patriarchy from the inside out. Healing the patriarchy as it exists within each one of us, male and female. Healing the vicious cycle of the patriarchy within that has been wounded by the patriarchy and that, as a consequence, wounds from the patriarchy. Amongst us was Sue Monk Kidd, who followed and shared her journey from “daughter of the patriarchy” to “dissident daughter” to her own “feminine soul.” 7

As time wore on and our work went deeper and broader, we realized that there would, at some point, be a backlash from the patriarchy to our healing work. That backlash has been coming for a long time. And now it has come with a vengeance. It is right here in our country and world today, trying to impose its power and force upon us all, acting out in destructive ways – destructive to all of us, even those who are most obviously active in enforcing its distorted power.

This doesn’t mean we were unsuccessful at our healing steps. It means we were so successful that the patriarchy in all its forms, in all its embodiment was threatened and instead of surrendering to a healthier way within and without, it prepared to resist.

We will not give up in the face of the patriarchy’s vengeance and fear. We will once again surrender – in the best sense of the word – to our call to heal the patriarchy… not just from the outside, but from the inside out.

Not just in others, but from within our very selves.

Here are vital clues to help in our healing …
Patriarchy is not just about men. Their part in the patriarchy may be the most visible, audible, and palpable. But …  the patriarchy is about men and women, and even children. It’s about all of us.

Patriarchy is not about politics. Politics is one of the venues through which the patriarchy has its most visible, most undeniable impact.

Patriarchy is personal. It is communal. It is global.
Patriarchy is about human nature in the need of growth, evolution, and healing.
The patriarchy’s greatest weapon is to get us to not feel safely –
to not heal and go through our own renewal.

Without being able to feel and feel safely, we all lose.
Without being able to feel and know what to do with our feelings safely, we all lose.
Without being able to feel safely, connect with ourselves and each other deeply and safely, we all lose …
individually and communally.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*The original recordings of this poetry have been transformed into mp3’s for current day audiences.
1 “The Call of My Blood Mysteries,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/spoken-word-on-behalf-of-the-feminine/
2 “Weeding Through Distortion to The Truth,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/weeding-through-distortion-to-the-truth/
3 “Feeling: A Form of Prayer,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/feeling-a-form-of-prayer/
4 “Woman, Come to Your Self,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/woman-come-to-yourself/
5 “Healing The Feminine Betrayal of The Feminine,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/healing-the-feminine-betrayal-of-the-feminine/
6 Power Abused, Power Healed, by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/power-abused-power-healed/
“PoliPsych,”  http://judithbarr.com/blog/
7 Dance of The Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd, HarperOne, 1996.

 

 

Healing the World Through Truth and Love – Real Truth and Love

THE POWER OF ONE,
THE POWER OF A FEW

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”* There are ways in which a single person and a small group of committed people can change the world, ways about which many do not know.

In my work with people, I teach about commitment. Full, whole-hearted, both-feet-in commitment. Commitment that is kept and deepened because it was made in what I call “truth and love.” Commitment that was made not because somebody taught or said you should. Commitment that was made not because you were forced. Commitment that was made not because you thought you were obligated.  But rather . . . Commitment that was made earnestly and commitment that was and is truly aligned with your soul.

I teach that contrary to popular lore, as we proceed with our commitments, the “obstacles” that emerge are not really obstacles. Rather they are signs of our fears emerging to be met, faced, and worked through. They are signs of wounds crying out to be healed. Signals of places within us where we are split, or where there is a rupture in our own wholeness …showing us the need for repair, for unifying within. Inviting us to do the inner work of healing and transformation that again and again leads to a deepening of our commitment.

I help those with whom I work discover, through experience, making their commitments more and more full commitments … until eventually, they are, themselves, becoming more and more “full commitment.” The miracles that come of this work are awe-inspiring.

Last month I shared with you about my then-upcoming week-long intensive with some of the women with whom I have worked deeply and in this way. These are women who, on many levels, have already become some of the most committed people I know. So committed, in fact, that they keep discerning where there are currents within them in which they aren’t fully committed – currents that are undermining them in some way.

This past weekend, we have done a follow up weekend intensive. And on the heels of the long intensive, the work has been breath-taking. Or should I say “breath-giving.”

