I am very sensitive and empathic, and have experienced much trauma in my life so far. I am the child of two lineages steeped in trauma and conflict: a German father and a Jewish-American mother whose ancestors fled pogroms in Eastern Europe. From infancy until age 15 I was sexually abused by an uncle. I bonded to my nanny as a mother, but a move at age 5 separated us. I was raised mostly in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., a place with a history of slavery and racial tension for over 300 years; it is the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., and home of a Confederate Memorial that is the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world and is carved into a mountain in a public park.
Throughout childhood I had problems with my digestive and hormonal systems; from ages 18-33, I endured intense physical health challenges, with my digestive, hormonal and nervous systems dis-functioning and shutting down. My body was so full of trauma, I could not digest what I had experienced, nor be present in my environment. I did not know myself, and did not know better. I had poor boundaries and was in many codependent and abusive relationships, including with my family of origin. Because of an interest in justice I let myself be bribed into law school, though the Western legal system is not my idea of justice at all. Determined to be of service, I spent years doing pro bono and low-paid work in the U.S. and around the world with a focus on child advocacy, community building and conflict resolution. In India I drafted a law to criminalise child sexual abuse; in South Africa I led a small non-profit in community building and conflict resolution for a group of Zulu communities; in Australia I worked with survivors of clergy sexual abuse which helped lead to the country’s first inquiry into the issue.
I met my life partner Luke in Australia in 2011. When my visa ended we decided to travel South America to be together, where I felt safe and distant enough from my family of origin for repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse to emerge. It was like a cork full of chaotic energy popped open challenging so much of what I thought I could count on. Though my life started to make more sense as dissociated and lost soul parts emerged, it was intense and was hard to process. I needed support, stories and space from wise elders. So I learned tools such as sweat lodge, the medicine wheel, altar practice, and shamanic journeying; participated in plant medicine ceremonies in the Amazon; did a silent meditation retreat; danced three healing ceremonies; apprenticed to learn sweat lodge-keeping; studied grounding, movement, music and performance as tools of medicine and healing; and learned wilderness and survival skills. I also earned a Ph.D. in social work on indigenous healing of sexual trauma.
Spiritual gifts have come to me primarily through pain and have taken time to be with. As I healed, every family of origin relationship and many others faded away, due in part to one 7-month period when my father, nanny and best friend died. My cosmology, sense of identity and placement in the world all changed. For most of my life I was in denial about my value and worth, and healing has involved learning to be more free and authentic, have dignity, and how to live interdependently. It is my mission to turn “shit” into fertiliser and support others to heal, learn and grow. Though it may take time to feel, we can each learn to be safe with ourselves and in the world. If we are on this Earth, we are wanted here and have valuable gifts to share. I believe we are all called to serve each other and the greater good as Earth community members.