“We Need Mothers Who …” Mother’s Day All Over the World

Countries and cultures all over the world celebrate Mother in some way.
It may be a healthy way. It may be a distorted, ritualized, or even an unhealthy way.
Perhaps it’s the personal mother who is celebrated. Perhaps it’s the idealized mother who is celebrated. Perhaps the normalized mother. Possibly it’s the essence of Mother we need.

Our mothers have an impact on us as individuals and on us as a society … whatever society we live in. Both consciously and unconsciously, our mothers have an impact on our personal lives, and an impact on the life of our planet.

There is no perfect mother. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. If someone pretends to be perfect, she teaches her children they have to be perfect. Because they never can be perfect, she teaches her children they can never be good enough. She also teaches them there is no process in life or human relationship. The mother who is human – imperfect but a good enough mother in all the ways children most deeply need – teaches her children it is possible to make mistakes and create a repair for the mistakes they’ve made. She does that with them when she makes a mistake. She helps them do that when they make a mistake. This deepens their trust with her, with themselves, with process, and with life itself.

When have you seen that from a mother in public life? From a mother or a father in public life? It is sorely lacking. Especially in these times.

Just as important as that acknowledgment of a mistake and the repair that needs to follow, is the mother who realizes she has made a mistake out of her own wounding, acknowledges it, and gets the help to do her own inner healing work instead of continuing to act out her wounding with her children, family, and others. This deepens her own and her children’s faith in real repair – for their relationship with mother and for their ability to do the same. It is a profound and wonderful role model for everyone in her life who witnesses her in the process of healing inside and out.

When have you seen that from a mother in public life? From a mother? From a father? It is tragically lacking in our world. Especially in these times.

But … I remember a time not long ago, reading about two public figures who did acknowledge – to themselves and apparently to others – that the work they did in the world was an acting out of their defenses against their wounds. It was a good example of the possibility that we may do important work in our outer world, yet it may unconsciously be a way to hold at bay the pain of our wounding as children that is still alive in our inner world.

Gloria Steinem acknowledged that “being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself. You keep trying to fill up this emptiness.”* How courageous! How honest! How real! And what a model for our world. Was anybody listening? Did anybody get it? She was acknowledging out loud that she invested herself in a cause in the outer world to avoid the pain still alive in her inner world.

I once led a workshop called Conscious Activism from the Inside Out on the topic of outer activism as a defense against inner activism. As people explored how they used social and political activism to hold their inner world at bay, I was also helping them realize that it is possible to do the inner healing and also help in the outer world. And that it was of great concern how frenzied and distorted the outer activism can become as a defense against the inner. All we have to do to see an example of that is to look at the political scene in the United States today.

Betty Friedan offered an acknowledgement similar to that of Gloria Steinem in a later edition of The Feminine Mystique. She wrote about her hatred for her mother, and then admitted, “It was easier for me to start the women’s movement than it was to change my own personal life.”

These were the “mothers” of the women’s movement. Their acknowledgments don’t discount the actual good done by and through the women’s movement. But they may explain the roots of some of the harms. Here’s a perfect example of no mother being perfect. But by their taking responsibility for the deep roots of their unconscious intentions, these mothers of the women’s movement … freed themselves to do their inner healing and offered a profound model to those who came after them. Who knows how few or many of the “daughters” and “sons” of the women’s movement welcomed and utilized that model in their own lives and their own activism? This brings to the foreground the understanding that the unconscious intentions of avoiding their own inner pain contributed to the unsustainability of many of the outer successes they achieved.

For example, if each of them had first worked with the young pain of not having choices over their own minds, bodies, hearts, and souls … they would have modeled for all those who worked with them and came after them to do their own inner work and then the outer work.

How many other women have made these acknowledgments? How many men have done the same? How very different our political scene would be today if both women and men did their inner work before bringing their energies to such important arenas in our outer world!

But back to mothers … and a deep hope that more mothers – both in private life and public life – will do their own inner healing work for their own sakes, for the sake of their children, and for the sake of our world.

This is my Mother’s Day wish.

This is my Mother’s Day prayer.

© Judith Barr, 2016.

* from the synopsis for the HBO documentary, “In Her Own Words,” http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gloria-in-her-own-words/synopsis.html

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD
SAFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Whether we are mothers or not, whether we are activists or not, whether we are men or women, old or young, single or married … we all need to very carefully explore and heal the wounded currents within us that affect our lives, our relationships, our world.

This Mother’s Day, make a commitment to begin that crucial healing journey. Or to take that next big step in it. As you reflect on your own relationship with your mother – past and present – allow yourself to feel whatever arises within you … committing not to act out on those feelings but rather to feel and explore the roots of those feelings. What are the earliest feelings you can recall in relation to your mother? And … when in your here-and-now life do you feel those same feelings? About whom in your here-and-now life do you feel that same way?

When exploring, we may find we need the help of a skilled, caring therapist to truly heal many of our deepest feelings about our mothers. Even to bring into consciousness for healing feelings we can’t remember or don’t consciously connect with our relationship with mother. Commit as well to find that help when you need it.

Whether we are parents or not, we all need to do the inner work necessary to explore and heal our inner wounding…for the sake of our families, our communities, and the children in our world – and the adults they will someday become.

One More Egregious Abuse of Power Under a Guise

My first response to the New York Times article, “ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape”* … Heartbreak! Horror! Outrage! Sickened! And then renewed passion to help with the healing so deeply needed in our world today. Renewed calling to keep inviting each one of us to heal individually.

