What was said; What I heard

I read something that had a pretty big impact on me at a pretty important time which has led to the inspiration for this post. I have not spoken to my mother in a week. This would not generally be note worthy but this time it is. The last time we spoke ended badly and the space I thought I needed to take care for myself expanded from a half hour to multiple days to now a week.

During this week my Dad showed up in his normal role in our family: peace maker/mother fixer. My Dad picks up the messes of others so everything can stay neat and tidy and we can all pretend there is no mess. Dad also takes care of Mom, Mom comes first. Always.

The space has been painful. I feel like a terrible daughter, I feel like I am the problem, I feel like I am breaking my mother’s heart, I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel like I will be a terrible mother. I feel self-doubt. I worry that my actions are manipulative, I am constantly second guessing myself. I feel unstable, out of control.

As the space has gotten bigger so has my truth; I feel rejected. I feel used. I feel blamed like a scapegoat. I feel resentment. I feel more stable. I am starting to gain clarity. I am starting to truly understand how much bigger than me this is. I am learning how to care for myself since the focus is not constantly on caring for her. My heart is aching. I feel let down.

Yesterday or the day before, I honestly cannot remember now, I was reading a blog that I have been following for a long time. It is a blog similar to my own; personal, searching, honest. I appreciate the honest part most. I admire and appreciate people who are willing to say out loud that life is hard, families are hard, relationships are hard. I see enough posed photos with perfect smiles, sometimes I need the honesty of how devastating losing a pet can be. This blogger shows up in her truth.

So I was reading this post that true to form was painfully honest and I definitely identified with parts of it. My truth is different from hers but I saw myself, my childhood self, in some of her writing.

I wasn’t sure I had the courage to be so honest but right now seems like the time. The only way for things to be different is to do things differently. That means honesty and stepping out from the shadow of denial. Last week my mother and I broke another vase, metaphorically speaking, and despite all his efforts my father was not able to sweep these pieces under the rug like so many broken pieces before it. So now I am going to stand here in the mess I helped make and accept Alma’s invitation to be seen in my truth.

What was said and What I heard:

Calm down: You are acting crazy. You are crazy.
This isn’t going to work: You can’t do this. You made a mistake. You did this wrong.
Your mother is really upset: Your mother is really upset and it is your fault. You need to apologize to your mother. Please fix this for me. I am scared.
Your brother _____________: I love him more. Your accomplishments, life, words, ideas, problems, are less important than his.
Mother-daughter relationships are hard: This is what it is, get used to it. Stop trying to change things. Stop upsetting the apple cart.
What is most important is that we love each other: Do you still love us? Are we good parents? Please don’t leave us. Family comes before everything, including your emotional well-being.
*Silence*: Fuck you. You are the worst. I will not bend. You will give me what I want. Who do you think you are? You owe me this. You are not stronger than me. Don’t make me angry. How dare you. I do not love you.

What I needed to hear:

This started long before you.
This is not your fault.
I own my part.
Take all the time you need, I will be here.
I am ready to really work on this.
The truth, the real honest truth.

 

There are a lot of ANDs that exist in this space of pain but this time I am going to keep my ANDs to myself. I know what they are and that is what matters. I do not feel compelled to make this mess pretty to make myself or anyone else more comfortable. Not this time.

mom

The Girl and the Sea

Once there was a girl who had been holding on too tightly. This was a girl who had always been afraid of losing; losing what, she never quite knew. Her mind, her heart, her self, her future, her favorite doll.. There was just always this nagging feeling that the world was not safe and so she needed to hold on tightly to make it through.

What this girl did not understand is that not everything can be held so tight. Holding too tightly can  make what looks like love feel like suffication. Holding too tightly can leave you white knuckled and arthritic, a body cannot withstand the constant pressure to hold on so tight.

This went on for a long time and for all her efforts she still experienced devastating losses. She never loosened her grip on the things she cared about or needed to hold on to but it did not keep her safe from losing like she had hoped. Still the girl held on too tightly because she knew no other way.

One day the girl went to the ocean and was invited to step out into the crashing waves. With trepidation she followed the leader and felt overwhelmed by the power. She could not hold on out in the current, she had no control. She grasped at the sand on the ocean floor but it slipped from her fingers.  She reached out for her leader and together they were tossed by the incoming tide. She realized there was nothing else she could do so finally she let go.

For a moment she let go of everything she had been holding too tightly and watched as the ocean washed it away; in it’s place she opened her hand and found an acorn. The symbolism she did not understand at the time.

That day the girl learned that when she let go of the things she was holding too tightly her hands were then open to receive what she was truly meant to hold.

the girl and the sea

Counting Down to Soul Camp

shadow work1

I am about one week out from Soul Camp and I cannot wait. I am not going to lie to you, I am more excited about Soul Camp than I am about finishing internship or graduating. This is what I have been looking forward to most about the end of the semester. I swear it is coming at the perfect time too. I am finally done with college and here Soul Camp is to catch me. Gratitude for that for sure.

So I have mentioned that this time around soul camp is about shadow work. I have been doing shadow work since November so I arrogantly thought Oh this is going to be easy..

Then I got dropped kicked in the face by my truth. While the work I have been doing is important and for some might feel deep, for me it is completely surface level. It is part of my work but it is not my TRUE shadow work. My true shadow work is deeper and darker and I don’t even feel like saying more about it because my truth is I would rather just leave my blinders up and not do the work at all.

I’ll just stay up here and work on my relationship with entitlement ignoring what lies beneath..

I am not at all happy about this revelation I have had but I know that is where my real work is right now and I am going to try my best to show in my truth at Soul Camp. I did that last time and although it was AWFUL in the moment I think it brought a lot of the other women their work and gave them an invitation to be messy and awful as well.

I already know two things I can, and really need to do, in order to commit to doing this work while at soul camp. The very thought of it brings up deep feelings of grief for me.. I’ll keep processing it and see where I land.

I am really am so grateful for the timing of soul camp this time around, it is so right. I will be done with something huge and going into a major life transition so the extra support will be awesome. Plus I will be coming back to absolutely no commitments. I do not start my new job right away so I will have ample downtime to process whatever comes up while at soul camp. THAT is the real gift.

