Trust

I have been a bit stuck lately. In a bit of a funk. Feeling heavy. But you know what? That shit doesn’t last forever and I am back on top. Today anyway. After kicking my own ass for what seems like forever over my perceived inability to keep my heart open, I went to see my friend AJ. She is a bad ass warrior goddess and one of my favorite people in the world. She is also an an amazing massage therapist. She has a good idea of what’s going on with me and we talked about it for a bit before she gave me the best massage of my life. She did some energy work on me during the massage and helped open me up, because really, I was stuck. I left there feeling completely drained and the only thing I wanted to do was cry. But there were no tears. Also, I had shit to do. I stopped by the grocery store for a couple of things, but as soon as I walked in the door I knew it wasn’t the place for me. But as I had one foot inside the store I saw my beautiful friend Nadine. I wrapped my arms around her and got the sweetest hug and felt the Nadine love that anyone who knows her has experienced. Then I immediately left the store. Because fuck that. I went home and drank herbal tea and rested for a bit before I ventured back out to live my life. I had a 4 o’clock yoga class to teach and then a moon circle to lead. My yoga students are always loving and kind. They were fine with me teaching an extra gentle class that day. Next came the moon circle that I didn’t really have the energy to facilitate. And guess what? The goddesses in my life didn’t judge me. They loved and supported me. We loved and supported each other. And we had a moon circle. A powerful moon circle. In the center of our circle was a jar of journal prompts that I wrote for the women to take home and reflect on. It was quite amazing to see how everyone reached their hand in the jar and happened to pick the one that was right in line with what they had shared about in the circle. The Universe is always awesome like that. My journal prompt said “What does trust mean to me?” So perfect. Because trust is a hard one for me. It’s part of the reason I do that thing I do. The “closing off” or if we want to use the word dissociate, we can. Whatever. I disconnect. I do it because I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe because I don’t trust. I don’t trust because I’ve been in situations in the past that weren’t safe. So I learned to go elsewhere. That came up for me in therapy this week. My therapist wasn’t nearly as bothered by it as I am. She is sure that when I am ready, I will let go of that protective mechanism. Maybe it’s just not time yet. Seems things don’t always happen NOW just because I want them to. They happen when they are supposed to. Or maybe when I stop forcing and start allowing. I think that’s the key. Allowing. I love everything about that word.
The trust word came up with my therapist Friday and I was asked to answer that question from my journal prompt. “What does trust mean to me?” The only thing I could come up with was non judgement. I have a fear of being judged. I always feel like I’m being judged. This opened up a whole can of worms that led me to investigate exactly who it is that judges me. Can you guess who it is that is constantly judging me? Because it only took me about two minutes to figure it out. Shit. It’s ME. I am so hard on myself. I criticize myself and am never quite as good as I think I should be. One of the women from moon circle even mentioned to me on Thursday that I seem to be hard on myself. As much as I teach about self love and self acceptance, there is always that little voice in my own head talking shit to me. She’s a bit of an asshole and likes to make me think I’m not worthy. That’s the voice I need to question. That’s who isn’t trustworthy. Now I get to practice the art of “taking a deep breath and remembering who the fuck I am.” I get to practice radical self love. Thank you Universe for the perfect timing on this lesson because yesterday I spent two and a half hours at my studio attending a workshop all about self love. My friend Sandi taught the workshop and it was wonderful. I connected with women I know and women I had never met. I was especially touched by two women who were 70 years old and learning all of the things that I am learning now. It reassured me that I am not behind and that this life is always a journey of learning, unlearning and relearning. I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment. I allow my life to unfold naturally. I flow. I don’t force.
This morning I woke up at 4:30. Partly because all of these thoughts were swimming in my head and partly because I was excited to go to yoga church and practice with my favorite teacher. My Catherine. Another bad ass woman in my life.
There’s really no way for me not to heal, recover and thrive. There’s no way I could possibly stay in a low vibration for too long. My life is a steady stream of experiences that nurture my body, mind and spirit. I have designed my life that way. My entire life supports my healing and recovery. That is bad ass! I did that work. Me. The more I look at that and think about it the more I realize that I can trust myself. I am trustworthy AF. I know exactly how to care for me. I know how to keep me safe. I know how to love and support myself. I know exactly what I need and I am capable of making sure I get it. It definitely helps that I have an amazing tribe of bad ass women to love and support me and hold hands with me along the way. It takes a village. For all of us. My village rocks so hard. ❤️

