There is a Purple Aster Growing in The Burn Pile. (Giving a Voice to Trauma)

October 8, 2018

 

It has been a year since the white asters bloomed in the middle of the woods where I sat alone and finally faced the emotions of my earliest trauma. The experience was buried, so hard to access. But I carried it with me. I was young and I was only able to process my experience by transferring the emotions to the image of a terrified, young girl who never spoke and never, ever stopped running. (That, and one terrifying, recurring nightmare). Last year, using nonverbal Eco-Art Therapy, I finally allowed the scared, tired girl to tell me her story and in doing so, she was finally able to stop running. The circle I created that day to help work through it all was made of ferns, white aster petals, and charcoal from an abandoned fire in the woods.  

 

When I made that circle last year, people were not talking about trauma and sexual assault like they are now. The recent political fiascos have stirred up so many emotions for so many wounded people. There is an incredible amount of pain being remembered by millions of women, all at the same time. And to see how their stories are received with skepticism, callousness, and insensitivity is even more heart breaking! 

 

But with the recent discourse, many are finding the courage to tell their own stories of trauma for the very first time. This is important. One of the accounts I heard last week was from my daughter as I painfully listened to her recount the story of her recent assault of which I was unaware. Her journey with this burden has just begun. Another generation. It makes me angry! I hear her frustration. She begs for progress. I beg for progress.

 

When I was twenty-two, my daughter's age, I experienced another traumatic experience while in college. I should never have lived through that sexual assault, being taken to a secluded wooded area by a river in an unfamiliar city. But by the grace of God, and quick wit, I made it home alive that night, and was able to hide in a friend's closet the next day when the assailant came door to door looking for me. Back then, it never occurred to me that I could have gone to the police or some other agency for support. I told no one about the incident. Not even my friend who hid me in his closet. No one. Not for a couple of decades.

 

Next generation, thirty-five years later, my daughter did have the knowledge and courage to go to the police. She did report her incident. She has a voice! That does not make the pain any less. But it does show a glimpse of hope for change from one generation to the next.

 

So, my lovely daughter, this posting is for you. It is my attempt to give you hope. The pain is so raw. There doesn’t seem to be much progress in our society. There doesn’t seem to be much to hope for change. But when we, the hurt and broken, begin to have a voice, when our stories begin to be believed, when we begin to be seen, we are the beautiful, purple asters growing in the burn pile and the hope of change to come. 

 

(This year's circle with ferns, white asters, and charcoal from the still remaining burn pile).

 

© Beth Adoette​

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