The Shame in Bare Shoulders: Part 16 of Rain on a Cloudless Day

Jenny, Eleanor and Zara (front row center)

Jenny, Eleanor and Zara (front row center)


On my seventh birthday my friend Zara gave me a sun dress with red, white, and green pinstripes. It was the most beautiful dress I had ever owned. I loved it the moment I saw it and wore it as often as I could. In my candy cane stripes and with my hair twisted into cinnamon-rolls like Princess Leia, I felt beautiful.

A heat wave hit Salt Lake City, driving the temperatures up well over 110. The heat made breathing painful. Each breath came like the drag of sandpaper over skin while the sunlight was so bright it blinded. I walked to school in my sundress under the shade of the box elder trees. I felt happy. The world was bright and warm and nature buzzed and shifted like a symphony around me. I walked into school, set my lunch bag in the bin and walked to my desk.

“Eleanor.” When I looked up my teacher was frowning at me. “Come here.” Rising from my desk I walked to her. What had I done wrong and why was she looking at me like that. “Girls are not allowed to show more skin then a tee-shirt reveals. You know the garments rule don’t you?” This last question assumes I’m Mormon, while questioning how I could have forgotten the LDS rules of modesty. I feel confused.

“I’m not a Mormon.”

“The garment rule still applies to you.” Her response is terse, her eyes sharp. “Mrs. Smith, please take Eleanor to the lost and found and find her something appropriate to cover herself with.” Mrs. Smith, our classroom aid takes my arm as if I’ll run away and forces me before her to the office. Inside the secretary rises, her eyes concerned. By the look on her tired old face I can see that my shoulders have upset her.

“Eleanor forgot to wear a sweater over her sun dress. We’re going to take something from the lost and found.” I don’t rise my eyes. I’m too ashamed. My little striped sundress with its pretty spaghetti straps is a humiliation. I feel too naked and too ashamed to look at the ancient secretary as she leads us into a side room labeled lost and found.

I watch Mrs. Smith sort past tee-shirts and hooded zip up jackets until she finds a knee length cable knit wool sweater. “Put this on and do not ever wear that dress to school again without a sweater to cover your shoulders. It is immodest and ungodly to show so much skin.”

“But it’s hot out.” I look at my feet, my voice imploring her to take pity on me. “Couldn’t I wear a tee-shirt over it?”

“No. You’ll wear this sweater. It will help you remember the garment rule.”

Sliding into the sweater I find it itchy and hot. Mrs. Smith buttons it down the front so that my shameful little sundress disappears beneath it. Not even the hem can be seen at the bottom. I watch Mrs. Smith roll up the sleeves before sending me back to class. When the bell for recess rings I unbutton the sweater and walk to hang it on the peg.

“Put it back on and button it up.” Mrs. Smith walks towards me, her fingers grabbing at the sweater, forcing me back into it.

“But it’s hot out.”

“Which will help you remember the garment rule!” I’m forced to watch Mrs. Smith button the heavy sweater up to its last button, the rough wool scratching my chin. Then I’m forced out of the air conditioned school and outside, but I can’t run and play with the other kids. I can’t even walk out into the heat. I stand at the shaded entrance, too sick with heat to step out of the shade.

“No loitering at the entrance. Come out please.” Looking up I see Mrs. Smith standing five feet before me. I walk to where she stands at the top of the playground stairs and try to keep my eye sight from blurring. I’m so sick with heat that it’s all I can do to stay on my feet during recess.

“Why are you wearing that heavy sweater?” A girl asks. She touches the sleeve, her fingers recoiling from the rough wool.

“The garment rule. My dress shows my shoulders so I have to cover up.” No one else talks to me that day. I’m shunned for breaking the rules, for being immodest while the reality that I’m not a member of the church sinks into more than one mind. When the final bell rings, marking the end of school, I try for a second time to take off the sweater but am told I can wear it home and return it the next day.

When I’m safe at home I am sweat drenched and covered with red scratches and hives. My mother stares at me in confusion the moment I step through the door.
“I showed my shoulders.” I tell her. “I broke the garment rule.”

“I didn’t know.” She keeps saying, too shocked to grasp what’s happened. “It was so hot,” she adds, still lost in the sight of my red roughened shoulders, “I didn’t know.”

The brightly colored pinstriped dress hung in my closet reeking of shame and licentious transgression until I finally outgrew it and gave it away. The dress is gone but I feel the shunning and the shame like I felt the hair shirt I was forced to wear on a 110 degree day; it burns, and it hurts to this day. So I cut the necks out of my tee-shirts. I wear bare shouldered gowns. I refuse to bend to self-righteous people who say that a girl who shows a shoulder is a bad girl and I won’t give an inch to buttoned-up self-righteous people who shame and injure others in the name of religious propriety. We are as god made us. We are glorious. We are women.

