Eliana’s GiveAway

The most recent NextStage Irregular shared the anthropologic and cultural meaning of the GiveAway ceremony, the rituals associated with it and how it is used and misused in modern commerce.

Putting that email together, I was reminded of a story from another phase of my life that very much involved The GiveAway and is a demonstration of how much personal meaning and power it can have in our lives. Before reading the rest of this post and assuming you haven’t read the above mentioned newsletter, let me share the following:

GiveAways are marked by what is exchanged, usually something which was and may still be very special and/or has meaning to you, and is something which you’re willing to move beyond. Traditionally GiveAways involve exchanging something very important, something we are hesitant to give away, yet something we know we must part with in order for something else to come to us.
This can’t be something we give away then take back. Most importantly for rewarding or gifting people in commerce settings, we must give away something that we know has value to everyone involved. Again traditionally, this meant GiveAways involved exchanges of symbolic or real power, symbolic or real value, symbolic or real information, and there’s always an exchange involved.

During a training session, a student, Eliana, carefully, almost religiously, placed a small, well worn, red-velvet pouch tied with an equally old, faded red ribbon in my palm. Once there, it felt heavier than I would have thought and I realized there was something inside. She was making this pouch, the ribbon and whatever was inside her offering in a GiveAway that only involved me.

We had been studying GiveAway ceremonies and rituals for some time but this came as a surprise to me.

Once the pouch was in my hand, Eliana stared into my eyes for a moment then returned her gaze to the pouch, ribbon and whatever was hidden within still lying in my open palm. She asked me to open the pouch for her. The pouch was only closed with that old ribbon which looked like it would split if you simply breathed on it. I was unsure of her offering although I knew I could trust her because mutual trust and honoring are part of GiveAways.

But still I was confused and she must have sensed that. “I can’t. I can’t let it escape,” she said.

That really confused me. Whatever was in the pouch wasn’t moving and didn’t seem alive.

“Do you know what it is?” she asked me.

I felt the form hidden in the pouch, touching it softly, gently and respectfully. “Some kind of horse,” I said. “With a crown, I think.”

“It’s a unicorn.”

“Ok. You can’t open it because it’ll escape and I can open it? Are you sure you want me to open it?”

She started crying before she could answer. The sobs were coming from deep, wracking her body as she released some very deep energy that she’d carried for a very long time.

“This is a very important to you. A memory of some kind and you’ve managed to put it in one place, to tie it up, to bind it so it can’t hurt you any more, to put a noose around it and keep it and you safe. I’ll accept your gift and I won’t open it until you’re sure you want whatever this represents set free.”

She looked at the pouch in my hand. “Do you know what the memory is?” she asked.

“No,” I answered and that’s when the story, the reason she was studying with me and the meaning of the pouch, came out.

Eliana had been sexually abused as a child. Every time her father sexually abused her he would go out and buy her a unicorn. Through the years she’d given away all the unicorns except this one. Her father stopped abusing her when she had her first period and this was the last unicorn he’d given her.

The symbolism of the unicorn bound in the red pouch was astounding and nothing she ever intended. It simply was.

Through all the training and work we’d done she was finally able to give-away, to release all that energy. This was a very important thing to her, a very important memory. She was ready to give it away, ready to move beyond.

And then she said, “I need you to open it. You won’t let it hurt me. I trust you not to let it hurt me.”

GiveAways are exchanges and Eliana was giving me an incredible gift. Now it was time for me to offer a return.

“Let’s open it together. I’ll hold the pouch, you untie the ribbon and let the unicorn out. The moment you feel that the unicorn is going to hurt you again, I’ll close my hand so it won’t escape.”

She nodded and again was crying, releasing all the agony that had been held by her throughout the years. Sobbing and rocking, she untied the ribbon and pulled a beautiful, tiny carousel-style unicorn out of the pouch.

“It’s beautiful,” I said. Eliana nodded.

“You released all that energy, Eliana. It no longer has power over you. You’re free. And beautiful.”

There were some stains on the unicorn and she used her tears to wash them away, then placed the unicorn back in its pouch, tied the ribbon back up and curled my fingers over it.

“Thank you,” she said.

I still have that red pouch, the unicorn back inside, and haven’t opened it since.

Eliana’s GiveAway was an incredible healing because that’s what giving it away was, a statement that the last of that pain no longer had a place in her life while recognizing it had been important to her life.

To her the red pouch, ribbon and unicorn within were a symbol of abuse and pain. There was incredible emotional power and energy there. But power is simply power. There’s no good or bad, there simply is. So what she gave me was incredible power and, in Giving it Away, she utilized that power as incredible healing by releasing herself from it’s hold.

What Eliana was actually gifting me with was trust. My gift was honoring that trust.


Posted in , ,

Truth Be Told

[[Another resurrected post referenced in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation.]]

A friend and I recently got into a conversation on the nature of truth. I was taking notes and the conversation took an unexpected path. Reviewing my notes, I asked if I could share what was said and he consented.

Fair warning; what follows is not light reading.


I learned about the price of truth when I was a kid. A child, probably. Before I was ten, anyway.

My dad was in the bathroom, getting ready for bed, I think. He started yelling. He yelled a lot. If he wasn’t yelling, he was making fun of us or telling us we were stupid.

Anyway, he yelled for my sister and me to come. My sister is older than me by five years. She got there first. He was standing by the sink, pointing at a glob of toothpaste in the sink.