 

I Need Some Time to Take Care of Myself

I said this to my mother today after she said something to me that was an instant trigger. My mother knows how to push my buttons. Of course she does, she created them!

The moment I felt myself losing control I showed up for myself: I need to get off the phone. I am upset and I need some time to take care of myself. I love you, I am not mad at you but I am upset and I need to not be on the phone right now. We can talk later.

It was important to me that I spoke my truth and got off the phone as soon as possible. I did not want to be pulled back in, my mother often tries to pull me back in.

Mom: Well I don’t know how to respond to that.

Me: Yes, I understand this might be confusing for you and I am sorry about that but right now this is what I need. I have to get off the phone, we can talk later.

……Silence……

Me: Mom. I really need to do this for myself right now but it is important to me that I am not hanging up on you so can you please let me know that you are okay so I can go?

I look down at my phone. She had already hung up on me.

Jokes on you kiddo.

I stood there in my fury and rejection and cried. Here I was needing to take care of myself but still putting her first. I was afraid of how my just hanging up the phone would make her feel while the whole time she had already it done it me. I was trying to mother my mother who was not mothering me. The only person I needed to be mothering was myself. And that is just what I did.

A half hour later my dad was calling. This is typical. This is one of our patterns. Mom and I fight, Mom tells Dad, Dad smooths it over. Nothing is resolved, just ignored. Dad is the reset button.

No thank you.

I turned off my phone and spent the rest of the hour taking care of me and mothering my inner child that felt completely rejected and destroyed by her mother.

I do not know how I have the clarity of mind to even write this right now. My mother is tornado, her path of destruction is wide and I am often left in utter shock and confusion in the emotional wake of it all.

I still do feel a bit shell shocked but I this time I showed up for me and that made a difference.

inner child

Avoiding Our Mirrors

mirror

This week I have started working with two new shadow pieces that have popped up; blame and denial. As I work with all these shadow pieces that are surfacing (entitlement, self-righteousness, blame, denial, judgement, manipulation) I am fully aware that they are all connected to something bigger: victim mentality. Victim mentality seems to be the big one, at least right now, and all of these shadows I am getting to know and learning to have compassion for I think are bringing me closer to my real work which is around my own victim mentality.

So, what I am learning about blame and denial so far. What I have found as I work with my shadows is that when they first pop up it is easier for me to get to know them by projecting outwards first. After this projection I am able to clearly see where I exist in all of it and how I use these shadows in my own life. I did this as I was getting know entitlement, I did this as I was getting to know self-righteousness and manipulation. It is hard to bring these shadows home and embrace them. If I speak in generalizations first I think maybe it is easier for me to see them objectively and then I can invite them in and make it personal.

When I first started working with denial I thought about everything I have learned in terms of triggers. Often we become triggered by some outside stimulus and want to blame the stimulus for triggering us rather than take any accountability for our own feelings and the work we should be doing around these triggers. This is denial, right? This is also blame.

Our triggers are our mirrors. Denial is refusing to acknowledge the mirror exists. Blame is acknowledging the mirror but refusing to see ourselves in it.

I know this to be true because I manipulation, and entitlement, and self-righteousness were some of my big triggers and I can see where I personally followed this pattern of denial, and blame, and victimhood throughout my life when it came to these shadows.

This is all I have so far with denial and blame but I am sure as I continue to work with these two shadows more will surface that will bring these two shadows home.

 

 

 

Spiritual Bypassing

spiritual bypassing

As I am getting to know my shadow piece around self-righteousness something that has come up for me is spiritual bypassing which is directly connected to this shadow aspect. Spiritual bypassing, in my mind, is when we (I) attempt to deny our shadow pieces exist (enter: self-righteousness). Spiritual bypassing is me wanting to stay in my “love the world, heal the world” space without acknowledging my “I want to burn this shit down” piece. What grounds me is remembering my AND. For me to be balanced it cannot just be peace, love, and happiness.. It has to be peace, love, and fuck this day I am taking a nap. or peace, love, and leave me the hell alone. or panic attack, accidentally break a plate, and curse in front of a child. Sometimes there is no peace and love to balance my darkness and my humanness.

I am not some enlightened spiritual being, that is not my  truth – as much as I wish it were. I am human. I am light, and dark, and gray. I am pixie dust, rose petals, and dirty words at inappropriate moments. I am painting, and empathy, and judging some guy for all that cheese he is eating. There has to be room for my light, my darkness, and my absolute humanness.

It is strange to think that something like our spirituality can actually have a shadow aspect, it can and it does. Everything is made up of both, that is the AND.

My truth is I am not without my judgements. I don’t know that I ever will be. That would be a pretty enlightened place but I am not sure I will ever get there truly, not during my human life at least. So rather than have judgement about my judgements I am trying to start by just acknowledging their existence. Once I am able to do that I try to get to know them a little better, like a new acquaintance; what can you tell me about yourself self-righteousness? You tend to pity people, okay, tell me more about that.

Judging my shadow parts does not make them go away, it really seems counter productive. I just have to be honest with myself and stop worrying about what everyone else will think. Ultimtaley this work is not about the world accepting my darkness, it is about me accepting me. Whose to say my darkness is any less special or beautiful than my  light? Me that is who. I am the only person I need to be listening to.

I am getting there. Slowly. But slow progress is still progress.

shadow

Reclaiming Righteous

mask

It was as if a flood gate opened in me yesterday after I wrote about my intention to work on my relationship with my shadow pieces leading up to soul camp. Suddenly a million voices rose ti my surface ready to accept my invitation to be seen. The first in line, self-righteousness.

Apparently some of my shadows are very open to a relationship, it was just up to me to send the signal. So I spent the day with self-righteousness yesterday listening to my own inner wisdom and exploring my truth a little deeper.

I started my relationship with this piece here, where I explored my initial reactions to the word righteous. Towards the end of the post I spoke about reclaiming the word righteous, and I still have that intention; getting to know my own self-righteous piece has helped me understand there is more work to do before I am able to get to that point.

First things first, get out of victim mentality. I wrote that post with an outside perspective. “I am uncomfortable with this word because of others”. That is true, but it is a partial truth. A fuller truth is I am uncomfortable with this word because of my own sense of self-righteousness. I have to be able to see myself in all of this to fully embrace this shadow and reclaim this word.

