Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The rape of the Soul

I was raped by a monster who called himself my uncle and then I was "raped" again by my parents who told me to "forget it and move on". They told me that this kind of a thing would tear the fabric of our family apart,  that it would for sure kill my grandparents.

So, I locked this deadly secret deep in a dark place in my mind and I built thick walls around it to keep it inside and to keep out a world that had turned cruel and treacherous and duplicitous. As I grew older the Walls got thicker and higher and the light of my soul dimer and colder. Then I was told that I was cold and bitter and ungrateful and nobody would love me because I turn everyone away.  And you know they are right!

So, I told my patient the story of Medusa. And here it is for all who suffered and kept the secret.

There was once in a time beyond time a beautiful maiden with golden long hair and eyes the color of the dark blue sea.  She was so radiant that Poseidon, The Lord of the seas, was stricken by her beauty and when she rejected him he raped her right in the temple of Athena where she had gone to make her offerings. Athena who saw the whole thing got angry but being that Poseidon was her uncle and getting angry with him would had carried  no favors with the rest of the Olympians she instead got angry with the girl. She punished her by turning her into a monster and her beautiful hair into venomous snakes. Her face was so horrible to behold that turned anyone who looked at it directly into stone. She was finally decapitated by Perseus but here is the interesting twist of the story: out of the blood of her severed head was borne Pegasus, the white stallion of the Poets. In other words inspiration and creativity and beauty.

The anger of the hurt and the weight of the secrets turn the heart cold and vengeful not just with the people who hurt us but also with those who want to love us. It is not until we face our anger that we can find the courage and creativity necessary to love and be loved again.
In the words of May Sarton:

I turn your face around! It is my face.
That frozen rage is what I must explore.
Oh secret, self-enclosed, and ravaged place!
This is the gift I thank Medusa for.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I am the captain of my soul

Therapy, I was telling a despondent patient the other day, is like someone holding a mirror up to our soul. Sometimes what we see in it is the youthful, ageless part of us that shines and sparkles bright . Other times what stares back at us is the wrinkled by time, scarred by pain, burdened by responsibility side of us which we want to disinherit and run away from in anger and disgust.

When I was in my doctoral program we were expected to have therapy ourselves. We were asked by our professors to look into the same mirror that later on we will be holding up to our patients. So I, like the rest of us doctorate aspirants, complied with the request admittedly not without my reservations. As therapy progressed I named my therapist, half in zest half seriously, Freddy Krueger because many times after our session I felt that my heart was shredded as if I had spent the hour with the infamous soul-shredder. However, it was during those times that I learned the most. As if the oak tree of my life got taller and stronger with every emotional storm it weathered. I learned to look at my broken or bent branches, my scarred and carved bark as the emblems of my survival as the signs of my uniqueness. My therapist taught me what to trim, what to cut off and what to nurture and strengthen.

So, my dearest teacher and guide, in case I have not said it before, thank you for often "being cruel to be kind". Thank you for showing me that the future does not indeed lie in our stars or in the wounds of our past but rather in us, that the chapters of our lives lying ahead are for us to write because as Henley said:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.