Inner Child Healing

This week my therapist asked me if “I ever have anyone sitting in front of me in circles or what not who obviously don’t want to talk about something.” She asked what I do when that happens. She said she uses that time to take notes. And then she took notes. Can you believe that it was hours later before I had a clue that she was talking about ME? Of course I don’t want to talk about things with her because the things she wants to talk about don’t always feel good. My preference would be to go in, sit down and tell her all of the amazing things going on in my life. My life really is FULL of amazing things that I am grateful for every day. I especially feel good when I can present her with some work that I did on my own or some fascinating discovery I have made about myself. It’s a classic “Look at me, I am so good!” moment. And really, all that stuff is great. What’s not so great is the actual work I am doing. Inner child healing. First of all, I know I said I wasn’t going to “work” on myself anymore. Obviously, that’s not true. Second, It’s more like figuring things out than work. Third, I am my favorite project. Inner child healing is no joke. She mentioned this to me over a month ago. I bought the book she recommended and jumped right in. If there’s a book involved, I am usually all about it. But then it got weird. Unfamiliar. Uncomfortable. So I stopped. My favorite line is “that’s weird and I’m not doing it.” It was that way for me when I got to AA. It was that way when meditation was suggested to me. It was that way when I went to my first yoga class. Weird. Not for me. I ignored the idea for a month and eventually came back to the book. I skipped the first few chapters because they were weird and not for me. Then I hit on the inner 3 to 6 year old. And HOLY FUCKING SHIT. So that’s what happened? Mind blowing really. I won’t get into specifics, but I will tell you that there was some trauma I first experienced at this age that shaped the way I processed, dealt with and lived in the world. This little girl needs to be protected. She needs to feel safe. She needs lots of love and support. She is me. Her experience makes me sad because she is also the little girl who learned to numb herself with drugs and alcohol at a crazy young age. I haven’t even started on the 7 – 12 year old and wonder just how that works since that child was already using. And missing out on being a child. Guess I’ll figure that out soon enough. Or not. I still really struggle with staying open with my therapist. Some days I do great, and some days I feel the wall go up and I feel myself become numb. I don’t know how else to explain it. She tells me she experiences me as going in and out of being present. I think that is called disassociation. I’ve read the DSM too many times for someone who is not a psychologist. I am just going to call it throwing up the wall and closing my heart. And I hate it so much. I know that it is a way I protected myself in the past and that it served me well then. It’s time to let that go because it truly doesn’t serve me today. I just don’t know how. I can do yoga poses to open my heart. I can meditate and recite mantras. I can write about it, teach about it and talk about it. I have yet to figure out how to get there and how to stay there. On the days when I shut down like that, it feels like a giant step back. A friend told me it’s a stand still day and not a step back. I can live with that. I can be still and be ok. Meditation has given me that gift. I don’t have to hurry through this process. I don’t even have to love the process. I just have to love me. I am being extra gentle with myself through it all. Making sure to sleep enough and eat the right foods. Random daytime baths are a must. The main thing is to remind that little girl that it all turns out alright. She’s a little warrior. A survivor.

