Tuesday, May 14, 2013


“Truth is the fire that destroys and purifies dysfunctional relationships, families and institutions as well as freeing the individual. True feelings, remembered suffering, and acknowledged betrayal of the Self and others bring an end to all outmoded roles, old power structures, and destructively held secrets. Only then can the cycle of dysfunctional behavior stop.”

~Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, The Ring of Power: The Abandoned Child, the Authoritarian Father, and the Disempowered Feminine

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Letter to Mom, RIP Rachel Corrie

Dear Mom,

Some might think in this day and age a girl’s role model should be a career woman, someone working in an office or in a so-called “men’s” line of work. I know those people are wrong. For me, you are the perfect role model. I admire how you take the things you want to do, like playing your flute and writing music, and find ways to fit them into your life. I admire your ability to clearly say what you think and feel. If every woman were that assertive, there would be more respect for the women of this world.

I admire your kindness. You are the only person I know whom I’ve never seen hurt another to get what you want. I believe you can get whatever you want without hurting anyone. What I admire most is not what you have done for yourself, but what you have done for me. I hope when I grow up, I can pass on to my children what I have learned from you about how to treat people. You have given me a wonderful life and shown me how to get that sort of life for myself.

People might think my mom not a hero because she hasn’t done anything “exceptional”. Well, you don’t have to do anything exceptional. I know that you are exceptional. You have made me proud of you by working hard at everything you do and doing it well.

I love you, mom.

~A Teenage Rachel Corrie
From Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie (April 10, 1979-March 16, 2003)

Happy Mother's Day

Well, it goes without fail. There is no chance, ever, of my ex letting a holiday go by without creating some sort of drama.

It should be familiar by now. But I have never been able to get used to it.

I hope my children won't either.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Running Late

When I became pregnant with an alcoholic, I should have known better. Throughout my pregnancy, he was always running late. I worried whether he would even show up for the birth. Fortunately, we were together, me on top, water bursting all over the bed, a month early.

We made it to the hospital just in time. I was already dilated to 10. Shortly after, he left to celebrate with friends, just for a little while. He returned late. The next day, he didn’t come back at all. The child screamed. He had gas, but I didn’t know it.  I desperately called my first husband and his wife at 3am. They stayed with us until 5, when the baby was finally lulled to sleep.

The next day, he brought an engraved Tiffany bracelet as an apology and left.

He was a shitty father for over a year before he disappeared completely. He came back, sorry. He was always "sorry". When he went to rehab for several months, I had hope. When he stayed sober a year, I married him against my better judgment and had another child.

There were 3 years of sobriety before it started again. 

On our daughter’s second birthday, we had nearly 50 people over to celebrate.  Every time someone arrived, they asked where my husband was. My 5-year-old son had already begun to defend him. “Daddy’s running late. There must be traffic.” My ex-husband turned on the grill and fed everyone. 6 hours later, I finally broke down in hysteric sobs. He never showed. No one could console me.  I knew it would never be "OK". 

The next years went something like this: Confession. 3 months at The Betty Ford Clinic; follow-up somewhere else. Al-Anon meetings. Relapse. Yelling, cursing, and pushing.  Reading more books about his “disease”. AA. Relapse. Therapy. Children waiting.  Dinner, cold on the table. Confirmed affairs. Too many tears. 20 pounds lost. Another missed birthday party. Children waiting, continuously waiting, on their little knees by the front window. He was always, “Just around the corner”. Dignity gone; children suffering. Me: alone, broke and striving to keep our “family” together. 

I tried far too many times. He was always running late.

Addiction: A Hard Season

....it's been such a hard season, and the bridges we burned might be all we had to keep us from drowning. but at least we had this time; and i'd like to think we're better off for it. i'll remember this. sometimes broken things make the best building supplies. and we'll keep on building. hearts aren't made of glass, they're made of muscle, and blood, and something else. and they don't so much as break, as bend and tear. we have what it takes to keep it together; and move on.

