Have you ever wished to get in a car accident? I have made this wish, not once, not twice, but multiple times in my life. I did not want to die. In fact it was quite the opposite. I wanted to live in a world where I felt loved and cared for. Typically a car accident results in people asking, “Are you ok? Can I bring you anything? Let me help you.“ Wonderful. So pleasant and warm.

A car accident is easier to explain than… I was raped. At the time there were no words in my vocabulary to express the way I felt after being sexually assaulted. It was like trying to learn a foreign language. The only problem with this language, there was not a Sexual Assault Victim Dictionary or online learning tutorial. The only language I seemed to come across led me down a path of self-blame and shame. The label sexual assault victim also elicited a response from others that was less than appealing. Faces typically went blank and then there was an awkward silence. Instead of being met with love, I was often met with, victim blaming. Ouch!

Car Accident = Help please, I broke a rib. Can someone lovingly taking care of me?

Sexual Assault Victim = @#$% I don’t know how to articulate my needs and nobody knows how to respond to me.

Doesn’t this make a car accident sound more appealing! Absolutely YES!

My poor body was crying out for love, so much so it was willing to get in a car accident to feel loved. When I began studying the synthesis between the mind and body I quickly learned there are more ways to communicate than verbally. Years prior I attended, for lack of better words, multiple “talk therapy” sessions, each session missed a fundamental piece for me to process the assault; mindful movement and creativity. Being a kinesthetic learner/processor it only made sense movement would help me on the healing journey.

What a relief, right?! There are other ways to help me express my feelings and they don’t include using the non-existent Sexual Assault Victim vocabulary words or wishing for a car accident.

A little leery and unsure of how mindfully moving and creativity would help, I turned to dance and visual journalling. In my little studio apartment the experiment began. Feel good music blasted on the radio as I awkwardly moved my body in front of the mirror. It felt weird at first. I love to dance but dancing as a means to communicate was different. Think two year old in a tutu. Yep, glorious.

Next, I busted out the child size Crayola markers and blank paper. I gave myself the freedom to create whatever came to mind. Doodles, random splashes of color, numbers, and shapes began to fill the page. Each carrying a different message. Messages I wasn’t quite able to articulate verbally but the feeling associated with the message was a sense of freedom. Somehow the journaling, filled with miscellaneous blobs, gave a voice to parts of me I did not know needed a voice.

Mindful movement and visual journaling became part of my daily routine. The more comfortable I became with the practice the less I longed for alternative ways to find love and comfort. I held the space for each creation as if it was the most magical work of art I had ever seen.

In reality it was some of the most magical art I have ever seen. It was my truth expressed in a way that did not make me feel shame and guilt. I found a deeper love for myself. The type of love I longed for from others. I no longer needed to get in a car accident to feel the type of love I desired.

To this day I still use mindful movement and visual journaling as a tool to understand what my body is trying to communicate. I also use it to support clients in finding new ways to lovingly communicate with themselves.

Dear reader,

Please know… I see you, I hear you, I love you, I am you.

Love ,

Melissa Ann

Melissa McDaniel
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