let me begin: this pain of sexual misconduct, harassment, assault, runs deep.
It can run like fire, gasoline-fueled rage. The injustice, the How Dare He, the calling up of our collective Kali: fiercely standing in the power of knowing this behavior is wrong. Sick. Downright destructive.
And so we stand, ready to destroy the paradigm that has gotten us here. Swords drawn, arrows aimed at the heart of the Patriarchy that has manifested in a broken, broken structure that truly works for few.
It can run like blood, pouring from the womb that continues to be assaulted, torn, abraded. A wound that seems like it will never heal. And so, we come to sit in this pain. Together. To recognize, to share stories, to hold hands and in doing so hold one another's exhausted hearts.
It can run like hopeless tears. Defeat. A heart resigned to what seems to be a now-widely-recognized fact: systemically, societally, we fucked up. We created a dynamic where women don't feel safe to walk alone at night. We created a system that rationalizes and explains away behavior that would make the stomachs of most clench in disgust.
I fear that from where we sit, sharing stories and hashtags, plastering the news with cases against celebrities and politicians who have abused their power, we stand at the dangerous precipice of further entrenching "Us and Them".
It has been heartening to see so many men speak up in recognition of this epidemic. And damn inspiring to see so many brave women courageous enough to share their stories, so many sickening stories, in a public forum where they once might have stayed quiet for fear of judgement and further attack. They are speaking up after decades of silence.
I see you. I honor you. I love you.
But I also hear men who now walk in heightened fear that they are saying something, doing something, glancing at someone in the wrong way -- and will be seen as predators.
I also hear men who have been groped, oggled, or received lewd comments. Men whose female colleagues, supervisors, have assumed they are sexual animals and would do anything to get laid. Men who have been harassed by other men.
And this is saying nothing for those souls who don't identify with a gender duality, and get harassed for their gender identity.
I have compassion for our Humanity.
From where I sit, I see two things to be done from the space of mindfulness and presence.
One: Boundless compassion for ourselves.
For our wounding, and for the way it has left our hearts bound in fear and mistrust. Compassion for the tenderness in our core that so desperately wants to just.be.loved. Compassion for the ways in which we've chosen to isolate ourselves in our pain, or to deny ourselves the gift of fully trusting another when the walls feel too thick, when the days feel too confusing, when the world feels too cold.
Boundless compassion for our healing journey. We could choose to stay identified with our wound, to sit in our pain, and introduce ourselves, Hello, I'm Ankati, and I'm a survivor of sexual abuse. Or we can tenderly begin to soothe that wound by lovingly weaving it in, integrating its teachings, gently massaging the scar tissue that we may begin to move freely again.
Two: Beginning to find compassion for others.
Their day of reckoning is less like a day, and more like a lifetime. The wounds, disfunction, power-grabbing and isolation of a perpetrator are already eating them from the inside. While living in this distorted view of reality, finding validation for their power or worth or masculinity or status by manipulating others, they will never know true joy. They will never receive true love. They will never be able to sit on the meditation cushion and look inward with peace in their hearts.
And this, friends, is true torture.
There is a deep darkness inside the hearts of many, born of this systemic mistrust, a distorted view of what it means to be powerful.
True power comes from a clear and pure consciousness, a heart that rests in love.
Distorted, dysfunctional power... well. I don't think I need to tell you.
We must continue to speak out against this pattern of wounding one another.
But we must be careful not to do so in a way that demonizes, separates, alienates. We are stronger when we come together as a whole, not divided along gender lines or the labels of Survivor Gender and Perpetrator Gender.
Identify and clean out the bad apples. But don't assume that the whole tree is rotten.
Engage in loving and compassionate conversation.
And commit, even more deeply, to healing our societal wounds around relationship, sexuality, and trust. For until we do, this painful cycle will never cease.