The Dance Between Light and Dark: In Theory

Dance between light and darkThere exists in all of us a potential for light or dark action. All action is energy flowing in reaction to the catalysts that drives us forward in our lives. The question is, do our actions and reactions embrace a light and higher motive or a dark base motive. When a horn honks do we go into rage or do we chose peace, change lanes and avoid the dark hostility that rages behind us. In every moment of everyday we have the opportunity to embrace light and dark choices. Do we confront, argue and fight or do we free, release, and forgive those who would trigger us into likeminded darkness.

Rage, hostility, pain, anger, self-harm and regret are all members of a dark emotional family which feed on one another and anyone who crosses their path. Take one step into anger and you are inches away from pain and regret. Take one step towards forgiveness and you are on your way to healing and joy. As one emotional family sucks you dry another lifts you up and frees you to move forward in life. It’s all a matter of which one you choose.

How do we identify which is the light choice and which is the dark. Light will always feel light in our heart and darkness will always feel heavy like a rock in the stomach. In light action the Ego says little. In dark action the ego says many things. It condemns our failings, our humanity and everything and everyone who crosses our path. When the ego is empowered there is no room for love, friendship and peace because it craves material gain, power and isolation of the individual it haunts.

The ego is darkness in flesh and it prowls around our souls waiting for a bad day, a disappointment, for something to regret. Power is corrupting and the ego loves power, profit is bottomless and the ego will never let you know contentment. Isolation makes you independent of love, of nourishment, of physical touch and the ego loves isolation; for a solitary mind is easily preyed upon. Isolation leads to the end of relationship, the end of love, of communication and of healing. We heal in love, we are understood in communication and we are in love when our energies stream and pour from one heart into another. In love and joy, the ego cannot thrive.

When darkness has won and a soul is lost in self-loathing, addiction and self-harm that soul slips into a darkness so heavy that the light cannot be seen or felt. In reality the light never leaves us. It is all around us asking to be heard, seeking to be seen and loving us whether we know it or not. None of us is ever so lost, fallen or sinful that we cannot be redeemed. Free will has the power to open our eyes to the brightness of a new day, a new life and a new way of living. Every moment of every day we are given the opportunity to forgive, to be forgiven, to be of service, to be of god, to be of hope and light on his earth.

If you’ve fire walked you’ve felt the flames, if you’ve fallen you’ve felt the stones and know how they bruise. We’ve all fallen, we’ve all known pain and we’ve all been given the opportunity and support to rise again and be reborn in a love greater than any we’ve ever known.

Let the white light of the Universe
enfold, protect me
and bathe me in its healing love.
Let this journey be a tool
to bring peace of mind,
love, joy and kindness back to my life.
Cleanse my soul of hurt and bitterness,
resentment, vengeful and judgmental thinking.
Give me balance and serenity
to face each trial with faith,
an open mind, love and kindness.
When I get lost, let the sun shine down
white light to show me the way back
to the path of Love.
Amen.

A Prayer By Susan H.

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The Dance between Light and Dark: In Story

A dance between light and dark the storyHow many days have I laid here lost between sleep, thirst, hunger, wakefulness and regret? To awaken, to truly open my eyes to this new day feels too heavy, too painful. The rocks beneath my body have left permanent imprints in my flesh and yet I dare not move arm or leg, hand or foot to find comfort. Pain is the sole reminder that I’m still alive. A light lingers in the corner, illuminating one small space in the endless darkness. It finds me where I hide in memory so heavy that to really see its glimmer I must open my eyes and then open my eyes again. Hell’s road may be paved with good intentions but its exit is barred by the lies of false prophets and a forked tongued god.

“You don’t have the right to live!” the voice croons gently in my head, every syllable a bullet in the brain. “You can’t ever go home!”

“What is home?” I question, but the voice interrupts.

“You’ve made your bed!”

I fall back into my bed, into a darkness that does not sleep, the voice coming and going, a murmur one moment, a scream the next. The hours pass in slow monotony until I recall a playground with a swing set. The memory is bright, its light pierces the dark that swarms like flies around me. I am warmed by the memory, my body jerking on its sharp rocks, my eyes opening to the corner where a glimmer still waits.

