Expansion

Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch, making winter playlists for my classes and I heard myself say to my husband that winter is my favorite time of year.  For real. It rolled right out of my mouth. That was immediately followed by, “except being cold, because I hate that.”  So, I’m not exactly sure why I decided winter is my favorite.  I think it’s just the practice of mindfulness in full effect and the fact that winter is almost here so I might as well embrace it.  And I have.  I made winter playlists. Obviously. I bought new boots.  I planned a bomb ass Solstice Celebration.  I put my spring/summer clothes away.  That one was new.  Never have I ever done that before and for some reason, it made me feel incredibly accomplished.  Christmas isn’t stressing me out AT ALL.  I just feel ready for all that winter brings.  I am ready to slow way down. I am ready to spend time hibernating.  I am ready for all the rituals involved in the upcoming weeks. I am ready to spend time with my soul.  Every year I pick one word as my “mantra” word for the year.  My one word for 2019 is Allow.  To be in the space of allowing doesn’t come naturally to me, so this was a bit out of my comfort zone.  I wrote about that last year.  It’s here if you want to check it out.  I just read it myself and it did a world of good for me.  I never go back and read my own blogs.  I should probably spend some time doing that this winter.  Looking back, I think I got exactly what I expected from living in the space of allowing.  Which is great, because some years the word I pick shows up in unexpected ways that make me say “What the actual fuck?”  I have learned to be specific with intentions so the Universe and I are on the same page.  In my year of allowing, I let go of trying to force things that I thought were for me.  I had two big projects on my agenda this year, planned, promoted and floating around in the world.  And guess what?  Those things weren’t for me. They never came to fruition. And I know the WHY in that.  Those two things were never an absolute YES from me.  I went along with them and felt good about them, but they were never things that made my soul scream.   And the lessons in that were HUGE.  It was totally ok to put myself out there and try something that didn’t work out.  Also, I fully understand now that if it isn’t a HELL YES in my soul, it’s a NO from the Universe.  I need soulgasms. Cool.  Thanks Universe.  To be in the space of allowing meant that I just did my thing.  I allowed the path to open up in front of me and kept stepping forward.  The path led me out of therapy because I’m finished healing. Haha. I kid. But, I have the tools to handle myself, my emotions, and whatever pops up in my life. The path led me to The Hanuman Ashtanga Yoga Shala in the spring. If you follow me on social media, then you KNOW I started practicing Ashtanga Yoga this year.  There’s a whole little story of how that happened somewhere on the blog, but I’ll save you and just let you know that I was divinely guided.  Prior to stepping into the shala, I had zero experience with the practice of Ashtanga.  I knew enough to know it was physically challenging and like all things that are good for me, it wasn’t for me.  Until it was.  When the messengers showed up, I paid attention.  I allowed myself to try it out.  It has been my biggest blessing in 2019.  I love the practice.  Most days. My teacher is amazing.  The shala students are all wonderful.  I have learned so much about myself practicing in the shala.   I learned that I am stronger than I think I am. I learned that I can keep going when I am sure I am going to die.   I learned that the pure joy that comes after the not dying is indescribable.  I learned about trust in the shala.  Trust is still a hard one for me.  My teacher is compassionate and kind and I trust him to keep me safe.  And he does.  I allow him to help me when I need it, which is every time I practice.  See?  There’s that allowing again.  I went back and forth with Allow last year, because it seemed a bit “weak” to me, but ultimately, Allowing is all about strength.  Allowing is about having a strong faith that what is for me, is going to find me.  I don’t have to chase it.  What’s for me will always be for me.  Allowing is being ok when things don’t work out.  The strength is in pushing past the fears and trying.  Allowing is living my life, writing my blogs, teaching my classes, all of it, whatever it is, when a new friend shows up on the path and says “I want you to write your book.  I’m a literary editor. You just write and I will  turn what you have into a book.  No pressure.”    And, because I have learned so much about trust this year, I just roll with it and assume she knows what she’s doing.  Feels a lot like allowing to me.  And it seems like the next logical step for me.  I’ve always known it was in there.  I’ve talked about it.  Now I get to be about it.   My word for 2020 is Expansion.   I won’t be getting the tattoo.  I know some of you were going to ask.  I am about to grow on every level.  Sounds scary as shit.  I am ready to do my thing and be open to how that plays out.  I have no real expectations, as the Universe prefers to surprise me anyway.  I am just going to write.  And write.  And write some more.   In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron says “The first rule of magic is self containment.  You must hold your intentions within yourself, stoking it with power.  Only then will you be able to manifest what you desire.” I know what she means by that is to not tell people who will doubt you and make you second guess yourself.  I circled that line in the book and wrote NO beside it because I am fortunate enough to live in a world where people believe in me.  I live in a world where I can blast my intentions and people show up to help me make them reality. I created that world. So beautiful. So grateful. I really understood how much people believe in me that time I Facebook shared a photoshopped image of myself doing a handstand on an iceberg in Alaska.  In all fairness, it looked pretty real if you didn’t stare and I had been in Alaska. The comments blew me away.  My initial thought was that these people are dumb asses for thinking I actually got onto that iceberg.  My next thought was WOW.  People believe in me and think I can do anything!  How fucking awesome is that?!  It’s powerful people. I have always had people who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. That is a true blessing and honestly, it’s the only reason I’m still alive. Seriously. Thank you for believing in me friends.  Expansion feels good for 2020.