Here is where I am going to start..

When I started this blog 5 years ago I was absolutely caught in a trap of dichotomous thinking patterns. I was judgemental of others while unwilling to process the source in myself where the judgement stemmed from. Therapy helped me with this, so did being in the two social work programs. I recognized something though while I was spending the day getting to know self-righteousness; while I may have moved away from black and white thinking and judgement into the gray area of AND there is still room for judgement to exist here in the form of self-righteousness.

This kind of judgement might even be more toxic actually than the judgements I was casting previously. I remember when I first started back in college I was making observations and judgements about all kinds of stuff, “these millennials and there addiction to their cell phones”, “her clothes are not professional”, “that professor isn’t qualified”. My professional piece is a pretty judgemental piece I admit. I really had to reign her in.

Now as I have been waking up to my higher spiritual self and my own truth I cast aside these judgements and have been much more open to different ways of doing things and allowing each person to be as they are rather than as I think they should be. At least I thought I was doing this.

Apparently my spiritual piece has some shadows as well; enter self-righteousness. I sat in front of a man the other day who was caught up in his own victim mentality and I judged him for it. That is my truth whether I want to see it or not. My thoughts were not “this guy is bad or wrong”, no my self-righteousness does not pass those kinds of judgements. My thoughts were “this poor man doesn’t even realize he has the power to change this”. My self-righteous piece passes judgement disguised as pity.

I look around and see a world full of people that have not woken up to this thing or that thing that I think they should be waking up to and I pity them. I pity them from my place up here on the top of the mountain of enlightenment. And while I just tried to say it is not a judgement of right vs. wrong or good vs. bad, that’s a lie. It totally is. I am up here and you are down there, and I am right and you are wrong.

This is why people do not like to do shadow work. It is not fun to be this honest with yourself. We like to let our happy flag fly, and our freak flag fly, and our I’m-a-great-mom flag fly.. However, we certainly don’t want anyone to see our judgement flag, or our manipulation flag, or our I’m-over-here-being-a-jerk flag.

Well that is the flag I am flying right now. I’m over here being a jerk.

My truth belongs to me. It makes me feel good and centered and connected. The things that makes me feel this way may feel like utter torture to others. I do not need tolook at others and pity them or judge them in order to feel sound in my truth. If the words I am speaking are truly my truth they should make me feel this way on their own.

Old habits die hard. I thought I was shedding judgement and instead I was just dressing it in new clothes.

I am grateful that my own self-righteous shadow piece rose to the surface and accepted my invitation to build a healthier relationship. I will definitely being working with this piece while at soul camp. I am curious to see what a little unconditional self-love will do for my self-righteous/judgement pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soul Camp Part Two

soul camp

I got the email today confirming the second soul camp and it was like a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Soul camp takes place right after I finish internship and it is that something extra to look forward to as I wrap up my time as a student.

This time around we are focusing on shadow work which means we will be embracing or dark parts, our manipulators, our liars, our pieces that maintain victim mentality etc. I am sure it will be a struggle for all of us. I wouldn’t even be surprised if less women sign up this time around. I went to a workshop last year where we were processing our relationship with money and how shamey it can feel, of all the people that originally signed up only myself and one other woman showed. It ended up being one of the best workshops I have been to. At the beginning of the year I did another workshop where the same thing happened.

We were doing vision boarding and processing the barriers we create that stand in the way of us meeting our goals (it was essentially about self-sabotage). Only two of us showed. I get it. The dark stuff is scary and most people do not even want to admit they have darkness, let alone spend a day with it, or worse yet an entire weekend where you are being held accountable for engaging with it.

Shadow work has been where I find my truest self, my deepest truths, my purest love for myself. Personally I love shadow work. I love shadow work AND it is super painful. It is absolutely more thorns than roses but they are all part of the same being. You don’t get the rose without the thorn so learn how to love that thorn.

Here is the other thing I am learning about shadow work and learning to love my darkness; it is not scary when you get to know it. I am less afraid of the dark now, literally and figuratively speaking, than I have ever been in my life.

I am can’t wait for everything on the horizon and the fact that day by day that horizon is getting closer.

Righteous

The word righteous has come up three times so far this year. I do not remember this word coming into my life once in the last ten years.

Yes Universe, I am listening exactly what message are you trying to send me right now?

Two of the times this word came up was in the context of two completely unrelated people “acting self-righteous”. My skin crawled a bit each time that judgement was used but I moved on.

The third time it was my mother telling me that I am kind and righteous in the form of a compliment. I know her words were well intentioned but that word being used to describe me took me from skin-crawling to feeling completely covered in slimy shame and disgust.

Apparently I have a problem with this word. I have been sitting with this truth for weeks in order to understand it better.

I emailed one of my soul friends at one point and asked her what the word meant to her and what her first reaction to the word was.

She emailed me back the following:

First thought, used today as old-school surfer slang. Second, of or pertaining to goodness. Third, negative connotation related to disparaging accusations like “self-righteous”.

I emailed her back and agreed those were my thoughts and reactions to the word as well but in reverse.

My first thought/reaction is the judgement statement around being “self-righteous”.

My second thought has to do with pureness and goodness.

My third thought takes me to a Jeff Spicoli type character riding a wave in California.

spicoli

I guess it is a matter of perspective, and the experiences guiding the perspective of myself and my soul friend are different so it makes sense that we would come at this word from different directions.

I am realizing I struggle with this word for two reasons (there might be more than two reasons but so far two main reasons have risen to the surface for me).

  1. The Us vs Them mentality. What is the difference between myself, who my mother referred to as righteous, and the other individuals who have been labeled as self-righteous? My truth: very little. Compassion tells me that very little separates me from these individuals. These individuals are both righteous AND self-righteous, just as I am both righteous AND self-righteous, just as we all are both righteous AND self-righteous. Righteous is white light and Self-Righteous is black darkness, together the white and the black, the light and dark come together in truth: GRAY.
  2. Religious undertones. For me this word takes me straight to the church, it takes me to a place of pain and ridicule and otherness. My truth is that if this is a matter of Us vs. Them, I am on the Them side of that fence, not the Us.

