Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guest Posting Post Style......

This year has been a knockout.  Death has walked around me, taking many people I know and affecting on some level nearly everyone I'm in contact with.  It seems to be knocking at our doors, asking to be let in.

A few months ago it seemed that there was death all around me, and I sat often gazing off into the distance, brought to the present by a child or a need.  Thinking and thinking and thinking about it.  Trying to understand and make sense.  And when I finally wrote it out, I sent it straight away and hot off the press to the beautiful Janet Fraser, cause we'd decided to play the guest post game, and I knew that it was the piece for the job.

Janet has totally blown me away over the past couple of years.  Having some of the most intense experiences a human can endure, that could easily send a person into brokenness or bitterness, and coming through the experience exuding compassion, love, clarity, humour and joy.

I'm honoured to guest post on her blog, the name of which is Janet Fraser....Where birth and feminism intersect.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Trolls, Pixies, and other archetypes

I’m experiencing my first encounter with cyber bullying or cyber trolls. 

Now I’ve been playing on the internet long enough for my brother who sold computers at the time, to tell me that I was being ridiculous in my enthusiasm, and that the internet would never last, and I was being foolish.  Right at the beginning I read a wild book called ‘Cyberia’, that was talking about how the worlds of the internet were created and mirrored by sub cultures and hallucinogenic adventurers and underground dance cults that were hacking out our collective realities, and practicing online what we were going to evolve to be able to do with our minds.  It posed that a computer was a reflection of our heads, and had literal connections to our thoughts.  And I also read Dale Spender’s book ‘Nattering on the Net’, where she compared the advent of the Internet to that of the Printing Press in the middle ages.  She suggested that not since that explosion of information from sources other than The Church, has there been such an opportunity for the average person to be represented in a universally available medium, regardless of gender, age, race, or money.

I got all the equipment as it became available, the huge modems that made wild noises, the hand held scanners that looked like paint scrapers, the enormous printers, the massively expensive and endlessly fascinating software, that seemed to do incomprehensibly complicated things.  I was one of the first on IRC, developing LOL and ROFL  and ROFLMAO and the rest, that took a while to seep into the internet mainstream.  With Puke Punk, my fling at the time, we’d surf through countless IRC channels, trying to see how many we could get kicked out of.  How many witty and cutting jests we could throw before getting bombed.  How many Christian channels we could infiltrate and terrorise.  How long the accepting new agers would take to get the shits.  I had intense relationships with people on the other side of the globe, and cyber sex.  I even had ops on a  popular channel, and with my online love at the time we’d merrily throw people off, and bamboozle newbies. 

I was virtually ‘cool’ for the first time in my life.  Accepted by a whole bunch of people I’d never meet, part of groups and friendships that really fit, and on the cutting edge of something new, and unfolding, and brave.  I was also quite sure that I was open minded, liberated and ‘right’.  And that there was a whole bunch of silly people out there who needed a good drubbing. 

I’ve also been a young Mormon, completely knowing that I was a member of the only true church on earth.  I’ve also been a Lesbian.  Completely knowing that I was going to rest in the soft arms of women for the duration of my life, and other women that had a problem with that, were in denial of their own sexuality.  I’ve also been an activist.  Completely knowing that I was aware of things that the average person was denying to themselves at their own peril.  That there was a huge amount of heads in sand, and they needed to wake the fuck up.  I’ve also been a homebirther.  Completely knowing that natural birth was the only way, and everything else was an aberration.  That if everyone would just acknowledge and trust birth, the whole world could be transformed. 

And now I know that I’m everything.  I am a complex microcosm of the macrocosm, I’m a collection of stories that reflect the complete uniqueness of my snowflake, as I drift with all the other snowflakes and drops of the ocean, in the embrace of a universe of complete chaotic harmony and paradoxical perfection, trying to understand itself.  The ecosytem within me, is mirroring the culture within which I live, and also the natural world surrounding that, and the greater matrices of the planets and galaxies beyond.  All connected through the yarns and strands of our DNA that we share with every other living thing on the planet, the water that courses through our beings, some of which has come from interstellar glaciers, and the star stuff and clays of our earth, that sculpts our bodies and constantly flows as conscious and remembering energy…….

