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&region=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

DEFENSES DESTROY

I have been silent for awhile … Pensive. Searching. Deeply saddened. Witnessing, as I imagine you are, all that’s going on in our world. Feeling the pain of what’s going on in our world.

People think about what’s happening differently from each other. Some think the destructiveness is just done by “bad” people or “sick” people. Some are in alignment with those who are destructive, normalizing and justifying what they are doing. Some feel completely helpless in the face of it all. Some want to rush into action and do things in the world to fix it. Nothing wrong with action – it’s just not enough by itself. Some increase their prayers to resolve it. Nothing wrong with prayers – but prayers, too, aren’t enough by themselves. And some don’t even want to know about it.

Most people I talk to are missing what’s really happening. And most of what I hear, see, or read via the media is missing what’s really happening … under the surface. Even many in my own profession haven’t been trained to truly understand or get to the roots of the situation. This “miss” feeds misconceptions, misunderstandings, the incapacity to discern well, and most of all … it feeds further destructiveness and makes it impossible to really solve the problem for good.

If we are going to help ourselves and our world, we are going to need to truly understand what is going on beneath the surface, beneath what we can see, hear, touch and currently understand. What is going on beneath the surface that drives us unknowingly from deep within and drives us in our actions in the outer world.

People are acting out again and again … not realizing what they are really doing. Not aware of what they are acting out. Not understanding what their acting out tells them and us about their early lives and about what from that time is still alive in their minds, hearts, bodies, and souls.

And there are so many people who don’t understand what “acting out” really means. I could say exactly the same things here that I said in the second and third paragraphs above.  In essence, people don’t really understand acting out and that lack of understanding feeds the acting out and makes the solutions impossible.

There are so many examples of acting out since my last newsletter, escalating in visibility and frequency, that it is mind boggling and heart boggling. Just to name a handful of them …

Georgia’s new gun law. It enables people to pack guns in places like schools, churches, bars, government buildings and certain parts of airports. Multiple tragic gun shootings have occurred in Georgia since then.

Vladimir Putin’s failed power grab in the Crimean Peninsula. A part of his post-Olympic acting out in the world.

The Sewol Ferry disaster in South Korea, due to negligence of the Ferry owner who ignored safety warnings and allowed the ferry to be overloaded with passengers.

Another Indian woman raped – and then hanged – by Indian men. The violence to girls and women in our world is heart-breaking and belies our wish to think of these times as civilized times. And the ones included here are known tips of the iceberg. What about all the violence to women and girls that is normalized and done in secret?

An Iranian actress on the Cannes Film Festival Jury may be flogged for greeting the president of the festival with a civil kiss on the cheek. It is important to note that a group of women has petitioned to have her flogged.

Donald Sterling’s racist comments and the consequences, including all the attention garnered in the media.

Boko Haram’s abduction of Nigerian school girls with plans to sell them.

Elliot Rodger’s rampage through Isla Vista, California, and the fingers pointing at … the “mentally ill,” the “gun lovers,” and “this generation.”

The ongoing money grabbing and the consequent destruction  — to people, families, businesses, economies, environments – by people who are rich enough in the eyes of others but never seem, in their own minds, to have enough money.

And our Defense Department, which may once have been presented as for protection, but has destroyed again and again and again in the guise of defense.

If we really wanted to know, if we really looked deeply, and if we were able to find and gather the information we needed to truly understand … we would likely find that each of these instances emerged out of wounding that occurred certainly in an individual’s childhood, but also generationally in a family, and culturally, too. In any one instance, which came first, the chicken or the egg, the culture or the individual, isn’t the most important thing to figure out.  We certainly do need to know that what is normalized in a culture impacts the individual families and the individual children. What is normalized in a family impacts the individuals in the family and, of course, others in the life of that family. And what befalls a single child impacts many more people than most of us want to imagine.

When a child is wounded, that child will build defenses to keep from feeling the pain of the wound. What the child is reflexively trying to do is stay sane and alive in the face of those who are causing the wounding.  The child isn’t thinking this all through. The child is acting unconsciously and involuntarily. But the child does not have any idea what those defenses will create in the long run.

First the defenses may seem to protect the child, whether a girl or boy child. But soon the defenses start to harden and become part of a way of life. Walls are built. People are shut out. People are considered enemies and fought against, sometimes righteously and others viciously. Often revenge is sought, sometimes subtly, sometimes openly.  Consciously or without realization, the person may believe that whatever she is feeling gives her permission to act out … with herself and others. Aware or unaware, the person may use the harm he experienced as a child to justify acting out later in life. Substances are taken and activities are done that distract and numb the person against the pain of the original wound. Even though there is pain in the repeated re-creations of the wound, the pain of the original wound is the worst, the deepest, the most intense, the most raw, and the pain the person is actually defending against, whether it’s in or beneath awareness, whether it’s five or fifty years later.

