One of the things that I tried to embrace from early on in my own survivor journey, was how I could use this experience to somehow help myself, and others. Now, I get that now everyone feels that way or even if they do, are able to embrace such an idea, but I firmly believe that for those that can, it’s life changing not only for the survivor themselves but for those they impact, knowingly or otherwise.
Finding a way to come to terms with a traumatic past and somehow use that as a learning experience and a way to encourage others is truly extraordinary. To be able to see ourselves in a new way, and embrace what we’ve been able to overcome, is something truly empowering. It’s certainly not easy, not by a long stretch, but the rewards go far beyond what we can likely imagine during the tough times of dealing with our own past.
My guest on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, Sarah Jane, embodies the dedication, determination, resiliency, and creativity that we can all appreciate. Even for those of us who aren’t artistically gifted, seeing someone like Sarah Jane use her talents to help bring hope and encouragement to other survivors, is remarkable.
Sarah first reached out to me after seeing a tweet that I made, looking for podcast guests, and after conversing with her through email and checking out her website, I knew I wanted to bring her on as a guest to the show. Anytime I can help someone share their story, it reminds me of the people early on in my journey that helped give me a voice. I know how powerful doing that is, how much healing can come from opening up in a vulnerable way.
Sarah Jane is the founder and creator of Mere Objects, an ongoing participatory artwork honoring people who have experienced sexual violence. Her dedication to giving hope and validation to other survivors, using her own talents and gifts in a selfless way, is inspiring to not only myself but to all who take part in Mere Objects.
As she writes on her website: The world around me inspires both intense curiosity and profound reverence. My creative responses include site-specific and collaborative works as well as sculptural pieces and mosaics. I am particularly interested in creating art that speaks across cultural, religious, or economic differences.
I’ve worked as a university professor, art program manager, and gallery coordinator. I currently live and work at the Grünewald Guild, an intentional arts community in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state.
- Her own history in an abusive relationship, including experiences of sexual violence, financial abuse, gaslighting, being denied medical care, and being a rape survivor.
- Ways her family & friends inadvertently pressured her to stay in that relationship by placing them on a pedestal as the “perfect couple” and refusing to believe her when I began to reveal the abuse.
- How church leaders pressured her to stay by emphasizing a narrative of “marriage is hard” and the importance of wives submitting to their husbands.
- How her friends and current partner have come alongside her in her healing with incredibly faithful presence, patience, kindness, compassion, and generosity.
- How that healing gave birth to a participatory art piece, Mere Objects, that offers space for others to tell their stories, and to bear witness for one another.
- What she’s learned in the past 18+ months of working on Mere Objects: the astonishing number and diversity of people affected by sexual violence, the depth of our wounds and the fierceness of our resilience, and the incredible healing power of truth-telling and bearing witness.
As we talked on the podcast, I was just so inspired by Sarah Jane. Her willingness to openly talk about her struggles not only in the midst of the trials, but even now as she continues to process and heal from that trauma.
You’ll want to listen through to the very end, as she shares some final words of validation and encouragement, and a light bulb moment that came to her during the podcast…I’m telling you my friend, I got chills listening to her share!
Thank you again Sarah Jane for the pleasure of talking with you. I consider it an honor to call you a friend and fellow survivor. I’m looking forward to checking out Mere Objects when it comes close to my area, and also submitting something to the project myself.
If you’d like to learn more about Sarah Jane and Mere Objects, please check out MereObjects.org , and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
This podcast is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, or mental health counseling or therapy.