There is no other.

But of course the other day when I read through pages of complete strangers ripping every detail I’d written and my photos to shreds……I wasn’t feeling quite so zen.  In my latter years online, I’ve seen many people affected by trolling, or cyber bullying, or harassment, on the edges, round the corners, and in holes.  Through my birthing experiences, I’ve been interconnected on lots of birthing and midwifery sites, and I guess the first time I started really seeing the organizing of packs of trolls like blood hounds on the trail of a fox, was around the mainstream turn away from homebirthing as an acceptable option.  I know now that it’s also been intense around gaming sites, but I don’t visit them. YouTube is also full of it. Most likely it’s been happening in all pockets of the net.  But a lot of the women I knew were getting horribly victimized by these bloodhounds.  And as an observer, it appeared like a dance.  A person posts an article or blog from their heart, or just as a different experience to a conceived norm.  And is overwhelmed by a torrent of angry bloodhounds, ripping their fox pelt to shreds.  The fox is hurt and wounded, and asks why this is happening, and can’t you see my humanity and respect me?  And no matter what they write, or how sweetly they plead, a sentence or word is pounced on for being arrogant, or stupid, or wrong, and the feed between the two groups gets strong, as other foxes jump into the fray, to tangle with the blood hound back ups.  And as an observer, I could often see grains of truth and salient points in both sides of the scrap.

And then it happened to me.

I guess I knew it would eventually.  But it took me by surprise.  When I looked at my Blog stats, there were HUNDREDS of people looking at my blog.  ‘Wow’ I thought.  I’ve gone viral!!  I had a look at the web page it came from, and I thought it looked like a Friesian word, and thought ‘maybe someone’s discovered there’s a wild Friesian family with 7 Friesian babies!’ and had a look.  And started to shake, as my happy mood sunk quicker than a stone into a kind of horrified fascination, like a bunny in the headlights.  On the spot I made the decision to read it all.  Just once.  Get a feel for what it felt like, to get personally and viciously ripped to shreds.  See if the areas that I thought they would pick on from my past experience were true.  Shaking as I read it.  My children, my relationship, my appearance, my births, my craft, my art, my words, my life, my sexuality, my choices, my experiences………everything picked over, chewed between grinding teeth and spat out.  There was a huge show of dedication on their part, to research me, dissect me, read my words and posts for hours, to find quotes that fit how they wanted me to appear.   Theories as to why I was so batshit crazy.  But I was determined to read it.  To see if it fit the patterns I’d observed.  To see how it felt. 

It took a long time.  There was a lot of it.  And Currawong kept orbiting in to see if I was allright, and would catch a glimpse of a thread, and get righteously indignant on my behalf.  Tumbling a few babies around on my lap as I went.  And then it was done.  I closed my computer.  Went into the bedroom.  Posted on Facebook about it.  And cried.  

And that was the worst of it and as bad as it got. 

One of the first things that came to mind, was that I hadn’t felt this way since I was in high school – ‘four-eyes-brace-face-magilla-gorilla-big-bird-ugly-dog-fat-slut-lemon-dyke-long-socks-brigade’.  That was the last time that school kids and random strangers said really nasty things to me publically.  Even the odd tussles I’ve had in real life and online in my adult life haven’t been quite that nasty.   The real nastiness went from random strangers and school kids to the voice inside me – the snark – that came out whenever things were rough, or I was feeling a bit hard done by.  That also came out at family members during fights, most particularly Currawong.  Or was kept as private thoughts I had about other people and the choices they made, damage they were doing, that I mostly kept to myself, or only shared with people I knew would agree with me. 