Through all the years of my work as a depth psychotherapist, I have consistently seen that the defenses end up creating in a person’s life what they were originally meant to prevent in the life of that person as a child. This is why I teach people that defenses destroy. This is why the title of this article is “Defenses Destroy.”

Let’s use an example from the list above. Georgia’s new gun law:  You may want to defend your right to carry arms. You may want to defend your right to defend yourself, your family, your property, your values, your thoughts, opinions, and feelings. But if your defense comes in the form of a weapon, like a gun, your defense can and very likely will destroy.  Passing a law to allow guns to be carried especially in places where people are vulnerable – like schools, churches, certain parts of airports – is a license to hurt and destroy vulnerable people.

How much clearer could the meaning be?  If you were hurt or destroyed in some way when you were a vulnerable child, your defense and acting out could end up with your doing the same thing to others when you are old enough to do that. Others in your family – younger siblings, pets, children, or vulnerable people in places like churches and schools.

A second example:  An Iranian actress on the Cannes Film Festival Jury may be flogged for greeting the president of the festival with a civil kiss on the cheek. She tried to extend her hand to greet him, but the elderly official leaned over for the kiss on the cheek. It is important to note that in one accounting of the incident it states a group of women has petitioned to have her flogged and even imprisoned. In another, a group of men and women are seeking her imprisonment. I am not a learned student of the religious beliefs in Iran.  I have, however, seen individually and culturally the consequences of patriarchal laws, religions, mores, values, practices. Even if the cause may once originally have been or may have been purported to be the protection of women … there has also definitely been the effect of women being treated as objects, possessions, in essence the slaves of the men in their lives and their cultures.  This is true not only in Iran but also in many countries and in pockets in some countries.  India, for example, is amongst those countries.  And so is the United States. So … if the original cause were the defense of women, that defense has created torturous destructive experiences all over our world.

And even in the situation of the Iranian actress, why would other women in the Iranian culture demand her punishment? As part of their own defense against their individual and communal pain under the same cultural defense system?

One more brief example … Elliot Rodger’s rampage through Isla Vista, California, and the fingers pointing at… the “mentally ill,” the “gun lovers,” and “this generation.”  He openly stated he wanted revenge against women. The deeper information isn’t publicly available (at least yet). But how can we look at what he did and not wonder what happened when he was young in his relationship with the first woman in his life? How can we not wonder what he felt? How can we not wonder what defenses he reflexively created then that came to be destructively acted out just a short time ago at everyone’s expense?  And how can we keep blaming the guns and blaming the gun lovers and blaming the mentally ill, and this time I even heard blame for this young generation?

I don’t hear anybody asking what it is that we, the parents, have done that has caused our children to be so wounded!

I don’t hear anybody in public asking how we, the parents, are acting out our own wounds and our own defenses in ways that have hurt our children, our families, our countries, our world.

I don’t hear anybody in public asking why we, the parents, don’t do our own healing work as our part of ending the cycles of wounding/defenses/wounding.

It is time for more of us to see and understand this. It is time for more of us to speak up. It is time for more of us to speak out. It is time for more of us to become involved in this way of seeing and resolving the problems that are so out in the open in our world today.

At times when I teach, people will say that this is all so depressing. Or this is all so painful. And they’ll sometimes ask me, “Where is the hope?”

The hope is right here. The hope is that we can heal. The hope is that we can choose to not slap on a bandaid. The hope is that we can choose not to find something to help us bury the real causes once again. The hope is that we can choose not to seduce ourselves into getting rid of the symptoms so we falsely believe the “problem is solved.”  The hope is that we can choose not to keep ourselves unconscious … of what’s there in our inner world and its effect on the outer world.

Where is the hope?
The hope is right here. The hope is that we have the choice – and the responsibility –
To heal … truly heal … to the root.

© Judith Barr, 2014

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

Now is the time for each and every one of us to make a commitment to do the inner work necessary to dissolve the defenses that stand between us and truly healing our wounding.

As you hear about, read about, think about the individual issues facing our world today,  try to become aware of the possible roots of those issues… the real, inner roots within each and every one of those directly or indirectly involved. And don’t stop there … feel into those same roots in yourself. Do you ever, for example, feel the need to make a “power grab” as Putin has? Or do you have racist thoughts and feelings – conscious or unconscious – as Sterling has demonstrated?

What we see when others act out, as those in the examples above have, is their defenses against their own inner pain and wounding. Ask yourself: what are my defenses? And what feelings am I using them to defend against? Often we need the help of a good, caring, integritous therapist to help us find and dissolve those defenses, so the healing can begin… Commit to finding a therapist who is a right fit for you to help you begin or go deeper into this healing journey.

The issues facing our world can seem overwhelming… but there is hope, if we can see what is really happening, if we can spread the word so others begin to see, too, and if we commit, one by one, to do the inner work to heal individually, to help our world heal globally!

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.