I finally figured out why I have been so triggered. I was molested by my father at age 12 and raped by a date at age 17. I never told anyone, until very recently, and I’ve never had anyone tell me it didn’t happen. However, my basic experience as a child was that my pain was ignored, not validated, disappeared by being not reacted to, or I was told “What’s the matter with you — you don’t have any reason to be sad, upset, tired, etc…”
I started cutting myself in California when I was in my 20’s. I mimed it on stage in Journey Into Courage, but I had no idea why I did it, I just knew that people who cut themselves had been abused. At the end of the show, where we threw away the prop that illustrated our abuse, I threw my razor blade into the garbage can, saying “I am not a bad person, bad things happened to me.” This script only gives the fear section, it’s not the whole script.
I remember when my brother said “Buddha says life is suffering” and I felt myself hit bottom. It felt like I had been floundering in quicksand all of my life, and suddenly there was a solid place to land. I began to meditate, and I remember feeling like when I was on my cushion, “demons couldn’t get my soul.” At the time, I didn’t believe in demons or in the soul, but that was the only language that fit my experience. After I started meditating, I stopped cutting myself.
It wasn’t until I started working with Erica, and she began to mirror me, continuously and positively. I began to understand that I had never been mirrored by an alcoholic narcissistic mother, and so I had no idea who I was, or what I was experiencing. I wrote about this for my Grandmother dress for a ceremony that never took place. Except that I learned a lot from just making the patches. Here’s what I wrote:
In JOURNEY INTO COURAGE my opening monologue was about writing in my journal all the reasons I was deeply unhappy with myself. Finally I became so desperate that I took a razor blade and cut myself and wrote with the blood. During the five year period in my life when I was cutting myself I made several paintings and also wrote words. One of the pieces I still have. It says “Who if I cried out would hear me amid the hosts of angels.” It is the first line of Rilke’s First Elegy.
The patch with WHO IF written in very wet red paint, is about that piece of writing. It was only very recently that I realized that I cut myself because it was a real pain, I could see that I was in pain. My emotional and spiritual pain was invisible, no one saw it or asked about it, so it seemed that it wasn’t real. Cutting myself was real. “Who if I cried out would hear me amid the hosts of angels” expresses very well how I felt as a traumatized infant. “I cry out but no one hears me.”
Here is a picture of the actual writing in blood: