I did my taxes last week. I thought you should all know that. I waited until July 15th on the off chance that they actually would magically get done. They did not. I am never doing my own taxes again. I am good at a lot of things. I enjoy a lot of things. Filing my taxes does not fall into either of those categories. Something else that isn’t magically getting done is that book I am writing. Or, not writing as it turns out. I tried using the share it to social media for accountability approach. That looks like me sitting down at my laptop by 6:30 every morning and posting a selfie to my story so the world knows that I am doing the thing I said I would do. But early morning selfies are tricky. I always forget that I just woke up until I see the pic. Then I have to take 72 more selfies until I get a decent one. Then I write. This is is what I have learned. I write like I do everything in my life. I am either all in or I am all out. There is no in-between. These past two weeks I have been all out. And it feels like I am done. Not just done, but mad about it. As in fuck this fucking book, it’s stupid and I don’t even want to write it. Which is how I know that I’ll keep doing it. I was doing great, sitting down at the same time every day, posting my selfies to my story, getting solid word counts. I felt like I was really doing something. But I don’t actually know what I am doing. I’m just writing. Which is probably fine because I never know what I am doing, and things always work out for me. Usually better than I could imagine. When I look at my life I see that things work out for me. But I also know I have to put the work in. None of it ever happens magically. One might think I would stop hoping for that, and yet, I never do. But I have this friend. I am 100% certain this woman showed up in my world to help me write this book. She’s a writer. And an editor. Among other things. And she believes in me way more than I believe in myself. Some days she talks me into believing in myself and it lasts for weeks. Then I slowly start to get in my own way. Doubt creeps in. I am writing about a past that is painful and dark. As I write from this place it’s hard to remember that I am not that person. It’s hard to be the confident and strong person I know I can be. The old story creeps up and brings those old feelings with it. The doubt struggle is real. It shows up as shame. It shows up as “not enough.” It shows up as “too much.” It shows up as “who am I to think I can write a book?” It shows up as “why would anyone care what I have to say?” The worst part is that I know in my heart that none of it is true. It’s my head that gets in the way. My story is powerful. My voice matters. But that dark past is a hard place to write from. When I write from that place, I am IN that place. It’s painful. It was suggested to me that I write about my right now. Because my right now is pretty damn fabulous. It’s full of love and joy and so many blessings that it sometimes brings tears to my eyes. It’s full of amazing people and beautiful experiences. It’s full of women who lift me and a family who loves me. It’s full of beaches and sunshine and dancing. But it’s still so new to me. I recorded a podcast a few weeks ago, and that’s probably right around the time I started losing steam for this writing project now that I think about it. The podcast was recorded with a woman who thinks I am 100% bad ass. I have only met her in person two times, but she’s followed my journey on social media and knows enough about me to know that she wanted me to share my story. I shared my journey to self love with her for this podcast. Because it really is a journey. We started in my childhood and moved forward. We had an hour for the podcast. When we were finished I was worried that she might not have gotten what she wanted. She got a small piece of the self love she was looking for. She got a LOT of darkness. But that’s the story. That’s where I am in my journey. I lived many, many years in that dark place. I have only been here, in the healthy place, a short time in comparison. It made me sad. I felt like she wouldn’t want to use my story because there’s too much self loathing and not enough self love. There’s no self love in judging myself harshly for my past. I know this. It’s easy to say. But it happens. It happens when I write about my past. And the doubt comes back. It’s a vicious cycle. But I have awareness and awareness is everything. I am going to keep writing. I am going to write with the expectation that it actually will be easy. But it won’t. And then I’ll get mad and I’ll quit. For a while. This is how I do everything worth doing. It’s not really for me unless I say “fuck it, I’m not doing it.” It’s my go to. And I mean it every time. A thing to know about me is that I am persistent. I know this about myself. It might take years, but I’ll do it. I already have the tattoo. I have to do it now. I fully expect the process to suck. But that’s just because I’m still mad about it.
And then it happened! I made a Covid 19 memory bigger than toilet paper! And there was dancing! And my heart was full! Yesterday I hosted a social distanced parking lot dance party. Most of you saw the pics on my FB page. I am sure there are people who didn’t approve, and that’s ok. I wasn’t looking for approval. I was looking for connection. Friday was a hard day. Some days are. I’ve had plenty of down days lately. I know we all have. Friday was my worst. I woke up that morning and went downstairs to my fortress of solitude. I sat on my cushion to meditate, but instead I cried. I cried a lot. A thing to know about me is that I am not a crier. But I couldn’t help it and I couldn’t stop it. I’m sure it was necessary and I get that crying is good. I love when my students cry in yoga, and I love when the women in my circles cry. I’m just not the one to do it. I was THIS close to jumping on the blog and writing through it, but that seemed like a stupid option. So instead, I stayed stuck in it. And I cried. I haven’t cried like that since September 9th 2018. I can’t remember why I cried, but I remember that it started at home and continued during the yoga class I went to that morning. I was hosting a teacher from Florida in the studio and I was in her class, bawling my eyes out the entire time. Pretty impressive that I have a timeline, right?