So that we are not seduced. So we do not go numb. So we do not normalize. So we come alive with the knowing of the guise. So we awaken with the knowing of the abuse of power. So we do not accept it, but neither do we respond in kind or add to it. And neither do we contribute to the guise by saying what should be done in the outer world while neglecting our own inner work. So we hear and feel the call to contribute to the healing first by doing our own inner work … the only way in truth we can heal to the root communally.

My second response to the New York Times article is the preface from my book:

“Power is like fire, lightning, wind, ocean – like life itself – a raw, vibrant force of nature. It has the potential for great harm and the possibility for magnificent good. Each of us chooses, whether consciously or unconsciously, how we will use the power of our own life energy.

“Every form of power can be used well or misused.

“The law has been used to manipulate as well as to serve justice. Parenthood has been used as a means of captivity, and it has been used to nourish a soul, helping it grow into fullness. Sexuality has been used as a weapon to rape and dominate, as a substitute for unmet childhood bonding and physical touch, and as an exquisite sacred expression of love and union.

“Even God’s name has been used both to destroy and to heal. Christian Inquisitors burned midwives at the stake; zealots have committed acts of violence all over the world in the name of religion. In contrast, people of many religions pray for peace; practitioners all over the world speak different names for God as they lay hands on suffering bodies to touch hearts and souls and restore them to health.”**

There are really no other words to say right now. I have no other words to say at this time.

© Judith Barr 2015

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/world/middleeast/isis-enshrines-a-theology-of-rape.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=mini-moth®ion=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below&_r=2

This article is horribly painful to read. The truth of what it reports is terribly painful to take in and process. Choose a time to read it that is right for you and during which you can take care of yourself and get support if you need it.

** Barr, Judith, Power Abused, Power Healed, p.iii

IF WE STAY ON THE SURFACE . . .WE END UP SUFFERING AND CREATING MORE SUFFERING . . .

I have been writing about the consequences of our staying on the surface in the outer world and not doing the deep work in the inner world from which what occurs in the outer world springs.

From the responses I’ve received, it seems to be such a difficult thing for people to look at, take in, acknowledge, and commit to working with. As a result, starting this month I am going to begin teaching in relation to a few arenas in our world where the interplay between the inner and outer is more obvious than others. This month’s theme is that of women.

Part 1:  Women

The efforts to make things better for women in our world have been widespread, courageous, and impactful. They are even celebrated internationally in March with International Women’s Day on March 8. And we need to be thankful for every woman – and every man – who has participated in helping women toward claiming and living their rightful places in society.

We also, at this point, need to do two other major things in this journey for women – two things in our inner worlds:

First, we need to grieve that in our world there even needs to be a journey toward women’s living as the equal beings they already are.

How can we only focus on the advancements and not also honestly look at the places we lag so far behind . . . even the places we have fallen behind once again (like right here in the US)?  In some places in our world the oppression of women is seemingly subtle; in some places open and blatant. In some arenas it is right out in the open; in others, behind closed doors. There are some locales in which the oppression of women is preached, advocated, and bragged about openly; and others in which it’s whispered, a hushed secret. In some areas that oppression is psychological and emotional; in others it is visible and physical in addition. In some localities it takes place in the board room; in some, the office; in some, the streets; in some, the living room; in others, the bedroom. There are places where the oppression of women is fought against; there are places where it is simply accepted; and there are places where it is fought against on the surface but simply accepted beneath the surface. In some places, the oppression of women is done under the guise of law; in some, under the guise of cultural custom; in others, under the guise of religion . . . and in some, under no guise at all.

That warrants our grief. That calls for our mourning. That insists upon our taking seriously the bereavement that is within and amongst us. And if we deny this, we are only harming ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.

We may have a lot to celebrate in terms of our progress. But just like everything else that we refuse to really grieve, the lack of a true, full grieving process ends up haunting us and holding us back from the kind of progress and success we could really accomplish and create. When we avoid what’s within us, like our grief, we may do some good things in the outer world, but we create unconsciously from the inner world we turned our backs on. This is a common theme in our world. This is a common theme in our country. And as a result, this is a common theme in my writing. For example, I have written numerous times on the consequences of our failure to grieve after 9-11.*

Even some of the leaders of the feminist movement in the US have acknowledged this in their own way. Recently, in a documentary on Gloria Steinem, she acknowledged that … “being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself.”**

Think of all the activism that is taking place today all over the world – but especially in the US both during and in the aftermath of the 2012 elections. The activism that is occurring against women – known during the election process as “The War Against Women.” And the activism that is occurring in behalf of women . . . by more and more women, more and more men, and more and more belonging to all political affiliations, as a result of the bizarre, cruel, and out in the open efforts during the campaign to deny women their rights. It sure makes a conscious, reflective mind and heart wonder what inner issues these men and women were revealing – without being aware of it themselves – when they said things like no child would be conceived during a ‘legitimate’ rape, an invasive transvaginal ultrasound would be required before an abortion,  states should be allowed to ban all contraception . . .

In the field of healers – medical, therapeutic, and energy alike – a foundational guideline is “physician, heal thyself.” Unfortunately that is not practiced by enough healers. Too many go out to heal others instead of healing themselves, with dire, destructive consequences. Nevertheless, the guideline is filled with wisdom and necessity . . . not only for the healing professions, but elsewhere, as well. For example, still, in the US, there is no Equal Rights Amendment. In our country, our supposedly civilized country, time ran out and women still do not have equality under the Constitution. Women still do not have full equality in America. We go all over the world claiming to help others have equality – women with men, citizens with rulers, one faction with another – but where is the equality at home? There is no equality of women with men . . . among many discrepancies in equality. No matter how much progress we’ve made . . . no matter how far we’ve come . . . and no matter how equal women truly are to men . . . we need to grieve for the lack of full equality legally and culturally in our country. And the grief is mammoth!

