Trauma, Womanhood, and Forgiveness From a Wider Lens

While studying at university in 2008, I was assaulted on two occasions by male friends of mine. I did not have a full grasp of the depth of what had happened until several years later when a tough-love friend who had been at my side throughout university and after pushed me into facing the subsequent pattern of emotional disaster and deterioration of trust in of all my romantic relationships that followed those two encounters.

I have completely forgiven these men who hurt me. Like, completely. I truly feel no charge towards them whatsoever. I will never justify the ignorance from which these men who were once allies of mine acted, nor their disrespect for my person and experience at the time. However, I feel no anger towards them. The terrible PTSD I’ve been diagnosed with and have acted from for years now persists, and though there is a part of me that wanted years ago to blame these men exclusively for it, I know too much to do that.

I know the largeness of an overall abusive system that primes females to hate themselves and their bodies, of which physical abuse and attack is only part. A normal girl in this society who has an average amount of socially-instilled low self-esteem is highly likely to process any kind of abuse as justification for her worst beliefs about herself.

Many of us are working hard to overcome the habit of acting from the internalized belief that we are nothing. I know a few women like me, a few powerfully productive, creative women who admit to working obsessively in order to create as big as they can, very often in attempt to hide the nothingness they quietly believe they are. This is not all the time for these women, nor does it apply to all women for that matter. But regardless, it is good to check in with ourselves everyday and ask, “Where am I working from?” “From what mode of thinking are these impulses, motivations, or inspirations coming?”

My greatest act of revolution has been rehearsing self-love, an annoyingly fluffy term I used to hate, a thing that still feels so awkward to me so much of the time; a practice so terribly dissonant to so much of what I’ve been shown and told throughout the whole of my life. But I know I must practice it, what other choice is there after all? I don’t have a full dose self-love just yet, but I do my best to maintain some form of practice of it.

For this gal, self-love takes the form of not micromanaging every little choice I make; not driving myself like a horse, or berating myself for wanting to rest. It means not having sex when I don’t want to and doing my best to stop (or at least revise) those terrible words that shoot like missiles across my mind when I look in the mirror. Self-love to me means allowing myself to drink coffee, wear clothes that make me feel happy and comfy, putting work aside to watch TV, spending long languid beautiful lazy hours with my boyfriend, talking to myself while driving, letting myself be the perfectly content alone weirdo in the corner at a social event, not micromanaging my diet, and not getting stuck on literature that tells me to live my life differently than that which makes my heart warm. Allowing and allowing very slowly trust to replace all else.

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Julia Daye

“WHY” LESSONS: ON ATTRACTING THE BULL MASCULINE

Amazing to realize years later what you learned from the most harrowing of relationships; to look at your life and see yourself now embodying all you sought in him—that bull masculine thing—that unapologetic creator, container, destroyer. His gorgeous and simultaneously dangerous ferocity as he created and manifested with just his hands powerfully and continuously everything that lay before him.

It’s the thing that both attracted and drove you away. To now experience as you look at your hands and, at last, the moment of WHY in that demented story of abuse, rage, and devastation. To overcompensate through a lover all that you wish to, but choose not to, embody in yourself is a dangerous and often unconscious game.

Blessings to the one who shattered me into expansion, who bulldozed my spirit into the slow realization that who I was looking for in him was, in fact, the rest of myself….and found it, exaggeratedly and absurdly—as I took notes for two years in the wordless dark ink of complete undoing, then said goodbye to build from a quietly fertile ground zero.

©Julia Daye  2014

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Are You My Mother: Tribute to Teacher and Land, Both whom I Met when I thought I had Nothing

That first year, my teacher’s guidance resounding in my ears, I danced until I could no longer walk or see straight. I flailed my body through every open space in New York City in feverish exaltation. I could love again, and most importantly, love myself. I no longer needed to clamor for love in so many places and things, for I could embody all I ever wanted with just this flesh, this momentum, this heart, these hands.

I heard my own voice translate the dreamy tenants of my heart, distilling the macramé of city-sound as I awoke in the breast of a still, dark ocean, in a voice deep and roaring, a longing for mother and home.

In stillness, longing thundered through my being. Longing. A longing that had raged in my blood since I was a child; forever reaching, yearning, wailing insatiably for love and solace. Longing called me away from my familiar cityhive, ripped me to pieces for months as I tried and failed miserably to sleep in my own strange bed in Brooklyn. Eventually, I could no longer refuse its direction and breathed farewell to all I knew and loved, blinking a cocktail of confused affection, and drove off westward alone.

I drove, baffled as the ones I left behind. Only by doing could I translate the meaning of this calling. The miles disappeared beneath my tires. All familiars fell away.

“Change is good exercise,” an angel said.

The landscape transformed against the windows, south and west across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

And when I crossed the boarder into New Mexico and saw the mountains against the yawning blue sky, I suddenly felt the realization of the gorgeous symbolic significance of these twenty-six years in voracious motherlessness and homelessness that charged this hungry heart forward, searching and searching, to at last lay eyes, soul and body now upon the truest, fiercest, fullest meaning of Mother.

Here, she roared around me, holding me with every breath—with every breath, welding the terrestrial and celestial home in these two feet and red earth, home in this earthen body towering alongside the others in one embodied incarnation of Her strength, home as I heard my voice say, “Thank you Mama, Here I am.”

~ Julia Daye

Embodiment….What this is really about: Public Space

An important step in personal empowerment and creative growth lies in recognizing one’s own indisputable rights to this thing we call “Public Space.”  Just as women have as much right to walk safely down the street as men, so-called “non-artists” have as much right to public expression, creativity, and sharing as those who call themselves “artists.”  1000870_10100576791921256_1101901815_n

How often do we hear, “I can’t dance because I’m not a dancer” or “I look silly when I do {insert name of creative activity}” as excuses for not showing up expressively?

The good news is, when it comes to “art” and “beauty”, there is really no such thing as either. These things are arbitrary concepts we as a society make up continuously, so saying that becoming either one is a prerequisite to making oneself visible, is just as arbitrary.

What the heck is an artist anyway?

In a society in which everyone is sectioned off to exist beneath the fancy hats we call “skill sets”, based on a certain number hours spent on a very specific activity, some hats are expected to be “seen” while others aren’t. The title “artist” offers a strange permission-to-public-expression to those who claim it. But this imaginary invitation is just as made up as the word that offers it, so the line between those that claim the permission or title and those that don’t is just as imaginary.

Public expression and creativity is the right of everyone who is alive, and recognizing one’s own right to full voice and full posture in public space can be a profoundly empowering realization.

Embody yourself fully, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, every single day.