This is where I stop to tell on myself. Because I live my life on social media and share so much from my heart, I was guessing there must be something posted that day to give me a clue as to what that was all about. I had to make the connection back to the date that teacher was here. A quick search pointed out the date and down the rabbit hole of my activities log for September 2018 and BOOM. Here it is. Of course I was crying. Also, I was probably due for another good cry on Friday. 2018 was a LONG time ago. I should cry more. You know, if I was down to play that “should” game. I did have a big crying episode on January 1st during sunrise meditation on the beach. I bawled my eyes out and even pointed it out to my friend who also doesn’t cry. I was proud of it and wanted to share it with her. But, that was all gratitude and full heart stuff. Quite different. But sooooooo good. For the record, I am down to cry gratitude tears any time.
The unhappy cry is the crying I have an aversion to. Back to Friday where I cried for the first time in a L O N G time. I think every emotion I have experienced over the past 6 weeks caught up to me. It was a tough day. After the tears came the anger. I’m not exactly sure why I was angry, but I suspect it’s easier for me to be angry than it is for me to be sad or fearful or fully feel all the grief that we are collectively feeling. And by I suspect, I mean that’s definitely it. This afternoon I talked with a friend on the phone who spun her woo woo therapist magic on that situation. She pointed out that my inner “kid” likes to get angry and rebel against…….well, she rebels against all kinds of things, but she definitely doesn’t like to cry. So she gets angry. I knew that being angry around my family for no “real” reason wasn’t going to be helpful, so I stayed in my fortress of solitude. My husband came down to check on me. He NEVER comes into my fortress. Ever. He asked if I wanted to walk to the beach with him. We live 15 streets away from the beach and while it’s totally doable, I didn’t want to do it. I’m not much of a beach walker anyway. I’m more of a sitter. My husband isn’t a beach walker either nor is he the kind of guy that wants to walk 15 streets because it’s good for his health. Bless him. He wanted to fix me because all of my emotions made him uncomfortable. He just wanted me to be ok. Because he loves me. I eventually got past the anger and settled into a nice, comfortable funk. I stayed there the rest of the day. Ice cream and music in the bathtub that evening helped, but more than that, sleeping and waking up to a new day was the real trick. Saturday was the first time I have seen real people outside of my home, not counting the grocery store, in six weeks. I know I’m not alone in this and that we are ALL right there. I know that for me and the women who either showed up to dance in their own (appropriately spaced out) circle, or just sit in their car and watch, it was so uplifting. Dancing for me is ALL about connecting to that inner child. That girl needed to let loose and have fun. Saturday was the soulgasm I needed to carry me through another 14 day week. Who knew quarantine days were gonna be 48 hours long? I’m really looking forward to the day that quarantine and Covid 19 doesn’t come up in my thoughts, in my blog and in every fucking conversation I have. Today is not that day. Tomorrow is not going to be that day. This is where we are. Doing the best we can. Adapting and overcoming. I had an amazing 10 am writing group Zoom meeting with fabulous women today. I’m happy to be writing again. For now. Even if it’s just a bunch of rambling. It feels good for me to connect in this way. Last week quite a few new readers found my blog. The toilet paper blog. People who have never read my blog somehow stumbled onto that one. I need you to read that again, slowly, in my southern accent. People who have never read my blog somehow stumbled onto that one. What the hell? I was almost embarrassed. Almost, but not quite. I was dealing with too many other emotions to be bothered with embarrassment. This week is gonna be smooth sailing. I can feel it. Until it’s not. LOL
Tattoos tell a story. Ask anyone about their tattoos and you will likely hear the story of their life, or at the very least a very personal piece of their “story.” I got my first tattoo when I was 21. The tattoo that will forever be known as the tramp stamp. Which is total bullshit, but whatever. The low back tattoo that every girl my age got in the 90’s. I wanted to get tattooed as soon as I turned 18, but I spent a few years getting pierced instead and waited for the desire to pass. It didn’t pass. I had that one tattoo for years and years without ever needing or wanting another one. But then I fell in a hole. A hole I couldn’t climb out of. I have lots of mantras tattooed on my skin. Those mantras helped me climb out of the hole and truly represent what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now. It goes like this. Once upon a time, I was a raging, hot mess. I was hopeless. Hopeless is the worst feeling in the world and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I had been exposed to the words hope and faith quite a bit in AA meetings. I wasn’t sober and I had neither hope nor faith in my life. I was also attending group therapy. Dialectical Behavior Therapy. To treat my Borderline Personality Disorder that I don’t actually have. Being Borderline was better to me than claiming alcoholism and having to give up drinking. I rocked that Borderline Personality Disorder too. I owned the shirts and I wore the awareness bracelet. I gave a face to Borderline, “normalizing” it, much like I do today with addiction and recovery. And, I got to keep drinking. The best part of the whole deal. But, I was dying inside. Failing at life in every possible way. Even my liver was struggling. Every day I would tell myself that today I won’t drink and then every day, usually before 8 am, I would be drinking. I HAD to. It was the only way to keep my body from shaking. Every