--Defiance, Ohio

Friday, May 10, 2013

Addict’s Father, Now Advocate

Addiction swallows lives whole, and not only with overdose, illness and concentric cycles of rehab and relapse. A less onerous but still tenacious kind of post-traumatic stress disorder may develop as well, with recovered addicts and their families compulsively reliving the past in private — or, like David Sheff and his son Nic, in public.

Now comes “Clean,” less memoir than guide for those just entering the terrain Mr. Sheff knows so well. If the book represents a certain redundancy of subject, its likely audience — those who must watch as friends and family spiral away — cannot hear too many sympathetic reiterations of the same truths.

In “Clean,” Mr. Sheff changes perspective, writing as advocate and journalist rather than distraught father. Still, his story line recreates that of “Beautiful Boy,” tracing the trajectory of addiction from cradle to rehab and beyond with the same question in mind: How does a promising cleareyed kid from a good family wind up in an inconceivable sea of trouble?

Still, readers who are just hoping for a clear-cut recommendation on the best available treatment may be disappointed.

Unfortunately for them, addiction is a new enough disease that most major scientific strides have been made on the molecular and cellular levels, with relatively little percolating to patient care. Mr. Sheff deplores most current addiction treatments: “a haphazard collection of cobbled-together, often useless and sometimes harmful recovery programs based not on medical science but on tradition, wild guesses, wishful thinking and pseudoscience, some of which borders on voodoo.”

In the end, the uncertainties still far outnumber the proven facts of this disease, one reason hype and voodoo, with their promises of certainty, still hold sway.

I am really looking forward to reading Clean. Beautiful Boy was a life saver for me at a time when I felt really alone. I had the pleasure of hearing David speak in Portland last month.

Here is the link to the full review in the NY Times:


Recommended Recovery Reading

These are the books that have helped me the most over the years...

Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps - Charlotte Davis Kasl, PhD

Be Full of Yourself!: The Journey from Self-Criticism to Self-Celebration - Patricia Lynn Reilly

beautiful boy: a father's journey through his son's addiction - David Sheff

Women, Sex and Addiction: A Search for Love and Power - Charlotte Davis Kasl, PhD

Perfect Daughters: Adult Daughters of Alcoholics - Robert J. Ackerman, PhD

I Promise Myself: Making a Commitment to Yourself and Your Dreams - Patricia Lynn Reilly

The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure: A Holistic Approach to Total Recovery - Chris Prentiss

Meditation as Medicine - Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD and Cameron Stauth

You Can Heal Your Life - Louise L. Hay

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Heal and Move On

"Most important is that we not identify ourselves with such labels as codependent or addict, or get stuck in chronic recovery as if we were constantly in need of fixing. The goal is to heal and move on, embrace life's ups and downs, and move from recovery to discovery. Then we can break through the limitation imposed by hierarchy, work together for a just society, and free our capacity for courage, joy, power, and love." - Charlotte Davis Kasl

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A New Serenity Prayer

"God grant me the compassion to love others the way they are, the wisdom to know when it's abusive or beneficial, and the courage to address it or leave if they persist."

 ~James Glines, The God Article

Monday, May 6, 2013

We are codependents

“Anytime we do not behave spontaneously or speak truthfully because we will be blamed for upsetting someone who will hold us responsible for his anger, we are codependents.” 

~Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, The Ring of Power: The Abandoned Child, the Authoritarian Father, and the Disempowered Feminine

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rape, Facebook, and the Feminine Divine: Reclaiming our Feminine Power

Two years ago, I left my long-time career and began work to empower women and girls through the Divine Feminine. About 6 months ago, I veered out a bit to help tackle rape culture on Facebook. Last month, I began to receive death and rape threats as a result of that work. Today I bring you some of my thoughts on how rape, specifically the threat of rape via social media, is used to systematically stop the empowerment of women and girls.

