On Being Blackballed

erin faith allen

Two years ago-ish, someone said I 'stole their creative process’. They told anyone in our shared community who would listen, based on what I have since been told. I have also been told they made requests of friends and colleagues akin to blackballing. 

From what I can tell, the blackballing happened. If it did, it paralleled the time my world was spinning in other endings, and the clusterf*ck of it all resulted in the loss of everything I’d built, all the freelancers I engaged lost their contracts, and all the women who gathered at my events lost their opportunity to do so. I went from six figures to flat-broke in a flash.

Here’s where I’m at these days:

Women hurt women. It’s real. We need to start talking about this. NOW.

And. As humans we listen to one version of a story and make assumptions that impact the lives of other people.

‘Other people’ can feel shamed into silence. Ya know, the squeaky wheel and all that jazz.

Overall, I am settling snugly into a place where I wouldn't change a thing.

BUT.

Back when this all hit the fan ... 

I was devastated. Traumatized. Paralyzed. 

I wish I had stood my ground. Protected myself. Raised my fist high over my world like a fierce guardian, a mama bear, a believer of my self. 

I wish I had said NO. To the way I acquiesced. To the way I allowed the crumbling to just happen.

But I didn’t. Partially because the scale of what was occurring behind my back took a while to reach my awareness.

Partially because of my self-worth.

I didn’t fully believe in myself and my insanely prolific powerful creativity or voice. I didn't fully live inside my workshops and retreats. Did you know that every time I stood in front of a group to teach, I felt worthless? Like I shouldn't be there? Who did I think I was? What did I have to give? I had such massive anxiety colliding with my powerful impulse to share the beauty of creativity, and my deep desire to share the quest for voice so many of us find ourselves on. That's real, you guys. 

SPOILER: And that's how it all fell apart, REALLY.

But anyway, in summary: (of a long mothertrucking story) ...

... one in which I left the world of women’s creativity + all the beautiful retreats \ workshops I led and created + all the surges of purehearted art sharing + the book I published + all the collaborations with other female artists ...

... and every time I’ve sat down to create since then has been an epic battle with terror that I’m going to be ostracized and accused a little more ... but the fear is an understatement, y’all. I’ve been struggling creatively, blocked as hell, for over two years ... 

... for a creative being that’s like a long slow death by boa constrictor or feeling your plush rich petals slowly fade and turn to a crispy dry weed and you just die inside … and you can’t do anything to stop it …

SO 

... I dove all the way in to studying the inhumanity of war because I really needed to understand why humans are so awful to each other + what better place than war and genocide and collective history in which to do that? ...

After two years-ish of living inside a spinningly hauntingly frozen bubble of untangling layers of trauma + personal value + self-responsibility and REALLY diving into HOW this happened + WHY it hurt so bad + what I can do to make sure I value myself SO EFFING MUCH that nothing can knock me off my feet again ...

(And also victim-shaming my own self which is really like placing a muzzle with hot nails on your own mouth and a cauldron of poison down your own throat but that’s a whole other tangent) 

(I mean it’s bad enough to feel your reputation get all crucified but then to go broke on top of it + feel shame about that + watch your company crumble + pile a little more shame about your failures on top of it all is really like living in some kind of Groundhog Day insane nightmare that you can’t wake up from).

Why am I even telling you this? 

I refuse to shirk in shame or fear of reprisal. I refuse to stay silent and NOT address this issue, though time has passed.

I refuse to be a space holder for women and a student of humans and not embody the fullness of being I implore others to cultivate within themselves. 

I refuse to be all committed to holding a line of self-imposed integrity while a hacksaw chops up my life. 

I refuse to carry this burden any longer.

I refuse to wear the shame hurled at me, and I refuse to let it come anywhere near me, actually. 

I REF*CKINGFUSE to spend one more second hiding in the corner.

It’s been a long couple of years. 

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PLEASE NOTE ... I am not asking for well-intentioned advice. 

I am not asking for validation or assurance. 

