I was drawn to the Vulnerable Rally and scared of it. I remember standing in front of someone with their heart written on that sign and crying silently with them. I put my arms out and asked if they wanted a hug and they hugged me. That drew me into the rally. I was struck by the bravery of the people before me and the connection I felt by being compassionate and empathetic with them. It helped me step into the rally. I picked up the cardboard with no idea what I was going to write. And it just flowed out. I wrote, “I stay busy so the 3am incest terror won’t catch me.”
It was like having my very-most insides on the outside. The thing that I would not normally share for people to read. I could feel my whole body wanting to collapse but I also felt this incredible bravery with wings. Like, “I can do this and I can really be seen.” Because it’s the part of me that normally hides that was being seen. Which is why the Vulnerable Rally is so beautiful. To say, “Here is the most hidden thing out for you to be with.” And people were so kind. So present. And—I don’t know because we didn’t exchange any words—but there were people who in their eyes looked like they had lived that too. Tears streamed down their faces. Person after person, looking me in the eye and holding space silently. It was good it was silent because if I had to hear their stories I probably would have just sunk to the ground. It was so beautiful to see and be seen.
There were a few people who went further out whose glance skidded off the sign. And there was a moment I remember feeling like, “Oh, you’re not seeing me.” And then I realized that they can’t. They can’t look my direction now. I was scared that I was being too vulnerable, too “out there.” And then someone else would come closer in and look me in the eye. Then I knew I was in a safe enough space where I could be this vulnerable, this “out there.” No one tried to fix me. It was modeled so well that it was just the sign, the look, and maybe an offer of a hug. There was one person who mouthed, “Me too.” And that worked for me because I knew I wasn’t alone. Because the hardest thing about 3am incest terror is being alone. So the Vulnerable Rally let me know that I was not alone.
After the rally, I felt a greater openness to meditating—because that’s staying still. The “staying busy so the 3am incest terror doesn’t catch me” is a life pattern that doesn’t serve me anymore. When I stay busy I miss a lot. Not only the incest terror but connections, presence. So there’s a little more willingness to slow down, to stop, to listen to myself and others, and to meditate.
It’s curious how something so raw and vulnerable can be so powerful and good. There was a part of me that longed for a safer, more closed container than on the open path. And yet that’s what made it so vulnerable is that it wasn’t in a closed container. If we’d done it in a small, closed group in a tent we would have had that group and been close and gotten something. But it wouldn’t have been the experience where anyone could walk by and see my insides on the outside. Doing the rally in public made it more vulnerable and thus, more powerful.
—Venus, SoulPlay Festival 2018