The easiest way to squash the Divine Feminine within each woman is to abuse her. And rape is the best tool with the express purpose to kill her spirit completely.

As we see the Divine Feminine rising in all faith traditions, I also perceive a growing global awareness about rape. I’m not sure if there are actually more rapes, particularly gang rapes, occurring now. But it feels that way to me. Whether it is that more rapes are reported or more rapes are occurring, the rape of even one woman hurts the spirit in all genders.

My worship of the goddess is not rooted in the New Age movement. While I found some of the affirmations helpful when leaving my marriage, I am not certain this is a movement that can help women globally. That said, I in no way mean to attack any woman’s faith tradition, just share from my experience of what has worked for me and what has not.

My religion is one of action: the warrior goddess who will fight for each of her children. She is the warrior of activism. It is the goddess who empowers each of her daughters and gives her the tools to be successful in life.

Interestingly, when you look at the aspirations of most patriarchal traditions, it is submissiveness that is usually valued. And submissiveness hurts us all. I even remember being told specifically as a girl, if someone tries rapes you, let them because it will be easier than fighting them, and then they might kill you afterwards.

Someone did try to rape me when I was 19. I was still a virgin, and I remember thinking, “I am NOT going to lose my virginity this way.” So I fought like hell. If you can “win” in an assault situation, I suppose I won. But the reality is: no assault ever feels like a win to the woman who survives it.

Had I heeded the traditional advice I was given, I know without a doubt I would have been raped.

Even though the rape was not successful, I was still blamed. No one questioned him. They questioned me. Why was I wearing that? (clothes that actually saved me) Why was I there?

Looking back, I think that was the last straw for me in terms of leaving the traditional Christian faith I was raised with. It was then that I first learned about the goddess. I forgot about her for some time, in my yearning to get ahead. But when my daughter was born I realized if I didn’t return to the goddess, I would fail her in the same ways I had been failed.

Since my work has centered on girls, specifically via my book The Girl God, I have been criticized for veering off course. Rape is not a subject for girls, or so I have been told. Statistically speaking however, that is just not true.

I wrote about this last year, which you can see here.

Current U.S. rape statistics tell us that
44% of victims are under the age of 18.
15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
And, 97% of rapists will never spend one day in jail.

It seems that most people still have a lot to learn when it comes to rape. Soraya Chemaly wrote an excellent article several months back clarifying actual facts about rape.

But here is what I want to say today: Rape happens long before it happens. Somewhere along the line, the perpetrator decides rape is OK.

I don’t believe anyone is born a rapist. Perhaps it is a gradual process. TV, movies, magazines, porn and social media cut away at the original goodness we were born with. Social media is perhaps the most dangerous because it can spread images so quickly. For instance, the child porn video posted to Facebook several weeks ago involving a baby gathered 32,000 shares and over 5,000 likes before it was removed.

Until fairly recently, you had to go to a specialty store to get pornography and it was relatively difficult to obtain child porn. Now it is readily available, including hard-core and child porn posted directly on Facebook. The baby video was taken down relatively quickly, but recent articles about girls who have been gang-raped in North America and India, not to mention all over the world, tell a different story.

I fear rape victims are becoming younger by the day as our tolerance for rape culture increases. 20 years ago, a group of men would not have sat around and bragged about raping a woman. It would have been considered weird and gross. And who in their right mind would have told a rape “joke”? Now behind a computer screen, millions of men seem to feel very comfortable with both.

Rape has been normalized through social media. Rape is now funny, protected under “free speech” or “controversial humor”. Rape drugs are also normalized through free advertisements on Facebook, or what they call “memes.”

It is not just rape itself that silences women. It is the fear of rape. Every single rape joke and meme of violence against woman has a very clear message: “Shut the f*** up woman. Who are you to be bold, vivacious and filled with light? I can rape you at any given time and take all of that from you.”