Born to Fly

“If you want to fly you have to give up what’s weighing you down.” I love inspirational quotes because without them I might not have survived 2012. Seriously. I would scroll through my FB newsfeed and feel those quotes in my soul and sob because I just couldn’t pull it together. Letting go of what weighs us down is never as easy as it sounds. Especially when you don’t even know what you are holding onto. Alcohol was a hard one for me to let go of, but oh my, when I did, I began to soar. I’ve basically had two lives. The drunk life or BS-Before Sobriety and my current, sober life. Sober life is the shit. It’s all the feels all the time. Unless I am throwing up an emotional wall to not feel things, which I still do, but that’s another post for another time. I am always in the process of letting go of something. It’s a practice. I’m not a one and done type of person, but I am oh so thorough. This week’s practice is all about letting go of self limiting beliefs. I am worthy of all the good things in my life. I have done the work to be where I am. I am letting go of doubts. I have a little voice that will talk me right out of doing the things I want and need to do if I listen to it. I am letting go of judging myself harshly. I’m letting go of all the ways I get in my own way. And then there’s the list of things that I’m just not ready to let go of yet. And that’s OK. I have a beautiful (to me) reminder in the form of a tattoo on my rib that I can “Let it Be.” When I let go of the things that weigh me down, I create space in my life for the things that inspire me. I create space for the things that bring me joy and lead to my ultimate happiness. When I let go, I create space for spirit to enter me and flow through me, working its magic and helping me shine my light into the world. ❤️

When I am Open, I am Able to Receive.

When I am open, I am able to receive. I can hear the message intended for me from anywhere and anyone. IF I am open. This week I heard the message loud and clear. Last weekend. I was at a Y12SR training which was being led by an amazing woman named Nikki Myers. I love so many things about this woman, but mostly I love that she walks her talk. She is so real and relatable. She threw out the term “Namaste Mother Fucker” which, as you can imagine, I freaking loved. She went on to talk about what “Namaste Mother Fucker” means. It’s looking for the light, the Namaste, the God in every mother fucker that comes across her path. Every shitty person and every shitty situation as well as the good ones. All of it. Look for the Namaste. I loved that so much. Fast forward to yesterday, I walked into my therapist’s office and got comfortable on her couch. I suspect she was having a difficult morning, or maybe a difficult week since this was Friday. The window and the wall of her office were jacked up because someone had crashed their car into it. The first words out of her mouth to me where how she has decided that her job is to look for God in every person she sees and every situation she’s in. My jaw dropped a little, because damn! Damn! That was the second time I had heard that this week. From two completely different people. Boom! Thank you Universe. I hear your message loud and clear. Synchronicity, it’s the language of the Universe. Some people call these God Winks, or coincidences. I don’t care what you call it, if I am paying attention, and open, I receive. During that hour, the amount of work I do on myself, for myself, “might” have came up. And it “might” have been brought to my attention that maybe I don’t have to do all that “work” on myself because I am already perfect as I am. In God’s eyes. I usually have such an aversion to the Christian speak, but yesterday, it didn’t bother me in the least. It felt right. When I am open, I am able to receive. The message was one I needed to hear. One of my favorite quotes from the Zen Buddhist Monk Shunryu Suzuki Roshi is this. “You’re perfect just as you are…and you could use a little improvement.” Maybe there’s a happy balance there. Maybe I don’t have to constantly “work” on myself. Maybe shit comes up and I handle it as it presents itself. Maybe I don’t have to look for it. Whew! What a concept! And maybe, just maybe, while I am busy finding God in everyone, I should start with myself. Because I am already perfect. I am already whole. I forgive myself for not knowing that sooner. ❤️
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Healing

I took myself on a two hour date Saturday night. In my fortress of solitude. There was sacred cacao, candles, meditation, chanting, yoga and dancing. I capped it off with some time in my journal. This is self care for me. I am all for manicures and massages and highly recommend them, however, sometimes (often) I need a big dose of self care on a soul level. On Sunday morning I took myself to “yoga church.” Yoga church recenters me and connects me to myself like nothing else. It reminds me of where I’ve been and where I am going. My body was so open during my practice. I’m sure it helped that the heat was on, but more than anything the time I spent with myself on Saturday showed up in my practice. I felt strong, centered and so open. I can measure what’s going on inside of me emotionally by what my body does physically on the mat. I had a tough time in therapy last week and I wrote about it. Sharing helps me to heal. It helps me move through the process. This week I went in fully prepared to be the best at EMDR again. Only this time there was no EMDR. I actually did my “homework” and we had more than enough to work with. I’ve heard in AA meetings that the real work doesn’t start until we are 5 years sober. I’m obviously an advanced student because at 4 years in, this is feeling like the real work. My mood has been a little “off” since last week, but it’s ok. I’m learning to dig into the darkness and then leave it so as not to stay stuck in it. My therapist assured me that I’m strong enough to stay stuck in it for a bit. In case I was doubting myself. Which I do. The one thing I don’t doubt is that I will be ok. In fact, I am sure that the work I’m doing now will make me stronger, healthier and happier. Eventually. First it’s going to piss me off and make me sad. I found this parable in a book I’m reading. As per usual, the message was right on time.

