Birthing Re-Humanize

Re-Humanize began as a book that was never really meant to be a book. It began as my journal, my therapy and spirit-guided coping mechanism, just hours after I experienced rape.

Writing my Rape

Artwork from Re-Humanize by @MrFishInk

Artwork from Re-Humanize by @MrFishInk

After an exhausting and devastating venture to the hospital and the police station, I went home and had no friggin’ idea what to do with myself. Normalcy or Netflix seemed insane at a time when it felt like my world was imploding. I was coming off of a summer spent at an ashram in celebration of the Divine Feminine and I was totally in the clouds with a disillusioned lens, which only saw what was bright and shiny in our world. My heart, which was living inside of a rainbow gathering, where we all celebrated each other as brothers and sisters… Could Not Comprehend this violation. For this reason and one million others, I was devastated, severely dissociated & depressed. I didn’t know what to do with myself and my spirit felt one million miles away from my body. While my regular emotional outlet and processing gift came through Dance, I was too disembodied at this time to Move into this practice.

So by some miracle, I found my pen and paper and I began to write. Things became very Black in contrast to my previously colour-coated creations. The writing was dense and raw and true. I vowed that no one would ever see this writing…I hid the journal away, which I had titled “Poems Dark AF”. I also didn’t intend for these to be poems, I didn’t intend for them to be anything really… but my thoughts were so jumbled, that I could not manage full paragraphs -So, what came through my pen were these excerpt looking things. My world swirled around my writing and my rape. I woke up at 4 am to write. I left yoga classes early to write. I got off of the TTC at the wrong stop to write in a quiet corner. It felt like a gift of great solace, within a time of spirit-crushing sorrow, to take what was so destructive in my mind and to put it on paper as something creative.

Sharing my Writing

So how did this hidden away journal become a published, very unhidden, book?

It began with the writings Translating Power. At this time of such darkness, I spent many weeks staying at my Mom’s place, rather than downtown in my party-party, 5-girls in university house (necessarily). My Mom was, is, and has always been, a huge support and love-force in my journey. It was too painful for me to tell her what happened, but I had told my brother, and it was him who delivered the news to my Mom (with my asking). This was one of the most meaningful shares in my world, planting seeds of reclamation for my trust and heart-softness towards men. So, my Mom knew what happened, but as I moved through suicidal thoughts and PTSD, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her what I was going through. I would blankly sit in front of her, staring into the distance. There was so much I wanted to say, lost somewhere between my very loud mind and my very silent voice.

The miraculous moment of shift struck me when I realized my writing could be used as a translator. If my voice couldn’t let her know where I was at… maybe my writing could. So, I began sharing these ‘Dark AF Poems’ with her. For me, it was a huge relief from my sense of aloneness and a practical way to seek the kind of support I needed. I felt I was allowing her a window into my Black Hole, without dragging her in or drowning in my isolation. I saw the power: My writing was a Bridge.

And so, I showed my sister. And I showed my best friend.

This is when I realized that this writing was much bigger than myself. Earlier, I had started pairing my poems with discussion questions, which took a more cultural, objectification-challenging, I’m-questioning-everything-kind-of-macro stance. The book resonated with my friend deeply, as someone who had been dealing with eating disorders her whole life. Because of course, the way we are objectified, sexualized, compared to one another, and commodified is One Deep Wound, which expresses with varying, severe symptoms (be it rape or eating disorders).

From Journal to Book

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Things were beginning to shift for me, via therapy, spiritual healing, survivor support groups, a new yoga teacher training community, some awesome sex-positive friends (maybe the first in my life), and Hope. I was by no means, ‘Fine’, but I was shifting into a new phase of healing and I no longer depended so wholly upon my writing. With the guidance of spirit and symbolism, I wrote my last poem on the Winter Solstice- the darkest day of the year, but also when the Light begins returning. Just for fun, I typed and printed out all of my writing into this sort of manuscript. I now knew that this writing was meant to be shared, but I had no plans for the degree to which that would happen.

As the curtains were closing on 2016, I went to a Women’s Circle with my Mom and sister. My Mom connected with a beautiful woman there, as they shared their New Years intentions and all that they wished to release. They exchanged contacts and the next day, my Mom received an invite to her FB Page: The Awakened Press - Publishing & Editing. Now my curiosity was really sparked. Arms open to the divine, I received this as a sign. We arranged a meet up the three of us and I handed her my manuscript… just to see what she thought.

A few weeks later, she called me while I was sitting in a coffee shop and her words brought me to tears. She said that this writing had changed her life. That it allowed her to remember recent trauma that she had repressed. She said that these words offered a doorway for her to begin healing, a wake-up call from her dissociated suppression, bringing explanation to her unexplainable hurt. She said that this ‘Book’ was important, that it would change many lives like it changed hers. I was really blown away. I had no idea that my sharing could have such profound impact. I had no idea that sharing my darkness could be a pathway for someone to connect with their light, but of course this made sense. Some part of me knew this… the Dark Night of the Soul, the Phoenix from the ashes, the descent that preludes our dance into the Light. And after such pain, I knew that I would experience this same rising too.

Giving Birth to Re-Humanize

So, I said YES to a force so much greater than myself. This creation wanted to be birthed, it wanted to be made manifest, and there was nothing for me to do but ‘get out of my own way’ and allow the magic to happen. My now soul sister of the Awakened Press and I, began midwifing this book together. Grounding it down from a dream to a reality, putting all the pages in place, crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s, pouring our entire Hearts into this creation. At a time when we were both suffering so deeply with surviving trauma, this book became our shared pregnancy. I believe I can say that for both of us, and most definitely for me, that this ‘baby’ is what kept me here. Creating this book is what kept me moving forward with such devotion to my healing. I now had a mission and purpose greater than myself and so, I had a commitment to the collective to Stay. And, if I was going to stay and live out this life…. goddess, it was going to be epic (and it is).

After much work and labour, we chose the due date for Re-Humanize, which just so happened to fall on October 15th, the same day that the #MeToo Movement went viral. More signs of divine alignment. The book was officially published and shared in November 2017 (just +1 year after the rape). Loosening my umbilical cord from her soft-covered face, I don’t cling to her so much now, for there is so much richness in my life beyond this book and story. Re-Humanize is like my child out in the world, still receiving my nurturance but, without a parent hovering-over her shoulder. I let this story soar and explore as she is meant to. I marvel at the words of testimony I am gifted from those who receive my words with deep resonance. I marvel at the strength of survivors and I bow down to such heart-expansive allies of support. I find softness and forgiveness in my spirit, for those who are wounded enough to wound other people. I celebrate all of us as we continue to walk our paths, shining to the brightest of our capacity, loving to the best of our resilience.

Thank you for reading one chapter of my story. I see you and I love you.

With gratitude and infinite heart,

Marlee Liss


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Re-Humanize, the book, features poetry, discussion questions + artwork by the amazing Marielle Rosky .

Published by the ever-so-divine Awakened Press.

You can find Re-Humanize in several bookstores like:

Articles written on Re-Humanize the book/ movement:

What an incredibly powerful book. This collection hit home for me for so many reasons. I have dealt with sexual assault myself, but this collection goes far beyond just that. It is about opening up your heart and allowing yourself to feel the pain and heal on your own terms. This collection shines the light on the attackers and shifts the blame from victims of sexual assault to the ones doing the assaulting. This collection was heartbreaking, raw, honest, powerful, and extraordinarily inspiring and hopeful. What a beautiful message on the power of pain, the journey of healing, and the resilience of the human soul.
— Kelsey Genesi, GoodReads.com