day was the same and every day was awful. I was reading a self help article about Borderline Personality Disorder when I came across the acronym for Hope. Hold On Pain Ends. I fell in love with that idea and knew I needed to carry that with me. My first mantra tattoo. I really don’t remember getting it. Most of those first tattoos blend together in a gray kind of memory. But there it was. On my hand where I couldn’t miss it and was reminded constantly that I could get through this. I was able to get clean from methamphetamine addiction. Nothing could possibly be harder than that. That’s what I told myself. I have since learned that addiction is addiction and it’s ALL hard. I was going to AA meetings regularly, although I still wasn’t sober. I was starting to like the idea of being sober. I kept thinking one day I would be ready and I would just stop drinking. At this stage of the game I was having little spurts of “sobriety.” Or, rather, I was managing a few days in between being drunk. Or, maybe I was just waiting until 5:00. Again, it’s such a blur. AA people use the term One Day at a Time. I always hated that term because I knew it was bullshit. I knew if I committed to a sober life it meant every day for the rest of my life. I was seeing a therapist who was teaching me about mindfulness. She kind of, sort of convinced me that it simply meant living in the moment. I could live with that. My second mantra tattoo is on my foot. One Step at a TIme. That’s how I was going to dig myself out of the hole. I am fairly certain I wasn’t drinking the day I got that tattoo and I probably thought I was done with alcohol. I assure you, I wasn’t done. On another day I was in my therapists office freaking out about something. That was a common occurrence. I had been drinking before therapy. Another common occurence. She always knew when I had been drinking. Most people didn’t notice strictly because it was my norm. I am sure she yelled at me a bit because that’s who she is. Then she taught me about a practice called “calm abiding.” Calm abiding is a Buddhist practice of stilling the mind of any thought that might arise. I promise you I wasn’t able to reach the place of calm abiding, but I fell in love with the concept and knew that’s what I needed in my life. I left her office and went straight to the tattoo shop and got the word Calm tattooed on the topside of my wrist. Not sure why I didn’t throw in abiding, but there must have been a reason. It’s on my right wrist near my hope tattoo to remind me to be calm and have hope. Not long after that tattoo healed, I was leaving my house to go somewhere, who knows where, and my husband told me to try not to come home with any tattoos. I am sure it wasn’t my intention to get tattooed that day, but those words lit me up. It sounded a lot like he was telling me not to do a thing. In my mind, on that day, it meant I had to get two tattoos. What I recall about that incident is that it started at a local gas station. The gas station was right beside the tattoo shop. I went inside and bought a cup of ice and a can of ginger ale. I came out to my car, where my 1/2 gallon bottle of bourbon was, and mixed myself a drink. As I was mixing the drink there was a knock on my window. I looked up to see a woman I knew from AA. In my mind she was a sober woman. In reality, she was anything but. She was struggling like I was struggling. I had no idea. She got in the car with me and offered up Valium and Xanax. I hadn’t taken pills or any other drugs in years, but I didn’t hesitate for a second. I don’t know what you know about mixing pills and alcohol, but I can assure you, it’s not good. There is not one memory after that, but the two tattoos I got that day are the words “Forgive” and “Love.” Forgive faces away from me, in such a way that I can hold my wrist out and ask forgiveness. I found it easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission in those days. “Love” must have been for me. I am sure I wanted to feel love or feel loved or just feel lovable. I was quite unlovable that day. I was quite unlovable for a long time. That was the longest day that I don’t remember. It’s weird the few things we do remember in those black outs or brown outs. I remember calling my therapist and yelling at her. I was in the parking lot of the hospital wearing one of my shirts that identified me as borderline and realizing that this made me look crazy. I was yelling at her for giving me that label and more than anything for not calling me out on wearing the shirt. Then I woke up in the hospital room. There was a security guard outside of my room and the nurses told me they didn’t know what I had done, but I must have done something bad. They monitored me and they let me go because it’s frustrating trying to treat a drunk person who doesn’t want help. I remember leaving the hospital and walking through the parking lot. I remember the security guards but I can’t remember exactly what they said to me. I do remember that it enraged me and I screamed obscenities at them until they tasered me. I woke up in the hospital room again. This time I didn’t have a security guard. This time I had “a watcher.” The person they place outside of your room to watch and make sure you don’t kill yourself. I must have told them I was going to kill myself or someone else while I was blacked out. I was “a danger to myself and others.” I stayed there for three days, refusing food and anything else they offered me. I was eventually moved to a psychiatric hospital. Every morning in this hospital it was my job to wake up and talk to the Dr on staff and try to convince him that I wasn’t actually mentally unstable. Unfortunately, my actions proved that I was mentally unstable. Also, every other person in the hospital was trying to convince the Dr of the same thing. Some of them had serious mental health issues. A scary situation that lasted way longer than I wanted it to. Eventually I was released into a treatment center and almost got sober. But I didn’t. I was back with my therapist and