A Parable:

The Prisoner In The Dark Cave

“There once was a man who was sentenced to die. He was blindfolded and put in a pitch dark cave. The cave was 100 yards by 100 yards. He was told that there was a way out of the cave, and if he could find it, he was a free man.

After a rock was secured at the entrance to the cave, the prisoner was allowed to take his blindfold off and roam freely in the darkness. He was to be fed only bread and water for the first 30 days and nothing thereafter. The bread and water were lowered from a small hole in the roof at the south end of the cave. The ceiling was about 18 feet high. The opening was about one foot in diameter. The prisoner could see a faint light up above, but no light came into the cave.

As the prisoner roamed and crawled around the cave, he bumped into rocks. Some were rather large. He thought if he could build a mound of rocks and dirt that was high enough, he could reach the opening and enlarge it enough to crawl through and escape. Since he was 5’9”, and his reach was another two feet, the mound had to be at least 10 feet high..

So the prisoner spent his waking hours picking up rocks and digging up dirt. At the end of two weeks, he had built a mound of about six feet. He thought that if he could duplicate that in the next two weeks, he could make it before the food ran out. But as he had already used most of the rocks in the cave, he had to dig harder and harder. He had to do the digging with his bare hands. After a month had passed, the mound was 9 ½ feet high and he could almost reach the opening if he jumped. He was almost exhausted and extremely weak.

One day just as he thought he could touch the opening, he fell. He was simply too weak to get up, and in two days he died. His captors came to get his body. They rolled away the huge rock that covered the entrance. As the light flooded into the cave, it illuminated an opening in the wall of the cave about three feet in circumference.

The opening was the opening to a tunnel which led to the other side of the mountain. This was the passage to freedom the prisoner had been told about. It was in the south wall directly under the opening in the ceiling. All the prisoner would have had to do was crawl about 200 feet and he would have found freedom. He had so completely focused on the opening of light that it never occurred to him to look for freedom in the darkness. Liberation was there all the time right next to the mound he was building, but it was in the darkness.”

And there it is. So powerful. And right as we approach the winter solstice. The darkest night of the year. The work I’m doing isn’t easy, but I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. I’ve found a good guide on the path and I have an amazing tribe of loving and supportive people who have my back through the process. I am a warrior. ❤️83A47216-A6A8-4EFE-A661-A623121DC58D