I remember more bright days filled with sunlit kisses and hugs that lasted all day. I remember smiles that lit my world and the warmth of my grandmother’s kitchen. I cry when I remember her, so beautiful with her silver hair and bright blue eyes. Shifting on my rock I raise my hand to catch the spark of light. How glorious the warmth feels on my fingers, its gentle rays sliding to me from no discernable place. I watch the play of light over my skin but my hand is dirty and the shame of filth is too great to bare. The game ends and I am lost again in regret. Grandma scolds me, her voice imperious with contempt,

“The dirt of childhood is easily washed. Yet, the filth and sin of the fallen can never be cleaned away.”

“Did she really ever say that?” I ask the room but my mouth doesn’t move. The thought lives only in my head. Grandma never spoke like that. Lifting my hand again I catch the light, determined not to lose it this time. Always in my heart there is a place for forgiveness. I forgave the one who hurt me, I forgave the people who watched but said nothing, I forgave the doctors who patched me up and handed me back yet where is my forgiveness?

“Do you deserve any?” The heavy question breaks through my thoughts but the voice isn’t mine, it’s an evil thing; it’s not me.
“You aren’t real. I am!” my words rattle the room. The light brightens. I cup it in my hands to hold it close. The closer I hold it the brighter it becomes.

“You are love” the light speaks softly, “born of love, in love, of love and so loved that you shine always, always, always even in the darkness…” I rest back on my hard bed but do not close my eyes. This truth must be absorbed, held, understood in order to feel real. The dark voice returns, shouting out edicts and condemnation that I refuse to hear because the light is with me, it is all I see and all I chose to think on. It’s soft whisper resonating gently through my soul.

“I am love, born of love, in love, of love, so loved…” and lifting my head I roll to my side, moving through the pain to my knees until the light encircles me. It is warm, loving, never failing in its comfort.

“Light be with me always.” I speak my words as a prayer feeling the darkness shrink away with many whining, whispering complaints. That dark voice, with it’s imprisoning words of judgment slides to an incoherent echo. The light draws me in and I am comforted by its softly spoken words.

“Turn to me and I am there. Find me and you find the way home. hear me and know that I am the light of love as you are the love that seeks the light.”

With these words the light and I are one kneeling being, free to stand, free to walk, free to find care, to find comfort, to live and laugh where the voice that judges the fire walkers and the fallen is silenced and blinded by its own darkness. I’ve walked the long cindered mile. I’ve taken the stony path and slept in a bed of my own making but these bruises, scars and burns have molded me, hardened me, opened me up and made me strong in the knowledge that love awaits me and brings comfort to us all.

Let the white light of the Universe
enfold, protect me
and bathe me in its healing love.
Let this journey be a tool
to bring peace of mind,
love, joy and kindness back to my life.
Cleanse my soul of hurt and bitterness,
resentment, vengeful and judgmental thinking.
Give me balance and serenity
to face each trial with faith,
an open mind, love and kindness.
When I get lost, let the sun shine down
white light to show me the way back
to the path of Love.
Amen.
A Prayer By Susan H.

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Eating Your Emotions Part 2 with Joanne Del Core and EE Orme

emotional pain

Today I was able to tape the second part of Eating Your Emotions with the brilliant Joanne Del Core.  Recording these radio shows has been an invigorating and emotional process for me.  Thank you for all your support and for taking the time to listen to the shows.

Blessings and Unconditional Love,

EE Orme

 

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Eating Your Emotions with Joanne Del Core and EE Orme

stiffeling your emotions

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to discuss eating disorders on the radio. This is just one of the disorders that arise when we suppress our emotions, our potential and our authenticity. Please take a moment to listen to this show and forward it to anyone who may need to hear it’s message. Blessings and best wishes,

EE Orme

 

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A Succubus Plans Her Day

We weren’t allowed to scream. To have done so would have rendered us rebellious, unladylike and rude. We weren’t allowed to show our shoulders, talk back to boys or be defiant. Only in rage did the women in my house raise their voice. Only in rage could you hear the anguish shoved down through centuries of dissimulation, our silenced dreams recalled in high pitched tirades, spoken so loud that the walls shivered. We were all good girls once, poured into tight dresses and tighter shoes. We said our ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous,’ did our make-up and remained girl like, lady like, picture-perfect, while the years of pent up rage and humiliation turned us slowly into passive cannibals.

I ate my first husband with a smile. He was probably a good man, but I didn’t wait to find out. The second one was cruel, he went down as smooth as butter, sticking to my ribs like a well cut gown. I’ve worn him long and well, his money, his name, his house in the hills, are all visible signs of my victory. I’m stuffed on victory, rolling in it. No man ever made me scream in child birth. No man ever made me change a diaper. No man ever made me grow old in silence.

