Comfortable in my skin.

What a difference a week makes. The sun came out. Of course it’s cold AF outside, so I am still in the house and never leaving. My sadness is mostly gone. I think. For now. It will return. I’ll be surprised by it again. Like always. And I will be sure that it’s never going to pass. Because this is how I operate. But I will write about it and be reminded that I am not alone. Thank you all for that. I am sure we are all doing our absolute best these days. Some days my best is better than others. On Friday I stayed in bed and read for 5 hours. The book was excellent. Then I watched a 3 hour documentary on Netflix. I feel great about that. Yesterday was watering day for my plants. I fertilized too. With stinky ass fish fertilizer. I think they loved it. I know I did. I repotted a few plants too. Because you need to know that. These little babies bring me much joy.

I received a random message from a random woman this week. A FB friend that I don’t actually know. A sweet message that made my whole day. She said that I seemed like a woman who is comfortable in my skin and asked if I could write a step by step guide on how to do that. I feel like that whole process is right here, strewn throughout this blog. But also, I never really had a plan when I started blogging so my organization is super scattered and she would have to do a lot of reading to piece the process together. I guess we can call that my lack of organization. I never really have a plan when I do anything. I just decide I want to do something and I do it. The “how” comes later, usually while I am doing the thing.

I am not and will never be the best yoga teacher. But I am really good at teaching people how to be in their bodies. Because I am obsessed with it. Not that it’s always comfortable. Because it’s not. Learning to be in our bodies takes time. And effort. And a bit of a fuck it attitude. And by fuck it, I mean exactly that. All of that nonsense that lives in our heads that gets in our way. What will people think? Fuck it. What if I look stupid? Fuck it. What if it doesn’t work? Fuck it. If that word makes you uncomfortable, fuck it. (I hope you realize how hilarious I am.) I once had a therapist that liked to say “Oh well.” She would follow that with a big sigh. It works exactly the same way. You can try that on if it’s less offensive to you. But, I know my readers, and you should all be fine with fuck it. Except for you Nanny. I love you! That same therapist also said a lot of fuck its.

To get comfortable in my skin I had to first spend a LOT of years being very uncomfortable in it. I spent the first 36 years of my life escaping my body in the normal unhealthy ways. Alcohol, drugs and sex. Until those things almost killed me. None of that was comfortable either. I was just numb. Until it stopped working. Those things always stop working and we can either find another way, or let it kill us. I chose to find another way. And it was uncomfortable to say the least.

Learning to be comfortable in my body was a process that began on a meditation cushion. Sitting still. It was awful. The voices in my head and the feelings in my body were too much. For the first few months I could only sit for a few minutes at a time. I literally wanted to rip my skin off. I felt so raw. Every bit of the things I had been using to numb myself were gone and all at once I could feel ALL of it. All the things I had pushed away. It was all right there in my head, in my chest, in my belly, in my back, in my body. Yoga saved my life. Practicing on my mat was a way for me to release a lifetime of stored up energy. Emotions. Trauma. Every single thing that I had pushed down was alive and well, right there in my body. Not that I knew any of this at the time. My yoga mat was a place for me to cry, grieve and rage, and eventually calm myself. I hated it. I loved it. I threw myself hard into the physical practice learning how to do the “fun” things with my body like inversions and arm balances. The poses that look cool. Not because they looked cool, but because when I challenge my body in this way, there was/is no room for my mind to wander. There is no past and no future. When I am doing a physically challenging posture, I am completely in my body. Present. And it’s glorious, if only for a few breaths. Yoga taught me to love my body and eventually, myself.

