Real News


Like so many Americans who witnessed Christine Blasey Ford give testimony of her abuse, I found myself mesmerized and triggered by the proceedings. I was horrified at the way that the highest function of advice and consent has degenerated into a self-serving spectacle of tyrannical power and gang-rape mentality, determined to confirm an alleged sexual offender, a probable perjurer, maybe an alcoholic and certainly an extreme ideologue, to the highest court in the land. I became almost speechless as my own history of trauma rose up; of being held down, silenced, violated and then having the perpetrator claim they were the victim.

I felt a dark isolation come over me, a feeling of being terribly alone. Social media was filled with men mocking an incredibly brave woman who had everything to lose and nothing to gain. They jeered her for not having proof, witnesses, facts, or perfect recall, that her hair was disheveled and her voice was weak. Even as I write this the investigation they refused to endorse has already been watered down to a whitewash.

We profess to be a Christian nation. Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” But Christ is long dead, crucified for challenging the very kind of religio-political authorities that hold positions of power today. What we have now are “new Christians,” those who mouth Christ and act like the Taliban, screaming at us to cast the first stone.

I was raised in the Mormon Church till age 12. My father was a stone-caster. He read the Bible but used scripture to justify his hatred toward black folks and Jewish people. He used doctrine to justify repression of my mother.  He prayed daily, hoping to win the Daily Double at Santa Anita. His every word was the voice of God even as he tortured my brother or beat my head against the wall. He drank beer and channeled spirits who told him the Russians had mined America with nuclear bombs.

My Dad saw enemies everywhere. He had no friends. He accused my mother of infidelity but after she mysteriously died at age 39 during a 14-day fast of “purification”, it came out he’d been having an affair with my best friend’s mother across the street.  He told the local newspaper that he was “the Bright Light” and didn’t need to eat or work to live.  But the thing that was outside the light, hidden in the darkest shadow, was that he’d been badly abused as a child.

We discount  how it affects someone to be abused; to not be seen, heard, validated, or taken seriously. We minimize what happens to the soul of a person when they are mocked, jeered, taunted, tormented and beaten. We say, “Man up.” For my dad, that drove him insane.

As I grew up I was haunted by a sense of pervasive shame and isolation every day of my life.  In my late 20’s I broke down completely and wound up in a locked psyche ward. The psychologist told me to grow up and get a job but I couldn’t even function.  I thought I’d been damned to hell by the Mormon God of hell-fire and retribution. 

The nurses gave me a daily dose of Thorazine, a drug so powerful I had to ask a visiting friend if I had died. I became delusional. I thought if I could just line up the molecules of my body with the spaces between the wall molecules,  I could run through the wall to escape. I hit the wall running and collapsed in a heap.  The nurses doubled down on Thorazine.

When I got out of the hospital,  I went looking for a guru, a man of God to save me from Damnation. Instead of salvation,  I spent the next 12 years trapped in a new age spiritual cult run by a guru who looked like Rasputin and who acted a lot like my father.

When I finally escaped the cult, I went into therapy. I learned about the “compulsion to recreate the trauma.” I learned that what we reject, we project. I learned that it’s very hard to torture someone else unless you were tortured yourself.  I learned that so many of us find enemies out there because we insist like my dad that we are the Bright Light, all good. We reject our shadow and all the parts we hate. But then the shadow comes back to us  in a form  we cannot control. We call that evil.

I always had trouble articulating and PROVING what happened to me because so much was done in darkness and secrecy, maybe even before I had language.  So often, just telling the story of abuse invited scorn, judgment, and blame for being lazy, a liar, making things up, for wallowing in my own negativity, for making excuses. In a word, for being weak.

Watching Judge Kavanaugh move between his  Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde personalities right there on TV, I  saw my father and my old  guru. I shuddered to imagine what would happen to us as a country if we handed to such a man of privilege all that legal power to unleash his repressed rage on women, children  and the world. 

Today, I struggle with feeling safe. What’s happening in America is  like what happened in my childhood and in the cult.  My father had a sacred duty to protect me, not abuse and exploit me. It’s like incest. Where do you turn if the law supports the powerful?  Who will believe you?

When I was younger and at the mercy of my father, I knew that it was not a question of whether or not I would be eaten, it was a question of which part I could offer up next in order to minimize the damage. But now I’m an adult and I have some choices about how to respond.

I think now we are all waking up to the fact that everyone, including the planet itself, is being abused and shamed by a system that has no heart, soul or future.  We are in a collective crisis. The old is dying and the new has not yet been born. We live in liminality which means “a threshold,” a state in between.

I want to cross the threshold. I don’t want to stay in the old state of shame any more because too many of us are suffering and repressing it is just making things worse. I’m exhausted with  the sheer effort it is taking to hide it and push it down, because it’s all being siloed behind a border wall of guns, bombs and cages with little children in them.

