When we talk about sexual assault.
This week we have a lot on our minds in the love department, whether what comes up for us around Valentine’s Day is giddy, exhausted, cynical, or shot through with longing. (Or mixed up between all of them.)
I’ve always loved this holiday, whether I was headed to a french restaurant or cooking up a heart shaped pizza with a beau or heading to Suns Cinema to watch Amelie and get thai food with my girlfriends.
I love love, and I love candy, and I love presents, and this has it all.
But there’s something else that is on my mind right now, not just about the pain of not being where we want to be in our love lives. Though that is hard.
It’s the other thing, the elephant in the room, when it comes to days where romance is expected.
Past history & heartbreak that can break in as an unwelcome guest and distract us, derail us, or drown us in memory loops.
I started college young, at 17, and moved into the swirl of ocean air & late nights of my seaside school with excitement and some wariness. I had been adventurous as a teenager but painfully, earnestly safe, always. Afraid of breaking curfew or drunk drivers or cast parties or the mention of "drugs" of any kind, which basically just sent me spiraling into old DARE mantras and a Nancy Reagan voice in my head on blast. I loved to explore and create, there was a fair share of funkiness that came from having artsy friends & musician boyfriends, but for the most part, I was safe & sound & square.
My good friend in school, Kelly, was more on the adventurous side in all the ways. She was gorgeous & had the best clothes I had ever seen, she joined a sorority and had great girlfriends and even greater stories, of glitterbombing one another & theme parties & whatnot. It was a far cry from my Freshman year (duh!) but it all looked glamorous and fun, even if it came with its own drama.
Another girl who lived on the same floor as the two of us in college came from, it seemed, a totally different world. Conservative parents, deeply religious, and kind in every fiber of her being, Jenny always (only) saw the good in people. She had never been kissed, she had never dated, and she was wide eyed at the thought of her first romance.
Meanwhile, Lily, a friend I’d grown up with, had mysterious changes and seemed to be a different person. What was going on with her? She had been hardworking and focused, but suddenly couldn’t get out of bed, and no one was sure why. She had never been a social butterfly, but she always had a core group of friends and even we weren’t hearing anything from her.
All four of us were so different, all four of us started college with different plans and different ideas. Even in this little list, we have wildly different political and religious views. We all interacted with the rules & norms of emerging into adulthood & being a woman in wildly different ways. Some of us know sorority songs and some don’t. Some know every hymn in the book and some don’t. One knows both. But we all have something in common:
All four of us experienced sexual assault.
For two of them, it was the first month we started college. And it changed everything, for all of us.
What we don’t often talk about when we talk about sexual assault is what happens afterward.
Not even just in the immediate afterwards, in which there are so many physical, psychological, and social needs that we have in our bodies & in our minds just to feel safe.
But, I’m talking about what happens even later.
Years later, months later, decades later.
The grades that dipped.
The relationships that broke apart.
The clothes that got piled on.
The inner voice that got louder: don’t do that, don’t say that, don’t trust this.
I talk to so many women about the part that comes way later.
After we have started the work already, of therapy, of healing, of reconciling our stories with the realities of the world we live in, where being a woman and being a victim go hand in hand far too often.
And then we hit a plateau.
We can’t orgasm.
Or, we can’t relax enough even to be in bed with someone, even someone we love.
Or, we can’t dress the way we want without feeling too exposed, too sexy, too dangerous.
Or, we can’t drop that one tense part of ourselves.
Or, we can’t quite explain to our person why but we are feeling too triggered by a memory, by the smell of cigarettes or a certain song or even a place.
We can't stop going back to that place in our minds: Kelly waking up on the couch she didn't recognize. Blank space where Jenny's memory of that night should have been. The last time Lily would ever wear that dress, or I would ever walk down that street. That is where it helps to get the blueprint back to ourselves.
For the work we have started, but not finished, of coming home to our bodies, our selves, and our relationships.
Whether you are in a relationship right now and want to ensure that your past doesn’t keep you feeling frozen within it, or you are wanting to heal as much as you can to become the person you want to be when you find your way IN to love, I created UNCOVER for you.
This was what I needed, this is what so many of us needed.
UNCOVER is my ten week program designed to bring you back home to yourself. It includes ten chapters of modules, exercises, workbooks, and Q&A so that you can learn the techniques I have used with countless clients to drop in to their bodies, heal from the past, and experience really deep love, for themselves and for their partners.
You can either do the whole thing in ten solid weeks, or you can go bit by bit at your own pace. You’ll have access to the material forever.
You will emerge at the end, not changed, but as more of yourself.
It is not a matter of dwelling in the past, but of creating your future. One in which feeling good in your skin, in your relationships, and in yourself is a #1 priority.
A note: the truth is, UNCOVER has had amazing results for people who don’t identify as trauma survivors or victims of assault at all, they are just women who know that more tools to be present, loving, communicative, and open to receiving deep love will make the good things they have going even better!
If that’s you, I invite you to give it a try as well. You may find that pieces of it resonate more than you expected, and, if not, I offer a full refund just in case.
But, if you know anyone who is struggling & has heartbreak or histories of hurt on their heart, send this their way. And, if you feel ready, you can sign up here for a discount this week.
And, you are invited to my FREE course, Roadmap to Romance, if that feels more aligned with where you are right now, for bite sized free versions of some of my best tools.
Either way, you are not in this alone.