She is a powerful force

I was having breakfast with my daughter recently.  We were having one of those hard conversations that ended with me telling her that hopefully, one day, she would end up on a therapist’s couch processing that.  She told me she was actually ready to do that now.  I immediately pointed across the street to the office of a local therapist that I recommend to everyone.  I asked her if she wanted me to make an appointment with her or if she preferred to go back to the one she had worked with previously.  She chose the familiar therapist.  I was so excited.  I was excited for her to have support from a professional that I know isn’t going to steer her wrong.  It doesn’t hurt that the therapist she picked is a bad ass, spiritual gangster. I wasn’t exactly sure what she needed support for, and I didn’t need to know.  I was happy that she chose a healthy way to deal with life.   The two of them connected and my daughter went to her first appointment last week.  She texted me that evening and said that she was supposed to “talk to her inner child with compassion.”  I asked her if that had been explained to her.  It had.  It all made sense to her.  Then she asked if I had any books about inner child healing.  I did.  Of course. I got the book to her right away and told her to process it with her therapist.  I was immediately excited for her.  I mean, how amazing to start the inner child healing process at 18 instead of at 40.  Wow.  Then, two minutes later, I was terrified for me.  Because sometimes I still think everything is about me. Inner child healing is all about re-parenting yourself in healthy and loving ways.  In my mind this is going to bring awareness to every mistake I ever made raising my daughter.  And there were A LOT.  My daughter was 12 when I got sober.  I wasn’t a raging alcoholic all of her life, but for a few years of it, I definitely was.  There are so many things I missed because I chose alcohol over my children.  I didn’t see it that way at the time, but today, I do.  There’s a lot of shame in that.  I can have compassion for myself, and I do, but I also realize that I wasn’t there when I should have been.  I was drunk. Then I was in treatment centers for months at a time.  I was in hospitals and psych wards.  I once jumped out of a moving car with my children in the backseat, my husband was driving.  My daughter has told me that one was the worst for her.  The worst one for me was one of the occasions when my husband had taken my liquor away.  I had a bottle hidden away at a friend’s house.  I took off walking down the street. Stomping really.  My daughter was following me and begging me to come home.  She was crying.  In that moment she was standing between me and the most important thing to me. My alcohol.  I turned around and told her to stop following me.  Then.  I told her I hated her.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  If there was just ONE thing  I could take back, that is the one.  I would do anything to have a do over on that moment.  Because there is no doubt that no matter how great our relationship is today and how sober I am, that moment will be with her forever.  We have talked about this incident so many times, and she promises me that it’s ok and that she knows I was sick, but nothing about that moment is ok.   This is how alcohol destroys families. We were fortunate to have a lot of love and support from grandparents, friends and other family members through that period. So, yeah, inner child healing work will be good for her.  I didn’t get to be that mom who broke the cycle before I had children.  I am fortunate that I do get to be that mom who shows her children what recovery is. I am truly grateful for that.  I admire my daughter so much.  She is strong and independent in a way that I never was.  I spent years projecting all of my fears onto her.  She isn’t me.  She has shown me that time and time again. She has been successfully adulting since she was 16 years old.  Hell, this child was born responsible. I’m not sure where that comes from. Of course inner child work will be good for her because she grew up so quickly.   I texted her to tell her that she will probably be mad at me and hate me for a while through this work.  She assured me that it will be fine.  I know it will.  It’s not about me anyway and I can’t allow myself to stay stuck in the space of all the things I did wrong.   She is thriving in ways I couldn’t have imagined at 18 years old.  She is on her own journey.  She has been all along.  My job is to love and support her in any way I can.  When I take myself out of her process, I am nothing but excited for her to do this work.  Maybe she gets to be that mother who breaks the cycle by doing the inner work before she has children.  She makes good decisions.  She is capable.  She is a powerful force.  She is amazing in so many ways.  I love watching her grow into all that she is and I am honored to be her mother.  I am convinced we picked each other in another time and place because we have so many lessons to learn from each other.  She teaches me so much.  ♥️

