“I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.” I first read that quote several months ago and it hit me right in the feels. I knew I had an entire chapter to write about this subject. I’m not writing it today, but it’s there. There’s so much truth in that quote. I went to an AA meeting on Friday night, which isn’t something I normally do. I got called on to share my “what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now.” Let me just say that I hate being called on to share. I pretty much hate sharing at meetings in general. My what it was like and what happened are FULL of anger. That’s who I was. An angry, raging girl who didn’t want to be sitting in meetings with coffee drinking old men. An angry girl who was fighting the entire world and the world was definitely winning. There was a woman at the Friday meeting who had been there all those years ago when I first started coming around. She chimed in after I shared that she remembered those days and what I was like. “My story” is such a visible transformation that the people who remember me before I got sober love to hear me share. This woman confirmed to the group that I wasn’t lying or exaggerating and that I was indeed, FULL of anger and rage. She said they were scared of me and didn’t want to talk to me. I found a bit of comfort in that as it explained why maybe the women didn’t reach out to me and circle me in love and support. I wouldn’t let them. I was angry about everything. I was angry that the people in my life thought I needed to stop drinking. Drinking WAS my life. Also, I was way too young to be an alcoholic. I was angry that nobody could do it for me. As hard as I tried, it seemed this was something I was going to have to do on my own. That might sound crazy, but until that point, someone had always been able to rescue me and do the work for me. I was angry that my life hadn’t turned out like I thought it should have. I was angry that my life was over. I was angry that not drinking meant I would have to deal with my reality. I was angry about my entire life up until that point and underneath all of that anger was fear. I was terrified to stop drinking and start feeling. I’ve shared this before, but I ‘ll share it again. I didn’t get sober for a long time after I got to AA. The people around me thought that since I was going to meetings, it meant I wasn’t drinking. They were happy and proud of me. I kept drinking for the next year and a half as I continued to go to meetings. But, I failed at hiding my drinking. I was failing at life in general. I’ve heard it said that “we get to the bottom when we stop digging.” On November 13, 2013, I stopped digging in a treatment center. I completely surrendered to a power greater than myself. I was an atheist. The power I surrendered to was the power of meditation. I sat with myself. I sat with my anger. I sat with a lifetime of bad choices. A lifetime of being a victim. I sat with a lifetime of grief. I sat with the ALL of it. I sat by myself. I sat in groups. I sat in retreats. I sat until I learned to be ok with me. But just ok. Not great. I was so uncomfortable in my skin. Even breathing was hard. So many emotions flowed through me. I can remember wishing I could physically rip my skin off. And yet, I learned to stay. I’m starting to notice now that as good as all of that meditation was and still is for me, there’s a part of me that was still using it to numb myself. Often when I meditate, I feel pain in my heart. Physical pain. If I tune into that pain it will creep up into my throat. There are memories stored away in my body and brain that still need to be processed. I know this, I feel this. When this pain creeps in, there are two things I can do. Explore that or find my breath. I have always been one to take the breath route and move past that pain. Until recently. This past year, with every new moon, one of the intentions I set is to remain open. I have really been working on that and it’s proven quite difficult for me. I may never be the woman who sits in a circle and cries in front of everyone. Not because I wouldn’t love to be that woman, but because I don’t feel safe doing that. It’s a trust thing. And that’s ok. I don’t have to sit in a circle and be that woman. In fact, since I facilitate 90% of the circles I sit in, it’s best that I don’t. See how I set that up in a way that works for me? It’s hard for me to allow myself to show up and be seen in all of my vulnerability. I’m getting “better” at it. It’s easy to write from that vulnerable place. I’m protected behind the computer screen. I am a work in progress and I’m sure I always will be. This past year I have gained so much knowledge about myself. Blogging regularly and allowing myself to be seen in that way has been huge for me. Therapy has been an amazing tool which you already know if you read anything I write. Yoga is my life and is always there to save me when I remember to take the time to get on my mat for ME. If you follow me on social media you will surely know by now that singing and dancing are my new favorite things. If you want to talk about inner child healing with me sometime, it will involve singing and dancing. And who knew? I don’t necessarily mean the kind of inner child connection where you just let that child come out and play. Not that playtime isn’t important, because it is and I love it. I’m talking about knowing when I am triggered, tuning in and responding from a place of love. I once had a therapist tell me “You’ll have to grow your own self up.” At the time, I had no idea what she meant by that and I’m not even sure why that’s something that stuck with me, but it did. And suddenly it makes perfect sense. She meant that I would have to heal and “raise” my own inner child. Hold her when she’s sad. Let her cry when she needs to. Let her express herself by dancing and singing through me. Let her tell her story through writing. Let her be seen and heard because that is all she wants. Be with her and acknowledge her. Powerful stuff. My meditation practice has changed quite a bit lately. Rather than turning away when my heart starts to hurt, I tune into it. There’s rarely anger but there is often grief. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I don’t. Up until very recently I have been afraid to cry because I believed that once I started, I might not stop. But, sitting through the tears has taught me that it will pass. And when it does, I feel so much lighter. Hence all the levitation I’ve been doing. 😊 A wise woman told me that “you’ll know you’ve resolved the conflict when you can tell your story without crying.” I’m not there yet. Instead, I’m sitting, singing, writing and dancing my way through a lot of unresolved shit and oh so grateful to have so many tools and so much support.
