Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chapter 2, Part 2

*Authors note* I feel I should warn you that from here on in it gets a little harsh at times, but as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter". Also, how can we fully protect children without full knowledge? So, onward.

Muladhara Memory, Part Two

I was in a little wooded area at the back of our property, surrounded and secluded by trees on a warm sunny July afternoon, singing a Sanskrit chant. All of a sudden a hard painful lump of emotion formed in my throat, choking my voice, choking me. Simultaneously I had a vision, a brief, startling, flicker, like a snapshot of a moment in time. For lack of a better word I call it a vision, but it wasn't visual. It was a snapshot of what I felt and heard. I couldn't breathe, I was suffocating, at the same time I heard the choked muffled screams of a tiny infant. I felt panic and fear but was most keenly aware of rage. It was the most pure and primal rage I've ever felt, absolute outrage. And I knew. Somehow I knew that my father had raped my mouth when I was a tiny infant.

Probably twenty years ago there was an incident in my city that made the news. An infant boy had been left in the care of a male friend while his parents went out. The parents returned to find their child in severe distress, screaming in a way they had never heard before, and rushed the baby to the hospital. A police investigation found a washcloth on the change table in the baby's room with semen on it. The Babysitter was charged. I remember being shocked. That such a thing could happen had never occurred to me. The newscaster went on to interview a spokesperson from the rape crisis center who informed us that this type of infant rape is not uncommon. An infant is vulnerable, defenseless, unable to communicate, and its instinct is to suck.

We'd been married almost twenty years, and when I told my husband about my "vision", only then did he confide that he'd suspected for a long time that I'd been sexually abused, and he'd figured it was my father.

I was shocked, stunned, horrified, appalled and disgusted, yet it explained a lot. Like the night terrors. Over the years I'd scared the wits out of my husband on uncountable occasions, when in the middle of the night I would start screaming, high pitched, terrified and I'm sure terrifying. I'd be screaming at the top of my lungs yet remain so deeply unconscious that my husband would have to shake me to rouse me enough to stop. Usually I would fall right back into deep sleep and remember nothing in the morning, except on occasion when I would have the vaguest recollection, along with a sore throat.

My children learned at an early age not to come to my side of the bed if they needed anything in the night. I remember my husband being so angry with me one time. Our youngest child, three or four at the time, had had a nightmare and came to her mom in the middle of the night for comfort. She probably just whispered "mom" into my ear, after making the brave trek, in the dark, from her room, but it took nothing to set me off. I'm sure the poor little thing was traumatised, she collapsed into a heap on the floor. My husband had to scoop her up and try to calm her while at the same time wake me up so I would stop screaming. I woke up to mayhem, which I had created, while completely unconscious. It had never occurred to me to question the cause of, or even that there may have been a cause for, the night terrors.

Maybe the power of denial is especially strong when honed at a young age but I hadn't seen this coming. I'd been working on my back to ease pain, working on my voice to overcome the fear of using it. After such a powerful catharsis, triggered during the Mothering Yourself weekend, I hadn't even considered that there could be more. I vacillated for a while between rage, sorrow and denial, but deep down I knew the truth. I know the truth.

When, during the work with Carol, we began to eke our way into the higher range of my voice, we encountered a block. There was a place where all sound stopped. I could sing up to a particular note but was mute past it. I could hear the note in my head, was relatively comfortable in my voice up to that point, but could not make a sound when I reached beyond. During one of our lessons, Carol asked me if I'd been abused as a child and told me she'd encountered a similar situation with another adult student. At the time I really didn't know. That first memory hadn't surfaced yet. I wonder now though, if it increases the likelihood of memory embedding in the vocal chords, when screaming is involved in the trauma, or stifled.

After the vision, my vocal chords opened up. The block dissolved so completely that it was hard to imagine it had been there at all. It would be six months however before I would be released from the pain in my tailbone. While studying at an ashram, early in 2002, I met a powerful tantric yogi, trained in Swedish massage. During a massage he simply said the word coccyx as he held his palm there, and the pain disappeared instantly and to this day has not returned. Again I believed/believe that I'd done the physical reparation with yoga. It was a rent in my energy body or chakra or something like that, that he'd mended.

I grasped the connection between the block in my vocal chords and the rape of my infant self but was mystified as to why such pain was recorded in my coccyx. Until I read in Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith, that the first chakra, seated at the base of the spine, the coccyx, is formed between the time of conception and approximately one year of age. I believe that my root chakra, the muladhara chakra, held the non-verbal record of this early trauma. Or, and obviously that's pretty rough handling for a newborn, perhaps my father injured my tailbone.

Either way, I sing now, in front of people, and it gives me a lot of pleasure.

It seemed that this completed the process I'd halted at the Mothering Yourself weekend. Now I had the whole picture. Or so I thought.