I’m amazed how negative energy really affects me. Does it you? Have you found a way to wall yourself from its harmful effects? That’s why l loved the nuns at my boarding school in Canada. They created an energy of acceptance and safety for me. In that atmosphere, I truly found myself, my gifts, God’s love for me. I blossomed.
They didn’t give me the tools, however, to be able to sustain that energy out “in the world,” what therapists call “creating boundaries”. So when I returned home permanently where I was abused … again and again, something collapsed inside of me but I didn’t know it and marriage followed with the same old, same old.
I am still bearing its results.
And so is Lady Gaga.
The great Grammy winner and herself a sexual assault survivor performed her nominated song, “Til It Happens to You,” an “emotional ode to survivors of sexual violence.” In an interview after the recent Oscars, SAMANTHA SCHNURR reported Lady Gaga said that she collapsed in tears before her first rehearsal, “a wreck” but being around the other survivors, strengthened her.
And Lady Gaga felt accepted in a way she had never felt before.
“That day was the first time in ten years that I was looked at like a human being….I will never forget it because I’m forever changed because I don’t have to hide anymore, because I don’t have to feel ashamed that it happened,” she declared.
Shutting down is part of sexual and emotional abuse. I did and, as a result, I still have such difficulties at times when someone screams at me in an abusive way. I shut down. Then, as with my sexual abuse, I hate myself afterwards. Hate is a soft word. I abhor myself for having been so weak and not challenged them.
But not all of the times.
What has helped me? What helped Lady Gaga? The support of others. Sexual abuse is a lonely episode. When I have an “episode” that is, when I not only remember the abuse but relive it in the NOW, I call the Rape Crisis Hot Line (1-877-943-5778). Just knowing there’s somebody on the other side is enough to comfort me.
“Theres so many people in the world that feel alone and this song—it heals them by bringing them together and it also reminds people that don’t feel alone to feel empathy for others,” she told Ms. Schnurr.
Shortly after I had left him, my husband and nightly perpetrator wouldn’t allow me take my two little ones after a visit. I called the Rape Crisis Hot Line.
“He won’t let me take my babies because he says I’m crazy!” I repeatedly screamed into the phone. And the sweetest voice just kept repeating back to me: You are not crazy.
It calmed me down, that gentle voice, enough to take proper action. I called the police who suggested I file for divorce so that there would be a court order he would have to respect. I pray for my phone angel every time I remember that episode and the cadence: You are not crazy.
So if you have been abused, remember you are not just a victim. You are a survivor. (If you know someone who has been abused, remind them that they are survivors.) There are things you can do to heal. And remember Lady Gaga experiences it, too. So does Grandma Shaman. We have grown from it. And we have made our lives matter.
Lady Gaga sings and helps others. I write and help others write. Write about your feelings and experiences at the upcoming Wings/Alas, the Latina Writers Workshop. It’s this Friday, March 11-13. Register. There are only a few slots left.
Come join us. www.grandmashaman.com/workshops