If we don’t grieve what has occurred and not occurred in the outer world . . . we miss a huge piece of the puzzle. If we only grieve what is visible in the outer world and don’t grieve what occurs and doesn’t occur in our inner worlds . . . we miss another gigantic piece of the puzzle.  By doing so, we tie our own hands in the journey.

Grief is a cauldron of feelings that gets stirred up within us when we experience a loss of some kind – any kind – including the loss of our basic rights as human beings . . . the right to our dignity; the right to respect; the right to be taken seriously; the right to be viewed as an equal human being, not an object and not a toy; the right to fulfill our true potential as human beings; the right to equal pay for equal work; the right to equal protection under the law . . .

So as I said above, we also, at this point, need to do two other major things in this journey for women – two things in our inner worlds: The first we’ve just explored . . . we need to grieve that in our world there even needs to be a journey toward women’s living as the equal beings they already are.

The second, women need to connect with themselves within . . . and they need to reconnect with themselves in the places they’ve split off.

In the oppression of women, keeping them from connecting to themselves and staying connected to themselves has been both a tool or weapon in the oppression, and also a consequence of the oppression. In some families that starts very young. Think of the cultures in which girl children aren’t wanted, and those in which men are so glad they have been born male. How do you think the females in those cultures and families feel? How connected do you think they are to themselves?

Think of the societies in which females are thought of as objects – objects for the use of the males, however subtly or blatantly, however unconsciously or consciously, however intended – with or without harm. How do you think those females in those families feel – about themselves and about being female? How connected do you think they really are to themselves?

If women – and the men who help them – keep fighting only on the outer level . . . the changes will happen only on the outer level. And then even once the changes have occurred, they will disappear again because they haven’t been rooted within. If they aren’t rooted in our inner worlds, they cannot possibly be sustained in our outer world.

Let’s use the example of the U.S.A. Changes in behalf of women and their rights were fought for and won throughout the Twentieth Century. First the vote for women in 1920. Then the right to choose what happens to their own bodies – Roe v Wade 1973. Then the efforts to put in place the Equal Rights Amendment. How many of the women and men fighting for those rights were conscious of the need to not only be activists in the outer world, but to also be activists in their inner worlds?  How many of those women fought not only to determine what happened in their wombs, but also to be deeply connected to their wombs?

Not very many. I can tell you that for sure. How can I tell you? Because in the late 80’s and the early 90’s one of the ways I was helping people connect to themselves was by helping women be connected with their cycles . . . their menstrual cycles, their menopausal cycles, and their wombs. It was such a new and such a strange idea to so many people. Many women were (and still are) afraid of the work I was offering. Many just wanted to stay in the outer world as activists or in their heads as intellectuals and do women’s work from there. But the women who came to work with me on their own very personal connections to themselves through their bodies, their wombs, their cycles . . . discovered wounds to their beings that were calling out to be healed, and in healing those wounds became more and more deeply connected with themselves . . . and more and more empowered in their own lives.***

I witnessed firsthand some of what happened with the women who were afraid of the womb-work. At what could have been an amazing crossroads in their lives, many moved more and more out of their connections with their female bodies and their female selves (perhaps re-enacting early responses to early wounds) and into their minds alone (as a defense). They became less and less aware of the roots of the activism that had taken place, and took it more and more for granted. And even if only by example, they taught the women in their lives to do the same.

I also witnessed firsthand so very much of what happened with the women who committed to their womb-work. They became more and more connected with themselves as women. They more and more healed the wounds to themselves as female . . . wounds that began even in their early childhood. They more and more helped to untwist the distortions to the female in their lives and in our world. Out of that healing and undistorting came real contact with who they were as women, what their true inner power was, and how they could claim and live it in their world.

If in the 50’s and 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s even a large number of the women in that time had done their inner work . . . the eating away at the rights of women to choose what will happen in and with their own bodies would not be occurring in these times, at least not nearly to the extent it has been. Of course there would still be a backlash, but even that would be different. Once people do their inner work, the outer is created from within in a different way. A different way from just doing the outer activism and being haunted by what hasn’t been tended to on the inside. A way that helps sustain what has been created consciously through healing from the inside out.

March is one of many times for honoring women and all we have created in our journey to wholeness.  Let’s honor women and our journey this time with a commitment to do the inner work now . . . so we can sustain the changes we create from the inside out.

© Judith Barr, 2013.

* To learn more, visit
http://judithbarr.com/2010/09/10/when-will-we-ever-learn-2/
and
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-barr/911-anniversary_b_956015.html

**http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gloria-in-her-own-words/synopsis.html
Interviewed in the early 90’s when she wrote the book Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem  said …”being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself.”

***To read more about this . . .

My book, A Menstrual Journey: Through the Old & the Dark to the New, the Light, & the Possibility & The Goddess Has Many Faces (Judith Barr; Jan 1, 1990) available through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Menstrual-Journey-Through-Possibility-Goddess/dp/1886264007/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361108232&sr=1-14

My audio cassette, The Call of My Blood Mysteries (Judith Barr; Apr 1990) available at my website at
http://judithbarr.com/shop/ (Click on the “Audio Tapes” tab)

The Wise Wound: The Myths, Realities, and Meanings of Menstruation (Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove; Nov, 1988)

The Wild Genie: The Healing Power of Menstruation (Alexandra Pope; Dec 31, 2001)

*****

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we approach International Women’s Day and go through Women’s History Month . . . take some time to explore your own relationship with the feminine.

