At ADC we've begun our book study with Z's HBWM, and upon reading through the intros and first chapter I felt that we needed to begin with sharing what brought us to the Goddess. Z shares in the few first pages about coming to the Goddess, saying "falling in love seems to be the biggest recruiter for the Goddess." It's not the same as our coming out of the broom closet stories, the identification of coming to the Goddess is a huge thing to vocalize, and it felt important for us to begin there. My own story has many parts. Here is what I shared with the systers there:
What brought me to the Goddess?
As I child I longed for some kind of spiritual direction. My parents are non-practicing Catholics, I was baptized in the Catholic church and my religious education in that tradition ended there. Years later my brother made attempts to teach me on his own, from his religious books from CCD, but even then I couldn't identify as God being masculine.
During my childhood years I can recall so distinctly this sense of being attuned to nature -- trees, the Weeping Willow was a guardian, my guardian, even then. I equated Her with safety and familiarity, Her presence, then, wasn't something I identified as Goddess-embodiment. I just knew that talking to Her, talking to, what I felt at the time was simply speaking to myself, was really speaking to Her, the Lady. Nights spent under the moon sharing my soul to what I simply assumed was the void was connectivity in motion, and it wasn't until November of 1995 that I identified that the connectivity was the Goddess.
On Halloween night, 1995, I went out with some friends, attempting one last outing of trick-or-treating as 16 year old's, not dressed up at all, though, I recall the exact outfit I wore to this day. Details that were foggy once before have become so clearer as the years go by.
My best friend at the time was dating a boy who was less than kind. He was verbally abusive, cheating on her, abusing her friends, and sadly she took it, not knowing any different. That night on our way to finding our friend's house, we got lost on a few side streets, ending up in a dead end street that had a couple of abandon houses, near the highway. We turned to leave and there was her boyfriend, along with 2 of his other friends. 3 of us, 3 of them. He had been rude, calculating, playing a game knowing he had her, and essentially us, trapped. One of them took our friend in a choke-hold, punching her, kicking her, suffocating her, while the other took me, proceeding to touch me in places I still cringe to think of in memory. She, my best friend, was meant to watch, to stand there and watch while her boyfriend made crude remark after remark, describing in detail what was being done to us, and she stood, out of body, paralyzed and numb, as we took the abuse he had meant for her.
The other girl, nearly purple at this point, managed to slip out of the grip one had on her, while I stood, paralyzed myself, being touched, being groped at, begging internally for this to stop, yet saying nothing. I think had the abuse been physical, as with our friend, then maybe I would have fought. I had grown up being physically abused at times, I would have fought back... this was new to me, to think that someone would willingly sexually abuse another, it wasn't something I had ever really known.
Her escape, our friend who had been choked, was really the saving grace for our exit, as her screams became louder and louder, all the intentions they had vanished, and their parting threats began what felt like a prison sentence.
I remember that night sitting in the corner of the tub, hot water pouring over me, feeling as though I'd never be clean again, feeling as though I would never ever be safe again... it was a scary place to be.
My friend and I had no plans to sit back and do nothing, though my best friend urged us to forget about it, see it as the mistake that it was and let it go, our friendship soon ended after that incident, and our directions in life turned. Mine taking a leap of faith in the justice system, going to the police and determined to make as much noise out of this as I could, only to have the police turn me away, urging me to even move out of the city I was living in, for the boys who did this came from families that were in prison for things that I didn't know existed in human reality.
Girls in school who had found out what happened told me of their own stories of abuse by their hands, but wouldn't come forward, hoping I would be the one to do it. The other friend, she left, left school, left the city, I never heard from her again.
All of this was in the span of less than 2 weeks after the incident. Less than 2 weeks where I began to fear the solitude and safety of the night I once held so dear, where I no longer slept, where I feared being anything at all.
I don't recall the exact night this happened, but I recall all the details of the night where I had felt my final ounce of hopelessness. I had received a threatening message from them, and I felt the end of everything.
The details of what happened next feels like a novel itself, but to shorten this lengthy post, I tried to take my life that night. It saddens me to think of how desperate, how sad and lonely and scared a child could be to go to those extremes. I share these details, details that were significant in every step of the way, because these steps, that moment of desperation, was the awakening I took in coming to the Goddess.
It was Her voice I heard, somewhere in the inner mindscape, that told me to call for help. It was Her voice that kept whispering in my ear to not give up, to find strength, no matter how small it felt then, and to hold onto that.
I held onto that fear and that pain for quite some years. Bit by bit shedding the layers, transforming and releasing, She was the one who sat with me during the years of depression I had, helping me to hold onto the light that was within, especially at my weakest, embracing the Goddess within.
This Samhain marks 14 years since that has happened. A horrible memory embraced by the realization of how powerful a day the New Year can be.
It's from that incident that so many other marvelous things began to unfold, such as the healing work that I facilitate, especially for the empowerment of womyn. As Richard Bach says, "You teach best what you most need to learn", and it was a great deal of processing, with the safety and love of the Goddess by my side, that my own lessons of empowerment began to rebirth.
This time of year I am always reminded of that time. Of a 16 year old girl who retreated internally and sat enclosed in a web of fear, but emerged, from the fear, with the fear, without throwing any parts of myself away, all from coming home to the Goddess.