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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The Funny Thing About Early Spring


Every year, at the precipice of spring,
I get a little cerebral,

grieving the loss of those summer-grown ego feathers
under the snowy lay of winter.

Having shed so much,
I become uncertain what to wear
and where to stand

so I teeter at life’s threshold,
underdressed and chilly,

asking for guidance but taking none of it,
choosing instead to laugh my grief loose,

making funny word-things,
a slow-cooked porridge of sense;
my heart grows slowly back again.

©Julia Daye

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THE HOLLOW REED


Dearest strangest city,
In love with you
I’ve lost myself; 

On the train, my being
retreats from a face full
of street lights, falling

backward into an empty heart
where homesickness
more cavernous

than the canyons of the West
field messages

from two feet longing
for the red mother’s clay.

There we breathe, alone.
There we cry.

There my heart fills again
with the vast
oceanic question I call
loneliness.

I consider death.
I allow the earth to heal me slowly.

©Julia Daye

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On Movement

When people think of dance they usually think of a certain structure, of choreography, of a time and a place and a ‘look’ that society has assigned to this thing we call ‘art.’ We are conditioned to think of it in this one narrow way, the way we are conditioned with anything else, internalizing our own society’s painfully specific representation of that which is movement.

When it comes to physical gesture and embodiment, we begin to think that any deviation from this ‘look’ is ‘ugly’ or ‘ungraceful.’  I’m ungraceful, we say, I can’t dance. However, that benchmark structure against which we are comparing our own physical gesture was created by somebody, in his or her body through movement that felt subjectively good. And just like an outfit might fit one person, you trying to adapt what worked for somebody else is like trying to wear a stolen outfit. It may work for your body, it may not. And whether is does or not doesn’t really matter.

I think that healing and empowerment through movement can come through through a dismissal of these arbitrary benchmarks and structures, this idea of falling out from under your brain and just moving. Moving the way your body wants to move and express itself without the rigid mindful skeleton of what looks good or what someone else told you to do, or what you’ve learned is ‘graceful’ or ‘attractive.’ Every single body is different. The body can create its own gesture of healing when given freedom of movement expression.