My 26th year was one of the hardest of my life, and the events that transpired are catalyzing a deep dive into my healing journey. Inspired by the #metoo campaign, and now #healmetoo I am sharing my story, which, ultimately is one of empowerment. However, like Inana, I have had to pass through the 7 gates of hell and be hung on a meathook to die in order to see the true resilience and powerful life force that flows through me. When I asked a mentor of mine how to share my story in a way that matters, her reply was "Be authentic" So here it is, as it is.
**TRIGGER WARNING** The story I share here is not graphic, but does contain upsetting content.
My very first memory or life is of being molested by my stepfather (KEN) at the age of 4, when I was just little Lexie. I was too young to know that what was happening wasn't ok, I was too little to fight a 30 year old man, and there certainly wasn't language that I knew how to use.
This abuse continued, accompanied by other forms of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and verbal abuse. Finally, at 7 years old I told my mother. Ken had been in a drunken rage that night and had chased us with a knife threatening to kill us. When the cops had taken him away, In a sobbing crying mess I told my mother that Ken had been raping me for years (although I didn't remember this event until I was 23 and had stepped onto my healing path with fierce dedication.) Ken was back in our home a few days later. I DO NOT blame my mother for this choice, because at the time I know it didn't feel like a choice to her. It was then that I knew I was worthless, that my safety didn't matter, my body was not my own, and using my voice didn't get me anywhere. This man continued to traumatize our family until I was 13, when in a heroic act of bravery, my mother told him to get the f*ck out of our lives and never come back. I love her so much for that, but that's a story for another time.
Though Ken was out of our lives, the damage remained. The trauma played like a broken record stealing my attention while the rest of my life happened in greyscale in the background. I became addicted to food- trying to fill the emptiness I felt inside. As a young women in college I sought anything that could alter my reality which lead to years of drinking, drug use, and promiscuous sex. I was just trying to feel something other than worthlessness, pain, and shame.
Finally, life took a strange and wonderful turn in which I ended up working in Yellowstone National Park. I spent all of my free time outside exploring the wonderous wild of that place. For the first time I felt like I was held in belonging in the family of things. This was the budding of a deeper connection that has developed into my particular way of connecting to Great Spirit.
Following that summer I discovered Permaculture, and went back to the land. I ended up interning at a beautiful place near Flathead Lake. The owner of the land was an incredible empowered woman who practices BodyTalk. This is where my healing blasted off. During our session she asked what had happened when I was 7... and I didn't remember until days later when the memory of telling my mother for the first time rolled through my head like a freight train followed by dozens more memories. I spent hours every day on that beautiful land crying an ocean of tears. The land held me like the compassionate mother that I never quite had.
I met and became close with Terry Du Beau, who I have infinite gratitude for, and who offered me tools, love, support, and witnessing during my ongoing process. There are many other people that I couldn't have gotten to this place without, and I offer you my deepest gratitude.
The events of the past year have sent a spear of searing awareness through the very root of my pain. Last March I was raped by an ex-lover. It took me 3 months to find the courage to tell someone, and then I was victim-blamed by my then partner. He said "How could I trust you if you put yourself in that situation?" I felt like killing myself.
Last December I was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance at Ecstatic Dance- and that changed everything. Because it only took 3 minutes for me to tell someone, and that person did not question my story. I was believed. Then, asked what I needed to feel safe. The man was escorted off of the property, and at the closing circle I shared what had happened.
The community said yes to diving into a hard conversation. There was some really heinous comments made by some men such as "If you fill your aura with love, no one can come into your space" (my aura isn't going to stop a rapist, dummy) or "just tell me where your boundaries are and I'll respect them" (its not up to me to put out a PSA, its up to YOU TO ASK) and each time they were called out by powerful women (THANK YOU Rebecca Lorang, Sarah Lala).
I held a circle with a few members after the main closing circle in which I expressed my desire to create a restorative justice healing circle in which I would be witnessed with compassion, Roots (the person who caused me harm) would be held accountable while also being witnessed with compassion. Unfortunately after months of trying to organize this, Roots refused to show up.
SO, I am creatively adapting to this healing journey. I am using the past year of experiences to say YES to the entirety of my story, to alchemize the blame/shame/pain using the fire of sacred rage to make room for creativity, desire, and passion. To uncover truth to nurture wholeness.
I have come up with a plan to take a pilgrimage to those places that I was traumatized as a child, reclaiming those soul pieces to step into my fullness. After this pilgrimage I will be supported by my loving sisters in an initiation in which I will step into my womanhood, and by doing so be able to hold my inner child. I want to document this experience and share it with my community to inspire creative solutions to our hurts. I hope this sharing sends ripples of inspiration into our community.
While all healing is self healing, we can't do it alone. I'd like to ask for your support in the form of love, prayers, and money. If you feel that this story is worth being told, I would gratefully accept your support.
Thank you for seeing me, Thank you for freeing me.
- Erna Gilbertson
- Amelia Mae
- Shimee Mayer
- Alison Miller
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