Contributed by

As a child I succumbed to elective mutism.  That and living in my head were responses to living in a household in which violence and other forms of insanity were a daily occurrence. The arts sustained me. My father was a painter and a writer. It was understood. I was to be the ‘audience’, but I also wanted to bring those deepest parts of myself to light. So, throughout the years I dared to dabble in sundry creative pursuits.  My fear of being too visible, kept me in the ‘comfort zone’. In spite of my souls longing to actualize and express it self, I was well ensconced in my conditioning to keep myself small. I plodded on in my academic and career pursuits in social work, where I was milked for substandard wages in the disillusioning public sector. Eventually, I tried my hand at private practice while working part time at fee for service clinics.

About 7 years ago my world started to unravel. Two friendships of twenty years ended badly. One of those friends evicted me from my apartment through certified mail. I was betrayed and blindsided by the man I thought I loved. Ironically, all this coincided with my starting seminary. It was there I met a woman who I knew in JHS. She revealed to me that my father had been sexually inappropriate with her friend during that time period. I was sickened, enraged, and in a dark space. That dark abyss became the trajectory for my breaking out of stultifying patterns that I embraced for most of my life. If I didn’t bring my pain and experiences to a creative place I would be crushed by it.

I completed seminary studies and was ordained in June 2006. I came to understand the beauty of paradox and how my search for humanity in the midst of what felt like inhumanity was the natural order of things.  I risked doing a comedic performance about the parallels between my father and the man who betrayed me.  Relationships, in which my power was perceived as a threat, dissolved, and relationships with people who took risks while maintaining their humility and sense of higher purpose, developed. Then, I read “Meeting the Madwoman: Empowering the Feminine Spirit” by Linda S. Leonard. That book, along with my spiritual practice and years of oppression I was challenged to confront, led to my doing a full day multi-media workshop for women. The intention of this workshop was to confront and release sources of oppression while joining the archetypal energies of the wounded child and the ‘mad woman’. From this unified place a sense of intrinsic worth and power could result.

That workshop led to the formation of the philanthropic theater group Sistah Tribe; a collective of women who are bringing a multi-media production to disenfranchised girls who are coming of age in residential group homes. Sistah Tribe’s play, “Let the Phoenix Rise” has gone through many incarnations since the two staged readings performed this past year. We are projecting a performance in late autumn, and then a showcase performance in which we will bring in prospective donors and sponsors in the theater industry and the public sector. For more information about this project please visit, Sistah Tribe Theater Group

I also maintain a traditional psychodynamic and holistic private practice in midtown Manhattan, in which I draw on diverse spiritual and creative vehicles to facilitate the healing process.

My journey has taught me that we are all meant to shine in whatever ways reflect our authentic expression. It’s taken me 48 years to fully own that truth, and I’m so glad that I finally have!

For more information about Rev. Heller’s services please visit my website.