But every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Comments started pouring into my facebook account that started making me cry with happiness instead of hurt, as people came out from all the interlaced webs that connect through my page, and expressed beautiful and meaningful love to me.  I haven’t even really started to unpack that whole thing yet - there are people from my past, and people that I haven’t even met, and people that I admire hugely and get a bit groupie like about, who took the time out to tell me I was important to them, and to others, and that for everything that was ripped, they had a beautiful patch to sew over it.  Someone from my real life community came to give me some chutney and a chins up, private messages poured in on the internet, and I talked to my love throughout it all, as we healed bits and sewed patches on together.  I rang my beautiful daughter who’s been through so much, and learnt so much from her own trials through bullying, and we had another degree of connection. 

And let me just take a little aside here for parents or anyone who wants an authentic and honest relationship with a child or young person – one of the most profoundly amazing things you can do in the world is to drop all the ‘I’m an adult/parent/teacher/elder/person who ‘knows’ trip, and sit down with a kid like you’d sit down with a friend…….and ask their advice.  Not in a cutesy, what kind of sweet child fantasy am I gonna get kind of way, but in a real, friend to friend, if you were me, what would you do? kind of way.  What do you really think about that? kind of way.  In a manner in which they know you’re taking them seriously.  It’s profound.  Trust me.  Try it. 

But back to the story, it started to occur to me, how could we NOT have cyber bullying and trolls?  When bullying is the lynch pin of our culture?  Where does bullying NOT exist?  From the moment we’re born, our parents and families and schools and churches  and every other group and hierarchical structure, are feeding us messages through all our senses, about what is required for us to fit in and conform.  An ancient mammalian imperative we have as a species, to ensure our survival.  The rules as to how you can get in the middle of a pack, and be safe from the predators and scavengers that prey on the fringes.  We’ve got to put on weight a certain way,  crawl by a certain age, speak by a certain time, and any deviation is anxiously angsted over. Lesson number one at school, is that whatever is different about you, will become your nickname, and your personal cross to bear.  It will be picked on relentlessly, even as you try to transform it or amputate it or hide it or just shrink in general.  It will be picked on, until you learn to play the game by the majority rules.  Which can always change just to keep you on your toes. 

At church we learn the same lesson, whatever is different about us will be fair game and public property, and up for derision and inspection.  When we go to work the same thing happens.  An infinite variety and means of squeezing us all into the middle of the herd, and honing off our differences, so only the fringedwellers get attacked.  Of bullying people in various ways, till they either fit in, or go and find another herd to try and get in the middle of.  And that’s not even to mention the great bullies of our time.  The countries who relentlessly pick wars with other countries.  The corporations who bully us all into doing things we wouldn’t ordinarily choose, in order to increase their profits. The media that bullies people for a political agenda. The lawyers and judges who bully people in courtrooms.  The teachers that like to bully small children.  The bosses that use money as an excuse to bully their workers.  The doctors and doomsayers that bully birth.  It all rolls down hill, from one to another to another, but a common currency in our culture. 

And we internalize these lessons, as we must, for we all want to survive, and those nicknames and barbs become our inner voices.  The inner cynic.  The voice that runs us down inside before someone outside gets a chance to do it.  The voice that tries to get us to avoid doing anything that might make us stick out, and endure that pain again.  We all have these voices, and many of us hate them, but I believe that ultimately at their root, these nasty inner voices love us.  They love us, as everything in the universe does, (because it is us) and want to protect us in the only way they know how.  Which is to bully us into doing something or not doing something, depending on which way they think will hurt less. 

And paradoxically, overarching all these mammalian herd dwelling goings on, and shovings, and bullyings, and harrasments of the fringe, while we fluff all our feathers and try to find comfortable, recognizable, and friendly nests and heart homes, there’s this other thing that’s happening. 