Truth be told, I don’t even remember what it was. I think it was some toothpaste.

I do remember he stood over us and pointed at whatever it was and asked who left that there.

My sister said she didn’t do it. “Who did?” I don’t know, she said.

He looked at me. “Did you do that?”

No, dad. I didn’t.

“Well, you’re the only two in the house. I didn’t do it and I know your mother didn’t do it, so who didn’t do it if neither of you did it?”

To fully get this you have to flashback to when I was about 1-2 years old. My room was on the top floor of our house, down a hall from my parents’ room. Halfway between was a staircase downstairs and downstairs was my sisters’ room. I have two sisters, both older than me.

So one night I woke up and wanted to go see my sisters. I don’t know why. Who knows what a kid does at 1-2 years old? So I got up, turned on the hall light and got to the top of the stairs.

Well, my father came rushing out of his room, my mother close behind, and he lifted my up by my right arm. He began hitting my behind. Not tapping, not even lightly slapping. This was a full grown man holding me up by my arm and smacking my backside so hard I was rocking back and forth like a pendulum in a bad clock.

I started screaming, my mother started screaming, I could hear my sisters screaming, and my father is still yelling at me “Where are you going? You get back in your bed! Where are you going? You get back in your bed!” with each tick of the clock.

And I started to pee. Maybe that’s why I got up, maybe I needed to pee and wanted my sisters to get the potty seat for me, I don’t know.

But I started to pee and I’m making a puddle on the floor and my father’s really bellowing now and he shouts at the top of his lungs “Did you do that?”

And I’m crying and I’m screaming and there’s more tears coming out of my eyes than there’s piss on the floor and I’m swinging by my arm and I’ve bitten my lip swinging back and forth and I can’t stop pissing and I’m screaming back at him, “No No No No NO” and looking back it was stupid, of course. I was pissing right there on the floor in front of him, so now he calls me a liar and if you thought he was having at me before, you didn’t know my dad. He use to beat me with a rubber hose he got when he installed a washer for my mother. That’s another one for you, a full grown man, strong to begin with, swinging a rubber hose at his baby kid because something didn’t go right in his god-damn day.

So I’d learned early on that no matter what happened, it would end up with me getting hit.

But this time, standing in front of the sink, our father getting louder and louder yelling at us, seeing my sister’s face get redder and redder, I basically decided fuck it. It didn’t matter.

Remember I said I had two sisters? For as long as I remember my oldest sister had this scar on her wrist, not like an attempted suicide scar, this was like a regular hospital scar and you could see where the stitches were and stuff. My parents and aunts and uncles always said my sister got bit by a goose and I always thought that was odd because we never lived anywhere near any geese. I found out years later my father had broken her arm. He’d thrown her down the stairs for some reason, before I was born, and they’d taken her to the emergency room to fix her up.

But back to the bathroom. I decided it didn’t matter. I looked at my dad and I said, “I did it.”

My sister let out her breathe.

“Why did you lie to me?”

Because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if I tell you the truth or if I lie. If you want to hit someone you’re going to hit someone, so it doesn’t matter and I might as well tell you the truth.

My mother was always telling people I was a deep thinker. I read a lot when I was a kid. Still do. So I’m not sure if I said it just like that, but that’s pretty much what I said.

Well, my father stared at me. I could tell he wanted to hit me but I’d told the truth and told him the other truth, that he was a bully and a bastard and it didn’t matter what the truth was, all that mattered was if he needed to hit somebody and that somebody was going to be me. I knew he wouldn’t hit my sister. She was getting older and for some reason he had real taboos about hitting a woman. I think because his father, my grandfather, use to beat the crap out of my grandmother when he was a kid. Hell, that’s probably where he learned it.

Anyway, he told me to go to my room but from then on he plotted. I think I scared him with what I said. I would catch him watching me, looking for excuses. One time I accidently emptied a box of dishwashing soap into the sink. My mother asked me to do the dishes, I said sure but I didn’t realize how loose the cover was on the box and I spilt most of it in the sink.

My dad was out in the garage working on something and not getting it fixed, so he was already frustrated all to hell and when I emptied the box, I don’t know, it was some kind of challenge to his manhood or something. I think I was ten or twelve when this happened and he backed me into a corner of the kitchen and was punching me in the stomach, in the face, he was boxing me, again a full grown, strong man punching the shit out of a kid, not holding back, punching me as if I was coming after him. I don’t know. After a few minutes he quit. I guess he was tired at that point. My eyes are black, my lips are swollen, my stomach’s aching because he’s hammered me to the point that I can’t breath.

He storms out of the kitchen, back to the garage and my mother’s patching me up. She didn’t try to stop him, oh no, but once he’s done she comes in to patch me up. She was always like that. Thank god it had already been established at school that I was a clumsy kid and always falling down stairs, over things, tripping over my own feet.

I wonder why it took so long to people become aware of child abuse sometimes. After I left home I asked my mother why she never nailed him on the back of the head with a frying pan. “He’s your father,” she said.

Oh, okay. He’s absolved.

But I’d already learned the price of truth was power, and you always get power when you tell the truth. I’m not talking about always telling the truth when you’re with friends or that kind of thing, I’m talking about telling the truth when it makes a difference.

That day in the bathroom I got power over my dad and he’s never forgiven me for it.


Posted in , , ,