If you are a woman . . . how truly connected are you with yourself as a woman? With your womb and with your cycles? Are you doing the inner work to truly heal your relationship with your own feminine self, on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual?

If you are a man . . . have you explored your deepest feelings about the feminine in all aspects of your life? Are you doing the inner work to explore and heal your relationships with the power of woman? And . . . have you explored and healed your relationship with the powerful feminine aspects within yourself?

Whether you are a man or a woman . . . Explore within yourself your feelings about women in general. What feelings come to you when you contemplate the women in your life and in our world? Can you trace those feelings back to your early experiences of and about women in your past?

We have much to be thankful for this International Woman’s Day and this Women’s History Month . . .  and much work left to be done. We, of course, need to work in the outer world . . . but we also need to do our own inner work if we are to make lasting sustainable change in the status of women in our lives and across the globe.

“THE WAR AGAINST WOMEN”

Election 2012
The big picture. The deep picture.

All through the 2012 election process – which began months and months and months ago – evidence of what is being called “the war against women” has been coming more and more out into full view. Of course it was there long before the election. It’s just been building and building  again and now coming out into the open. This “war against women” has deep roots – in the history of our world.

In a short blog post, I won’t even attempt a summary of world history. Instead, I will start with recent history in the U.S. as a lens through which to look at this issue and the deep concern for us all globally.

The women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. culminated in 1920 with the passage of the amendment to the constitution – the 19th amendment – guaranteeing women’s right to vote.

If you don’t know what it was like to get to that point, it would be informative and enlightening to find out.*

How women were treated in the process of the movement towards women’s voting – even by our president – was horrifying. They were jailed and abused mercilessly for protesting, revealing the hatred and fear of women in the process.

Jumping ahead to the 1960’s . . . feminism came out into the open in full force. Women claiming rights, their rights, to their own decisions, their own choices, their own power. The right not to wear a bra. The right to wear pants, not just skirts and dresses. The right to not be objects or possessions of men. The right to be in control of their own bodies – to choose when they would have children and when they would not. To choose when they would have sex and when they would not. The right to not be raped or abused in any way. The right to not be limited and controlled at home, in the workplace, in the government . . .

And Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman supporting so many women to claim the right to a self.  A self with her own thoughts, opinions, feelings, decisions, choices, power.

Unfortunately at times this movement had its own distortions – most importantly:  (1) children who suffered when their mothers suddenly left to work or got divorced and left to go out on their own; and (2) “man hating,” “man bashing,” a backlash from the way men had treated women. Both of these distortions caused pain. And at the same time, they were an expression and a continuation of the struggle that needed to be resolved to the root. 

The issue as it still appeared at that time: Who has power?  How are we going to decide who has power? And how are we going to achieve what we decide?

Instead of the issue
as it truly needs to be held:
How are we going to make sure we all have power?
How are we going to share our power?
How are we going to make sure we all heal our wounds to our power?
And how are we going to make sure we all use our power well, healthily, and for magnificent good?
Not the good of some, but the good of us all. 

So . . . women were claiming their power, coming into power in families, business and government, and even in some religious arenas. Women claiming themselves spiritually led to a resurgence of history and practice related to the Goddess.

And women developed within themselves, with each other, and in their power in the country, as well as elsewhere in our world.

Meanwhile, there were those who felt threatened by the power women were reclaiming. Those who felt, believed, and had decided that you could either have power or not have power, and who felt threatened by the women in their part of the world having power. This is true in the US in those times and even today. And, of course, it is true all over our world.

Those who felt threatened started working – secretly and not so secretly – toward the movement back to patriarchy – men, the father, controlling women, having power over women,  possessing women, having the right to decide what will happen to women. They did this sometimes outright and other times under a guise . . . of law, of what’s best for the woman (or girl), of love, of God.

Of course there would be a backlash to all the movement and progress made toward women living from their own power.  Of course! Many of us knew it would come. Even so, it is painful. Many were blind to the inevitable. Many took for granted all that women had worked so long and deeply to create, and as a result, let go of the fruits of our labors.

But here it is.  We’re in the midst of the backlash and we need to continue our work to empower women . . . and men.

Here are some things that might help you in your holding what is going on:

The patriarchal grab for power, the patriarchal hatred of women – known as misogyny – the patriarchal attempts to control women – both long ago and today – is really based on two things:

  • A fear of being vulnerable and even powerless. A fear of being, in other words, defenseless.  What we’ve done out of our fear of being defenseless, is to become ever so defended.  You can see this in individuals and you can see this in countries, especially our own. To once defended, keep building more and more defenses.  Defenses against, at the root, our own feelings, our own fears.  One of the things I teach people with whom I work is that through the healing process, we can become undefended, but not defenseless.
  • A fear of the power of women – particularly the power mother had in relation to us as little children, whether we were girl or boy children. A woman can be as misogynistic as a man. A woman can be as patriarchal as a man. We all need to do our work with this. ** Every single one of us.

Many years ago, I published an audio cassette tape, originally inspired by a client who was working with me to create a ceremony in honor of her 50th  birthday. As she talked about her intentions, she gave voice to a profound and powerful truth: “Everyone’s afraid of the power of a woman come to her Self. Even the woman herself.” She knew this passage she was making in her life held in it her need to heal her fear of her own power.