Self Discipline is the Highest Form of Self Love

Last night I shared a quote in moon circle that I am completely in love with.  “Discipline is the highest form of self love.”  I shared it because there was a woman in the circle who needed to hear it.  There were probably others who needed to hear it as well. I need to be reminded of it constantly.  Someone recently commented on one of my FB posts that I am so disciplined.  And I loved that she saw me that way. It’s more true than not.  I am all about self love.  I am all about naps, and eating to nourish my body, writing in journals and big fat bubble baths.  With snacks.  Self love can look like that.  Self love can also look very different.  I once had a therapist tell me I had to learn to love myself enough to tell myself no.  I have no doubt that I was filling her ears with all sorts of nonsense that was going on in my personal life.  I got away with ridiculous things because nobody ever told me no.  Nobody ever told me I couldn’t/shouldn’t do a thing that was obviously harmful.  In fact, I talked most people into doing those things with me.  I had some pretty unhealthy habits going on at the time.  Loving myself enough to tell myself no wasn’t one of them.  This was just one of many things she told me that I paid no attention to.  Because it was all bullshit.  I really could not fathom living a different way. Until I did. I stopped drinking before I wanted to.  It was a have to.  Looking back, I realize that giving up alcohol was a radical act of self love even though it felt like the exact opposite.  Self love is also saying yes to the things that are good for us.  I had to say yes to AA because that’s where I was going to meet sober people.  Sober people didn’t exist in my world.  I had to go to the weird meetings with “those people.”  I wasn’t like those people.  I was different.  Special.  That therapist assured me that I was not special.  Just like that.  “You’re not special.”  Asshole.  I was pretty sure she was wrong about that one.  I was pretty sure she was wrong about most things.  But, here’s the truth.  I’m not special.  None of us are.  And we all are.  We are all humans doing the best we can with what we have to work with.  Back then, I didn’t have a lot to work with.  But I have had some amazing teachers on this path and I am a completely different person than I was 6 years ago.  Because I pay attention.  This morning I sat down to write about Discipline, but I hadn’t yet been on my mat and I just couldn’t bring myself to write about something I wasn’t practicing.  So I got up, went down on the dock and practiced yoga.  Because I love myself enough to do the things I know are good for me.  I love myself enough to pursue the things that are going to lead to my ultimate happiness even when they aren’t necessarily the things I feel like doing.  My alarm is set for 4:30 am.  On weekdays, I wake my children around 5 am.  This gives me 30 minutes to myself.  I use this time to meditate and write.  My preference would be to drink coffee and scroll on my phone.  I’m not perfect and sometimes that is exactly how I spend my quiet time.  That is NOT what nourishes my soul.  I don’t wake up at 4:30 excited to write and sit in silence, but I do it because I know it keeps me sane.  It keeps me connected. I’m not telling you to wake up at 4:30 am. In fact, every evening before I fall asleep my mind begins to tell me all of the reasons I can’t wake up in the morning and do what I want/need to do. If I listened to this voice, I would never practice in the shala because Wilmington is too far to drive. I would never get on my mediation cushion because I have chores to do.  I would never sit down to write because someone, somewhere, needs me to do something for them.  There are always reasons that I shouldn’t wake up early for my morning practices. They are all very believable reasons.  The little voice in my head throws them all at me when I set my alarm and get in bed. That’s my self sabotage voice.  This voice will have me wasting my time, sitting on my ass, drinking coffee and scrolling on my phone.  Really.  That voice will have me wasting entire days if I let it. I don’t have that kind of time because there are so many things I want to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I really do need days that are quiet and restful.  Recovery time after big “extrovert events.”  I need solitude.  We all know I need my naps.   But, I also need to do the things I know are good for me. Especially when I don’t want to. I only dread these things until I get started.    And then……then comes the sense of accomplishment.  The good feelings.  The joy. I have been practicing this lifestyle for quite a while now, and I know the practices that keep me centered.  I am not a runner, but I am willing to bet that runners don’t jump out of bed eager to go running every day.  I also imagine the people who hit the gym every day don’t always feel like it. Artists probably don’t want to create every day. I could go on and on, but you get it. Everything we do is a practice and being disciplined is no different.  Discipline is loving ourselves enough to say no to the things that aren’t good for us and loving ourselves enough to say yes to the things that are.  It’s dropping the distractions to focus on what truly needs our attention. It’s picking up our tools when we are having a shitty day and using them when we want to wallow in misery.  It’s keeping the promises we make to ourselves.  Discipline really is the highest form of self love.  

