Saturday, November 1, 2014

Postscript to Survival Strategies

Thank you to all the wonderful women and men who commented here and on Facebook on my story “Survival Strategies." As I read through the comments I feel held in your caring. It is sad but not surprising to see how many mention similar experiences of violence in their lives. This is not the first time I have told this story that happened in my early twenties. I wrote about it in at least one of my books, although there were details included here that have not been published before.

The incident I described happened more than thirty-five years ago. I have been very fortunate to have worked with some wonderfully skilled spiritual healers and psychological guides. As the trauma was released and I healed I was able to use this experience to be more deeply present and openly accepting with others who have had similar experiences. It has been my honour in my professional and personal life to listen and hold others’ stories, to let those stories break my heart open over and over, to offer what help I can for healing.

For those of you who have asked: the man involved was not a stranger but someone I knew (as is true in the majority of cases.) Years after this incident, when my own healing felt complete, I did look into laying charges. All of the police and lawyers (one former crown prosecutor) I consulted told me that, for a number of reasons I will not go into here, prosecution was not likely to be successful and so would not be pursued. I did what I could- through my lawyer I informed some who were geographically and emotionally close to the man involved (members of his family) about his violence. I have some reason to hope that they have both monitored his behaviour and found help for him so that no other women suffer at his hands. That is my prayer.

Following the impulse to share this story now, and receiving feedback has had an unexpected positive consequence. I’ve been working on a new book which includes some different but difficult stories about my life. I have great faith in stories, in their ability to offer healing and meaning to both the teller and the listener in the way they reveal the glorious and messy truth of a human journey. But I also know the vulnerability of writing about personal choices, and sometimes drag my feet about sharing those stories, reluctant to be on the receiving end of others’ thoughts, opinions and feelings about my life.

The response I received on the story I posted here has encouraged me to continue to write- not only because I received overwhelming support and genuine sharing, but because I also received a handful of messages and emails that were. . . .judgemental, shaming, accusatory and just downright nasty. And it was okay. I was okay! Oh, I’ll admit, it’s never fun to be misunderstood or judged harshly, but the thing that made me smile was that my own response was mostly curiosity and bafflement. I did not feel compelled to respond or defend or reveal more than I wanted to in an effort to be clearly understood. I got it! Others’ responses are theirs, so I am free to write the truth to the best of my ability and send it into the world with a prayer that it do no harm. I laugh as I write this- I have no hubris about this clarity and the freedom it brings. I know that as human beings we tend to “get it” and “lose it” and “get it again” over and over, and that’s okay.

So, it’s back to the writing. I will continue to drop in and share here as the impulse to do so arises, filled with gratitude for the richness of our connections and sharing here. May you be well. May we live together on this small blue-green planet of beauty in a way that is truly sustainable for our bodies, minds, hearts and souls.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer © 2014


  1. Blessings to you, Oriah. So glad when you drop in with some writing.

  2. "I know that as human beings we tend to “get it” and “lose it” and “get it again” over and over, and that’s okay.".....this understanding is a great gift and a wonderful sign of healing. It's a good space to be in. Thank you again, Oriah. May you continue to find yourself there as you write and may your words and courage heal us all.

    1. Thank you Theresa- yes, I have turned away from my younger hopes of getting things "once and for all." Getting "it" and losing "it" just seems to be the way of a human being. :-)