The second struggle is my truer struggle I think. I already know my truth when it comes to Us vs. Them mentality, if that was my only issue I would have moved on quickly without giving it much thought because I am sound in my truth. The reason I was so triggered and felt myself linger in this place of feeling triggered was because of my second struggle.

Righteous is word that belongs to the church and I will never again belong to the church so that word can never ever be part of me.

Wrong.

I can reclaim righteous. I can reclaim it much like I reclaimed the word sacred. Sacred was another word that for a long time I felt like could never belong to me because of my experiences with the church. Then I found my own truth around spirituality and realized my truth was sacred.

I do not know what reclaiming righteous will look like for me. I do know it will have nothing to do with Us vs. Them, and it will have nothing to do with religious doctrine. These thing I know, the rest is yet to be seen.

righteous

For now I found this and it felt true.

 

Healing Through Art

Yesterday when I received the email from my relative I mentioned that I did not read it, only the first line. This is true but that first line was enough to leave me shaken, quite literally.

I have been taking good care to protect myself from the negativity of the world for some time now. It started with my decision to no longer watch violent TV, then I stepped back from watching the news everyday, then I made the decision to remove myself from social media, then I started to became mindful of how I spend my time and made the decision to be selectively social.

In order to be able to wake up to my own truth about myself and love and life and everything beyond these things I had to turn down the volume on everything else so I could hear my own truth and inner wisdom.

This has worked for me. I have had more epiphanies in all of these areas thanks to my solitude and silence than I have ever experienced previously in my life.

I will not go on this way forever. I may continue with some of these decisions such as my absence from social media and my decision to filter out the media and violence but socially I know that I will not remain a hermit long term. What is point of these epiphanies if I cannot build connection through sharing my truth with others and those I love?

For now this where I am at and I know with my whole being it is where I am meant to be.

These choices I have made have in essence been like a spiritual cleanse. An emotional/spiritual detox of sorts. A resetting of my soul and being. Because of this I have noticed that my level of emotional sensitivity has become heightened.This truth is what made my relative’s email so unbearable for me today. It is the reason I only got through the first sentence before I said to myself, No. I will not expose myself to this poison.

We receive invitations all day long through our interactions with the outside world. What is important to remember is that we are not obligated to accept these invitations. When my relative wrote that email he was essentially saying here is this darkness I have that I am not able to hold, I am bringing it to you so you can hold it for me and I can feel better. I knew immediately I could not grant this request for him. I declined this invitation and chose not to read the email as an act of self-love and emotional preservation.

That first sentence I read was like being bit by a venomous spider. I had a physical reaction. I began to shake. I recognized immediately the reaction I was having and stopped. I will not suffer to ease someone else’s suffering. I do not owe anyone that. I will not burn to keep someone else warm.

I took sometime to recover. Took a deep breath and wrote my truth in my response. After I felt better. I also sent a separate email to my extended family to offer them love and support and healing energy I felt they all might need to balance any difficult emotions they may be grappling with after the initial email from our relative.

Once I had done what I felt comfortable doing for those I love it was time to take care of me. I knew what I needed today: light, gray, AND, nature, painting, and writing. This is what that looked like for me..

  • I changed into my favorite gray clothing to wrap my soul in my own truth: that the world is not black and white, it is beautiful shades of gray where everything is allowed to exist together.
  • I lit my gray candle for healing and two more tea lights to bring light and love through the amethyst stones that held them.
  • I grabbed my art supplies and headed outside to set up shop among the leaves that blanket my backyard.

healing-and-art2

I spent the afternoon in the company of Lu, the squirrels, the leaves and trees, and gusting wind that would occasionally blow pollen and leaves into my paint and down my shirt. The afternoon was gray and overcast and I know the Universe did that for me because today I needed to feel the all consuming comfort and healing of the gray.

Lu looked on as I released the toxins from my system by slapping and spattering paint on to my canvas and across the leaves that served as my back drop. Gray and black and white and every color of the rainbow came flying off my paint brush and from my fingers in a mess of color and pain and love and surrender.

Then I began to write. I gave voice to every AND that was banging around in my soul. I bled it all out until I felt clean again. Until I knew it had all been heard, and seen, and released.

healing-and-arthealing-and-art1

As I look at this piece on my book shelf I have unending gratitude. It is holding so much for me and it does so without needing anything from me in return. This is how I know I am on a path of love and acceptance and healing. I did this for myself. I took my pain and I made something beautiful with it. In this way I AM THE ALCHEMIST.

This is a representation of the AND I am always talking about. This is life. It is messy AND confusing AND dark AND colorful AND light AND love AND GRAY.

There is room for everything here. The pain I felt when I read the first line of that email AND the clarity I felt in the message I was meant to send. The rage I had over what was said about someone else I love AND the compassion I felt for my family member who is clearly sitting in the middle of their own pain. The ability to express my own truth in that moment AND make room for others to express their own truth as well.

This is not easy work to do. I have not come to any of this in ease or grace. It is only through willingness to embrace my own darkness and shadows and love them fully that I have been able to wake up to my truth and share it so earnestly.

I am still working, I think I always will be. I know what took place here was important though and I wanted to make sure to give it recognition. I think it was another small step towards my something bigger, whatever that may be.

Badge of Honor

Processed with MOLDIV

I went to the dentist today to have some work done. It was to be a 2 hour procedure, the kind of thing most people dread. I was indifferent.I was indifferent because the dentist doesn’t bother me much. I definitely do not enjoy going to the dentist but I don’t dread it or get anxious either. It is just something I have to do sometimes to be healthy.

So I get in the chair, they numb me up, I put on my headphones and lay back for the next two hours while they do their thing. Some poking here, prodding there, “bite down on this for 5 five minutes”, “open wider”, “bite down”, “open wider”.. and so on.. 2 hours late she asked me to rinse and spit and I informed her that she still had cotton lodged up in my cheek. Suddenly she was flummoxed. Wait, you can feel that? You should still be numb..

Then after talking for a minute about what else I had been able to feel we realized they had not given me enough numbing agent at the beginning. Oops.

She commented on how I must have a high threshold for pain and I confirmed that I do and that was that.

When I was driving home I was thinking about it a bit more though and what that actually means.. People wear that truth like a badge of honor, I have a high threshold for pain, but what does that actually say about us?

