I haven’t shared this here yet and I think I am coming to understand why.
I am trapped in the story that I am small, weak and helpless. In my last post I shared about being a 2 year old, hurt by my father in the bathroom and being totally unable to do anything to help myself. I was small, weak and helpless. This story dogs me, chases me throughout my every day. I can not voice my opinions about my concerns at work because I am small, weak and helpless. I can not make headway on my debt because I am small weak and helpless.
The tale winds on…
A few weeks ago I made a decision that made my soul sing. I will ride from Hamilton ON to Brighton ON, specifically to Presqu’Ile Point Provincial Park, 260km/161 miles from June 12-14. I am doing this for me and I am doing this for other sexual abuse survivors and I am doing this for a local help center, SACHA, to raise funds so they can continue to do the work they do that is so absolutely necessary. I announced it to my friends and family on facebook to a chorus of good cheers. And somewhere in the audience was that little shadow that reminded me, you’re small weak and helpless. You won’t raise much money, you won’t accomplish the ride and even if you do, it’s not very impressive. It’s small.
I ignored the whisper and focused on what I would need to do to accomplish this. I focused on picking my route and planning my over night stops. I focused on developing a training schedule so that this ride is easy and fun. I contacted SACHA to let them know that I am collecting and to ask for support in how to go about doing this. And this focus helped me ignore the little whisper…
And then I found myself binge eating. It is my go to solution when dealing with this particular whisper. Eating a lot, or too much, makes me feel big and full and heavy. It also consumes my attention so that I am thinking more about the next shovel full of food, the next handful of chips, the next hit of cake icing eaten with a spoon because fuck it I don’t care at this point. And then after, I think more about the guilt and shame of what I have done, and the ironic twist that, in this attempt to feel big and full and purposeful I have made myself be small… weak… and helpless.
And today I read a really awful article about Rape in India. I’m not going to share it because… just because. I’ve been crying all morning – am crying still, right now – because no matter how much RAGE (like real murderous my-touch-would-set-all-rapists-ablaze RAGE) I feel, it is utterly impotent. I can nothing for the women and children in India. I have no money to give them, I need it for me. I am not in a position to fly out there and be an aid worker. I’m just a white girl in Canada with a similar story. The insurmountable reality that women face in other countries makes me feel small, weak and helpless.
And then I remembered my decision to ride 260km for me, for other survivors, for SACHA and the excellent work they do. does it “fix” rape? No. does it help India? No. But it does help someone very important to me. It does show someone I care VERY much about that she is big enough, strong enough and powerful enough to do hard things. That she can set a goal and do the work to achieving it and that the fruits of her labour will be not only good enough, but invaluable and appreciated. Because it is more than just riding a long way and raising funds for SACHA.
My body was stolen from me when I was very small. I was taken advantage of because I was unable to do anything about it. I am an adult now, though, and adults are BIG and STRONG and POWERFUL and able to DO HARD THINGS. Adults can make decisions about and for themselves because they have autonomy. Adults can determine the course of their lives because they have the capacity to do so.
The value of this ride, for me, is in the training. 260km is not a small distance to ride on a bike. It’s about 6hrs per day in the saddle. I will need to be fitter than I am right now to accomplish this so that I feel relatively good (physically) about it post ride. Gaining that fitness will be an act of sheer dedication to something bigger than me. Dedication to get myself where I need to be so that I can accomplish what I have set out to do. The journey of this ride starts here and now. It is in the effort that says I AM big enough, strong enough and powerful enough to accomplish this. I am an adult, a grown woman, with autonomy, voice, wisdom, grace, strength, and vision.
Reading this, yes… the whisper is still there and I don’t know if it will ever really totally go away. and I am coming closer to understanding why it is there. It kept me safe for a long time. Being small meant being easily hidden. Believing I was weak and helpless meant avoiding dangerous situations in the first place. Reminding myself that I am small, weak and helpless is a way to to keep me safe. Thing is, I now have better tools at my disposal for keeping me safe. I am BIG; I take up space in the world and that means I can be seen by everyone. Being seen makes me vulnerable, yes, but it also helps keep me safe because people who see me generally like what they see and thus want to help me, support me, and give me their love. I am STRONG; I have come through catastrophes and am actually doing pretty ok. I use my voice when I need to be heard, and physically, I can do some impressive things… Like ride 260km in three days. And I am POWERFUL; I support myself through my chosen career path, I write a blog that gets attention and speaks the Truth, I stand my ground on two powerful legs and make my case, I accomplish the hard things I have to do in this world and the ones I choose to do.
I thank the whisper for what it is trying to do; it is not a demon or my enemy. It’s is the security blanket I needed when I was young and needed to be hidden. But I no longer need the security blanket. I need empowerment and that empowerment will come from within. The security blanket can be hung on the wall as an old piece of armor worthy of being respected, cherished even, but outdated and unsuitable to the tasks that lay before me.
So, my announcement is that I am going to ride 260km along the north side of Lake Ontario to demonstrate that I am big, strong and powerful and am able to help myself and others along their way.
Details about making donations will come by April, should any of your wish to offer financial support. Donations $10+ will receive a tax receipt. If you would like to offer support to me personally, please share my blog, comment, email me, whatever feels right. And if you want to participate in the ride… send me your story, your most precious name, legally given or spiritually chosen, and I will bring your story with me, and put your name on my jersey and together we will ride 260km. I will read your story and feel it with you, burn it and scatter the ashes on the wind into Lake Ontario. From story to the fire, changed into Earth, released to the Wind and the Water.
We are big, strong and powerful.
After some thought and regrouping I’m sharing the article I read.
MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING
It contains, though brief, rather graphic details of the extremely brutal rape of a young woman in India… you could say it was the rape heard ’round the world (the woman raped on a bus by 5 men). There were other details about her attack I had not known about that are mentioned in this article that are very disturbing. There is discussion, from the perpetrator, about raping a 5 year old girl. The whole thing is just fucking upsetting as all hell but it is not my job to protect you from discomfort. So, know that I do not use trigger warning in bold capital letters lightly. Even if you have never been raped… it’s disturbing to read.
Thanks for reading… May we all walk with peace and courage.