I Hope We All Make It.

I never tire of seeing this poem.  Ever.  I came across it on Instagram yesterday and was reminded of the first time I ever saw it.  The therapist that I’ve mentioned a million times here gave it to me.  I realize now that it must have been frustrating for her to see me week after week, give me tools, and watch me not use any of them. I see other people do it and it frustrates me. I’m fortunate that I did have these resources available to me and people who pushed me to eventually use them.  I had people who loved me and wouldn’t let me drink myself to death.  This poem was posted on Instagram yesterday and it stopped me mid scroll. I read the poem for the thousandth time. All the feels came over me.  I used to carry this poem with me in a journal.  I always felt the power in it’s simple message and understood that this was for me. I just wasn’t ready to “walk down another street.”  When I arrived at the treatment center where I finally got sober, this poem was with me.  Honestly, all sorts of things were with me.  I can’t seem to go places without ALL the books, ALL the journals and ALL the pens.  Even when I was too drunk to read any of the books or write coherently in my journals. I’m sure I arrived with a stack of self help/therapy books and handouts. The poem found its way to the refrigerator in the “home” I shared with the other women. I wanted the other women to be able to see it every day.  I wanted to share any inspiration I had with these women.  I wanted to see them get better.  I wanted to see them “walk down another street.” My heart hurt for all of us in that place.  Yesterday, when I saw this poem it brought back a flood of memories.  When I was in that center, I decided that I was going to be sober because I needed to live.  Not because I necessarily wanted to live.  Not because I thought I was worthy of anything that remotely looked like a happy life, but ultimately, staying alive to be a mother to my children was the goal.  I had been in therapy for quite a while as well as going to DBT groups.  You can read about DBT here. I had been going to AA meetings and I owned every self help book ever written.  Not that I ever used any of those tools, but they were there waiting for me to pick them up.  I began with positive affirmations.  As hokey as that was to me. I went to the office where all the rehab “therapists” were and asked to borrow Post It notes. I was denied by the woman I asked because clearly, she was a bitch. And I told her that. Then I got “rehab reprimanded” for letting her know I thought she was a bitch. I probably cried and carried on in a dramatic way after I left the office. I use that word “probably” loosely here. By the end of the day, I had Post It notes in my hand. I wrote affirmations on the Post It notes and put them all over my bedroom walls as well as on the mirror in the bathroom.  My housemates asked me to write affirmations for them. Soon, the ladies from the other houses at the facility were asking me to write affirmations for them. I spent my mornings writing affirmations for all of the women in the center. These women would come find me in the morning and ask me if I had post it note for them. I always did.  I remember so clearly how happy these little Post It notes made them. I believed every positive word I wrote for these women. I believed they were strong, smart, capable, loved, powerful and every other lovely thing I wrote. But I didn’t believe I was any of those things. It occurred to me as I read this poem today that this was where the me who inspires, supports and empowers women was born. It was born from a place of needing to be inspired, supported and empowered. I didn’t believe these lovely things were true about me, but the hope and joy they brought to the women around me was everything. Every word I wrote were the words I needed to hear. I could see the trauma, the pain and the grief that had brought them to this place, but I couldn’t see my own. Writing these affirmations gave me a sense of purpose. It was a positive act that was also an esteem building exercise. In my own small way, I was being of service to others. Ahhhhhhhh. What a concept.  