At the same time, Facebook policy is strict on female nipples. They are not allowed on Facebook and are quickly removed. I find this more than ironic since I have personally seen a tremendous amount of child pornography (which is RAPE for those who are still not clear) on Facebook. If Facebook can find nipples easily, surely they can find penises and vaginas, which are readily available on thousands of pages.

Recently my husband sat next to a woman on an airplane with a newborn. She covered her entire body, including her own head, to cover up the act of feeding her baby. When she was finished, she turned to him and apologized.

And yet rape is out there in the open for all to see through pictures and memes posted on Facebook. I have yet to see an apology from anyone about this, including the viral video of raping a baby.

Think about that for a minute.

The nipple argument has been going on for some time and it matters. Look at some of the pictures that have blurred out nipples so they could remain on Facebook. The Femen page is a good place to see many of these pictures.

Our nipples are powerful: they are the non-negotiable assertion that we as women give life. Every man was born of a woman. And that is what stings for men who hate women.

Given the prevalence of rape, it is not by accident that the threat of rape is used to silence us. If roughly one-third of women are already traumatized by rape or sexualized violence, you can bet most of those women are effectively silenced, if not re-traumatized again with every image they see.

Many more will not speak up because they are scared of being raped themselves. They want to distance themselves from rape, as if that will protect them. In the west we are heavily influenced by the “Law of Attraction” which does a good job of silencing even more women. It seems to go something like this: just pretend rape doesn’t happen so it will not happen to you.

That was not what I believe the intended message of The Law of Attraction was, but that is often how it seems to be interpreted. I felt that judgment clearly last month when I was told many times that I was somehow attracting these death and rape threats by attempting to fight them on Facebook.

I don’t believe that. Are women in war-torn countries where rape is used as a method of war attracting their own rapes? Surely no one can believe that.

We need to stop blaming women and start shaming and punishing the perpetrators. Rape culture will never disappear by itself. We need more warriors. We need our own Gulabi Gangs all over the world.

Those who do not speak out against rape culture are complicit in it. Those who blame the victim instead of the perpetrator also play a leading role in ensuring more rapes will go unpunished, contributing to the cycle of more rapes.

After all, if 97% of rapists never spend a day in jail, you can be certain that most rapists know they will get away with it. And if we fail to prosecute rape itself, men who threaten rape are even more certain there will be no consequences for their actions.

This cycle will only worsen if we fail to confront it.

We have two very recent cases of 15-year-old girls being gang raped and further traumatized by the pictures of their rape being posted on Facebook. Both girls killed themselves.

Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons both deserved so much better, and there are more young girls like them out there.

That is where this hits me pretty hard, going back to my attack nearly 20 years ago. I could fight off one man, who was slightly bigger than me, but I certainly could not have fought off 3 or 4. And I never had to deal with pictures of my attempted assault being posted all over Facebook.

We are living in a different time. I am not so sure that it is a better time. All of us must work harder to change that and to empower girls around the world with the tools they need.

So far, very few people seem to be pointing out to the obvious connection between cause and effect. But I believe one day platforms such as Facebook that encourage rape will be held accountable. By allowing pictures of women and girls being raped to be posted to their site, they are guilty of that rape as well as each additional rape that will be inspired by it.

I believe that through the Divine Feminine, we can find the strength within ourselves to be powerful and reclaim a culture that loves women. That is not to say that we need another religion to somehow save us. However, I feel that we must reclaim what was taken from us in each faith tradition: the ability to relate as a divine being. When God can only be viewed as male, females will always be inferior. When we begin to collectively honor females as the holy beings that they are, rape will become incomprehensible.

Yes, I was threatened with death and rape for speaking out against rape culture. But so far, I am still here.

I now have the strength I did not have as a girl or even a young woman. I have the power to effect change. If I neglect to use that power, I will fail both myself and future generations of women and girls.

I need your help. So I am asking you: What will you do with your power?

Originally posted on the wonderful site: Our Stories Untold.

Photo: A member of the Gulabi Gang during a meeting. (This photo is from Wikimedia Commons)