It’s been a journey and the list of things that have helped me get here seems to be endless. Amazing therapists. Inner child work. Shamans. Energy Healers. Women’s Circles. Solitude. All weaving together at the exact right time. It’s all here on the blog. Somewhere. Writing. So much writing. And sharing. The sharing piece is an important part of my process. When people connect to my words and I know I am not the only one to ever feel this way, it’s powerful. And here’s the thing. I am NEVER the only one to experience whatever it is I am sharing about. We are all so much alike in so many ways. We are all so damn human. We all struggle. Some people just pretend they don’t. Some things I write just for me and some I share with the world. I have shared some of my hardest truths on this blog. Scary, yes, but oh so worth it. The “what will people think of me” question still pops up for me. But I share anyway. Because fuck it. Oh well and all of that. Which would be the perfect end to this blog, but I have to keep going because DANCING. Learning to be in my sober body through dance has been so very healing. It’s one of those things that I assumed was over because I am sober. So glad I was wrong about that. These days dancing is saving my life. When I am feeling overwhelmed by emotions, I go to the studio and blast the music that heals my soul. I move and process and cry and calm myself. Or, I just dance. Fully present in my body, with whatever I am feeling.

I no longer numb anything. Which is why I was hating on being sad last week. Nobody wants to be sad. My go to these days is to pick up my phone and look at all the plants on the internet. I mean ALL the plants. Which is a fine distraction for a bit, but I have learned that eventually, I am going to have to sit with whatever it is that I am avoiding. I am going to have to process it in some way. Some healthy way. Apparently, It takes a lot to be mentally and emotionally healthy. Also, if you need help with your plants, I am your girl. I have learned so much!

The truth is that I AM comfortable in my body today. Most days anyway. Because I love who I am today. I’m comfortable in my head and in my heart.. I have fought hard to be here. And more than that, I am comfortable with people being uncomfortable with me. That’s where the real freedom is.

Some of us have to die…

In the rooms of recovery it’s often said that “some of us have to die so the rest of us can live.” I have never really paid attention to this. It’s just a standard saying that I never put much thought into. I have lost people that I love from addiction, but never considered that they had to die so I could live. My ex husband died from an overdose. The biological father of my two oldest children. I am very familiar with loss. If I let myself sink into it, I can get really sad about it. Because he missed so much. I can easily get caught up in the what if’s. In the “if I knew then what I know now, I could have saved him” mindset. And maybe that’s true. But I didn’t know then. When I entered recovery I heard people in meetings say “get ready to go to a lot of funerals” or something to that effect. But really, I didn’t believe it because who dies from drinking? I identify as an alcoholic. Because, for some reason, that’s important in meetings. I am and will always be an addict. My drug addiction was so bad that it almost killed me by 23 years old and when I got clean, I was DONE with that life. Never did it occur to me that I could be an alcoholic. Until I could no longer deny that I was. But it also never occurred to me that people I loved would die from alcoholism. Because who does that?

The year I got sober, my cousin did exactly that. She was younger than I am now. I had been asked to speak at a women’s AA speaker meeting on the same day of her funeral. I chose not to attend her funeral and instead carry out my commitment to speak. I couldn’t help my cousin, but maybe I would share something that could help a woman in that meeting. Nobody realized just how much my cousin had been drinking. After she passed, her husband found bottles around the house that she had hidden. She must have been terrified. I know her body was giving her signs that it was shutting down. But she couldn’t not drink. She must have felt so alone. Her death was definitely a message to me to stay sober. I went to meetings and talked about it, and I am sure someone said “some of us have to die so we can live.” But it was lost on me what that meant. The real meaning behind it. It was all just words.

