As I hope you saw, Jennifer and I had the amazing opportunity of participating in a workshop entitled “The Stories We Tell” through “The Voices and Faces Project.” If you haven’t had a chance to read Jennifer’s response, please check it out.
I have waited to respond because I couldn’t quite pull my thoughts together to write about the conference. It was #amazing. I learned so much about so many people in an amazingly short period of time. I’m going to playfully use hashtags in this post because one of the participants is a big Tweeter. I do it in honor of her.
For the most part, I do not know who abused these incredibly strong people. It was not part of what needed to be told on the days we gathered. There is a time and place for that, and it could have fit in to the time we spent together, but the telling was more about the after. “Every day after, we’re surviving.” #Beauty
The weekend was filled with anticipation, strength, poetry, trying new ways of writing, sharing a little of the past to get to where we are now. There were stories of people who helped us; and stories of people who hurt us, not necessarily through abuse, but through lack of understanding or care. #Empathy
We talked of well-intentioned messages from colleges warning of sexual-assaults or attempted assaults on campus. These were designed to help, but often did much more harm than anything else. The messages triggered survivors and created a community of fear among other students. It also secretly, and I’m sure completely unintentionally, gave rapists ideas of what not to do right now. People are looking for that, so do something else. #Unitendedoutcome
We ate lunch and wrote. We ate lunch and watched a presentation by “The Voices and Faces Project” founder, Anne K. Ream. We heard the struggle of the women in Atenco, Mexico who have been raped and abused but refuse to be silent, or silenced. We saw pictures from Patricia Evans, photographer for the soon-to-be-published book, “Lived Through This.” #Strength
We also had lots of opportunity to write. Then we would listen to a few of the readings and offer comments, thoughts, or just listening ears. People shared some of their most painful moments, and some of their most profound and power times, with wit, humor, grace, strength, passion, compassion, and heart. There were tears and laughter, smiles, hugs, Kleenex, coffee, amazing muffins, and snow. Best of all, the foundations of community and support were laid. #Youarenotalone
As a survivor, I always walk into a room and run the statistics in my head. One in three women, one in six men. Does that include me or am I excluded because I already know that I was abused? Here, some sort of survivorship precluded the meeting. I didn’t have to run the numbers. The answer was yes, the hows, whos and whys were already a basis for the conversation. The “what are we going to do nows” were already in progress. Life was going on. We survived. Now we are telling what we experienced and offering others the reminder that they, too, could survive. #Wearestrongandamazing
As Jennifer said before we went to the conference, sometimes you go to something you know will change your life. After it has happened, and your life is profoundly changed, how do you write about it? How do you encompass a life-changing experience in 900 words or less? #Profoundlychanged
I can’t tell you how amazing it was. I can’t break the confidence of the group and tell you about the amazing things these women and men wrote. I guess the best I can do is tell you to do what you can to experience it yourself. If you are a survivor, check out when and where the next workshop is going to be. If you know a survivor, encourage them to go. If you can’t go through the experience yourself, get the book when it’s published. If that isn’t possible either, tell one person your truth. Even if that one person is you, tell it. From that telling, you will be profoundly changed. #inthetellingishealing
Thank you my new friends for your strength and courage. Thank you to the leaders and coordinator. Thank you for helping us tell our truth and helping us heal. The stories are not always pretty, but they are always real. #Tellitlikeitis
(We also did some sight seeing. #eagle)