Have you heard the tale of Cassandra, the cursed Greek prophet? She foretold the siege of Troy, knew there were warriors hiding in the Trojan Horse, predicted to the day of Odysseus’ return, and more, but because the god Apollo was a giant baby-man, when she refused sex with him, he spit in her mouth, thus cursing her never to be believed.
This myth is almost too on-the-nose when talking about how women’s stories are treated today, particularly their stories of unwanted sexual attention. Those Greeks were really onto something, except things seldom ended well for their non-goddess females. Cassandra was ultimately raped, forced by Agamemnon to be his concubine, and then murdered by Agamemnon’s wife.
I want to rewrite that story.
Not the epic Greek Iliad, but a more intimate Minnesota version, one featuring a 13-year-old girl named Cassandra. She sees things, but because she is a child and because certain truths are always unwelcome, she is not believed. I’m going to give voice to her truth. I am going to listen to her and believe her. As a writer who likes to outline, to control the story, to walk cleanly from Point A to Point B, this following and nurturing the voice of a child will be challenging, more so because she is going to be navigating some of my own childhood’s back alleys as well as a boatload of cultural conditioning.
I’m wondering if you could help me. Many hands make short work and all that, except more like “many words make psychic space.” Specifically, if you claim a bit more of your voice while I do the same, we can cause a shift in what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. We can carve out space for Cassandra (and you and me and others) to tell her story.
It’s pretty straightforward, will take 20 minutes, and you don’t have to leave your seat. Here’s what:
Set the timer on your phone for 4 minutes. Freewrite, either by hand or in a clean Word document, for that entire time. Start out the freewriting with this phrase: “I didn’t feel heard when…” Don’t censor, criticize, or edit what comes after. Let the words flow.
When your timer goes off, reset it for 7 minutes. Close your eyes if you’re comfortable doing so and breathe deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth. When thoughts come into your head, watch them go by as if they’re riding a paper boat down a stream.
When the timer goes off, reset it for 8 minutes. Freewrite, either by hand or in a clean Word document, for that entire time. Start out the freewriting with this phrase: “These are the things that are true to me…” Don’t censor, criticize, or edit what comes after. Let the words flow.
When the timer goes off, do a body check. Pay attention to any heat, tightness, bubbling—any physical sensations at all—and where it is located in your body. Be curious about that.
That’s it. You’re welcome to delete, burn, or save what you wrote, whatever feels right. The power was in the act of claiming your voice. Look for the little gifts that come to you as a result, starting with my gratitude—our voices make a beautiful, messy, life-changing chorus. Thanks, you. Big love!
p.s. Join us for our creative writing retreat in France this June for more fun, healing writing exercises that will guide you to your best self!