EMDR Therapy

I recently started therapy again with a new to me therapist. I have been hesitant to mention this on social media, but I’m not really sure why. I openly share my story of recovery and this step is part of that process. Never have I ever gone into therapy when I wasn’t in the middle of a crisis. Until this time. I am a strong, sober, emotionally stable woman. And yet I still struggle with a few things. I’m sure that’s natural. Especially for someone “like me.” My new to me therapist thinks it might be time to heal some past trauma. A lot of what she calls trauma, I just call normal shit that happens when you are an addict or an alcoholic. A lot of what she calls trauma is actually real, unhealed trauma. She suggested we go the EMDR route. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with EMDR, but a quick google search will fill you in and save me the trouble of posting a link. I have this desire to be the very best EMDR patient EVER, get through it quickly and heal completely. All in record time. However, this isn’t the way it’s going. In fact, I would say I suck at it. My therapist earned my complete respect today when I completely shut down (again) and wouldn’t/couldn’t share with her. I learned a lot about her while I wasn’t talking. I learned that she is patient and kind and willing to walk me through this process that is painful and not nearly as simple as I was hoping it would be. She’s also a bit of a hard ass which is good for me because I need someone who will push me. Gently. I am strong today and ready to do the hard work. I say that as I sit here writing this blog instead of writing in my journal actually doing the hard work. And this makes me laugh. I do know for sure and certain that the one thing that always helps me is sharing with the world. Even when it makes me feel vulnerable and scared. There’s always that one reader who sends me a “me too” message. That helps the most.
Today in therapy we talked about shame and forgiveness, and really, who the fuck wants to talk about those two? Not me. Not today. So I closed completely, feeling FULL of shame and not ready for forgiveness. I left there having accomplished very little. I stopped by the Buddhist temple on my way home for a few minutes of quiet time with the giant, green Buddha. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. And I have missed it. The monk noticed me and was kind enough to point out that I haven’t been there in a while. I told him I would be back on Sunday. Now I pretty much have to go back on Sunday. This also makes me laugh. All are welcome to join me Sunday! After the temple I went to the studio to teach my 4 o’clock class. We began our practice by pulling an oracle card. I got the forgiveness card. Of course. Thank you Universe. I hear your message loud and clear. I am not sure exactly who I am supposed to forgive, but I suspect the list is long and difficult. I have done the acceptance work. I guess forgiveness isn’t necessarily the same thing. So here I go. Diving in. Attempting to stay open. Doing the work. I have no doubt it’s going to be hard before it gets easy. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are days that I want to pluck my eyeballs out. My hope is that I won’t. Wish me luck.

Looking Back

There’s nothing like peeking back through old journals to realize how far you’ve come. Once upon a time this was me, giving myself a little affirmation pep talk. IMG_5570 4 1/2 years ago that was the best I had. I find this hilarious today, although at the time it was serious business. Knowing that “I am ok” was enough. Knowing that “things could be worse” was good enough for me. It’s amazing to me how day by day we don’t notice how we are growing and changing, but then we see a reminder of who we used to be and WOW! When did that happen? It sure as Hell didn’t happen overnight. I became the queen of affirmations in a treatment center. I plastered my walls and mirrors with post it notes of affirmations. Not that I believed them, but they were nice to read. I wrote affirmations for the other women in the center too. They loved it and would seek me out every morning so I could give them a new one for the day. It gave us something positive to focus on and made us all feel a little better. For me it was the beginning of learning to love myself. Today I am a bad ass spiritual gangster who breathes love and light into the world and radiates peace and serenity. See?! I’m so much better at the way I speak to myself today. Because I practice. I have learned to speak to myself like I speak to other people I love. I have compassion for myself and when I make a mistake, which I often do, I forgive myself and move on. I don’t berate myself or get stuck coming down on myself. That’s not helpful and it causes more harm.
And while I’m here talking about growth, and sharing old journal entries, here’s this little gem. A few of my followers and friends will totally get this. This one is from an old Therapy workbook. IMG_5573.JPG
Another thing I didn’t understand before I got sober was emotions. I think I had a good idea of what anger was. I was fortunate enough to land my ass in a Dialectical Behavior Therapy group to help me figure my emotions out. It was like Kindergarten for the emotionally unstable alcoholic I was. I sat in this group looking around at the people at the table and judging them because they had real problems. Unlike me. Who was sitting at the same table. Not at all unlike the way I sat in AA meetings judging “those people.” 😂 Life is funny. Growth is beautiful. I don’t even recognize that girl today but I remember her. I much prefer the woman I know and love today.

