by Ben Ralston
First, I need to tell you a little story. Bear with me, it is relevant.
From 11 until 17 years old I was sexually abused.
By a teacher, who ingratiated himself into my family and became a ‘family friend’.
He came over for Sunday lunches. Big smiles all round as I sat there dying inside. Which, I didn’t really understand or even know anything about, as numb as I was.
I was never raped – it wasn’t that kind of extreme physical / sexual abuse.
I won’t go into details but it was more a case of being made to feel incredibly uncomfortable, and being made to do things that I really didn’t want to do.
But I couldn’t say no.
And I couldn’t tell anyone.
My Mother once asked me:
Why didn’t you tell us?
At first what I said was something along the lines of:
“I couldn’t, I was ashamed, I was afraid, I didn’t know how to, I didn’t understand what was happening”…
All of which is true, and… child sex abuse victims rarely tell anyone.
Ultimately, what I realise right now, as I write this, is that the most truthful answer to that question: “why didn’t you tell anyone” is that I completely lied to myself about what was happening.
I didn’t even allow myself, at the time, to name it.
I didn’t really know what the fuck was going on. I’d barely started masturbating – barely made this monumental discovery that if I played a bit with my penis and rubbed it in a certain way my body would explode with pleasure.
So I didn’t have a name, or any reference point, for abuse of that kind. I’d never heard anything about it.
No one had ever told me about abuse, or sex, or predatory adults, or boundaries, or violation, or anything even remotely like that.
None of it had yet entered my consciousness.
I didn’t know what was going on. And to be able to bear the shock and the pain and shame of it all, something inside of me just froze – in the face of trauma, unable to flee or fight, we freeze.
Frozen, numb, paralysed, contracted, disassociated – all ways in which our body tries to protect us from trauma.
I froze and numbed and disassociated in such a way that I didn’t even tell myself what was going on.
How could I tell someone else? And who was there to tell, anyway…?
Where am I going with this? Well, here:
I didn’t realise I’d been abused – I completely suppressed the memory – until I was in my late 20s.
Age 27-ish I one day just suddenly blurted out “I think I was sexually abused” and a bunch of memories surfaced.
And now I’m 43 and a therapist specialised in healing emotional trauma – I cannot say that I have expertise in many things. But I can say that I am an expert in healing emotional trauma.
I’ve been on the path of personal development, healing, ‘working on myself’ since forever. I’ve spent the last 8 years working as a therapist and training other therapists.
And just the other night I had probably the biggest breakthrough in the healing of that sexual abuse that i’ve ever had.
If you’d asked me a week ago if I thought the abuse was already completely healed I would have asserted with absolute confidence that it was indeed healed, fully.
And then the other night…
I’m lying in bed drifting off to sleep when I feel a rush of energy through my anus. It is intense – so much so that it’s uncomfortable. And also pleasurable. It felt as if I was being penetrated.
And after I reassured myself that it was ok to feel what I feel, and that I didn’t need to run from it into a video game or a movie or a scroll of my facebook feed, I faced into it.
The first layer that surfaced was a fear of feeling pleasure there. Years – probably generations of homophobic stigmatism and fear came up. I had to ask myself:
Is it ok for me to feel a sensation in my anus and enjoy it.
Is it ok even if I find out that I’m actually gay?
Maybe I’m bisexual?!
Yes, it’s ‘ok’. I can deal with that (although it sounds like quite an adjustment!), and I’d rather know than not know…
So I explore this area and conclude that being penetrated might be quite interesting, but not by a man.
So what the fuck is this then…
And even as I ask the question my body tells me – suddenly I am 11 years old again and here’s the thing:
At the time, I didn’t know that I wasn’t going to be raped.
Actually, I thought that I was going to be raped.
And so in a way, I was raped. Not physically, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually, yes I was. I was penetrated, violated completely, in every way BUT physically.
In many ways that is worse. Because it’s insidious, subtle, hard to grasp. The mind can so easily avoid the reality of what happened – just as my mind did, for decades.
And so in those moments when I felt that I was going to be raped because my mind was being totally violated, my body froze in a very specific way: something in my anus, and going up the right side of my body from just above my right hip to the lower ribcage, contracted strongly (Freeze instinct – technical term).
It remained frozen until the other night.
What I experienced the other night was the release of that tension.
A tension that had been held for around 30 years!
So… is healing ever really over?
Not for you and I my friend.
Not with several thousand years and so many generations of unresolved atrocity behind us.
Our job right now is not to be healed yet, but to heal.
Our work is not for ourselves, but for our children and our parents.
Our path is not going to end in ‘enlightenment’ – or perhaps it will, but that is not our goal.
Let our intention be to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Let our intention be to release as much fear and contraction and ignorance from our bodies as possible.
Let us reclaim our power and show the way for those that follow.
Let us serve our great Mother Earth, and leave behind the greed and forgetfulness that stains the tapestry of humanity’s recent history.
I cannot tell you, in honesty, that this healing path is a tunnel with light at the end of it.
I can tell you however, that in service there is no greater joy.
I can tell you that to remember who you truly are, is to know true inner peace.
And that this world, contrary to what we were told, is just and fair and righteous: there is no evil other than that caused by corrupt hearts.
And the only way to heal the global heart of humanity is one heart at a time, beginning within.
So it is, so it shall always be.
We do not heal for ourselves alone, we heal each other.
We heal each other, and it is a worthy life.
Aho Mitakye Oyasin – For All Our Relations (Lakota prayer)
Namaste – I bow to You (Sanskrit prayer)
In Lak’ech Ala K’in – I am You (Mayan prayer)
Bonus Video: Is Healing Ever Over?
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