Our books, and our stories, and our media, and our movies, and our music, and our popular culture is FULL TO BRIMMING of stories of the maverick.  The Brave Heart.  The Chicken Little. The Robin Hood.  The Different One.  Our stories and fantasies often contain the person who wont be bullied.  The person who wont be changed.  Who has a stubborn difference that can’t be curtailed.  The Hero.  The Conqueror.  The Heroine.  Whose difference saves the day.  Whose inability to change a quirk, results in them saving the world.  The Tall Poppy who ran the gauntlet of the snapping hyena’s and survived to bloom.  The Unique Person, who believed in themselves enough to change the world. 

I get this image of our society holding all these amazing dreams and stories as carrots dangling just in front of our eyes, saying ‘DREAM YOU BASTARD!!’ And then SLAPPING the soft little souls as they go to school and get bullied for their difference.  ‘BUT DON’T FORGET TO DREAM!!’  it entices, as SLAP another dream gets a smirk and a sing song made about it, and another nickname to remind you of how stupid you were to try.  ‘But KEEP dreaming’ as SLAP you go off to university to get a proper degree, now that you’ve had your hidden golden desire to be an artist thoroughly trounced on.  Maybe one day you’ll get to dream uninterrupted, but maybe also you wont.  Maybe it’s just easier to give up dreaming, and maybe for others, it’s even easier to act as the slap.  It can become quite seductive to inflict pain onto others, especially when you know how much pain you had to endure.   

We all bully each other in subtle and unsubtle ways, trying to get each other to do things as we think they should be.  Trolls are like the tricksters and mean pixies in folklore and earlier traditions.  Testing and tweaking and clawing at people and their beliefs.  Giving them the opportunity to strengthen.   And they’re also the manifestation of our inner cynical voices and the voices from our past, as well as the private voices and judgements we have for each other.  Made manifest under assumed names and anonymous pictures.   

Along with all the love being sent as the equal and opposite reaction to the cyber bully action, there were a few articles.  This one in particular resonated with me.  I really dug the line “When it comes to actually changing minds, I think we’re stuck with love.  There was a blog post by Janet Fraser, who’s been through some of the most torturous bullying by legal folk and media, not to mention trolls, and shows incredible love and compassion.  And there was another one talking about how many people who anonymously send poison darts over the internet in the form of trolling, have been bullied themselves, and find comfort and self healing in bullying other people.  Understandable.  Not admirable.  But…….a valid way to deal with the world if that’s how your particular snowflake turns out.  If that’s the path you tread, it will no doubt give you lessons, as every path does.  And if we look at humanity as a wheel, with us all as the spokes, equally important to the wholistic running and understanding of the everything, then they obviously have their purpose. 

A few of my life lessons helped me feel better after the initial shock of a face to face with cyber bullying.

1.  I’ve observed that people become what they hate.  And if indeed many cyber bullies do this because they were themselves bullied and hated it, they are a beautiful example of this.  And are simply performing what they’ve been taught in many stratas.
2.  The only people I’ve ever come across who had the time and energy to spend on trying to belittle or bully other people, have been really really miserable.
3.     I only get hurt by stuff that has a mirror in me, or that I don’t understand.
4.  Love and hate are flipsides of the coin, and for all those people so drawn to hating me anonymously online – I know they really deep down are loving me, otherwise they wouldn’t even bother to notice or mention. 
5.   People usually only ever talk about themselves.  Or as a friend once said, ‘when they’re pointing one finger at you, they’re pointing three at themselves’. 
6.     People who judge others harshly…..judge themselves the hardest of all.
7.    Folk that hurt other people the most, often have the biggest hurts inside them, and the biggest fears about being loved. 
8.     Sometimes victims can become the biggest victimizers.