Long hours stretch before me begging to be filled. Maybe I’ll buy a new dress today or maybe I’ll buy five? Maybe I’ll stop by a café and drink coffee with a friend, or maybe I’ll go to France or Morocco and find a new man to eat? Maybe he’ll be tall and handsome? Maybe he’ll be rich and plain? Or maybe he’ll be cruel in that especially delicious way, sliding down my throat like sweet cream on a hot day.

My rage is a palatable thing that no longer tastes of bile or blood’s corroded metal tang. It is sweet like pudding and revenge. It is the friend I turn to, the confidant who always has an answer. It is my alter-self and my master plan. My rage has given me a long memory. It recalls rooms filled with the silence of clocks that slowly tick out the interminably long hours of a pointless life. It recalls the shackles of obedience, the lie inherent in a false smile and years of unending, unendurable servitude.

Picking up my handbag I catch my image in the mirror. Hollow eyes see hollowed cheeks and elegant collar bones that protrude beneath the thin straps of a little black dress. Beautiful I am and beautiful I will remain though my eyes are sharp, cold, dead and haunted in a way that only a cruel man could overlook. And he’s out there somewhere…viciously vulnerable…made tender by lust…rendered delicious by desire.

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Animal Magic

I grew up with a lot of animals. Animals were our way of life. We woke to the sounds of chickens. We spent our days training horses and mucking out stalls and our nights cuddled up around our old wood fire place with cats, dogs, ferrets, a rabbit and a chinchilla. When it was time for bed it was just a matter of standing up to signal your entourage to follow. My entourage consisted of Muffy, a calico kitty our neighbors found in their garage and Zena the whippet who came to us after being shuffled through three other homes.

Mooney my house cat when he was a young stray on my farm.

Mooney my house cat when he was a young stray on my farm.

We were the collectors of the unwanted, the unadoptable and the hopeless. Our horses were slaughterhouse saves, our dogs were pound puppies and our cats came to us from every corner of the city. The most dramatic cat story we converged with was that of Mimsy. She was a beautiful silver stripped kitty who was rescued by an elderly homeless man from boys who were beating her to death in the streets of Spokane. My sister was a teenager in her car when the man knocked on her window and gave Mimsy to her. I can’t remember what he said but I do remember the look of grief she described in his eyes, a look that stemmed from an inability to understand why anyone would try to beat a kitty to death. I’m happy to say that in our large menagerie, Mimsy lived a long and happy life as mother’s favorite lap cat.

Tally, the $600 rescue, beat out valuable warmbloods at her first show.

Tally, the $600 rescue, beat out valuable warmbloods at her first show.

Since we adopted our new puppy last Wednesday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the hundreds of animals which have graced my life. I still miss my first cat Lilly and I still tear up when I think of Zena the Whippet, Serge the Greyhound and Nitro the incomparable Doberman/Shepherd cross who was in all likelihood an angel cloaked in fur. So many things have changed over the years. So many lives have come and gone and yet we plod on, loving those who will only grace a small portion of lives. Though their years are short, the love they leave behind lasts a lifetime. Animals heal us, they bring us close and they open our souls to a deeper experience of what really matters. With a pet, every snowfall is magical, every sunrise filled with expectation and every well warn path becomes riddled with joyful possibility.

Aria, our new puppy who was found wandering the streets of Everett with her mother.

Aria, our new puppy who was found wandering the streets of Everett with her mother.

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The Glass Slipper Illusion

Blood_and_Glass
The notion of the perfected woman has terrorized society for time out of mind. How many of us have tried to fit the glass slipper of perfection and then been heart sick to find it just won’t wear? Popular Culture thrives on the fragmentation of woman; it takes everyday girls and fractures their identity with the notion that they are not enough because they don’t look like the Barbie they grew up playing with. It tells them that they are either nice girls or naughty girls, girly girls or a tom boys, each label applied with a helping of judgment.

My friend Dianne told me that, “when we stopped binding woman’s feet we began binding their waists,” but I think this need to reconfigure women goes much deeper. I think it’s a fear based reaction to woman’s innate power, her place in the universal hierarchy and her need to survive a male dominated society. Women have spent several millennia trying to survive on their beauty and their wits. In the age when we had no voice our beauty spoke for us, our virtue was our strength, our husbands and fathers where our benefactors through which we were seen and heard.