Does a high threshold/tolerance for pain = I am really good at numbing. Or shutting down. Are we essentially just saying I am highly skilled at not feeling.

And why is it different for different people? Do some men have a high tolerance because of what it means to be a man in our patriarchal society? Do not show emotion. Do not cry. Do not allow yourself be vulnerable. Don’t be a pussy.

Do some of us have a high tolerance because of the other pain we have bore? Either no pain could ever be as severe as these initial painful experiences we have had or maybe it is that the initial experiences were so painful that we learned how to detach/numb in painful situations as a way of protection/self-preservation..

Either way it suddenly struck me as really odd that having a high tolerance for pain would be seen as a positive thing. Well, actually that is not true. I do think it is a positive thing, I still see it as a protective factor. I think what I mean is, yes maybe it is positive AND it is maybe kind of sad.

Good for you that you are able to take care of yourself this way AND I am sorry that whatever happened to you that made you develop this skill happened.

I do think in our society we try to cover pain up and put pretty details on it to make it more bearable when the truth is there is room for both the light and the dark when it comes to pain.

You can be a strong, resilient, survivor AND being completely shattered by the experience.

You can see a silver lining as a result of a painful situation AND feel engulfed by the storm cloud that created it.

There is room in this world for all of it. I do have a high tolerance for pain. This is true because of the pain my body has endured. I am quite skilled at detaching when I feel the need to protect myself. I have also become a skilled number. I have neither pride nor judgement towards these truths, they just are, and they are mine.

I guess what I am wondering is, will this will always be my truth? As work on rebuilding my relationship with my body and I go back to those places of pain and allow myself to finally feel it will my ability or want/need to numb still exist? Is it possible that I could get to place where I see pain as just a part of life and not longer fear it?

I don’t have answers for this right now but it was an interesting realization to wake up to.

numb

 

Truth Telling

truth

Last night after my revelation I closed everything down and went back to bed. It was 4:22 when I climbed in next to my pup and my hubs; as I did he stirred and then got up to go to the bathroom. When he returned he asked if I was okay and what I was still doing up. I told him I was fine and that I was writing and that I have things I would like to tell him but that it could wait until morning because clearly it was late and we were both tired. He smiled and said okay, told me he loved me and I slipped into a deep dreamless sleep.

Five hours later I woke up. We all did. Each of started to stretch and look around at each other and cuddle. We let Lu out, got her breakfast, got our own breakfast, and then scooted back to bed to eat and talk.

I put on oils in the bedroom, a mix of peppermint and lavender for clarity and calm. I lit my candle, I have many candles in my home but one is special, it is my candle, it’s light is there solely to support me. Then we crawled back into bed, him with his oatmeal, me with my peppermint tea and we started a new chapter in our relationship.

I told him that I experienced a shift last night and that I understood things I did not understand before and that I wanted to share these new realizations with him. Before I started I explained to him what I needed from him while we talked and that was space to be honest without it feeling like too much. He did not think that would be a problem.

He listened as I talked and when I was done, before moving on to another part of my epiphany I waited for feedback or questions. He was on board with everything, all of it. He understood everything I was saying and was open to all forms of honesty in our relationship. I made sure he knew that the standing invitation that he had always held for me, I was holding for him too. I am going to honest with you, in all forms, please trust me enough to know you can be that free here too. Our love is strong enough to hold this for us, it will only make it stronger. We agreed. We will move forward in this relationship without editing ourselves for the sake of the other. We will be real, and honest, and authentic, and build a deeper love on this.

Then I did something I have never done. I asked for help in my dark place. My therapy is what my therapy is, we are still separate from that part of my work because only I can do it. But there are other things that could get better if I ever trusted anyone enough to ask for help. He has shown me I am not too much, I am not asking too much, I am lovable, and he is not only willing but wants to help me should I ever ask. So I asked and he said yes. He is going to help me with practical aspects of overcoming my PTSD. We are going to work together to try and make me feel safe in ways I never have before.

This request was my very first step towards taking him up on his invitation of honesty and love.

Our relationship does not come up often in therapy because he is not something or someone I have to heal from. I realized though that he could help me heal. And that by being open to accepting his help I would also be opening myself up to a deeper level of trust within myself and in the relationship. I am learning to trust myself and trust him. I am learning to love myself and allow myself to be loved.

This is big stuff. It makes me think about the intention I started the year with, transformation. That is what this is. It is transformation, it is a learning and unlearning of love. I have been planted and now I am starting to sprout and grow.

Did You Hear That?

ptsd

One last post tonight to put myself at ease and to experience my own unburdening with the hopes of then falling into a restful sleep.

I have been sitting alone in the living room for the last hour writing. Normally I enjoy this quiet time; just me and the house and my tea and my thoughts. Normally. Sometimes though when I sit alone at night in my living room my PTSD creeps up on me, an unwelcome guest crashing my party, here to terrify me until I can barely breathe.

It started with a noise.

Was that a knock at the door? It can’t be, what time is it? No it’s much too late.. Then what was that noise?

Get up, heart pounding, stomach has already dropped out, adrenaline pumping. Walk into the bedroom;

Babe? Was that you?..
Oh it wasn’t? Then did you hear that?..
Oh you didn’t?.. Well I am sure I heard a knocking..
No but you don’t understand, I am sure I heard a knocking..
Okay, you’re probably right..

Return to my nest on the couch. Continue writing, but not without first enlisting the company of my trusty guard dog.

It was nothing. It was nothing.

Check to make sure the doors are locked..

It was nothing. You are safe. You are alone. You are safe. It was nothing.

Sit back on the couch continue writing.

Hear a knocking. Look at the dog. She didn’t react.

It was nothing. She would have reacted. She would have barked. It was nothing. You are safe. You are alone. You are safe.

You are alone. You are alone. You are alone. It is dark. You are alone.

You are okay. You are okay.

Continue writing.

Feel a bump on the couch. All systems on red alert. Heightened sense of hearing and touch. Aware of every inch of your surroundings. Listen… Listen…. Listen… Nothing.
Look at the dog. She didn’t react.

What was that? I am sure I felt something. Is there a monster under the couch?

You are not a child. Monsters are not real.

How do you know?

Try to convince the dog to come sit on the couch by you.

