The Power of Healing Touch

“To touch is to give life.” – Michelangelo We are all innate healers. We know that when someone is hurting we reach out and touch them. Positive touch has a long list of physical and mental health benefits including improving blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration, reducing pain, and alleviating depression and anxiety. Hugs, massage, reiki, cuddling, a pat on the back or a hand to hold all have benefits. Circle of Light provides services related to positive touch: #reiki, #cuddling, #doula services. These services also help those who have experienced the #trauma of negative touch to heal.

The Voice of Choice

All the abortion ban legislation and related posts the last few weeks have been a lot for me to handle. My relationship with abortion is complicated and still evolving.

I was raised Catholic. At one time I thought I was being called to be a nun. My parents are so pro-life that they used to organize the parish trip to the march in Washington every year.

Even when I left the church when I was around 20, I continued holding most of the anti-abortion beliefs I had been raised with. Individually I would support anyone in her individual choice, but I still primarily identified as pro-life…or at least I walked the middle of the road in such a way that nobody wanted me on their side.

Last year my views started to shift. I began my studies as a bereavement doula. One of the areas that some bereavement doulas work in is supporting women through abortions. The course material brought up old trauma, and I was determined to work through it. I felt called to provide this kind of support, and I knew the only way to do that was to deal with my stuff so that I could be fully present with them and not pull away into my own triggers.

I did research online, read books, talked to people who had abortions or had supported others through them. I did inner child work and released more fear, anger, and grief. I talked to my daughter who had been aborted. My views began to shift as more about the circumstances surrounding the many individuals I was learning about came to light.

Then last month as all these dangerous, cruel, scary pieces of legislation were surfacing, I began to get angry. I was angry about the hardship, danger, and oppression the government is imposing upon the citizens of this country.

There was one particular post that stood out to me. It was the story of a woman whose father, a doctor, had repeatedly raped her as a teenager. When she became pregnant at the age of 13, a buddy of his performed the abortion. She was given no choice. Her mother told her that everything that happened was God’s will. There were parts of it that resonated with me and my own story, even though other parts were very different.

That post made me want to share my own story and to speak out for the right for all women, girls, trans, intersex, and binary people to choose what happens in their very individual circumstances.

Here is my story…As a young teenager, around 14, I was repeatedly raped by men I knew who were not related to me. After months of terrible abuse, I became pregnant. I remember feeling so scared and alone. I also felt so much love for the life growing inside me. I wanted that baby.

I confided in one of the men. He had shown me small kindnesses during my ordeal. I naively thought he would help me. First the rapists tried beating me to end the pregnancy. When that didn’t work, the man posed as my father and took me to have an abortion. I didn’t know what was happening until it happened. I started to scream, and somebody put a hand over my mouth.

I didn’t remember the rapes, the abortion, or my baby for over 20 years.

My choice was taken away from me, and with it my memories and my voice.

Over the past 5 years, I have worked through healing those related traumas using all sorts of tools. I have released layer upon layer upon layer. I am dedicated now to helping others to release and heal sexual trauma.

This is my story. I add it to the millions of voices with their own stories of trauma or shame or illness or poverty or pain or hardship that so many others have faced.

I, Rev. Niki Kissell, am adding my voice because it is more important to me now than ever before that those faced with this most difficult of decisions have access to choice in a way I didn’t have. I am telling you this because societal changes aren’t made because of statistics or political affiliations or dogma. Changes are made when people encounter individuals – when they meet somebody with a face, and a name, and a story.

This is a call to be heard! Not everyone is in a position where they can or want to share their story. Not everyone has this kind of story to share. Other ways you can help to add your voice for the right of choice is by making financial donations to organizations working on the front lines like the ACLU, SisterSong, The National Abortion Federation, and the Yellow Hammer Fund; voting for legislators that support women’s right to choose and encouraging others to vote as well; calling and writing to your legislators; learning about this issue more deeply and learning the stories of those involved on all sides and in all kinds of situations.

Embracing Power with Love

I have been thinking about my relationship with power. As a young woman, my tendency was to play it small. My family gave me the implicit message to keep my head down, play it safe, and not make waves. While I loved to shine on stage, and my creativity was encouraged, in other aspects of my life I learned to not ask for more than my share, to not show my vulnerability and struggles, to work hard for what was just enough, and not take chances.