back in my DBT group. My therapist was pushing yoga on me and teaching me weird things, like how to breathe. I couldn’t breathe. I hated the breathing part of yoga because I felt like the more I was instructed to focus on my breath, the more I couldn’t breathe. It was awful and I clearly needed a Breathe tattoo to help me. I could no longer go to the same place where I had previously been tattooed because my husband made it clear to the tattoo artist that it would NOT be ok to tattoo a drunk me again. I want to say I was sober when I went for the breathe tattoo, but I was not. Had I been sober, I might have thought to put it in a place where I could see it. Instead, it went on the back of my arm, just above my elbow. It happens to be great for people who are standing behind me. I am happy to report that the Breathe tattoo is the last drunk tattoo I have. A few more psychiatric hospitals and a couple more treatment centers where I finally decided I had had enough Hell and it was time to do something different. I’ve been living sober for 5 years now and when I get a tattoo, the whole process has more meaning. My first sober tattoo was “Let it be.” Obviously I would let it go if I could right? When I let it be, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me or still exist, it just means that I don’t have to let it control me. Whatever ‘it’ is. My next sober tattoo was ‘Learn.” The intention there is to remind me to look for the lesson. The short form or “what the fuck am I supposed to learn from this?” So interesting that after I got that tattoo, I started learning more than I ever imagined about my past. Repressed memories came back and I learned how to deal with that. I am still learning every day in every way. and I know that won’t ever stop. The memories have stopped. At least for now. Maybe I am done with that. Time will tell. My last two tattoos are my favorites. At least they are my current favorites. I have a little Tt “element” tattoo on my forearm that identifies me as a Tee-totalar. This one is not at all original. It’s a movement. A community of people choosing to not be anonymous and recover “out loud.” I love being a part of a community that identifies in this way. I find it’s much better than wearing a Borderline Personality Shirt and identifying in that way. On New Year’s Eve I got my most recent tattoo. It’s a representation of where I am at this moment in my life. “Free.” Along with the word, are little birds flying free. I love it so much. I have found freedom that I never knew was possible. Freedom to be me, whatever that is in each moment. Comfortable in my skin more often than not, and able to deal with being uncomfortable when that happens. There’s a special kind of freedom that comes from living through Hell and coming out the other side. That freedom shows up as gratitude and joy for my life. It shows up when I catch myself dancing to the music at the grocery store.
*photo by Ed Speas*
I’ve been avoiding this space for almost an entire month. I have been busy filling my time with things other than being still. I’ve missed blogging and thought about it almost daily. I just haven’t quite been able to sit down with my laptop. Last night I went to the big city of Wilmington for Ecstatic Dance. So. Much. Fun. While I was there, I met a woman who said she knew me. Our mutual friend told her she knew me because I am FaceBook famous. FaceBook famous is our joke. This woman said no, she knew me from reading my blog. Her therapist had sent it to her and told her she should read it. She told me how she knows EVERTHING about me now, which was weird and awesome all at the same time. She said she loves my blog. That was the final push I needed to get my ass back here. I love it here. The last time I was here I shared that I was finished with therapy. I’m sure I called it being kicked out of the nest, because that’s how it felt. It took me a day or two to get over that, but I’m ok. I have all the tools I need. My therapist was right about that. That push may have been exactly what I needed to do the work I had been avoiding with her. I work best alone, but I also want someone to check in with. I still have that support system in a million different ways. The first thing I did was sit on my dock and journal all the feels of “being alone.” Which I’m definitely not. Then I decided the time had come for me to be an artist. I went to Pinterest to compile a list of all the things I would need to start an art journal. The next morning I went shopping. And just like that, I AM an artist. Most of you saw the photos on FB, because you can’t be FB famous if you aren’t posting there. I spent that entire weekend with my head down and ALL IN some art journaling. I’m so grateful that I worked through The Artist’s Way last year, because it really made it ok for me to just do my thing and not judge my work. Honestly, I art like a 5 year old, but I am totally OK with it. I spent that weekend doing the thing that I wouldn’t do in therapy. Writing my trauma story. It was awful and I hated it, but it’s just what happened on those pages. I didn’t buy the journal and art supplies with that intention at all. Once that came up, it wouldn’t stop. The beauty of the art journal was that I immediately painted over those awful words. I covered up those horrible things that I never want to see again. Not that I covered it up to make it look pretty, because that’s not where I was in that process. The act of writing it was huge and something I have avoided since I started dealing with repressed memories resurfacing. It was huge because once I started, it just flowed so fast and wouldn’t stop. I could have left the words in the journal, uncovered, but what would be the point in owning all those art supplies? I can’t quite express how it made me feel to be all up in the art process, but I think that’s why art exists. To express what we can’t put into words. Those pages of paint are exactly that. It was so powerful and so cathartic. Brave. I felt brave sitting through all those emotions as I worked in my art journal. I felt like a beautiful, brave, bad ass. I knew I was going to be crafty, but who knew I was going to be an artist? 