And I knew her statement was a truth that needed to be voiced not only by her, not only in private, but way out into the world we live in. With her permission, I utilized her statement as the title of one side of my tape. *** My work with the use of power was already well out in the open even then. And my understanding of the fear of women’s power – by both men and women – was crucial to share.

People are afraid of the power of women – men and women alike. It is up to us as women to heal our own fear of our own power. And to heal our misuse of our own power, wherever we do and wherever we might misuse it. And it is up to us as women to help men heal their fear of the power of women. Of course, it is up to the men to take the responsibility to do their own work with their fear of woman’s power . . . and with their fear of their own, too. Because believe it or not, someplace deep in his soul, a man who misuses his power is just as afraid of his own power as he is of a woman’s power . . . maybe even moreso.

Remember, the issue as it really deeply needs to be held is this:

How are we going to make sure we all have power?
How are we going to share our power?
How are we going to make sure we all heal our wounds to our power?
And how are we going to make sure we all use our power well, healthily, and for magnificent good?
Not the good of some, but the good of us all.

Those who are threatened by woman’s power are responding as if they are really in a war.
As each of us responds we can choose to fight this “war against women” as though we are actually in a war
and are truly enemies . . .
of each other and enemies of ourselves.
Or we can see this “war”
as the deep call it is to heal our use of power –
within ourselves, with each other, and with our world itself.
We can only see the call
if our intention is to truly resolve our use of power
at the very root
within us and amongst us.

*Iron-Jawed Angels, is an HBO movie telling the story of this time and  process.

** To learn more about  healing the wounds of the patriarchy and misogyny inside and out . . . there’s a wonderful book that can help with this. Dance of The Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd (HarperOne,2006):
http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Dissident-Daughter-Christian-Tradition/dp/006114490

***”Everyone is afraid of the power of a woman come to her Self. Even the woman herself” is one side of an audio cassette entitled Woman, Come To Your Self, still available through Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1886264023/qid=1007738534/sr=1-9/mysteroflifew-20
or by going to http://judithbarr.com/shop/.

You can also purchase the cassette directly through me, if you choose, by emailing me  JudithBarr@PowerAbusedPowerHealed.com .

© Judith Barr, 2012.

SANDUSKY – MORE THAN A SCANDAL

The striking statement from former FBI director Louis Freeh caught the media and the public on Friday, July 13:

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.” *

The report, thank goodness, supports truth and justice. But if we only look at this report, this act of justice, this scandal . . . we miss what’s really going on deeper than this one scandal and broader than this one scandal. In fact, deeper than any single scandal or even the series of scandals that have been coming out into public awareness.

The root of the problem is this: sexual abuse is occurring far more than most of us can imagine – certainly in our culture here in the US, and I would venture to say all over the world. And the consequences of sexual abuse are far worse for the individuals who are sexually abused and for society as well . . . especially when the enormity of the occurrence is hidden. Especially when the severity of the experience and its effects are denied. Especially when the destructiveness of the abuse and its aftermath is covered up. Especially when the horror of the domino process of the event and its repercussions is normalized. And all of this occurs not only in the Sandusky scandal, not only in the many recent public scandals – the Sandusky scandal, the Horace Mann scandal, the Chabad rabbi sexual scandal in Australia, the sexual abuse scandals worldwide in the Catholic Church, to name only a few – but in the individual cases of sexual abuse that are never reported, never investigated, and that never come to truth and justice.

Keep reading . . . this is vitally important for all of us to know and understand.**

Freeh said there was a “cloistered culture at Penn State where doing what was right crumbled under the weight of fear at all levels.” This doesn’t only happen at institutions like Penn State. This occurs in families where children are sexually abused every single day and everyone is afraid to know or tell.  And the family is a “cloistered culture where doing what is right crumbles under the weight of fear at all levels.”

At the top, Freeh said, Paterno, Curley, Schultz and president Graham Spanier cowered at the notion of bad publicity for the university and its heralded football program. At the bottom, Freeh said, the janitors who witnessed Sandusky abusing a boy in a campus shower in November 2000 feared being fired if they alerted authorities. This doesn’t occur in institutions alone. This exists in every family where sexual abuse is occurring and some of those at the top – whether they be a parent, an older sibling, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle – “cower at the notion of bad publicity [and humiliation and other consequences] for the family.”  And in every family where at the bottom those who witness or overhear the sexual abuse . . . fear being threatened, attacked, or abandoned.

“They were afraid to take on the football program,” Freeh said. “They said the university would circle around them. It was like going against the president of the United States. If that’s the culture at the bottom, then God help the culture at the top.” Yes, tragically this happens in institutions – universities, private schools, coaching academies, religious institutions, and more.  But just as tragically, perhaps even more tragically since it can be so much more hidden, this exists in families. I have worked with many who have been sexually abused in their childhoods. The very real fear of revealing what happened to them, even if they weren’t threatened by the abuser, includes a foreground terror of “taking on the family.” They knew and know the family will circle around the abuser and the parts of the family that are in denial. And unfortunately, that happens more often than not. One person, the one who has been abused and decides to expose the truth, is too often attacked – emotionally and verbally if not physically – made out to be the “bad one” or the “crazy one,” and exiled from the family. In a family, the abuser usually has so much power – emotionally, the family members are so often in thrall to the abuser as though they were all children — that going against the abuser is to family members similar to going against the president of the U.S.

Are you getting the gravity of the situation? The breadth and depth of the situation? We are seeing scandals in institutions because of the enormity of the sexual abuse that’s occurring in families. The enormity of the sexual abuse that’s occurring in families and not being stopped. Not being brought out into the open for truth and justice. And definitely not being healed. 