Every piece of work was beautiful. Deep. Tender. Heart-wrenching, but healing. Vulnerable yet powerful. Profound. Courageous. A birthing of the women more deeply into themselves. And as with every time we work, we lit a candle to symbolize that our work would affect us individually, as a circle of women, those in our lives, those we touch as we walk through life, and our country, our world, and our universe. Often, as someone does her work, it is clear how that piece of work will have an expansive positive impact.  For example, if a woman does work expressing her prejudice, that she never felt safe before to express because she feared she would be shamed for it, we knew that by doing that work, she was pulling her portion of the prejudice out of the cauldron of prejudice in the global consciousness. Or if she did work expressing her fear of people – because the people in her childhood family were not safe – we knew that was part of her contribution to healing the unsafety in our world. We knew, for example, that work would help her distinguish who is really safe from who is not. And that it would assist her in not re-creating and re-enacting unsafe situations from her childhood in her life today and our world today.

This past weekend, there was one piece of work done the second day of the intensive, that was particularly magnificent and clear … in what it meant not only for that woman, not only for the circle of women, but also for our world.

Sara was struggling with following her profession, the one that is her gift and her passion. She felt like nothing was going right. Everything was getting in her way. And she was considering leaving the profession she loved so much and doing something else. At the beginning of the workshop, we had talked about the possibility of her work starting with her saying in the circle “I quit,” meaning “I quit my job,” and then opening that up more deeply.

In my work with people I have found that if I can help people do what I call “inhabiting their feelings,” it will help them refrain from acting out those feelings out in the world, while at the same time helping them heal from the wounds long ago that caused those feelings. I teach them how to very safely “enact” those feelings in their session or in an intensive … helping them, supporting them all the way through the piece of work.

So back to Sara … although we had talked about her inhabiting “I quit,” as she was sharing, she also said she was aware she wasn’t committed to truth and love. That she was committed to what she wanted and she was committed to having her way, but not to truth and love. I knew that was an important clue. I sensed it was bigger, deeper, more impactful than “I quit.”
So at the beginning of her time working in the circle, I suggested she start by expressing just that:
“I’m not committed to truth and love.”
She did … and let it unfold …
“I’m not committed to truth and love.
You can’t make me. I’m not going to.
You can’t force me.
I won’t.
No. No. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

With deep, involuntary crying all through what she was saying,
and saying it again and again and again.
At times it sounded like she was raging.
At times like she was scared.
At others it sounded like she was hurt.
Still others in pain.
At times she sounded like a baby.
Most of the time her crying sounded much younger than the words she kept saying …
because, of course, the words were the thread that was helping her open up something deep within her.

Just short of an hour later, it was clear she had done what was needed for this piece of work, and that she needed the time to be, to rest, to integrate what had just happened … even though she didn’t know what it meant, didn’t understand where it had led or where it was still headed. She had simply trusted to let herself safely, for the purpose of healing, feel and express what had been calling from her depths.

There is still more for her to do with this thread. More entering and deepening the path of commitment for her. Later, though, after she’d had a chance to integrate a bit, she realized that if what she saw as a child was truth and love – she didn’t want any of it. She didn’t want truth that was a front for lies and deceit. She didn’t want love that was a guise for objectifying, controlling, and hurting her.

In those moments, right after her work, before she integrated, before she could move from the primal feelings, I shared the inspiration that had come to me during her work. I knew she was doing the work for herself in her own healing and growth. I knew it would also be helpful to the other women in the circle. And I knew it would be helpful to our world … a world that is in great difficulty right now. A world in which so many are acting out in such damaging, destructive ways. A world in which others are unaware of their complicity. A world in which too many are focused on fixing things on the outside. A world in which still others aren’t aware of how to help in the healing, or even that there is a way to heal from the inside out.

My inspiration:
Each woman in the group likely had the same current within herself – “I’m not committed to truth and love.”
Each person in the world probably had the same current within him/herself.
And one of the best things we, as a circle of women, could do to help our world right now, would be if each member of the circle would do her version of the same work we had just witnessed – inhabiting “I am not committed to truth and love.” By doing that … we could pull out of the cauldron of the collective unconscious our portions of “I’m not committed to truth and love.  And not only that, but also … by doing so we would give an emotional and energetic imprint to our world and the people of our world of healing the place where each one is not committed, or not fully committed, to truth and love.

It is my prayer that you will let this article be an invitation to you …
to explore the current in you that isn’t fully committed to truth and love;
to explore the place in you where you need to work more deeply to heal from the root;
to explore the place in you where you need to learn how to utilize your feelings for healing;
to explore the place in you where you could help our world from the inside out …
in ways you have never before known possible.

© Judith Barr, 2017

NOTE: This article was posted with the permission of the members of the group.

* https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/margaretme100502.html