But the real boon has been the love that’s come my way as a result.  The affirming of who I am as a byproduct of the introspection that always occurs whenever I encounter criticism or bullying.  The words that came from people who have a good experience of me, and value me enough to let me know.  And when I look at it now, and on reading from all the different people who wrote to me that have been affected by it, this trolling and bullying has been happening a lot.  But I sense that the balance is shifting.  When I first started noticing it, there were sporadic bursts of it here and there, fairly undirected, and people reacted strongly to it.  Now trolling has become more focalized, and the discussions about how to deal with it, transform with it, and work through it are focalizing also.  Articles and stories and information that helps are becoming easier to find.  And I’m watching in my personal networks, an increase in empathy and compassion.  Especially after enduring a personal tradgedy or online bullying, I’m watching people work hard on their communication, to avoid such things being perpetuated.  I’m watching discussions that would easily have escalated into personal attacks becoming more understanding and respectful. 

In response to the trauma of cyber bullying, the equal and opposite reaction in many online communities has been to uphold and support loving and respectful communication.  And the way that angels and fairies and whirling dirvishes came flying in to soothe my wounds was a perfect example of that.  In being the opposite to creation, bullying is helping to create an ever widening circle of community between people who wish to feel safe and be open with each other. In teaching us so completely how NOT to help a human open up, relax, be themselves, and be honest, they are showing us the way to closer connections, even if it is by avoiding them. 

So cyber bullies, and friends, and onlookers……..I guess I’m saying that everything has a purpose, even bullying, as long as we continue to learn and grow from our experience.  I’ve been held and supported by a loving community of friends.  I’ve had the chance to reflect again on the bits that stung and see where they have a home in myself.  Our family as a result has taken a resolve to work even harder on hearing and respecting each other without bullying.  I’ve had a chance to revisit my school yard bullying and realize that I’m finally free of its tendrils.  And I’m ever more certain, that the most important job that I have in this life, is to truly be myself.  No matter what kind of reaction I get.  And from the amazing folk who have been cyber bullied, I know that I’m in tremendously good company.  It almost seems to be becoming a rite of passage for the authentic, passionate, honest, and inspiring.   And like Mae West said, there is no such thing as bad publicity.  Thousands of people have now looked at my blog that wouldn’t have otherwise.  A few were nasty.  Many said nothing, and a few more wanted to become my friend. It was like a big, handspun, sun woven blanket was wrapped around me by people that I admire and love.  A greater amount of love was poured as a tonic.

In light of that, a small group of people who need to hurt others to make themselves feel better, ripping my blog to shreds on an unremarkable forum, is almost a fair price to pay.  Especially as one of their favourite sports is to attack people like a woman who’s lost her child, or families that are grieving, their company and lack of admiration is not a huge loss. 

And before I go – just a word to the onlookers.  There was an amazing black and white movie called ‘Gentlemans Agreement’ with Gregory Peck.  In which he was a reporter asked to write on racism.  He decided to pretend to be Jewish, and moved to a Jewish district.  Him and his son started copping racism.  At the same time though, he was having a relationship with a woman and became engaged.  At the engagement party she told everyone that he wasn’t really Jewish, so they could stop treating him badly and pitying her.  And in the end, the article he wrote stated, that it wasn’t the lynchings and the public acts of racism that were the worst, but the wordless onlookers who knew better, and said nothing.  He suggested that when the average person stands up for their beliefs, and says no to the jokes and the bullying and the cruelty……..then racism will stop.  And bullying will stop.  And everything that adds to our seperation will stop.

And I’d like to take it a bit farther.  Maybe our time of circling in the pack, and keeping our uniqueness in, while steering clear of the fringe is done.  Maybe the time of loyalty and devotion to a hunting pack of blood hounds is fading.  Maybe now, this great shift that we’re experiencing can be an evolution towards oneness, and delight in our difference, rather than the herd mentality of keeping it safe.  Maybe bullies can evolve into conscious and compassionate critics, that test the boundaries to make them strong.  Maybe our social networks can become clearer about respectful ways to communicate, and how to deal with trolls and other mythical creatures.  Maybe making peace pacts with our inner snarks will help the macrocosm to heal the outer snarks.  And we can start playing more enjoyable games of creation and discovery together.