Last week I wrote about how sometimes consent is a tricky thing, how sometimes our mind will give consent to something, like a surgery, but our body won’t (and really can’t). How sometimes our logic needs to override our body because our mind actually does know better (for example that a surgery could actually save our lives.
The point being that sometimes the giving or not giving of consent isn’t always a straight forward thing.
And, while that is true, it is also true that more often than not, the giving or not giving of consent is very straight forward.
Like the not giving consent for sexual abuse and assault or physical and psychological abuse and torture.
The not giving consent for mundane and yet traumatic things like car accidents or cancer or any disease or illness.
The not giving consent for other people to break our hearts, or betray our trust, or dishonor us in any of the big or small ways.
The not giving consent for our children becoming ill, our parents dying too young, our best friends suffering in any way.
There are million things in our lives that we do not give consent to. Some of them extraordinary and some mundane.
All these noes that we may or may not have given voice live within us. In our minds, yes, and also in our bodies.
Every time our consent is disregarded, our bodies know. They react. They store the data.
The data of emotions and pain and the color of the walls and slow motion detail right before impact.
This data lives in our shoulders and necks and jaws. In our chests and hips and underneath our scapula.
This data lives in our intestines and stomach and womb.
This data lives in our blood and bones and muscles and sinew.
The raw non-verbal emotions, the howls and screams and wails, all vibrate within our being. And not only does the disregard of our own consent, from our lived experience, live within our body and being, that of our ancestors does too.
This includes the gaslighting that women have experienced for thousands of years.
This includes the impact of rape and abuse. It includes not having control or sovereignty over our own bodies or lives.
Yes, there a million mundane ways in which our consent is disregarded. Yes, this all lives within us. And the trauma and impact of these mundane, ordinary things, like car accidents, can be quickly and easily dislodged from our bodies.
It is the millions of ways in which our consent is disregarded that are not mundane, though in our culture considered ordinary and almost unremarkable, like rape or abuse or gaslighting, that takes time and patience and focused intention to dislodge and dislodging is made even more complex by living in a culture that continually and constantly traumatizes us.
It may take a lifetime to dislodge some trauma, some violations of our consent. There are some things that we will only learn to live with, as we also continue to chisel away at the layers. The hope always being that the more we dislodge, the more we chisel away, the less the next generation will need to do.
In truth, the trauma of being women living in a patriarchal culture makes it almost impossible to completely heal our bodies and minds and spirits.
As we continue to do the work of unearthing, examining, dismantling and dislodging these traumas we also learn to resist and to prevent more trauma from impacting us as deeply.
We learn resilience.
We learn that no matter what, we will not only survive, in many ways we will also thrive.
We learn that our NOes matter. We learn to honor them and defend them and demand respect for them.
We learn that our boundaries matter. We learn how to notice them and feel them and know them. We learn how to honor and respect them. We learn how to demand others honor and respect them too.
This is not easy work. It is messy. It can be dark. It can at times feel like we are sinking into a deep abyss.
And, as we build our resilience, we learn that this messiness, this darkness, this sinking into the abyss will pass.
We learn hope. We learn to breathe. We learn to rest and nourish and replenish.
We learn to wield our consent. To state that we matter. Our Noes and Yeses and Maybes matter. Our boundaries matter. Our voice matters. Our essence and being and life matters.
We learn that as we chisel away at our own trauma, we are also chiseling away at a culture that insists on oppressing us. As we learn to wield our consent, to declare that we matter, we chisel away at the stories our culture has fed us since birth, since our mothers births, since our grandmothers births. As we learn resilience, we rip away at leash our misogynist, racist, patriarchal culture has put on us.
As we learn, we begin to do different. And in our doing different, we take back our bodies, our consent, our autonomy, our lives. And in this taking back, we begin to crumble the bricks of a culture that tries to tell us our bodies and lives are not our own.
And this is how we will tear it all down and how, in the end, we will win.
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Isabel Abbott and I have locked arms and joined minds and are offering a six month circle unearthing, exploring, dislodging and embracing our consent and boundaries. If you’d like to learn more and possibly register, click right here.