😉 That’s a new tool for me and I am loving it. After a weekend of intense writing in that journal, I ended the process with a Monday morning dance party in the studio. Such a wonderful way to move through the emotions of the weekend. When I left the studio that morning I felt so much lighter. I’ve been back in the art journal a few times since then and have every intention of sticking with it. The thing about writing a “trauma story” is that it triggers new memories that I get to process. But it’s not all gloom and doom. Some of those pages are pure joy. I just show up to the pages exactly as I am and then it somehow all sorts itself out. Some days I don’t know until it’s on the page. It’s so different than anything I’ve done before. I definitely see the value in it. But it’s messy and not as quick to access or clean up as a journal. I can write anywhere, anytime. And I do. I haven’t had a healing session of any kind for almost three weeks, which is unheard of for me, but guess what? I feel great and I don’t need a thing. Well, I probably DO need a massage and since March is here, I know I have some energy work and “woo woo” appointmens on my schedule. Oh. And there was that Shamanic Journey I went on with Roger the Shaman today. 🙂 I have my meditation practice, I practice yoga, I write, I dance, I take ALL the baths. I go to meetings. I have moon circles and women’s circles of every kind. I was asked to be the speaker at an AA meeting this month and that’s the ONLY thing affecting my mental health. I have anxiety about it already. Oh the irony. My mental health game is strong and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have left therapy. I know it was time. And now my Wednesdays are open for giant Goddess lunches and cacao ceremonies with circle dancing on the beach. I know how to fill a void. Believe that. I know how to fill it with beautiful and loving things today. ♥️
I keep sitting down to write and then deciding that I don’t want to share my feelings with the world. I have been in protection mode lately. Protecting my heart. I am ready today. These past couple of weeks have been so full of growth for me. I spent a weekend at a women’s retreat. I had been looking forward to this retreat for months. I was the first person to register when tickets went on sale. I was so excited about the whole experience. It began on Friday evening with a cacao ceremony and Qoya. How could that not be fabulous? And it was. One of my favorite friends was there with me for the weekend and she experienced these two things for the first time. I loved being there to share that with her. A Qoya class has 13 pillars. One of them is dancing with your shadow aspect. Embracing rather than repressing our humanness. I found myself triggered in this piece and had a difficult time integrating my light back in. We left the studio at 9:15 that night and went to the Airbnb we rented for the weekend. I was up until almost 11. One would think that’s no big deal, but one would be wrong. I woke up Saturday morning already tired before we started our day with a 7:30 am yoga class. I don’t function well when I’m tired. I’m like a 5 year when it comes to sleep (and food). I was irritated and I began to close off and shut down. My intention for the weekend had been to remain open and be a part of. I was so looking forward to being a part of rather than leading. I was there, I was in it, but I was resisting every thing about the weekend. Partly because I wasn’t in control. Maybe fully because I wasn’t in control. I found myself being judgemental toward myself and toward the whole experience. The things I normally love, I had an aversion to. So. Fucking. Weird. But at the same time, the experience was beautiful and just what I needed. How much sense does that make? The entire weekend I was acutely aware of my shadow aspect. The fear, the judgement, the insecurity, the anger the need to control and my lack of trust. All of it showed up and stayed with me. I showed up and stayed with all of it. I lived and I learned and I met a bunch of amazing women. I processed the experience for a week. It’s a sacred act to sit in circle with women you don’t know and be open and real and vulnerable. I see women do this in my circles all the time and they are my heroes. I thought I was ready and I would be WIDE open, but that’s not how my weekend went. I was disappointed in myself. It’s still difficult for me allow myself to be seen and heard. I was in my comfort zone of a circle of women, but out of my comfort zone by not being in charge. It’s a control and trust thing that I obviously need to work on. And I will. Possibly forever. That was two weeks ago. This week the growth is still coming. I went to therapy (for the last time?) on Wednesday. My therapist let me know that if I was going to keep coming into her office, she needed to feel as though she was being of service to me. And she no longer does. What this means is that I am making good choices, I’m processing my own shit, I have no super secret life on the side and I am SO FUCKING GROWN. I got kicked out of the nest. It happened so fast. I think we both knew it was time, but she is better at assertive and saying what needs to be said than I am. So she said it. And I rolled with it because I trust her. But, I was super sad when I left her office and scared that now something horrible is going to pop up that I can’t handle and there I’ll be, alone in the world. We ALL know this isn’t true, and I’m not alone, but it’s how I felt. Now that I have had a few days to sit with that, I’m OK. I’m learning more about my need to cling and how it doesn’t serve me. More space has been created in my life and the good things will flow in and fill that gap. I do not doubt that at all. Now I wait. Patiently. Without clinging. Remember that time I choose the word ALLOW for my “One Word?” I’m putting that into practice on so many levels.