With all the inner child work I have been doing, I forget that child wants to play. This week I let her do just that. On Sunday, I met up with friends and danced at the Buddhist temple. At least for a bit. On Tuesday I played on the beach, chanting, singing and not giving a fuck what anyone thought. I’ve been busy levitating everywhere. That’s really fun to do. Wednesday I locked the studio and had the BEST solo dance party ever. That’s really what I came here to write about. Who knew dance could be so healing? Except, my dance teacher friends and therapist friends. I know they knew. I always did love to dance. When I was drinking. I stopped dancing when I stopped drinking. The dancing stopped because the going out to bars and clubs stopped. The parties on my top deck stopped. It never occurred to me to have a sober dance party in my living room. Until recently. Living room dance parties have been a thing for me all summer long. And the singing! LOL My husband told me last week that all I do is sing and dance these days. How freaking awesome is that? Of course, he’s wrong, but I do A LOT of singing and dancing. Pure joy. That’s my inner child at play. I told the Universe (and my friends) that I wanted to dance and guess what happened? All the dancing. All the time. The Rebel Soul schedule is FULL of all kinds of dancing! Ecstatic Dance. Belly Dancing. Dancing Mindfulness. Qoya. I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Qoya, because I hadn’t either. Let me tell you, I love it already and I haven’t even tried it. Tonight I am leading a moon circle and you can bet your ass that we will be dancing. I have always known that movement heals. It wasn’t until I took a trauma informed yoga training in January that I understood why. Then I read “The Body Keeps the Score” and just WOW. Mind Blown. Really. Then, because I am who I am, I read everything I could find on healing trauma through movement. I struggled to get sober and I’ve known since day one that I needed more than just a 12 step program. 12 Step programs are great and I am in no way knocking them. 12 step programs do a great job addressing the mind and spirit piece, but they don’t address the body. We are whole beings. Mind, body and spirit. To truly heal, we have to address these all. My yoga journey began in a treatment center. Most of you know how much I hated yoga in the beginning. Maybe for the first year. Nobody explained to me why it made me cry, and if they did, I wasn’t listening. I just know that I hated crying in front of people and I felt like such a freak. I thought something was truly wrong with me. Today I understand that I was releasing years of trauma and emotions that were locked in my body. It all came flooding out in tears and anger and sadness and even rage that I didn’t know what to do with. So I sat with it. Holy shit did I sit with it. In reading an old blog post, I realized that this was the beginning of repressed memories resurfacing for me. Only I wasn’t ready to deal with them back then, so I filed them away and completely forgot they were there. Aren’t humans fascinating? I live in my head way more than I probably “should.” My therapist reminds me every week to try to feel my way through things. You might assume I would be good at that by now as much as I practice and TEACH yoga and meditation, but it’s not my natural state. I am forever trying to figure everything out in my mind. And honestly, sometimes I get busy and forget to get on my mat and drop into my body. Dancing has been a great way to do just that and it’s a nice compliment to all of my other practices. Plus, it’s FUN. When I said I had a dance party on Wednesday, what I really mean is that I experienced myself from the inside out through movement and music. A personal Dancing Mindfulness practice. I closed my eyes and connected to my breath. I witnessed my mind and let go of judgement. You feel me meditators? Then I began to move to the music. The intention was to stay focused on my breath and my body and for the most part I was able to do that. Emotions came up and I was able to move them through my body by feeling them rather than thinking about them. It was very similar to the way yoga works for me, but it was dance. No alignment. No sequence. I danced for two hours with a few breaks when I needed to rest. In no way did I solve all the worlds problems, but I had peace, clarity and serenity when I was through. So beautiful.
Also, hair flipping and booty shaking fucking rocks.