One that up until this point, I had only heard in AA.  Up until this very moment, I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing.  Acts of service and esteem building exercises were out of my normal realm. Up until this point, I had been tearing myself down day by day. This was surely the beginning of me learning to love myself. After I left treatment, and went back into the real world, I went public with my sobriety. Being social media drunk was never a secret, so there was no reason to keep my sobriety a secret. Social media has always been a great tool for my recovery. I follow tons of great sober Instagram accounts. I belong to FB recovery groups. I read blogs by women just like me. In fact, those blogs were where I first REALLY felt like there were people I could relate to in this world.  I began to use my own social media pages as a way to share my story and the message of recovery. A message of hope.   People tell me all the time that I inspire them. And I love it. It brings me joy. I love to see people win and if I can support that in some small way, I’m all about it.  But, honestly,  I never set out to inspire anyone. We all have a story.  I just knew I was supposed to share mine.  Being able to write in a way that connects with people is a gift and who am I to not use that gift?  And oh my goodness…..I had no idea how many people would resonate with my words.  I have met and connected to so many amazing people because someone sent them to my blog, my FB page or my Instagram.  I have connected to people’s sisters, cousins, mother in laws, friends of friends, random strangers and my personal favorite is when my therapist friends send their patients to my blog or to my yoga classes.  When a woman walks into my studio and says her therapist “sent her”  and I can see that she’s slightly terrified…I love that the most! I love it because I was that terrified woman going into the yoga class because my therapist said it would be good for me. It’s all so beautiful to me. Friday I had lunch with a woman I met through a mutual friend. I had met this woman exactly one time and I think it must have been two years ago. But we are connected on social media, so it’s kind of like knowing her without really knowing HER. Social media is weird. I know lots of people feel like they know me. And….they sort of do, but you can’t really know someone without spending time with them.  The lunch came about in a random way because I followed my gut and reached out to her rather than ignoring my intuition. This sweet woman, and she is sweet but really, she is a 75 year old complete bad ass, told me that she reads everything I write. She told me that I inspire her and so many other women. She was full of kind words for me and she did it in a graceful way that didn’t embarrass me or cause me to go all weird and awkward.  We were instant friends and it felt like we had known each other forever. It was comfortable. She talked about her daughter during lunch. I had absolutely no idea that she lost her daughter to an accidental alcohol and pill overdose 15 years ago. In that moment I knew exactly why we were together at lunch. In that moment I understood our heart to heart connection and why my intuition had led me to her. It was a powerful reminder of WHY I share my story. A reminder of why it’s important for me to inspire, support and empower the people around me. I know how it feels to be at the bottom. I love to watch people rise. I share my story in service.  It’s part of my path. It’s not about me. It’s about the person I was almost 6 years ago. It’s about the person still struggling who believes they are broken beyond repair. It’s about the person who doesn’t believe they are worthy of love or happiness. I share my story because I am alive to share it. It’s one of those things that I know I am supposed to do. The Universe confirms this for me time and time again in so many ways. I am honored every time someone reaches out to me because they read something I wrote and were touched by it in some way.  I truly am. I hope we all make it. I hope we all get to experience every beautiful thing that this life has to offer. ♥️

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.