In 2018 I chose the word “learn” as my one word mantra. This has been my year to learn on so many levels. With all of that learning came a lot of leveling up. This was my year of cacao, kirtan and dancing. Opening my heart more, connecting to something greater than myself and being FREE. This was my year of the inner child. Listening to her and helping her feel safe. This was my writing year. So. Much. Writing. A year of finding my voice. A work in progress, but I have made giant leaps. This has been a year of healing old wounds. An ongoing process I am sure. This is the year I learned that I am an artist simply because I allow the creator to create through me. I am always creating. This was my year of connection and community. I have a full understanding of how important community really is. This is the year I learned to truly get out of my own way and stop doubting myself all the time. My year of listening to my intuition which doesn’t seem to steer me wrong. This is the year I allowed myself to show up and be seen in my ALL of it. This has been a powerful year full of learning and lessons simply because I was paying attention. A year of soul growth. The year my faith grew by leaps and bounds. A beautiful year. A difficult year. This is the year of learning to love some people from afar. Boundaries. Something I am still learning about. Most of my big learning moments are right here on this blog and I can see the growth this year brought. Writing has connected me to some amazing people this year who have reached out to me as they began their own “journey to wholeness.” A testament to how powerful our stories are. People are seeking connection and community. I love to watch people grow. I suspect a lot of you love to witness my growth. People are mostly good I think. Sometimes I think my world isn’t actually reality because it’s so magical and full of so many loving and supportive people. Healers of all kinds and spiritual seekers. People who always strive to be the best version of themselves. But it IS my reality and I have worked hard to build that reality for myself. Also, I am deserving of all the blessings that flow my way. I’m not sure I believed that on this day last year, and it is still kind of hard to say out loud, but I believe it. What’s even more special is that I get to share so much with so many. That’s the true gift. My heart is overflowing with gratitude this morning. I will be carrying all the lessons, all the growth and all the gratitude with me into the new year. And I will build on that. New Years is my favorite! I thought long and hard about what my one word would be for 2019. Last week as I was making vision boards with a friend, it became crystal clear to me that my word is “Allow.” Not in a passive or weak way, but as a spiritual practice. There’s not a thing wrong with having a vision, but what I know is that when I ALLOW the creator to create through me, anything I want to manifest, create or experience will show up in my life as it is meant to. I allow things to happen without having to control and manipulate people and situations. When I can do this, the Universe always delivers something more amazing than I could have planned. 2019 is going to rock. 💥
I am not here to write about trauma today. Yay! I am not here to talk about being sober even though that’s always an amazing topic. I am here today to share what feels like some serious healing. Three nights ago I dreamed I was getting ready to teach a writing workshop. I was in a giant building that was obviously NOT my studio. There were tons of people there. There was a little kitchen where I went and made myself a cup of coffee. In the kitchen there was a small child. A tiny toddler who was probably 18 months old. She was dancing and she was beautiful. I walked over to her and put my hands out to her. She took my hands in her tiny hands and let me dance with her. She was looking up at me with the biggest smile on her face. After a few minutes of dancing, I reached down and scooped her up in my arms. She snuggled into me. She loved me. She was beautiful. She had blonde curls and blue eyes. I loved this child even though I had no idea who she was. I carried her around for a while because I just didn’t want to put her down. She fell asleep in my arms. I couldn’t stop looking at her and I wasn’t about to put her down. By this point in the dream, half the people who were there for the workshop I was teaching had left and the other half were restless because I was so late getting to it. But I didn’t care. The only thing that was important to me was this child. I went into the room and taught the workshop as best I could without putting the toddler down. She slept in my arms the entire time. I’m sure the quality of the workshop suffered, but I didn’t care. I’ve learned that dreams have messages for me and while this one is super obvious, it took me a few hours after I woke up to understand that she was ME. It wasn’t until I told a friend about the dream that I understood. Saying it out loud helped me make the connection. It felt a lot like some serious healing and it brought tears to my eyes, which doesn’t happen for me often. She was me and I loved her so much. I could feel that love in my dream and when I woke up I still felt it. Powerful. My therapist refers to “the inner child” as that part of us that is untouched and unharmed by outside influences. The part of us that is pure joy. That’s exactly who this child was and exactly what I felt while I was holding her. Pure love. The exact same love that I feel when I am with my own children. I am certain it’s the dancing that’s bringing her out. We danced together in the dream. I *think* I am getting ready to go a bit deeper into that journey of healing my inner child, but I know that it’s all the play time that connects me to her. Get ready world because I am about to take a trip to Michael’s and get crafty! My child wants to create for some reason and I am going to let her! Should be interesting since I am the least “artistic” person I know. But, if you know me, you already know that I will put everything I have into it. I will be the craftiest person EVER! LOL Get ready to see some shitty art on the internet and tell me it’s beautiful anyway! 😊
I love when people reach out to me after reading my blog or a particular social media post that I have written. I love when people connect to my words. Last week I wrote THIS post full of “classic one liners” from my old therapist. A few days later I received this text that’s too good not to share. I saved this screenshot because it’s THAT awesome and I laugh so hard every time I read it. It’s become a mantra for me this week. I often tell my children when they are leaving, “make good choices.” Well, “don’t fuck the monks” has played on repeat in my mind since I received that text. It’s the same. But different. It’s “Make good choices” for grown ups. I laugh so hard at the shit that goes through my head. I even told my therapist “don’t fuck the monks” last week as I walked out of her office. She loved that so much. I mean, how could she NOT?