I am not interested in dissecting or comparing ‘inspiration’ with ’stealing’. 

I am not interested in defending myself in further accusations or dialogue. Like, at all. I’ve digested all the judgments and opinions already, and in some sort of super fun double-whammy, impaled myself on them. See hot nails / muzzle comment above. 

Before you ask me to consider the other side … I have. See impale comment above.

I am not even asking you to ‘believe’ ‘my side’. UGH. So not the point for me. 

Because whether you ‘believe’ me or not is going to have ZERO impact on my lived experience. 

I repeat. I am NOT ASKING YOU TO PICK A ‘SIDE’. 

‘Sides’ are destructive when they are formed from incomplete or one-sided streams of information - in the microcosm AND the macrocosm they tear lives apart. 

***How we choose to behave in our intimate community is what we allow in our larger community*** 

I am, however, asking you to consider the above sentence surrounded by ***’s, and how you might approach conflict in a way that BUILDS community rather than burning it the f*ck down.

I am not a saint. At freaking all. I am learning this truth through my own series of mistakes, missteps, and face-planting.

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So ... the stories and opinions that flew around. People in my close circle have said to me: ‘Why bring this up now? Why remind everyone of the rumors? The damage is done’.

Because of exactly that. The damage has been done.

Or: ‘Prepare yourself for the backlash. There will be revenge for speaking out’.

Revenge? For speaking out? I’ve lived through two years of internal self-suffocating hell because I did not speak out, or up, or do any kind of any voicing. I did not address the gossip, address the blackballing, address the backs of friends and colleagues as they walked away, address the public shaming. Address anything.

I hid.

And I've been choking on rock bottom sea-mud for two years anyway. So revenge? In some ways it's already kinda happened.

...........................

I have slogged through this in silence. I have asked all the questions of myself and I have some answers. I know the innards of this whole thing intimately. I’ve plucked the shrapnel from my intestines. I’m clean.

I don’t need to be coddled. 

I do not want to hear things about how blah blah blah this other person is or whatever. I really don't. That stuff is irrelevant to me. It's been useless all along, and will continue to be. I only can rely on the bare facts that I named at the very beginning of this post. That is all that holds truth. The rest of it is mine to digest.

Because you know what? In spite of it all, I believe everyone gets to live out their own perspectives. Whether I agree or not.

I just need to use my voice and say NO while walking the tightrope of the NO + naming my grief and rage + ALSO naming my responsibility: I participated in this co-creation from hell because at some core level, I didn’t believe in OR occupy my own world enough to batten down the hatches when some hard stuff came calling.

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This is MY story of reclamation. 

MINE.

Of learning how to occupy my self. 

Of learning the hardest way possible that NO MATTER WHAT I am solely responsible for what I allow to penetrate my world.

What I hide from. What I allow to break. What I allow to break me.

How I have allowed my fear of speaking truth to injure my world. Until now.

********How, in not FULLY EMBODYING my creativity, truths, desires, my calling to serve creative women, the work I undertook and the company I built, and MY VOICE, I am responsible for the destruction of my world.********

This realization is one powerful mofo.

Because if I am responsible, ultimately, for the destruction, then ...

I am solely responsible for rising the f*ck up to re-claim MY whopping creative visionary voice so fiercely that it is completely impenetrable.

Unfrozen. Unparalyzed. 

Saying NO to all that has happened …

Saying YES to my desires and my calling and my voice.

Saying YES to rebuilding.

I'm kinda like a motherf*cking phoenix y'all. 

Watch me rise. 

Two years later.

Better late than never.

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I know. This is long. If you take nothing else away, take this:

Self-responsibility is where the magic lives. Everything else is futile. It's the only true path out of the kind of victim consciousness that will kill your life dead. 

Everything.

I promise.

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And yes, I want to throw up getting ready to hit the publish button on this post, but I’m pretty tired of dying a slow and silent death over here. 

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Feeling a big fat NO now. Closing the door. Walking away from this storyline.