Dream World

 I published a post on Wednesday that touched a lot of people in a lot of ways.  It became clear that I am not alone in feeling lonely.  It became clear that perhaps I was throwing a little shade.  It became clear that I was blaming others for my hurt feelings.  It became clear that people have a desire to “fix” me when I am feeling less than joyful.  All of these things are fine. I’m down to do the work I need to do around my hurt feelings and shade throwing.  We all have a shadow side.  It’s not a problem unless we deny it.  I know some shit. I show up and write what’s in my heart and on my mind.  Not what I think people need to know.   I love that people read my words and FEEL.  What they do with those feelings is completely out of my control.  There is FREEDOM in that.  I am not here to hurt feelings.  Ever.  I am not here to be fixed.  This is my space.  I appreciate everyone who takes time to read my words.  What you do with that is NOT my business.  I am thrilled some of you have therapists.  I am NOT a therapist.  My therapist has reminded me of that a time or two. Or three. 🤣   I wrote my last blog right before a therapy session. The one about loneliness.  Something magical happened in that.  I named it, claimed it and tamed it. I am sure we talked about those feelings.  I don’t even remember now.   And life went the fuck on.  As it has a tendency to do.  My week was uneventful, but here I am sharing my uneventful week anyway.  Because it’s Sunday and it seems like the thing to do. I  journaled more than a 13 year old girl this week.  Most weeks really, if I’m honest. I’ve just switched up my journaling routine from morning to night. Holy Shit! It’s like another world.  Night time journaling  has opened up some portal into my dream world where a lot of serious action is taking place.   This week (in my waking hours) I spent some time trying to decide if AA is still my path.  I sit in those meetings some days and laugh at how weird it all is. Not that I am opposed to doing weird shit.  I do plenty of it.   The topic of quality vs quantity comes up from time to time in meetings.  I live in an area where most of the population is retired.  In the sober community, that means I am in meetings with people much older than me with a lot more sober time than me.  And yet some of them are still so miserable. Miserable could be a stretch, but there are a lot of them who still haven’t figured out how to be happy, joyous and FREE.  They have quantity, but are clearly lacking quality.  I am not lacking in quality.  After 5 years I am still not comfortable sitting in a meeting and sharing openly. It’s something I rarely do. Maybe if I got past that I would feel a shift in my attitude.  I don’t know.   There are lots of people I love in AA, but the meetings, not so much.  And I wonder……..  AA was a great place for me to get sober.  The 12 steps were a beautiful launch pad out into a much bigger spiritual world.  But does it still belong in my life?  My AA friends will say it absolutely does belong in my life, and perhaps I just need to switch my meetings up.  This week as I was rolling that around in my head, NOT going to meetings and night time journaling about it my dreams came at me.  Alcoholics have “drinking dreams.”  I am not sure if people who don’t have a problem with alcohol have those or not, but I am guessing not.  I dreamed that I sent my husband to the store to buy me a bottle of bourbon.  He asked if a pint would do and of course, it would not.  I would need at least a fifth.  In real life a half gallon would have been called for, but anything can happen in the dream world. He then asked why I was still going to those meetings if I am still drinking.  I wasn’t exactly sure why.  I just knew it was what I do.  He asked me if I planned to pick up a white chip.  A white chip means surrendering and choosing to live a sober life.  The start of the journey.  Basically, a white chip would mean I had to start over at day one.  I don’t do white chips. I was always one to bedazzle mine. Another story for another time. Dream me said a big Fuck NO to him about picking up a white chip because although I was drinking, I wasn’t getting drunk.  In my mind, there was no reason to pick up a white chip.  I can rationalize anything,  Even in my dreams.  Drinking dreams suck. I know this one came from all of my recent questioning. These questions aren’t really new to me.  I have spent the better part of a year wondering if I I want to continue going to meetings. I don’t have to figure it out today and chances are, I’ll be drinking coffee with old men at least one day this week.  Maybe that is the solution.  The real movement and processing that’s happened in my dream world this week has been in the form of my little sister.  Who doesn’t exist.  But she exists in my dreams and I KNOW that she is me.  Little me.  All thanks to going back and taking another stab at inner child healing.  And night time journaling.  I tend to go hard at Inner child healing (like I go hard at everything I do) but when I touch on something painful, I stop.  After seeing the group that’s working through this process in my studio, I decided to take another crack at it.  I love watching the women in the group connect and grow.  I can SEE how much this group is helping them heal. I also know  that the group in the studio wasn’t the time or place for me. But, I definitely see the value in it and KNOW it’s something I want to keep at.  I bought the book they are using and I enlisted a far away friend to work through the book with me.  We connect weekly and discuss.  I have my therapist to help me process what comes up and she has hers. (Although hers sucks and she needs  a new one)   I know it’s going to take us a little longer to get through the book, but it seems safe and comfortable to me and my inner child.   She needs that.  I won’t be blogging about those dreams, but they are powerful.  Powerful and private.  THAT is what it’s like to pay attention to my inner child. I’m learning to listen to her more and more.  When I use that term inner child, I know there are tons of them, pieces of me that I haven’t connected to yet.  But I’m getting closer every day.  Yesterday I taught my 8 am class how to chant “fuuuuuuck.”  It might have been my greatest teaching moment ever. Pretty sure that was my inner 15 year old Rebel girl. I know her well. 😂