All that silliness aside.
I didn’t write yesterday because I was too exhausted from all of the exciting things happening in the studio and in my life. There is always something new and exciting coming my way and some days it’s just too much and I crash. Which is what I needed yesterday. And I allowed myself to do that. At the beach.
Last week was an amazing week in the life of me. I turned 5 years sober 6 days ago. There was no parade, but you probably saw the sparkly medallion on social media. What a ride that’s been. Each year I look back and each year gets better. Year one was all about not drinking. Anything extra I learned was a bonus. Each and every day I practiced not picking up a drink and that was enough. Yes, I meditated and practiced yoga, but the NOT DRINKING was where all of my focus was. Those other things were simply ways to pass the time and carry me through the day sober. I’m sure there was plenty of growth involved, but I wasn’t feeling it. During my second sober year, I began the journey of becoming comfortable in my skin. I learned how to properly love and care for myself. I had no idea how good I could feel. During that year I learned how to fuel my body with nutritious foods. I kicked up my yoga a notch and began to move my body in new ways. I always assumed that since I wasn’t overweight, the whole exercise thing didn’t apply to me. Who knew that Dr’s weren’t just being assholes by suggesting exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. This girl LOVES some endorphins! Early in my third year of sobriety, I completed my yoga teacher training. Sobriety introduced me to something I was more passionate about than drinking. I decided I needed to share that. I found my light and my purpose. Not that my purpose is to be the greatest yoga teacher the world has ever seen, because that is definitely NOT it. But my purpose is absolutely to help others heal. Teaching yoga has been a launchpad out into the world of helping others find their own light. Year 4 was my Rebel Soul year! The best year yet. I opened the studio on November 6th 2017. I spent my 4th sober year growing community and growing ME. I entered therapy (again) last year in November. Just a few days before I opened the studio. This time I entered therapy as a strong, sober and healthy woman who wanted support through my journey. And damn. There was a lot more to work through than I ever imagined. From what I can tell, “working through shit,” is a never ending part of life. That weekly session has been a great resource for me. I have grown more this past year than any previous year. On EVERY level. This is the year I learned to sing and dance and pray with my words. That little yoga studio of mine is such a safe space for me to try ALL THE THINGS that bring about a deeper level of healing for me and my community. So freaking amazing. To say that I am grateful for my sober life is an understatement. I talked to my AA sponsor on Saturday and shared with her how magical my life is and how I am in love with every minute of it. She reminded me of a time, that first year, when she and others were just trying to convince me that things would get better if I stayed sober. All I wanted in those days was for my life to not suck. That was it. I wasn’t asking for joy or magic or anything great. I just wanted my life to not suck so bad. Never could I ever have imagined that not only would my life not suck but that I would be happy and that I would wake up excited about life every day. And really, it happened in such a big way and it happened so quickly. One skillful choice after another. In AA they call it “doing the next right thing” however, in my mind it will forever be “not fucking the monks” one day at a time. You’re welcome. 😂 If I can do it, anyone can. I promise.