Come here baby.. C’mon.. Come here honey.

Give up. She is not moving. Continue writing.

No more noises. Heart rate back to normal. Menacing thoughts silence. Ability to focus restored. Sense of safety restored.

Normally I enjoy this quiet time; just me and the house and my tea and my thoughts.

Normally.

 

 

Find Me, Dear Heart: An Ode to Infinite Worthiness

worthy

Tonight I checked in with a friend. I am glad I did, she apparently has been struggling and I was not aware. I know it took a lot for her to even be open with me about her struggle. I am glad that I have done enough for our relationship to feel safe for her to share even a little bit, I know how scary it can feel to be honest during dark times. We talked for a while and her pain hurt my heart. It was not just her pain, but the shame she was unknowingly expressing.

She talked of the burden. The burden we all have felt at some point. The burden we carry that we will not allow others to shoulder for fear of burdening them. We don’t want to be too much, we don’t want to ask too much, we don’t want to risk running others off with our darkness. We don’t feel worthy of the comfort, and love, and connection that can come from allowing others in and trusting that they will want to stay and hold our hand through it.

I gave her my words, I tried to make her feel heard and loved and understood. Ultimately I know from my own experience that you can never feel connected with others and truly allow yourself to be unburdened until you begin to work on the relationship you have with yourself. Until you love yourself you will never feel worthy of the love and comfort that can come from others because you will not believe you are worthy of it. It is an up hill climb and it is a long road she is on, but I know she is on it and that gives me hope.

I am no poet but tonight I want to close this post by sending a message out into the universe with the hope that my friend will feel it and feel comfort..

Find me, dear heart.
I know the pain you carry.
The pain of I cannot burden another person with my load.
The pain of I am not worthy of your time, your consideration, your love.
The pain of the awful voices in your head that torture you with hurtful untruths about yourself.
Find me, dear heart.

I see you.
I see your greatness.
I know what bubbles beneath your surface.
I know because what dwells in your soul dwells in mine as well.
I am darkness too, your dark does not frighten me, it is not too much.
And like me, you contain the brightest light, a light that is uniquely and magnificently you.
So find me, dear heart, and let me be your mirror.

A mirror that can reflect for you the love, and connection, and wholeness you are worthy of.

Coming Out

power

We just got back from the Women’s Rally downtown. It was incredible. We heard the music and crowd while we were still walking a block away towards the event, when we turned the corner and I saw the scene laid out before me I began to cry. It was like coming home.

It was so beautiful. There were families, and every different kind of person you could possibly imagine. I saw fellow social workers, and some of my professors, and even our PCP walked by us with cat ears on! It was so great to see so many people I personally know but also just the turn out in general. The messages people were carrying on the signs they made were love, pure love. Some were also sad, sad because of the truth they hold. I cried behind my sun glasses for the first ten minutes while we were there, I was so overcome by the energy of it all and what it meant to me personally as someone who has very real reasons to be afraid right now. I am sure I was not the only person who felt so moved.

We walked around and took it all in and then planted ourselves so we could listen to the speakers. The first speaker spoke of the importance of coming out and how the rest of the world could learn a thing or two from our LGTBQ+ brothers and sisters about coming out. She talked about the importance of coming out everyday; in the grocery when we see someone treated poorly, at our jobs when we are afraid to speak out against something we know isn’t right, in our families, in our relationships, in public, everywhere. We have to come out as the people we actually are and have the courage to be seen. She talked about coming out as feminists, and as allies, and in all these other ways. We have to be willing to come out and been seen as the people we actually are and then live in that power of wholeness and authenticity everyday. It is a big ask, I know this because as much as I was inspired by her words I was also afraid.

I was afraid for the same reason we are all afraid; how will this change my life? will being my true self negatively impact my life/work/relationships? what if _____ isn’t/aren’t okay with it?
An extra fear for me that has always kept me small is fear of my safety. It is a fear I know I share with many. Coming out means allowing those who hate us without even knowing us to see us. In the closet we are safe, those who claim to hate us can’t see us. Coming out means taking an enormous risk. For some of us the stakes are higher than just will this person stop being my friend? or will this family member disown me?
For some of us it is will someone try to hurt me?

I was inspired though in spite of my fear. And just being in the presence of all these amazing, open minded, loving people made my light feel all the way turned up.

I agree that we need to come out, it is the only way to accomplish real progress. We have to step out of our fear and into our greatness.

When I think about my own coming out I know I am still operating from a place of fear, but I am working on it, and maybe one day I will find that courage to turn my light all the way up.

Unraveling a Scribble

All day I have been on the fence about writing. Now that it is closer to bed time I have decided to get this out for fear it will keep me up if I don’t. Day two of the New Year was met with all consuming anxiety. I almost had a panic attack while we were running an errand earlier and it took me quite sometime to release the energy once we were home.

I have been on the verge of a panic attack for over a month now, it pops up at random times but the current of anxiety has been constant for sometime.

I am pretty sure I have my finger on the cause, that does not mean I have control over how it is making me feel though.

Today while hubs was helping me through it I discussed the possibility of going back on the anxiety meds I was on 5 years ago. I have been reluctant because I am in therapy and literally learning therapeutic techniques in school on how to cope.. I keep telling myself I should be able to get by without the meds.

I have not seen my therapist in a few weeks because of the holiday so I have decided to wait and process everything with her before making a final decision.

My family is definitely part of the recent flare up. Even creating a physical boundary between myself and the drama is not enough if I am not better about my emotional boundaries. There are certain family members I do not have good emotional boundaries with and it is as if I can feel what they are feeling. It is exhausting. I am exhausted.

Another source of the recent panic I am sure has to do with my being sick for over a month. Illness is an anxiety trigger for me. A lot of my trauma centers around me not feeling in control over my body during different parts of my life and for different reasons. When I am sick I am not in control of my body, it is a major trigger for me. The last antibiotic I took for my ear infection did not take so I am still walking around feeling swimmy headed with clogged ears. I know to most it seems like just a simple inconvenience but for me it feels scary, like I am out of control.

This brings me to the last source that I have identified and that is the work I am committed to doing in therapy this year. I mentioned previously that this year I am going to start working on my relationship with my body. That  means a lot of things and they all scare me. I don’t think there is anyway to get around the fact that this is going to be painful and the probability of me seriously struggling is high.