Unhealed sexual abuse can cause many problems. Two major problems among them . . . the ones who were abused repeat the sexual abuse, acting it out upon others as it was acted out on them; or the ones who were abused are frozen in the face of sexual abuse around them and participate in the collusion when the next cycle of sexual abuse occurs – perhaps a generation down the line or in some other context they are part of.

In a recent panel discussion on the American porn industry, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry acknowledged something I’ve rarely heard in the media. The essence of what she said was that there are “bad things happening in porn in terms of sex trafficking and vulnerability” . . . and “the fact is that all of us are complicit.”*** A fellow panelist responded, “That’s a great point,” and went on to something else. The whole panel needed to stay on that note of complicity. We needed the panel to go deeper with that acknowledgment. We all need to go deeper with the issue of complicity.

If we have more sexual abuse in our world than we can imagine, then it is more than likely that more than we can imagine of what we live with in our society is rooted in sexual abuse. Pornography. Sexual harassment. Sexual Addiction. Prostitution. Rape. Sex Slavery. How many of the victims of these things were sexually abused as children? How many of the perpetrators and providers of these things were sexually abused as children? How many of the consumers of these things were sexually abused as children? My instinct and experience tells me . . . far far far more than we could imagine. Far far far more than we are, perhaps, willing to imagine.

And what do we do about all this sexual abuse? We help keep it hidden, we deny it, we cover it up, we turn away from it, we normalize it. We let insurance companies interfere with the healing that could actually occur – both individually and societally. We let insurance companies have personal information that will be accessible forever about people who have already been deeply exposed, wounded, and taken advantage of. We let insurance companies limit the depth of healing and the extent of healing by paying for only short term therapy that treats the symptoms and makes people “functional” . . . but leaves the memories and feelings deep inside the abused person to haunt them and drive them in ways that aren’t good for them or the world. 

By allowing this, we let more and more new forms of quick-fix bandaid therapy be developed so that their originators and followers can do the new therapies and be paid by the insurance companies. I’m not saying that all insurance companies always interfere and never help. Just like with everything else, the insurance companies can misuse and abuse their power, or they can utilize their power for magnificent good. And I’m not saying all therapists gravitate to the quick fixes in order to get paid by the insurance companies. Thank goodness there are some integritous therapists who are truly committed to helping people heal to the root.

And what do we do about all this sexual abuse? We allow the pharmaceutical companies to buy their way into the business of healing and the insurance industry so that one of the quick-fix bandaids is pharmaceutical drugs. I’m not saying medicine is never an aid to someone’s journey toward healing. It is just not always needed; it always has consequences; and it is definitely not the vehicle that accomplishes the underlying healing. 

In other words . . . what we do about all this sexual abuse is to collude – whether knowingly or not – in preventing the healing of sexual abuse. We are complicit in preventing the real healing of individuals. And in preventing the healing of sexual abuse in our world.  We may not want to see this. We may not want to know this. We may not want to acknowledge our part in this. That in itself makes us part of the problem. Anyone of us who interferes with the healing is part of the problem. Anyone of us who allows interference with the healing is part of the problem.

I have been a depth psychotherapist for 37 years. Included in my practice for most of that time have been people who were abused sexually as children. I know it is possible to do the depth root healing. It takes deep commitment. It takes a trustworthy therapist with deep integrity, with solid boundaries, with an ongoing commitment to his or her own inner healing to the root . . . that is what’s needed to be able to go with someone who has been sexually abused in childhood all the way to the core healing. (A therapist cannot guide or even go with a client to depths the therapist has not gone him/herself.)

And every time one person does his/her own depth healing, that person has a huge impact on society. The healing needs to be done one person at a time. But the individuals who are healing from their own experiences of sexual abuse cannot accomplish this alone. Every single one of us can help both with the individual healing and the healing of society . . . if we do our own healing. If we stop allowing ourselves and others to interfere with the true healing that is possible. If we do our own healing, we will stop being complicit with the sexual abuse that exists not only in our families but also in our communities – in person and second-hand, like online.

Please! Look at yourself honestly. Please do what you need to for your own deep healing. Please take a stand to stop others from interfering with real healing . . . individually and communally. The health of many people depends upon you. . . many more people than you can imagine. The health of our society depends upon you. . . as well as every single one of us.  And not just sexually but on all levels of our being. The health of our world depends upon you. . . as well as every single one of us.

We are not powerless. We need to do the healing to find and claim our power and use it well . . . not only in behalf of ourselves but also in behalf of us all.

© 2012, Judith Barr

*http://articles.philly.com/2012-07-13/news/32664511_1_freeh-report-sandusky-schultz-and-curley
**Quote source: http://citizensvoice.com/news/freeh-s-scathing-report-details-cover-up-at-psu-1.1342879

***http://video.msnbc.msn.com/melissa-harris-perry/48105138#48105138 (4:11 TO 4:19)

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR WORLD SAFE . . . FROM THE INSIDE OUT

This month, commit to truly become a part of the healing so needed in our world. You can start by helping to spread the word about how we can truly heal sexual abuse, truly and to the root . . .
If you’ve never commented on a blog before, comment on this one.
If you’ve never passed a blog post on to other people, pass this one on to everyone you know.

If you’ve never let an organization know about the link between individual and communal healing and the possibilities for assisting, let your favorite organization know.

If you’ve never looked at and worked to heal the roots of how you might be complicit, do that exploration and healing now.