This week I went to see a healer. There’s a shocker. I went to see our island witch. I was expecting some time on her table while she worked her woo woo energy magic on me. What I got was a guided visualization/meditation, a lot of talking and working through my shit. Not what I wanted, but exactly what I needed. Isn’t that how it always works? In that “getting what I need” what I got was a visit from my inner 3 year old. At least I think she was three. I didn’t even mention it during the session because it didn’t seem relevant. During the guided visualization I was asked to find a pedestal to sit on. A pedestal of my choice and my design. I tend to go with a giant mushroom because it has an Alice in Wonderland feel to it and Alice is a bad ass. I was completely safe and comfortable on this pedestal. Then she brought in a storm. A tornado began to swirl around me. A storm of chaos if you will. I was safe in the center of this tornado and nothing could reach me. I was asked to just notice what was swirling around me. I don’t remember exactly what I saw, but when it was over, this sweet little girl came to me. “To me” might not be exactly right, but she was THERE. I could see her. I remember exactly what she was wearing and exactly what she looked like. She was happy. She was beautiful. She was probably the MOST relevant thing that happened during that session, so my choice not to mention it during session means something. I’m just not sure what. Perhaps I felt the need to protect her by not talking about her. As much as I share with the world, some things are just for ME. And some things are just for me until I am ready to share. It was suggested to me that I go home and write. Writing is my process. All of my healers know this about me. Guess what I wrote after that session? Not a fucking thing. The next day I saw my therapist and shared this information about that little 3 year old with her. She smiled and said “She’s getting closer.” I’ve been doing this inner child work for a while now without a lot of success. And as I type that, I’m not entirely sure that’s true because what would success look like? My therapist said that little 3 year old is the part of me that is joyful and playful and impulsive. I prefer the word spontaneous because I think impulsive gets me in trouble. At least it used to. But, that’s neither here nor there. “She’s getting closer.” I am still trying to figure out exactly what that means. Is she going to talk to me? Does she have things to tell me? What does she want? My therapist kind of, sort of pointed out (by having me figure out on my own) that this little girl was me at the age I was right before my sexual abuse started. And dear God that session rolled all over the place from that to my drug addiction to the guilt and shame I still carry and back around. When our time was up she suggested that I go home and write and write and write some more and guess what I wrote? Not a fucking thing. After that session, with the full moon vibes in effect, I went straight to my studio to DANCE. Because that is what I needed. I needed to be in my body. I needed to connect and I needed to move. I am not sure what my aversion to writing has been this week, but it’s been strong. I’m inclined to think that strictly because someone (2 someones) suggested I write, I automatically didn’t. THAT would be the inner 15 year old that I know all too well. Even without writing, I have had amazing insights this week. I have been in 4 different women’s circles in the last 7 days. Always a great place for me to be. In one of these circles there was a woman who was surprised to learn that my “dancing career” is just three months old. In her mind, I had been dancing for a lifetime, since it’s THE thing she sees me share about most. During our conversation it occurred to me that dancing IS the joyful, playful and spontaneous part of me coming out. And just maybe this is what’s bringing that little 3 year old closer to me. In fact, I’m sure it must be. Dancing has brought about a shift in me that allows me to let my guard down in a way nothing else does. I fully intend to keep at it and bring that little girl home.
There was one circle this week that I had absolutely no intention of going to. It was the same day as my therapy session and I was just done. But there I was. Exactly where I needed to be. The discussion took a turn toward the Patriachal society that we live in and there was (or more likely I felt) an attack towards the women who “allow” this type of behavior by “being whores.” I felt the need to jump in and defend these women. Which I did. My immediate thoughts and my response was that those women were once children who weren’t allowed to say no. Who weren’t allowed to be in control of their own bodies. I know those women. Those women were me. And then it happened. Another woman felt the need to defend “those women.” She opened her mouth and my story fell out. A story of being sexually abused from a young age and learning that’s what love feels like. A woman who was taught from a young age that this kind of attention is good attention. A woman who didn’t know that she didn’t have to give her power away or that she even had the option to live another way. A woman who thought her worth was based on her body. She had never been allowed to say no. It was so powerful, and as I sat there listening to her share exactly what I have never said out loud, all I could do was cry silently on the inside and touch my heart as I nodded my head at her, so she could see and know that I felt her pain. It was so incredible to see her own the ALL of her “story” and give a voice to her own inner child who was never allowed that voice. Equally incredible was the love and support she received from the circle. Nobody shamed her. Everyone witnessed and held her with compassion. Our stories, when shared, have the power to heal. I never doubt that. She reminded me of just how much truth there is in that. I told her that night that I wanted to write about her, without using her name. I asked her permission and made sure she felt ok about it. She responded by saying that I always write about her, I just didn’t know it. Again, blown away by the power of our stories and the connections we all share. I write to heal my own self and in doing so sometimes I help others along the way. The best.
In September I was in a circle with this same woman. That night we ended the circle with a little bit of dancing. She stood in that circle and said she would absolutely NOT be doing that. She even told us she might sway her hips a bit, but that would be the extent of it. A week later she showed up at the studio for ecstatic dance. She pushed past that fear and she has been dancing ever since. Four separate events in just over a month. I am pretty sure it’s her new favorite thing too! What I know is that she has connected to her inner child through dancing. That’s exactly why she loves it so much. Another shared connection with this woman. What a gift she has been to me this week. She has helped me sort out and make sense of some of my own shit. She’s a mirror. A teacher. I am grateful for her strength, her courage and her presence in my life.