I’m an adult now. I tell myself I deserve to be here along with everyone else who wants to respect this planetary home and help it thrive again.  I get to choose now how I am going to help hospice out the old and midwife in the new. I’m want to write about what I feel and paint what I see. I want to be part of a healing circle, planting the ground, nurturing back to life what’s been torn apart. 

Maybe that will help make a space for all the souls who want to be here in the future and if you believe in reincarnation, maybe some of those souls will be you and me.

Much love,



This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. thank you for sharing your story. it breaks my heart to read about the details of your literal surviving abuse. thank you for your honesty. i am still struggling to define who i am, where i belong, how to be of service. i often find myself super frustrated that i have spent a very long time 20yrs unlearning, healing, breaking with old programming of being completely broken by abusive parents too for 20 years. and all the habits, patterns we learn and commit to as children for mere survival.
    i too, just realized i am possibly recreating trauma unconsciously. oh, that is a hard one to realize and lean in to.
    big deep breath. day by day, sometimes moment by moment. you are not alone richard, in feeling disgust, fear, even- some days rage at what we are living/witnessing as consequence of the obscene, reprehensible, insane acts of a most atrocious faction of corrupt leadership. leadership so arrogant, so untouchable/all powerful, untethered, entitled- they seem to be put off by actually having to go through the tedious motions of pretending/unnerving acting – as if they are serving their oath to serve the people.
    i am exhausted too. its hard work returning to love after allowing myself to purge anger. i can check out of the political theatrics, outside of work. and not allow the heavy to take my love.
    personal shadow work has been super intense this year. and wages vs. cost of living is not even close to being realistic. or manageable. 🙁
    guess for the lot of us… we must be brave with our own madness/shadow work before we can come together as master bridge builders. 🙂
    i can define the spaces/thought processes, actions that feel good, replenish the life force, nurture the body/soul needs. and i can be okay with not being okay somedays.
    thank u for this refreshing real heartshare. i am so grateful you did not give up. your paintings are deeply moving, coded with something very special that wakes my cellular body. they feel really good!
    see u on the bridge! xo
    with all my love, amy

  2. Dear Richard,
    Your story is tragic and beautiful at the same time. Tragic because you suffered so, beautiful because of who you have become. Your soul has been seared by fire, frozen by ice, then made to grow again by light, sun & rain. And you are not alone. You have people in every walk of life who have THEIR stories, and Christine Ford has touched us all. Those who taunt and mock these stories are only confirming what we already know…that they are holding on by their fingernails and as they slide, they are seeing the writing on the wall.
    I love that your painting is in black and white; so symbolic of all that is happening today. You are a hero and a survivor; your paintings are testament to a life lived with passion, compassion, dignity, sorrow , joy and love. Peace to you my brother.
    Love, Michelle

    1. Dear Michelle,
      Thank you for your warm and supportive comments. Everything you say is true about adversity shaping one and stimulating growth. I think sometimes that we have some of our most difficult experiences to thank for helping us release some of the chokeholds we place on our own voices.
      I am happy you noticed the black and white. It’s kind of the subtext of this painting.

      Peace back to you my sister,

  3. Hi Richard,

    You write a little bit like you paint – with great passion and clarity. You have lead a very difficult (at times) life and your experiences now form the groundwork for your paintings. The world benefits from your insights and paintings and I suspect you do too. I just want to thank you for what you have given us and what you have shared. I, for one, feel enriched and very grateful!

    Howard Kaufman

    1. Dear Howard,
      Thank you for taking time to write. I guess it is possible at this stage to thank all the difficulties for having led to this point. As you say, they become part of the fabric of our future creativity.
      As Thomas Hedlund once observed, “Religion is for people afraid to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who’ve already been there.”
      Very Best wishes,

  4. Dear Richard, I cried as I read you statement. I look at your painting of the black jaguar on my wall, and I feel your strength, our compassion and your passion. I don’t know what it would be like to have been so abused, and to live with that memory. I was molested as a child by a neighbor, but my parents were loving and protective (as much as they were capable — it was a different time then, people didn’t push back at authority. I cheered Christine Ford on as I cringed at what was being done to her. How could those men be so dense? What does power do to people, especially white men? Why have we let this go on for so many years? What can I do (at age 81) to change the order of the power structure? How can we help each other heal?
    By writing what you did you have started the process. Bless you for having such strength and wisdom.
    Love, Stephanie

    1. Dear Stephanie,

      Thank you very much for writing such a heartfelt response to this post. Bless you in return for keeping alive the flame. Maybe that is how we help heal each other, by listening with the heart and not the head.

      Much love in return,

  5. Wow, Richard. Thank you for that sincere and honest story. I hope it gives others a voice.

    Blessing s,

    1. Thank you Suzanne for your comments and for taking the time to add your voice to the rising tide of those who cannot remain silent any longer. Finding one’s voice has been lifelong effort and continues to be. I wish you the very best.

Leave a Reply