“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.”–Anaïs Nin

124282d46c7c0997e8fd573cbd4020d2It is interesting what we bury in our unconscious, to what we give a pass based on our own limited perceptions and beliefs, and perhaps our own blind spots based on low self-esteem from shame and harsh judgments about ourselves. While I was listening to one of the dozens of accusers of Bill Cosby, a memory was jarred into awareness of a facet of unexamined self-hatred. The woman being interviewed was obviously complicit in the abuse, complicit by her own vulnerability and naïveté. Her complicity was what I first noticed, her clear victimization was a later insight.

In my book/blog I referred to this incident thirty years ago, but only today has my perception of this incident shifted. Thirty plus years ago I met a man while swimming with my daughter in Key Biscayne. Little did I know at the time, but this man was a professional baseball player, actually a pitcher who had won a Cy Young Award. I knew nothing about baseball and repeated that he had won the Henny Youngman award, or something like that. I quickly noticed that people’s reaction was a big deal.

At the time, I was a single mom trying to extricate myself from an abusive marriage while naïvely navigating the legal system. In retrospect, I see that it was a perfect curriculum in the area of worthiness that I seem to be undertaking. This story could have ended right here, but much more insight was accrued while watching the illuminating interview today.

This player asked for my contact information and pursued a long distance relationship with me. He was not interested in my journey as a single mother, he was not interested in my goals and daily pursuits. Had I been less vulnerable, this might’ve been a red flag, but due to my inadequacies and immaturity, I needed to play it out. Excuse all of the sports metaphors and puns.

And play it out I did. I agreed to visit him in Baltimore while visiting my family in Pennsylvania. Upon arriving at his condominium, I told him that I wanted the guest bedroom. That request was met with laughter and ridicule. Had I had more confidence, I would have reversed course. Unfortunately, his arrogance yielded the desired outcome. He whisked me off to a commercial where he was the star and on to an Orioles game, where he was the pitcher. This naïve young woman, barely understanding the vicissitudes of victimization had no chance. If I had existentially told the Universe I wanted to learn self-love, this was the PhD program and Steve was my professor.

Reflecting back, I feel huge empathy for this woman/child who lost a big chunk of her innocence that day. Thirty years later I still feel shame that has been trapped. It’s interesting how emotional healing happens; after healing much trauma, a “trigger” can illuminate what has not been transformed into love. Healing happens in layers. Feeling empathy for the interviewee, offered an entry point to my own unhealed shame. I feel humbled when I realized that the layers can only be available for healing in their own time. I had released a lot of suffering around this issue, even turning my beautiful cotton teddy into what I called my victim doll, which initially elicited much self-hatred as I identified with the aggressor. Over time, I began to forgive and love this doll.

Little did I realize at the time, that that was only half the story. Once again, I had given the predator a pass. Another pun, too bad, get over it, I’m pissed. I lived with one half of the story for thirty years, a story of victimization at the hands of arrogance and predatory behavior. Why had I missed that part? I missed the part about the man with fame and wealth taking advantage of a young woman. Was I a victim of his predatory behavior? Yes, at the time I was. However, if I had not experienced all of the feelings on both sides of the equation, I am still being victimized. Where did that rage go? Had the rage turned into shame that I learned to accommodate? I can see that it is a collective societal construct that the men get a pass and the women bear the shame. Who thinks that OJ did not kill Nicole? How could Dr. Huxtable possibly been a predator? There is a collective propensity to blame the victim. And that propensity has been living in me as well. All these years that occupant has been living rent free! What a revelation. Now I can retrieve that piece of me entirely and that is worthy of celebration.

Of course, the relationship was consensual. I was not a minor, at least not physically. Today they are educating men and boys that, “NO means NO.” I could have received this education as well. Abuse of power can be paradoxical in its subtlety, yet aggressive and devastating. Integrating the teachings can be a powerful tool for the elevation of consciousness, if one is so inclined.

As I have mentioned many times in my blog, I believe in a Just and Loving Universe that is created for our evolution toward Self-love. Learning to hold space for these feelings resulting from our own and others’ victim and predatory behaviors and allowing spaciousness around the pain, is the first step to healing these archaic behaviors. It is within the spaciousness that awareness and forgiveness can provide the alchemy for deep healing to occur.

In retrospect, I seem to have healed only half of the equation. Perhaps if I had created a predator doll as well, I could have healed the whole constellation. It is essential that the predator acknowledge his or her behavior and that acknowledgment needs to be on a visceral, emotional level or on the level of empathy. In my experience, the predator has also been a victim.

I just befell one of my number one pitfalls, healing the whole constellation before I am finished being angry at the predator. For now I will sign off and continue being pissed off. Feeling the depth of the despair and powerlessness is tantamount to true healing.

As I said before, it’s complicated.