We can heal sexual abuse – in its many forms – in our world . . . individually, communally, nationally and globally, if we are committed to healing to the root!

AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE FURTHER . . . NEEDLESS SUFFERING

This post is in response to a comment sent to me related to my Independence post, a comment that opens a wonderful opportunity for us to explore further our use of power.

Who gets to decide what is needless suffering?
How do they decide?
How do they decide whose suffering is less than whose and whose suffering is worse than whose?
Is the suffering of the unborn child in the process of abortion worse than the suffering of that same child
. . . born into a family that doesn’t want him/her?
. . . born to a mother who leaves the baby in the trash?
. . . born to a mother who kills herself and leaves the baby to starve?
. . . born to parents who abuse the child?
Is the child’s suffering worse than the mother’s
. . . who is pregnant through incest, rape, or some version of powerlessness?
These kinds of questions can go on and on.

Where do we each use our power well?
Where do we each misuse and abuse our power? And how do we each heal our misuse and abuse of power??
These are the questions that will guide us to ending needless suffering.

© Judith Barr, 2011

IT’S ABOUT TIME! TREATMENT IS A BETTER SOLUTION THAN WE IMAGINE!

With all the very real distress Congressman Anthony Weiner has created and is creating . . . there are actually some gifts if we would open them, and if we could see them as gifts.

Imagine! We are seeing more and more just how much wounding there is in our country and our world related to our sexuality . . . not only in Anthony Weiner but in our country and our world! Treatment is a better solution than we imagine!

Imagine! We are knowing more clearly still how profoundly people misuse and abuse their power . . . not only Anthony Weiner, but all of us. Treatment is a better solution than we imagine!

Imagine letting yourself take in how much people fight against the truth in every way they can – with distraction, diversion, confrontation, arrogance, denial, repression, and outright lying. . . . not only Anthony Weiner, but everyone. It’s become part of our culture. Treatment is a better solution than we imagine!

Imagine if people could see that real treatment – the kind of therapy that can help us heal to the root – is not just for someone who has done something destructive that makes the front pages, but is something for all our leaders! Imagine if all our leaders were required to have done a major part of their own therapy before becoming a leader! Treatment is a better solution than we imagine!

And what about our citizens? For we all have wounds that are creating more suffering and more wounds in our lives, in those around us, and in our world. Treatment is a better solution than we imagine!

Imagine if we all did our own inner healing work . . . what a different world we would create together!

© Judith Barr, 2011

WHAT DO LYING AND SEX SCANDALS REALLY MEAN – IN ELECTION SEASON AND EVERYDAY?

DSK, Arnold Scwarzenager, The Egyptian Banker, John Edwards again, and now Anthony Weiner . . . all within a month’s time. Do we have any idea what this means?

Misuse and abuse of sexuality is a red flag for the woundedness of our sexuality in this world we live in. Lying about it is a red flag for the wounded integrity in this world we live in. The wounded integrity and the broken trust. Being a leader who does both is a sign of the woundedness not only in the public but also in the leadership of our world.

We all have wounds to heal. The dearth of “good” leadership in our world is not due to people who are leaders having wounds. It is due to people who are leaders not working with their wounds to heal them to the root. When are we going to insist our leaders do their inner healing work? Apologizing is not enough. Resigning is not enough. Being investigated and tried isn’t enough. Having to experience the consequences of their actions is not enough all by itself.

When are we going to insist? When are we going to do our own inner healing work so that our insistence has real meaning . . . and integrity and trustworthiness?

© Judith Barr, 2011

THE POWER OF A PENIS

As someone with the deep intention of helping us to heal the misuse and abuse of power in our world and the wounding from which that abuse comes . . . I know only too well that we all have the potential to misuse and abuse our power. We all have wounds, some from our experience in our families and some from our experience in our communities, our culture, our world. One of our responses to the deep, intense, raw, painful feelings from our wounds, is to misuse and abuse the power we have . . . or to misuse and abuse in order to feel like we can grab some power from the places we have felt and perhaps still feel powerless. And who amongst us hasn’t felt powerless? Who amongst us hasn’t felt powerless as we were born? Who amongst us didn’t feel powerless as an infant? A baby? A child?

I know only too well that we all have the potential to misuse and abuse our power – men and women alike. Men and women of all ages, races, classes, sexual preferences, spiritual traditions.

At different times in my speaking, teaching, and writing about the issues of power and wounding, I focus on different aspects and different people who misuse and abuse their power. I have published an audio cassette about women abusing their power. I have led workshops about how people misuse their power with money. I have done individual sessions with both men and women related to how power was abused with them when they were children, and how they have misused or abused their power in response. And more.

Recently I wrote a post about the horrible treatment of women in our world, pinpointing some bills in Congress (bills supported by both men and women) that would be harmful to women in our country. Although it encompasses much more, the following post also has as part of its theme the abuse of power often directed at the women in our world..

I simply want you to know before you read today’s post that my scope is large. My work is with everyone, men and women. Although I have written much about the abuse of women by men, I know that women abuse their power, too, sometimes in blatant ways, often in subtle ways, and I do not want to give the impression that I have any bias against men. And I also want you to know that I will also be covering the feminine abuse of power in future posts in their own right timing and connection with events in our world.


If you have a penis and cannot use the power of your penis with respect for both you and everyone else . . . then how can you be trusted to use other power well?

Saturday, May 14, 2011: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, allegedly physically and sexually attacked a maid at a midtown Manhattan hotel. He was mayor of Sarcelles. He was planning on running for President of France in 2012. He held positions of great power.

But we could ask the same question of many others who have held positions of great power – including Senator John Ensign, former President Bill Clinton, Senator John Edwards, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (who all had affairs, hid them, and lied about them), and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and then trying to cover it up through abuse of power).

Women misuse their power, too! Our focus right now, though, is on abuses we see directed at women, in a world where women are often treated so horribly and often still denied power . . . In a world where attempts to escalate the denial of power – the powerlessness – of women abound . . .  In a world where the patriarchy is not only firmly entrenched (in the minds and hearts of men and women alike) . . . but also in a world where efforts to reinstate and re-strengthen the patriarchy are underway in this very moment . . .

In a world where all of this is sadly, tragically normalized . . .

Today we will concentrate on this. . .

If you have a penis and cannot use the power of your penis with respect for both yourself and also everyone else . . . then how can you be trusted to use other power well?

The power of your physical strength. The power of your mind. The power of your position – in your family, in your place of work, in your leadership in and out of government. The power of money – in your individual life and in any group in which you have the power to utilize money and make decisions about money. The power of the law – on the street, at the police station, in court, in lawmaking bodies, in executive bodies. The power of the truth. And yes, even the power of love.

We all need to ask ourselves these questions.
Those of us who have a penis and do not use our power well.
Those of us who have a penis and, although we use the power of our penis well, we have thoughts and feelings in which we don’t – thoughts and feelings that are signs to us of something needing to be healed.
Those of us who don’t have penises and misuse our power, too – perhaps in relation to adult men who have penises; perhaps in relation to male babies and children; perhaps in relation to other females.
And those of us who don’t have penises and need to discern who to trust and who not to trust.

We have a lot of work to do . . . Will you do your part?

© Judith Barr, 2011

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE WOMEN?

We have been hearing, especially lately, so much about the destructive attitude towards and treatment of women in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa . . . among other places. We have been learning about the inhumane treatment and the torture of women in these places . . . and more. They are treated like possessions of the men in their lives and in their society. They are sold into marriage by family. They are not allowed to divorce. In effect, they are trapped. They are tortured if they disobey — anywhere from acid thrown at them, being stoned or killed some other way, or raped and beaten at home. Some even have their clitoris destroyed (female genital mutilation) to deprive them of pleasure and their right to pleasure! And to show them “who has the power.” We have been told, even in the news, how poorly treated women abroad are.

But who’s telling us of the destructive attitude towards and treatment of women right here in the United States of America? Who’s telling us of the inhumane treatment of women right here at home? Who’s aware of the torture women experience in our “civilized” country already, with attempts to expand that torturous experience?

  • There have been escalating attempts to deprive women of the right to choose what happens to them – physically, emotionally, financially, and health-wise – under the guise of protecting life. *
  • There was recently an attempt in our House of Representatives to redefine rape – limiting it to forcible rape and excluding date rape, statutory rape, the rape of a woman who has been drugged, the rape of a mentally incompetent woman, the rape of a woman who “gives in” in order to avoid being killed by her attacker, and the cases of incest who are not minors . . . under the twin guises of protecting life and our economy.
  • And now a bill was just passed in the House (and will go to the Senate) that does not allow government funds to be used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is in danger. But . . . small businesses and individual women who themselves buy insurance that covers abortions will have imposed on them tax penalties. Perhaps the worst penalty for women who survive rape and incest and seek abortion care will be that they have to provide proof to IRS investigators of their assault. It’s not torturous enough to be assaulted the first time. It’s not traumatic enough to have to relive the assault when reporting it to the police and going through a court proceeding. There is no excuse for adding the inhumane torture of having to live through it a third time with an IRS investigator. This, once again, under the guise of protecting life and our economy.

What is really happening is that there is a backlash in our country against the empowerment of women that has been growing for decades. Certainly at least since 1919 when the 19th amendment was passed legalizing women’s right to vote; and then growing still in 1973 when Roe v Wade was decided, giving women the right to make choices about their own bodies in a new way. This backlash is an extreme misuse of power by those scared of the power of women. And believe it or not, those scared of the power of women are not only men; they include women themselves. **

How could this be?

I invite you to honestly look at yourself. If you are a man, do you prefer to have the power, rather than share it equally with a woman? Do you have unresolved, unconscious feelings of powerlessness from early, primal experience with the first woman in your life, your mother? Feelings that beneath your awareness feed your wanting to be the powerful one in relation to women? If you’re a woman, are you somehow, out of your early wounds, stuck idealizing men who have power over you? Or ceding your rightful power to them? If you are a woman, do you know in the marrow of your bones and the substance of your soul the experience of being devalued, disempowered, objectified, belittled, and more in a society that is still struggling with its relationship with women and the feminine? Do you take for granted the rights you and other women fought so hard for? Do you disconnect from your innate power as technology seems to offer you a gift – to use a pill to avoid going through the monthly cycle of menstruation? Have you lost all touch with the true power of that time?

Who is going to help women now? What are we going to do about this? We women who feel the agony of it? And the men who support women and women’s causes, who have watched their mothers and sisters and wives and daughters suffer, and who have come to understand?

Look within for your own growth and healing. Look within for the future of women. Look within for the future of our society and our world! For without women being equal, empowered partners in our world, the future is at risk. And then take actions – inside and out – that help to heal us all.

© Judith Barr, 2011

* Although I do use words such as abortion and pro life in this post, that is not what this post is about. This post is about the destructive treatment of women not only abroad but also here in America, both out in the open and also under the guise of other things!

** To learn more about my work with Women’s Mysteries, click here.