Earlier this year I lost another friend. This was a woman I had sponsored in AA. When I arrived in meetings, still drunk and spewing hate, this woman was there. Always with a smile and information about AA and all the things I needed to know. She was the first to give me her phone number and the first to be there for me when I needed someone to talk to. But I bounced in and out and didn’t stay in close contact with her. When I finally arrived in AA for real, sober and ready to do the thing, she wasn’t around. In my mind she had moved on with her sober life. Because also in my mind, everyone in those rooms had been sober forever. I spent those first few years of recovery changing everything about myself. Discovering who I was without alcohol and building a brand new life. A beautiful life. And one day about 4 years into my sobriety, she showed up. She had not been out living her best life like I had assumed. She had been out drinking. For years. She was blown away by how much I had changed. She started coming around regularly and we spent a lot of time talking. She asked me to be her sponsor. This is a woman who had been in and around AA for a LONG time. She had put together many sober years in a row, but just couldn’t manage to maintain it. She knew the literature way better than I did and if AA was a class, she would have passed with an A+. She knew it in her head way better than I ever will. But for some reason she couldn’t stay sober. I agreed to be her sponsor, which just means that I would take her through the 12 steps and be a sober support person for her. My only requirement was that she was always honest with me. And she was. I attribute meditation and yoga to my recovery just as much as I do AA. I suggested these tools to her and she was eager to jump in and try them. She too was ALL in and bought herself every prop possible for yoga as well as a meditation cushion and alllllll the books about the two. I spent a year with her sharing every tool I had. Every tool that worked for me. I encouraged her to find her own things as well. She joined a gym and got a personal trainer. She learned how to wrap crystals and make beautiful jewelry. She danced with me every chance she got and she even tried Kirtan, as weird as that was for her. We journaled and made vision boards. We went through the steps together. And she was joyFULL. A quiet joy as she was a quiet soul. But joyful just the same. It was so beautiful to witness. She made it to one year and then I’m not sure what happened. She lost it. She began drinking again. Off and on. Mostly on. I wanted her to be sober so bad. I wanted to see the joy on her face that I had seen when she was sober. But I didn’t know what else to do. I continued to work with her for a while. Encouraged her to be just start over. But she wasn’t getting sober. So I let her go. I promised to be her friend and sober support any time she needed me, but as a sponsor, I wasn’t the one. I had given her everything I had, taught her everything I knew and it wasn’t enough. I encouraged her to find another sponsor, because clearly, I wasn’t the one. We remained friends, although I rarely heard from her. She was drinking a lot and not contacting me. Then, in early August she called to check on me. The island had been hit by a hurricane and she just wanted to know that I was alright. It was 10 am and she was drunk. We talked for a while, she said she wasn’t doing well, and that she would see me soon. She was ready to get sober. One week later my phone rang and her name lit up on the screen. I told my husband I didn’t want to answer because I knew she would be drunk. I let out a grumble and I answered the phone. It was her husband. He was calling to tell me that she had suffered a massive heart attack and wasn’t expected to make it through the night. She died that evening. Her body could no longer handle the abuse. This one hit me hard. Not that I was all that surprised. We all expect these things. But I also expected to see her “get it.” Wanted her to ‘get it.” I had already seen it once, and it was beautiful. I went to a meeting the next morning and talked about it. The first person to respond said “some of have to die so we can live.” My initial thought was what an asshole thing to say. It felt like I had been punched in the stomach and for the first time, I understood what it meant. It means that I think of her when I dance, holding her in my heart and dancing with her. It means that while I am incredibly sad that she couldn’t get it, I have it and I am not willing to lose it. It means that I will keep writing these blogs for the person who needs to see them. It means that I don’t take one minute of this life for granted. It means that it could have just as easily been me. It means that I wake up each morning and choose recovery. I choose life. It means feeling all the feels and not numbing myself. It means being fully present in each moment, even the ones that suck. It’s life and it’s beautiful and terrible and everything in between. I choose it everyday.

She gave me this little figure for my birthday because it reminded her of me. She was always giving gifts and had the most beautiful, generous spirit. She is called Happiness. I think of her every time I look at it. I remember her joy. I picture her somewhere on the other side dancing with a little smile on her face and her arms stretched out. Feeling complete freedom. This is how I will always remember her. I am forever grateful that I got to experience those moments with her.

Writing About Writing

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.

Smooth Sailing. Until it’s not.

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 and Freedom

EE8BD19E-0227-4798-A822-E9462D48AF13Tattoos 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*

Beautiful, Brave, Badass

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. ♥️

So Grown

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.

Allow

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. 💥

Pure Joy!