When I was talking with hubs today about possibly getting back on the meds I told him it was primarily because I do not want to suffer. That is my fear, that is what I have been trying to numb and escape all these years, suffering. At the time of that conversation i was talking specifically about my fear of having panic attacks and that I do not want to suffer in that regard but honestly I think it was a deeper piece that was speaking up. I am afraid of what comes next in my work. I know it is an important part and will be so healing but I am afraid of how much it will hurt and I do not want to suffer. There are things I do not want to relive. My body is still holding things that I think it will only be able to release if I do this work but I am so scared.

It feels better to say some of this out loud and be honest about how scared I feel right now.. AND it hurts too. I can feel the tension my shoulders and neck as I write this, it is as if an elephant is sitting on my shoulders.

To make myself feel better today I put on some oils, I cleansed myself with sage and a bell (it may sound hippy woo woo but it works for me), I stretched, I played a game with hubs to help distract myself, I lit candles, I drank a balancing tea blend, I watched a movie from childhood that brings me joy, and when I was finally feeling a bit more like myself I put on music and danced. That last part is what really yanked me out of it. I put on my Sade station on Pandora and danced while making dinner. Hubs laughed as Lucy and I danced to Creep by TLC and then he spun me around the kitchen to Georgia by Ray Charles.

Something else I did that really helped was paint. I was sitting on the couch in the sun room with the Buddha board hubs got me for Christmas and I noticed the shadow I was casting on it. I started painting my shadow and there was something very symbolic about that to me. So I got a canvas, returned to the couch, and painted my very first self portrait..

self-potrait

I think it somehow very appropriate that my first self portrait would be of my shadow. I think it speaks to the work I have to do yet with my own shadow pieces.. I think it speaks to the dark place I was in today.. I think it speaks to my need to dig deeper within myself so I may know myself better.. It also speaks to deeper things that I do not discuss openly on this forum but that are very meaningful as well. It was symbolic to say the least. This was my first painting of 2017 and at first something about that made me sad, like I was starting the year off in darkness but then I read this..

transformation1

My mantra for this year is one of transformation, that will not take place just in light and love.. I have to be willing to go back to places of darkness and pain and bring light and love to the pieces of me that are still residing there. I have to take light and love to the parts of my body I am afraid to look at because of the trauma they experienced. This will be scary, and I have always been afraid of the dark, but there will be light and it is up to me to shine it.  My hope is that by years end I will have the courage to paint another self-portrait and from this darkness my deep hope is to find the butterfly.

Tomorrow is my first day of therapy, I am excited and scared. I just keep telling myself You are safe and it is going to be okay.

You are safe. And it is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. You are going to be okay.

Soap like Erasers

soap

The universe has been sending me a message for a while and I have known this but was not ready. It has been woven into my life disguised as the ordinary; a conversation here, a sign or symbol there. There were three major signs recently and that is what finally made me say okay enough, I am ready.

I was working with client recently and the conversation led to me using validation and body positive messages. After I felt good about the work we did together AND I felt like a bit of a phony.

A few weeks later I was with my love and he said something that I feel like all women want to hear (myself included) but the truth is it hurt to hear it because I did not believe him. It is not that I did not believe that he felt what he was saying, it was that I do not agree and I do not feel that way about myself.

2 days ago I was in the shower, the night before I had been painting and as per usual I still had paint on my legs and fingers. I took the bar of soap and rubbed it up and down my thigh until the streak of black paint faded into nothing and the water washed away the soap. This led to the literal inspiration of this post (although the larger inspiration has been building for some time). As I watched the paint on my leg disappear under the bar of soap I thought about how the soap looked so much like an eraser in that moment. It made me wonder.. How many times have I gotten in the shower and used the soap like an eraser to wash away pain?

We all do it. Showers have never been just for washing our physical body.

If we have a bad day we can step into the shower and wash it away.
If we are sick we step into the shower and let that hot water cleanse us and wash away the germs.
If our heart is broken we step into the shower and cry so no one can tell the difference between the water from the spout and our tears.

The thing about this though is that it doesn’t actually work. The shower is not some magical portal where when you step in it erases bad days or illness and last I checked it does not have magical healing properties that allow it to mend a broken heart.

Me using the soap to erase the paint from my body did not take away the fact that the night before I painted, it just cleaned the paint off.

Suddenly it hit me. All these showers I have taken over the years to erase awful things that have happened to my body have erased nothing. My shower is not a portal that can undo trauma my body has experienced. Until I go back and be with my body in these places of hurt I am not going to feel authentic when having a body positive conversation with a client, and I am never going to be able to believe my husband when he compliments me because I cannot see what he sees.

Something I have said for a long time is that is important to me that I am not asking my clients to do anything that I am not willing to do myself. Up to this point I have been not been ready to do this part of my work but now I am.

I know this next year will be transformative for me and I know with my whole being that this part of my work is going to play a very big part in that transformation. A very big, painful part.. And I am scared. I am scared to go back to some of these places with my body. I have gone back emotionally and started the healing process that way but this is different.

What I can do to help myself prepare for this next part on my journey inward is to remind myself of the progress I have already made in having  better relationship with my body.

I listen better. This shows in little ways like what I eat and when, taking breaks when needed, even in what I wear. Some clothes hurt so I have stopped wearing them. High heels for example, it they are uncomfortable I will not wear them. I set the intention a while ago that I will not cause my body pain for vanity sake. I can feel beautiful and be comfortable.

I am more accepting of my body as it is. I do not feel the need to wear make up or paint my nails for others. If I am doing either it is for me only and I have checked in with my body first. Personal grooming, I have talked about this before, I will not feel shame for the fact that my body naturally grows hair. I shave when it feels right and am not mean to myself when I don’t. My hair has a right to be there and I am beautiful either way.

This is a good start these two things but I know there is much work to be done and I am ready. I have to do things for myself so I know how to helps others in these same places of pain. You do not learn these lessons from the text book, somethings can only come from the soul.

I love hot showers, hot baths, the cleansing nature of water in general. I love the way it can wash over me and hold me and make me feel whole. I also recognize that by doing this work I may no longer need water for this and I certainly will not look to soap to act as an eraser any longer. What if I could hold me and make me feel whole. What if I had the power of water?