Though the past is dead and Woman’s rights have pressed us into a new time we still cling to our ingrained notion that if we just look and act correctly we’ll be safe. Deep down I think woman’s perpetual dissimilation of self is a state of learned helplessness? We starve our bodies and hobble our feet with high heels while we dismantle our individuality in order to hide our human failings thus becoming someone else’s notion of acceptable. All of this striving after the intangible only serves to create a half human, a woman unprepared, unwilling and unable to deal with the rigor of a full and adventurous life.

I’ve spent my life watching the interactions between women. I’ve seen them tease and cajole, caution and command one another into fitting a mold established long before any of them were born. It’s dreadful the way we clip each other’s wings, call each other bitches and whores; siding time and again with our oppressors because we want to stay safe. Thousands of women fought against suffrage, thousands more stoned whores, millions have objectified and sold their daughters, millions more have turned away from their true selves in order to embody the ideal of what they were told a woman should be.

What is a woman? Isn’t she a spirit in form moving in a world teeming with experience? Didn’t God make her and doesn’t that simple fact make her just as worthy and brilliant as all his other worthy and brilliant creations? What is there that needs alteration? Why do we seek to conform what is already perfected when we live in a modern world where we can be more than just mother, whore, daughter or crone. We are as divinely crated as men! We came into this life to live, thrive and celebrate all our innate perfections and imperfections, not just as beautiful individuals but also as a dynamic whole. When we label woman, when we objectify our sisters and daughters we make an assault on our very right to exist. Only through loving and supporting one another will we raise a generation that lives in true equality, without fear or a need to dissimulate everything we naturally are.

Please take a moment to read the below treatise, The War on Men Through the Degradation of Woman, by Jada Pinkett-Smith

How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eyes of an incomplete woman?

The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only. The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.

I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.

There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer.

He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize.

He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him 4 four children.

When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.

Power and control will NEVER outweigh love.

May we all find our way.

~ Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sinuous Magazine (http://www.sinuousmag.com/)

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Choosing Healthy over Hellish Love: Understanding the Trauma Bond

I’ve known several people who believed in this phrase, “We always hurt the one’s we love.” These people weren’t naturally abusive but each had a brutal past, a despair based perspective and an intangible grief. They lived in a state of bitter despair, their days clouded with careless words, biting comebacks and bursts of violence. There were constant stories of war, drunkenness and past wrongs depicted so vividly that, even though I wasn’t there, I experienced them vicariously.

Trauma Bonds make you the secret keeper to other people’s traumatic experiences. These bonds hold you hostage to atrocities, forcing you to turn for support to those who witnessed hell with you. Break a trauma bond by starting a better life and you will never be forgiven for leaving your fellow victims alone with their pain.  Stay and you will be forever stuck at the scene of the crime, a captive victim to a hellish past.

Trauma bonds are fused by a love that goes beyond healthy. It asks that you bare your soul, set aside your values and immerse yourself in a cult like existence. The bond is so overwhelming that you forget who you are and what you ever wanted for yourself. Only the trauma exists; the perpetuated recollection of the darkest moments in life replayed again and again within the trauma bond collective.

Trauma bonds are defensive. Everyone outside the bond is viewed as a potential risk, criminal or predator. Within a trauma bond there is no room for growth, no room for happiness, success or healthy relationships with the outside world.

In my book, The Only Home I’ve Ever Known, my character Gidra is trauma bound to her mother Sophia. They survived a war, hid from enemy troops and forage for food through bombed out villages. With the wars end their trauma bond continues. It grows, warps and twists into a new kind of desperation which makes Gidra’s life impossible to endure. At the beginning of the book Sophia artfully recalls their shared past in order to maintain her control over her daughter. You and I have been through a lifetime together and there is no one in this world who will ever love you or know you the way I do. Please remember that when Parker starts to make you promises. Please remember how hard we’ve fought to stay together when life wanted to separate us.” With these well-chosen words Sophia strives to enforce the trauma bond and destroy any hope Gidra may have of a life outside their bond.

Identifying and breaking away from a trauma bond is an important step to discovering your autonomy.  If you are experiencing a relationship that leaves you feeling depleted or depressed it may be traumatically fused. Separation is usually the first step. Only through separation will you begin to gain a new perspective of the world around you. Secondly, forgive your trauma partners for the life they offered you. When you learn to let go of your past you will be ready to embrace your present. Practice self-protection. Set safety boundaries that free you to live authentically. Open your self to new experiences slowly. Too much too quickly can send you back into old habits.  Practice everyday gratitude (this I really can’t stress enough). Chose to be happy and remember that you do not owe your life to anyone. You were born to live each day on your terms. Go forth and truly live.

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