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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Turning on the light.

Last week a Tucson woman was raped as she jogged along a path that I walked many times with my son and our dog.
The morning it happened before I read about it on facebook I coincidentally found my mind wandering during my morning meditation practice to memories of my own assaults...I breathed it in and told myself that I wasn't alone in this and that neither were the many others who have experienced rape and sexual assault.
I allowed the tears to flow, I breathed and moved on.
After my sit, I read about her assault.
I felt sadness for her, anger towards her attacker and compassion for them both because this careless act would only add suffering to each of their lives.
Then...I shrugged my shoulders and self regulated my emotions to believing shit happens and I can't fix this cultural sickness.
I wanted to believe that if I could just 'throw away' the feelings and avoid thinking about what had happened to her I'd be able to maintain my sanity throughout the day.
Of course, it didn't actually work.
I knew it wouldn't.
I knew it would come back to slap me in the face and it did.

The next day, I saw that an event was being planned to go to the site of the rape and bring 'light' to that space that had been overrun by darkness.
I was surprised by my reaction: I felt my eyes roll and I scoffed at how seemingly naive and useless this gathering seemed to me.
How was a bunch of strangers getting together to practice yoga and drum circle going to help this woman? 
How would it make the sick understand the pain of their actions?
I felt confused by my emotions until it hit me that what I was feeling was sadness for myself because the spaces that I was hurt in have continued to be spaces that hold pain.

I grew up here.
Every time I drive south on I-19 towards Tubac, I pass the house that I was first molested in when I was 4 years old.
It's a beautiful 2-story house with huge cypress trees that can be seen from the roadway and as I drive closer to it I think to myself 'that's it, that's the place' and then I narrow my eyes to focus forward and speed by thinking 'I hate that house and I wish it would crumble to the ground'.

I feel similar about a place in front of Armory Park and the guest house of my Mother's house.
I was stalked for several weeks and then sexually assaulted in Armory Park at the age of 17.
The night after the attack I was raped by an ex boyfriend who lived in a guest house on my mother's property.
I had gone to talk to him about what had happened because I hadn't told many people and he raped me.
I was confused.
This wasn't the first time he had hurt me and not the last time either but I didn't tell anyone about it.
Not really.

Instead, I moved out of my mother's home, became terrified to walk alone and even more afraid to share the details of the traumas I had just experienced.
I was in High School.
I was good at avoiding things and stuffing them down.
I managed to avoid the sites of pain for quite awhile.
I made excuses not to be near the places that held such sad memories for me. 
So?
Up until recently, I haven't really dealt with my shit in a healthy way.
20 years since the events at Armory Park and my mother's, I have tried to reclaim those spaces somewhat but my attempts were done alone and during situations that in hindsight were not the best choices:
For 2 years I organized Tucson's All Souls Procession's Altar Vigil at Armory Park.
When I knew that spot had been chosen by the organizers I felt anxious but told myself it would be a way to reinvent that space for myself.
I told no one what happened there and instead spent the time trying to hold back tears because now that space was not only the place where I was physically hurt but a place where I publicly grieved for all of the friends and family members I had lost over the years.
What I had hoped would help me conquer my fears only blindsided me with weeks of panic attacks and a big Potpourri of mind fucking stories meant to muster my strength but left me feeling like a failure.

The other major spot, my mother's guest house: I managed to avoid it for years as she filled it with renters but recently after leaving my Ex-husband, I did find myself contemplating moving in. 
I chose not to but not before being told by a dear friend that I needed to 'get over what happened there' and take advantage of the potentially cheap rent.
I don't know how to make these places right for me.
Maybe, I never will but I do think there is value in attempting to bring peace to these places.

The victim of last week's attack attended the gathering at the place she had been raped.
I wish I had been there.
For her.
Bringing light to places where trauma occurred may not erase the memories but it's better than just turning away when one knows they are coming near a place that holds terrible memories.
I am not sure if I can ever do that for myself but I'm glad someone did her her.
I'm really glad.