A few years ago, I was hired to give a talk with other leading women in the field of health and wellness at a retreat center on the East Coast of the United States. The original idea for the talk was that we would come together to teach a group of women about healing from sexual trauma and sex abuse. None of us had met each other before and because we were all too busy to really collaborate on the course, we each planned to talk for a day. But shortly before the event, we ran into a problem when the center itself wanted to distance itself from ‘sexuality’ or ‘sex abuse’. The decision was made to change the title of the workshop to “Goddess Retreat”.
When I showed up at the center and met one of my other co-hosts for the event, Dr. Laura Berman, the connection we had was immediate. Sometimes you meet someone and it is just easy to be around them. That is how it was with us. It was cozy. She made me laugh so hard that first day, my stomach hurt. Even though we were adults, it felt like she was that friend I would have been hiding under the table and giggling with in kindergarten.
The event itself was an interpersonal disaster. Having not collaborated on the course all together, we did not see (until it was too late) that some of our philosophies of healing drastically clashed with one another. It was more like watching a political debate than a cohesively led workshop. We ended up putting the audience in a state of cognitive dissonance where they had to essentially choose between my method and another speaker’s method, knowing they were diametrically opposed. Also, needless to say, what most people have in mind when they hear the words “goddess retreat” is not facing and owning their shame and diving deep into their trauma. The atmosphere became very heavy and cathartic. Many people were totally blown away in a good way by the experience. Some were upset at the experience being so different than advertised. It created serious opposition and unresolved conflict between myself and the speaker whose method I unintentionally taught directly against. But two good things came out of that experience, one was my connection to Laura and the other was the desire to actually create what we had failed to create at that time.
We finished filming our project last week. Dr. Laura Berman and I paired up to create a video series to help people heal from sexual trauma, including sex abuse. We broke from tradition and decided to do the series with two women, live and on set. We did this not only to show how healing from relational trauma (which is what sexual trauma is) is dependent upon doing it with other people, but also to show a snap shot of actual sexual trauma healing taking place. It is different to watch two people talking directly to a camera than it is to watch two people talking directly to someone that represent the demographic they are talking about. I am happy with the result. I am aiming to have it out to the public as soon as possible. And having finished the course, I boarded a plane to Hawaii.
Tomorrow is the first day of my curveball retreat here on the big island. I have surveyed the island and visited some sacred sites. I will be releasing a blog with the energy diagnosis of Hawaii later this week or early next week. It is intensely jarring on the system to go from the cold and pristine magic of a land covered in snow to the hot and tropical sacred sites of an island surrounded by the Pacific Sea. My body is disoriented. As a result, I have spent a great deal of time with a troupe of Koi fish that occupy a beautiful Zen pond in the living room of the house I am staying in here on the island.
It is so interesting to me (being in this place that most people are desperate to visit in their lifetime) how a place can be perceived as a heaven or a hell based off of a person’s individual experience there. One of my closest friends is from this Island. While other people spent time in heaven on vacation on the beaches here, he was isolated here on a coffee farm with the emptiness of no social connection or belonging. I can see both worlds so clearly driving around this place… How different the living here is from the vacationing here… The rift between the natives and the non-natives… How bad it can be for one person to be here and how good it can be for another. Any object will look different depending on what perspective you have of that object. Each perspective is a different angle on something. Our perspective shapes our experiences and our experiences shape our perspective. Hawaii is one of those places with many angles. More so than most places on earth, it will look drastically different depending on the perspective you look at it through.
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