 

Light Workers

light-workers

I was watching a video recently about a young woman with cystic fibrosis and her message was all about being in pain and being able to see beauty. It was about life and death and not being afraid. The video ended with her sharing this pearl, the people who have been through the most are the people who have the most to give.

This morning my mother called to wish me a happy birthday. She asked what special thing I had planned for myself and I told her that today is my last day at internship this semester and I plan to meet with all of my clients and meet some goals with them. I have scheduled a busy day for myself. Up to this point I have not been able to meet with all of my clients in one day. My Mom responded by saying, well that is keeping in tune with who you are, you are going to spend your day giving of yourself.

Her words made me think of the young woman’s words..

I believe the light workers of the world have stepped into their truth because of the darkness they have known. I believe every great healer’s journey begins with healing themselves. It is the people who have been through the most who have the most to give back and it is because they understand on a deeper level how much what they have to give is needed.

I had another great week at internship. I am thankful for the clients I have been able to work with this semester. I am thankful for how we have impacted each other. I am thankful for a placement where I am given so many opportunities to learn and grow. I am thankful that as a country we have been catapulted into uncharted territories and that this has given the light workers this awesome challenge to turn up their light, to stand up and remain standing, to be an example of love every single day without falter.

There is amazing work to be done during this time in our world’s history, I am honored that I am living now and able to be a part of it. I am grateful to be waking up to my own truth, to be turning up my light and stepping into my greatness. I am thankful that by walking my own true path and I am able to help others find theirs and step into their greatness as well.

33 is going to be an amazing year. It will be transformative, and cleansing, a year of growth and truth, a year of greatness and great opportunities. 33 will be all of this and more, I can feel it.

My darkness is what has brought to this place. Dark times lead to deeper connections. A deeper connection to yourself, to humanity, to suffering, to love, to pain. Dark times lead to a love of light that you cannot know unless you have dwelled in a place where light did not exist. This is why those who have been through the most have the most to give. This is why it is so special that I get to spend my special day doing what I do, giving of myself and sharing my light.

Of course I would be happy to spend the whole day painting and reading and eating dark chocolate.. But this year this is what feels right. I love myself enough that if I did not want to work on my birthday I wouldn’t. This year I know this is where I am meant to be and this is what I am meant to be doing. The signs have been there all along. This is my special day so I am going to take all that light and love I feel for myself and that I am receiving from those who love me and want to celebrate me and I am going to share it.

healer

Happy Birthday to me. You’ve done good this year sweet girl. I love you and I know this next year will be one for the books.

That Wasn’t My Best Me

energy

This last week was not one of my best and I certainly did not show up with my light turned up. Between bad energy at internship, Thanksgiving not going according to plan, and then hubs and I both getting the flu over the weekend.. I have not been at my best emotionally, physically, or mentally.

I am so close to the end of the semester and having a break from internship, there is piece of me that is tempted to just sit in this place of anxiety and negativity until the break. Why though? Why would I deliberately put off feeling better? Because it would be more work to actively try and feel better while I still have work to do and assignments to complete rather than just allow myself to give into what feels easy, this negative energy.

I had been doing so well with my intention of turning up my light. I am disappointed that I was so easily derailed by other people’s energy, illness, and just life in general. How committed was I if it was that easy to give in?

I think it is good though. It causes me to reflect and realize how easy it is to forget our purpose. This is not something I can be passive about. It is something I have to be actively engaged in everyday. Waking with intention, going to bed with gratitude. I admit I have been doing neither for last few days.

I can give myself space though, I have been ill and in a medicated delirium. Now that I am starting to feel better though I would like to get back to having mindful intention and gratitude. I have felt incredibly unbalanced the last week or so. That is how it goes sometimes though. I can try to show up as my best self everyday but the truth is I am human and sometimes I am going to show up in very human ways which may not feel like my best spiritual self.

So tonight as I am getting ready for a very big week that I know I have underlying anxiety around I would like to show my dark pieces love. My sick pieces, my vulnerable pieces, my scorned pieces, my jealous and angry pieces, my very human and beautifully flawed pieces that show up in painfully honest ways.

I am doing my best and my best looks different depending on the day. Today my best was taking care of body while it healed from the flu and giving Lu a bath after she rolled in the dirt even though I was completely exhausted.

Yesterday my best was making a conscious effort not to puke on my husband.

Tomorrow I will start my day with whatever intention is awake inside of me and I will give the day my best, whatever that looks like tomorrow.

Sacred Femininity

divine

I need to start by saying that after my last post I was sitting in a bit of a vulnerability hang over. It is not easy to not only see your own darkness, but to sit in it and then allow others to see it as well. My ability to not only acknowledge the existence of my shadow pieces but to give them voice when needed and love them just as they are is what healing looks like for me.

This kind of ties into my current inspiration which is the healing power of feminine energy. Feminine energy to me is nurturing, it is creation, it is love, it is divine, it is pure and unending, it is acceptance on every level. I just finished my latest painting and it has to do with creation, and transformation, and evolution, and how all things are connected, and the power of feminine energy. There is a lot of symbolism in this piece. It was also in part inspired by the female body.

transformation

It felt so good to be painting again. After I finished it I kept seeing more and more symbolism in what I had created, even beyond what my initial inspiration was.

It felt really good to sit in this healing feminine energy after the darkness I allowed myself to sit in and share, after weeks of being exposed to toxic energy out in the world.. I have been talking for a while about how to balance the negative energy that exists in the world right now this goes back to that. There is balance in everything; darkness is balanced by light, negative and positive, hate and love, destruction and creation, masculine energy and feminine energy. In the middle of each of these extremes is the balance, the gray area.

My light is aflame and I am embracing my own sacred femininity because my truth is that the sacred feminine energy that each of us possesses is what will save the world. The Dali Lama said the world will be saved by the western woman, some thought that meant Hillary, some think it means western women as a whole, I think it has to do with being in tune with our collective feminine energy. That nurturing, maternal, infinite loving energy. That is what will save the world. I am stepping into that energy in my own life and am seeing the impact it can have. What would happen if we all led from a place of love and light?

dali-lama