Image of man shaking finger at woman who has her head down and ears covered

There have been many twists and turns along the journey to step fully into my power, and that journey is by no means finished. Along the way sexual trauma and some poor relationship choices contributed to the perceptions of my powerlessness.

I think the journey to reclaiming my power began about 12 years ago when I started to learn about my own sexual power and divine nature as a sexual being through Moksha Magick. Sexuality is such a misunderstood and feared source of power and beauty. Ironically, or perhaps perfectly, I began that part of the journey before realizing how much damage was present in my sexual being.

Image of a woman's naked back with the arms of her partner wrapped around her

Then four years ago I was finally ready to face the sexual trauma from earlier in my life. I ran away from the pain and shame and anger from that trauma for over 20 years. I blocked it out so completely, that I didn’t remember it at all until I finally felt safe enough to stand in my power and face it. It was hard, messy work. (I wrote a little bit about it here) I cried, and screamed, and rocked, and shook. I took three months off work so that I could focus all my attention on reclaiming my power. I used all the tools I now had at my disposal, including that increased understanding of the Divine nature of my sexuality. I was engaged at the time, and my fiance was able to support me with sexual healing techniques we developed together over time. We also worked together as I learned to embrace all the difficult emotions that always become entangled with sexual trauma: shame, fear, guilt anger, helplessness, hopelessness, etc. and to express them so that I was no longer carrying them inside my body. Another important healing tool during that time was inner child work. I would talk to, write to, and embrace a specific doll, giving her all the love, understanding, and acceptance that I should have had as a young teenager.

About a year later, in 2016, I was again ready to take another step further into my power. The word I chose to focus on that year was power. The Universe delivered. I participated in a program for singing performance called Breakthrough (I wrote about it here and here). Nine of us participated, each for our own reasons. The facilitators were very gifted at identifying how each of us was ready to grow and what we needed to step into next. The song the group chose for me to perform for the final concert was “Happy.” It was perfect. It was about how letting go of fear and others’ expectations (in other words, stepping into our own power) is how we embrace happiness. Music is such a powerful healing tool, especially when we embrace it with intention and focus.

Image of woman breaking chainsLater that year, I entered the Integrative Orgasmic Healing program with Freyja and Michael Inanna. Once again, the focus was on fully expressing our emotions about traumas big and small. I cannot emphasize enough how important emotional expression is! The other major component of that three month experience was using sexual energy as a healing tool to fill the energy vacuum once those challenging emotions were released. So again, sexuality became a powerful tool in my healing journey. And I also had the support of Michael and Freyja. I cannot tell you how much I value their ability to create safe space and to intuitively respond to and honor the needs that arise within that space.

Here we are now in 2018. My healing journey continues. As long as we remain on this earth plane, the need for healing and growth continues. We cannot and must not rest on past accomplishments. And so, I step further into my power. I am revisiting what it means to be a sexual healer and what sacred sexuality means to me. I am continuing to find new ways to experience and express my emotions as new layers of trauma surface, asking to be released and healed. My inner child work has taken on greater depth as I find new ways to connect with and nurture her.

There’s a big difference this time, and it filled me with fear when the work presented itself to me. As new layersImage of hands outstretched began to rise earlier this summer, I was actually excited about what the hard and messy work ahead would mean. I knew I had the tools and the knowledge I needed to take a hard look at and heal new aspects of the old trauma. But I was afraid of doing it alone. I did not have a life partner or skilled practitioners by my side. Without that kind of intensive support, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. But as with all other things in life, I had all the resources I needed. Support came from varied and unexpected directions. In fact, all the support I have found and asked for is an aspect of my power. Our power does not need to live in isolation. In fact power in isolation is meaningless.

I have often been afraid of people I perceive as being in power. Seeing or experiencing people wield power for power’s sake or to make themselves feel important infuriates me. I fear making that same mistake myself. If that’s what power is, I don’t want to be powerful! But no, that is NOT the only expression of power. Power can be expressed as sexuality and all the creative force that entails. Power can be expressed through emotions and holding space for strong emotions. Power can be expressed through acceptance and understanding. Power can be expressed through music. Power can be expressed through joy. Power can be expressed through support of those that need lifting up. Power can even be expressed by asking for help. Power can be expressed through connection. Power can be expressed through love.

So, as I stand on the precipice, preparing to step even more fully into my power, I embrace my power with love.

Image of woman embracing power with love