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! 😊

All the Feels

I am in that weird space of having a million things to write about and yet nothing comes up for me.  My thoughts are scattered here there and everywhere.  The “problem” is that more and more people are reading my blog and I get in my head about it. Am I oversharing?  Will my readers like this?  The truth that I need to remember is that this blog is for me.  It’s a great tool to look back and see how things are unfolding for me.  So here I go.
Yesterday was such a weird day for me emotionally.  I joked about everyone crying in yoga, and maybe they needed that, but it was me who I was really talking about.  I was on the verge of tears all day.  But they didn’t come.  I have written about repressed memories coming up for me in the past.  And I processed those the best way I could.  I really figured that was it and I was done with that.  Life is great.  Things are flowing my way effortlessly and easily. I AM connected and divinely guided.  So when more shit from my past pops up, it knocks the wind out of me.  Last week I sat on my therapist’s couch with my journal of “all the amazing things” that are going on in my life.  The amazing things are always the things I want to talk about.  When our time was almost up, I blurted out “want to do the therapy now?”  And of course she did, because that’s her job.  I told her that I have had more memories of childhood sexual abuse surfacing.  When she asked me if I could talk about it, I just looked at her and said nothing.  We both chuckled a little and she told me that “was an invitation.”  My response to her was that I obviously couldn’t talk about it.  Because nothing was coming out.  So weird because I do trust this woman so much.  I have spent some time on this and perhaps it’s the office and the couch that get me.  Like “white coat syndrome.”  Maybe I should ask her to sit on the floor with me.  I bet she would.  She’s cool like that.  Since I wouldn’t or couldn’t talk about the memories with her, she offered up some suggestions as to what I could do to move through it.  Dance it out, write it out, yoga it out.  The things she knows I am comfortable with.  The first time, back in the spring, when she suggested “dance it out” I thought she was nuts.  And now, well, we all know how that ended.  What I was looking for was a definitive answer about why this is happening again and when will it end.  The why is simple. She’s explained it before, but she explained it again.   Because I am strong and healthy and have all the support in the world.  And because I have everything I need to look at these things when they come up and then let them go.  The when will it end isn’t as simple.  I read everything I could find about this subject, but there are no concrete answers.  Unfortunately we live in a world where this is fairly common.  I reached out to a friend who I am able to be completely open with and talked to her about it.  She has her own experience with this exact thing.  Which is what I needed more than anything.  Someone who has been where I am.  Someone with personal experience.  This is what I gathered from our conversation.  Something in my present moment experience triggered these memories.  They are there to teach me something.  And I guess as the healthy adult that I am, it’s not really a big deal.  But, it feels like a big deal to me when it happens.  Talking to my friend helped more than anything. She told me there really is no specific end date.  No magic time. Healing is a lifetime process.  More than anything, just knowing that I am not alone in this experience was helpful.  The specifics aren’t important and I don’t need to share with everyone or maybe even anyone.  My plan is simply to honor the path that got me to where I am today.  I keep telling myself to write it down and burn it.  A ritual.  I love ritual.  Not that I have done it yet, but it’s coming.  The gift in this is that it never crosses my mind to hide from it.  It never crosses my mind to numb myself.  What I have done is take 1,000 baths.  Maybe I am subconsciously trying to crawl back into the womb.  Whatever.  It feels good and it soothes me.  The bathtub is where I spent all of my free time when I first got sober.  It’s still a go to when I am emotionally triggered.  And honestly, I have been super sensitive lately.  OR, maybe I AM super sensitive and I have been allowing myself to experience that. I don’t know.   What I do know is that I am human.  A human with ALL THE FEELS who doesn’t have everything figured out and probably never will.  The good news is that I am surrounded by healers and sensitive souls who will hold my hand when I need that.  The reality is that I really do have everything I need already available to me and I can handle whatever comes my way.  So I lean in to the uncomfortable until it passes because I know for sure and certain that joy is waiting for me on the other side.  I AM a warrior.
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