although i confess i have yet to read it, almost everyone i know who is involved with the quest for healing says that reviving ophelia is an absolute staple for those of us recovering from sexual violence. i am going to recommend some of my personal favorites. most of them aren't centered around sexual violence, but they are wonderful, beautiful pieces of art in many mediums, and i feel like my webpage (as well as my everyday life) would be somehow empty without them.
the first is the house on mango street by sandra cisneros, who is a wonderful latino poet, weaver of words, and truthful woman. in this book she writes about the trials and hardships of growing up as a young woman. she writes about blossoming sexuality, in words so beautiful and lush that one feels that they can bathe in them.
the second book is i know why the caged bird sings by the legendary maya angelou. this book shares with us the story of her life, her growth, her secrets and changes. she shares with readers the painfully true story of being brutally raped at the age of eight by someone she should have been able to trust. this was the first book in which i read about an experience similar to my own, and i remember the feelings it brought, the emotion, the dull ache of realization. this book is wonderful for anyone who is just discovering themselves.
i also recommend (just because they're wonderful) the color purple by alice walker, staying fat for sarah byrnes by chris crutcher, izzy willy-nilly and a solitary blue both by cynthia voigt, and the pigman by paul zindel, as well as the poetry of e.e.cummings, william carlos williams, sandra cisneros, jewel, emily dickinson, and langston hughes.
some of my favorite and most essential music selections include the following:
all of tori amos's deliciously lovely albums. my personal favorite is under the pink. i saw her in concert once, and it was a wonderful experience. she has suffered an indescribable horror, and made an absolutely incredible recovery from her attack. i am constantly amazed and incredibly thankful that she has had the courage and strength to share her story with so many people. she has also helped to create r.a.i.n.n. (the rape, abuse, and incest national network) a hotline designed to assist victims of sexual violence in finding nearby crisis centers where you can get help. i've called, and although i haven't decided that a counselor is right for me yet, the woman i spoke with was very helpful, gentle and supportive. if you do not have a trusted friend or family member to talk to about your experience, and you absolutely need to talk to someone about your feelings, i strongly recommend that you call. 1-800-656-HOPE.
k's choice, a band from belgium, has also soothed me greatly. some of their songs, from the albums paradise in me and cocoon crash sound and feel like so much of my life, i take comfort in them. the band sounds amazingly gorgeous, sad and true with a hint of humor to take the edge off life.
samuel barber, an american classical composer who's music earned a surge of popularity in the mid-eighties, composed one piece, adagio for strings, which i feel is an essential piece of music for everyone to hear. it reminds me of my experience, of who i was and who i am and who i hope to become again, and it brings me joy and hope as well as allowing me to feel my own sorrow and grief. it is a beautiful composition and i strongly recommend it.
also, of course, the haunting voices of sarah mclachlan, jewel, paula cole, and the rest of the lilith fair gang are ever-present in my room.
the artwork of georgia o'keeffe and frida kahlo has been a very important part of my healing. while georgia o'keeffe's rich, luxurious flowers and landscapes represent to me the inner parts of myself, which no one can touch or take, frida kahlo's vibrant, bold portraits of specific moments and people are a vivid reminder to all of me of just what life is about, joy and sorrow, fear and peace, pain and comfort. my other favorite artists include dante gabriel rossetti (and the rest of the artists involved with the preraphaelite movement), henri matisse, and ansel adams.
another piece of art i recommend studying is vincent van gogh's irises. the solitary white iris among the myriad of royal blues reminds me of the loneliness and guilt i feel, and also the feeling of being obvious among other people who have not been victimized by sexual predators.
if you have any recommendations, please e-mail me