I could share all the details about a locked trailer door, the massage therapist who was anything but, the bruises that lasted far too long on my chin and my body, how I slept at night with a carabiner slipped between the zippers of my tent door just to make it a little more difficult to open, or how I was determined to just desert the desert, but those are all just small details that are not really important for you to know.
What I want you to know is that I was sexually assaulted at Burning Man.
Why I want you to know is because while we all want to believe that Burning Man is some beautiful co-created special magical place that rises up from the dust, it is, as I have always maintained no different, truly, than the individuals who come together to create it. We bring exactly who we are to the city we create. All of the very best of our good (and all of the very worst of our bad) come with us and a whole lot of it even gets elevated there, because we're encouraged to let social norms and rules slip away.
In the aftermath of those hours Monday night that stretched into Tuesday morning, I blamed myself for what happened over and over and over again. I was stupid, I was an idiot, I had been too trusting, I had not noticed the obvious, I was selfish for even participating this year. All of it. I was traumatized and shaken and kept asking why and how and especially WHAT THE FUCK because, honestly, this, this especially, was not the Burning Man or the camp, the little LOVE camp, I had intended to create. This was not the way I wished to participate. This was not and is not how I show up in this world or any world. Ever.
Aggression, especially sexual aggression, many times is incapable of hearing the word no. It also many times does not respect your boundaries. Or understand that an open and loving and naked heart is an invitation for sex and violence.
I can't lie and pretend that all of this did not traumatize me. It absolutely did.
I chose to stay because I felt that leaving, deserting the desert, my camp, would be allowing him to steal even more from me than he had already tried to steal. I know even that may sound ridiculous here, but honestly, my heart and soul were right there with the very people who had helped me bring our LOVE to that city and I was determined to let love win.
So that's what I did.
I just opened up and beamed even more brightly, if you can imagine that?
More love. Wherever and whenever and however I possibly could.
All over the place.
In the food I fed others, in the laughter that I shared, in the hugs that embraced me, in the quiet conversations shared hiding out from all the white outs, and in every single smile that I gave and came my way.
You can try to take my heart, but in the end all it does is create more love.