Hiding from the world.

We are well into Janauary and this is my first blog.  I think I’m hiding from the world.  In my bathtub.  I have been avoiding the process of sitting down to write out of fear of sounding like a whiny baby.  But whatever.  I have been in a weird space since 2019 started.  I know I won’t stay stuck in it, but I have also learned to honor my now and allow myself to be where I am.  I’ll tell you where I am.  Lonely.  I am in a perpetual state of loneliness. Not sad. Not depressed. Just lonely.   I’m surrounded by a tribe of amazing people in all of my communities from home and outward into the real world as well as the virtual world.  It would seem lonely isn’t something I “should” ever feel.  See those quotations around “should?”  That’s because I do know should is a bullshit word and my feelings are valid.  So there’s that.  It seems the more connected I am, the more alone I feel.  My brain knows that I am NOT alone.  My heart is learning that not all of my relationships are real.  I am a sensitive soul and lately my feelings are getting hurt left and right.  I’m not exactly sure what that’s about, but I suspect it has a lot to do with actually paying attention to my feelings.  That’s therapy working.  As of late it’s becoming clear to me that some people want to be around me because they think I can do something for them.  Add to their status or popularity.  And it hurts my feelings.  That seems childish as I read it, but I’m also someone who is learning to tune in and pay attention to my inner child. Again, valid.  It’s not such a big deal when it comes from someone I don’t know that well, but when it comes from someone I love, it sucks.   What hurts worse is when someone who IS my friend and I know loves me blindsides me with a passive aggressive comment about my happy life.  I imagine that happens to everyone?  Jealousy?  Envy?  Those words are hard to say and sound harsh, but I can’t find any other words that seem right.  Yesterday I saw my favorite Woo Woo Witch Healer and she informed me that it hurts because it’s opening an old wound that hasn’t fully healed.  The wound of being used? Or jealous people?   I’ll have to dive into my journal on that one, but I have no doubt she’s right.  I learned from trauma informed yoga training that “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”  If something is triggering us today, it is coming from our past.  It seems I will never run out of “work” to do on myself.  Soul Detective work. I have put a lot of energy into building a loving and supportive community for myself.  In the early days I called this Team Shannon.  I still have my team. I have come full circle in that area and now I get to be on other people’s teams.  Cheering them on and supporting them.  I find that to be meaningful “work.”  I love to see others succeed.  Seems everyone doesn’t feel that same way.  Lately the word “discernment” has been appearing in my life on repeat.  This is the lesson I am getting hit with hard this January.  Learning how to discern my circle.  I have never been that person who needs everyone to like me.  In fact, I have been the opposite.  Quite content to push people away.  That’s the exact reason I don’t have many friends from my childhood or even my life pre-sobriety. I never learned how to build healthy relationships.  Sobriety has given me that gift.  Sobriety and a spiritual path.  I don’t need everyone’s love and friendship.  I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me.  I’m just trying to figure out who gets to sit at my table.  I also know that when I am feeling lonely, it’s the time I most need to be alone.  The Divine is present within me and I am NEVER alone. And there it is.  There’s my aha moment right there.  THAT is the connection I am seeking.  Funny how putting my thoughts down in a blog can bring me clarity that a journal can’t always bring me to. Beautiful. And now I’ll just be over here, practicing discernment, connecting with a power greater than myself and finding my way.

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! 😊