4 Years ❤️

I couldn’t let this day pass without telling the world that today I have been sober for FOUR YEARS. That’s 1,462 days of feeling all the feels without numbing myself out. Four years of healing. Four years of growing emotionally and spiritually. Four years of making (mostly) good choices. Four years that have been beautiful because I have been awake and completely present. I love this day more than my actual birthday because this day four years ago is the day I chose to live. I didn’t just wake up on this day four years ago and stop drinking. That would have been great. Getting sober was a process for me. A long process. I know some people who actually do wake up one day, make that decision and get sober. That’s not my story. I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol. Everyone I knew drank A LOT. It really didn’t seem to me like I should be the only one getting sober. I knew I would never have fun again. I was sure of that. I had been bouncing in and out of treatment centers, ER’s, medical detox facilities and even the ha ha hospitals. It was a long, miserable road for me and my family. On this day four years ago I woke up in a treatment center and I knew it was the day they were going to stop giving me pills to help me detox. It was the day I was going to have to be in my skin. I did the only thing I knew how to do. I sat. I sat for what was the most uncomfortable two minute meditation. And I didn’t die! The next day I sat a little longer. And every day after that. It was my go to when my emotions were too strong for me to manage. That, a ton of meetings, all the yoga and an awesome AA sponsor who I texted every 3 minutes so she could reassure me that I was ok. Those first 8 months were the hardest for me. I thought about drinking daily. Something shifted during that eighth month and the desire to drink practically left me. Sobriety, AA, meditation and yoga have given me a strong foundation. I have learned to love myself. Believe me that was a process too. I still work at it. Some days it’s easier than others. My life is so beautiful today. My relationships are healthy. I have so many loving and supportive friends in my life. Today I woke up at a yoga retreat in the mountains that I was invited to lead. I drove home to my beautiful family and then I taught a yoga class in MY yoga studio. All of these things are gifts of living sober one day at a time. That is never lost on me. My heart is FULL of gratitude tonight. ❤️IMG_5290.jpg

The Promises

845C1CFA-90B2-4FA8-96E5-11F18FD21D3C.jpeg“We will be amazed before we are halfway through.” Anyone who has ever been to a 12 step meeting has heard this read aloud as well as the rest of the 9th step promises. I can honestly say, as I sit here tonight, reflecting on where I’ve been and where I’m going, these promises keep running through my head. I am still in awe of the love and support I feel from every direction. My family. My friends. My community. It’s mind blowing really. November is such a special month for me. I got sober in November 4 years ago. I remember how hopeless and alone I felt sitting in that treatment center detoxing. Again. I had no idea how quickly my life would turn around by making one empowered choice after another. It’s called “doing the next right thing” in the recovery community. Doing the next right thing one day at a time has lead me here. To this day. To this new chapter. I am anything but hopeless and alone today. I am connected and divinely guided. ❤️

The happiest girl in the world.

Yesterday was one of the most exciting days of my life. I signed a lease and got the key to my my new yoga studio. I’m a joyful person under normal circumstances, but yesterday the joy was so big I thought my heart would explode. On any given Monday I teach two classes, hit the local coffee shop in Southport and then roll over to an AA meeting at noon. I had planned to meet my new landlord and sign the lease after yoga and just skip the rest. But, I couldn’t do it. I had way too much joy to carry around by myself and I needed to share it. I called my new landlord and asked if I could meet him at 1:30. That was perfectly fine with him, so I hit the coffee shop and went to the meeting. What a fabulous experience to sit in a room FULL of people who have been with me since well before I got sober and share my good news. Seriously, it was so amazing I had the joyful tears going on. This was a room full of people who loved me before I learned to love myself. That’s one of those things they say in the rooms that made no sense to me until I actually learned how to love myself. If you haven’t been there, I can’t explain it. This key right here has absolutely everything to do with my sobriety. It represents every time I chose to do the “next right thing.” I felt so loved and supported in that meeting because I am loved and supported by my AA community. When I got home, I posted to my FB page and the love and support is still rolling in. The messages, the phone calls and texts. It’s mind blowing really. I have so many real friendships and healthy, loving relationships today. They are all gifts of sobriety. What an amazing life this is. I remember being terrified of living a life without alcohol. I just knew it was going to suck so bad. I certainly wasn’t going to enjoy anything ever again. Today I know that every good thing I have in life is because I live my life without alcohol. Who knew?! I’ll tell you who knew. “Those people” in “those meetings” who told me over and over to “keep coming back” because it gets better. They knew. I am so grateful for each and every one of them. And as far as this new yoga studio goes……it’s going to be FULL of love. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, or how to do it, but I’m doing it!  I’m doing it with lots of love and support from my amazing friends. And in one more little nod from the Universe, my new landlord is an old man. My favorite!  I’m the happiest girl in the world. 😊