Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anger, grief and other emotions

Well, I am discovering that while it's useful to discover the root of your insecurity and see where it all started, it's also easy to get super angry about the whole thing.

Of course I feel wronged. It was a horrible tragic loss of self.  I had no resources to help me through it. Of course I feel angry. I would really love to find Howard and *** his **** off. But, in that place of anger, I have been focusing on the severity of the injury itself instead of the recovery from it.

There is no power in feeling victimized. I can feel sad and angry about it happening, but I feel myself settling too deeply in victim mode. From this vantage point, I transform anger into fear and distrust in other people, creating a deeper sense of feeling wounded and hurt. And holy shit am I hurting right now.

This week has been powerfully emotional. Lots of complicated relationship stuff, outside of my own journey to my roots.  But because I'm on that journey I'm incredibly sensitive to every interaction that feels painful, and each passing thought of doubt becomes painful truth. I'm so clouded in that misery, it feels like everything is happening to me.

The kicker is, I know I'm in victim mode. I can see how I'm taking things personally. I can see how I'm being passive and listening to the destructive voices whispering their constant chorus of "You are invisible, you are without, this isn't fair, you are a fuck up".  I know that my monkey mind is fully engaged. I can see it extremely clear. I'm even judging my feelings as being wrong because they don't make sense, or that I'm just being insecure and so they're not valid. I can't justify my emotions in a logical way, and that propels me deeper into the spiral of grief and exacerbates the original emotion. 

What I'm learning is that feelings and emotions are NOT logical. Sometimes they make sense, and sometimes they don't. The important piece for me is to remember not to shame myself because I'm feeling an emotion without just cause.  Of course there is just cause TO ME, but it won't feel that way for anyone else. And that is okay. My feelings are my own, and I don't need approval to feel them. Moreover, nobody has an obligation to soothe or satiate me and my feelings. When I'm in victim mode, I lean into others for sympathy (commiserate with me over this thing has been done to me!). If I stand in my power and deal with my feelings responsibly, I seek out empathy (I am experiencing this sad emotion) instead.  I think it's also helpful to remember that I am not entitled to receive any special or good treatment from anyone. The world doesn't owe me a damn thing.

Victims need nurturing and to be given resources to heal. So I also recognize that if I'm in that space, I need to be especially gentle with myself and not shame myself for being in that mode.  Self compassion, constant awareness to combat the voices, and not expecting anyone to save me but myself will help pull me back.

And I'm just going to let myself feel some fucking anger for a minute without judging it to death.













Thursday, December 11, 2014

the little girl in the yellow jacket



The little girl in the yellow jacket is me when I was 6. The night before this picture was taken I was sexually assaulted for the 2nd time by the same man.  The smile on my face was forced. I didn't want to be there. I wanted to be very very far away.

My father left when I was 2.  I remember feeling an incredible and intense sense of loss at his sudden absence from my life. These events seeded roots that grew deeply to support the magnificent weight of my own personal Tree of Insecurity, with it's strong branches of powerlessness, smallness, weakness, jealousy, doubt, self sabotage, fear, instability, worthlessness and paralysis.  I remember being incredibly depressed as a kid, so much so that I don't remember a great deal of my childhood that feels light and fun and happy. I think a part of my emotional maturity stopped developing when I was the girl in the yellow jacket.

I feel her everyday lately. The incredible sensitivity to abandonment and betrayal. The feeling of invisibility.  Her difficulty creating and sticking to personal boundaries. How she goes along with things that she doesn't want to do. How she doesn't want anyone to dislike her or be upset with her, so she avoids any and all conflict. The feeling of making mistakes all the time. I feel heavy with her guilt and full of despair in her shame. Just wanting to escape. Escape escape escape.

There is no doubt that because I didn't have an advocate when I was experiencing these heartbreaks and intensely fucked up situations, that only fed my Insecurity Tree and allowed it to bloom and grow at a phenomenal rate. There is no doubt that my tree has affected every single one of my relationships. Friends, lovers, children, marriage, work, family. They have all been touched by my trauma.

I am desperately exhausted from feeling so stuck in this place of insecurity and feeling so self protected that I am challenged by the very act of opening my heart at all.  How am I forty years old and still struggling with all of this?

I have been thinking a lot about that sweet little girl in the yellow jacket lately.

Wishing I could have been there to protect her, and tell her how powerful she was and given her permission to use her voice to say no to an adult. To comfort her when she was crying herself to sleep missing her daddy and thinking she'd done something horribly wrong as to let a man do those things to her. To have been there for my mother to encourage her to press charges. To hold him accountable. If I could have done those things, I wonder how differently I might be now. I wonder if instead of a Tree of Insecurity being deeply rooted in my spirit, a Tree of Healing could be there instead. I wonder how much easier it would have been for me to form healthy attachments as a teenager. To say no to people I didn't really like. To follow my passions and love myself a little more. To have a more open and trusting heart. To spend my life for me and my values instead of other people's.

I was betrayed by the two people I trusted most in this world this summer. It sent me straight back to the girl in the yellow jacket. I fled from my feelings because it was too intense. I grew numb in my emotions, cutting off life to my soul. I detached from my body so I couldn't feel the pain that was seeping underneath my skin. Fear came rushing back to the surface every time I was faced with conflict. I shut down. I ran from myself. I ran from everyone. My heart was shattered.

I've been thinking a lot about that tender-hearted girl in the yellow jacket as I'm making my way back to my home.

I am realizing how much work I have to do. How much healing is in front of me. And how badly I want to emancipate myself from the agony of my past.

What if I could change it all so that when I remember it the girl in the yellow jacket, I won't remember the pain, but instead envision healing her within my love? What if I could steer a new destiny for myself based on rewriting my story to include a hero who swooped in and protected that little girl, helped her heal, and taught her how to be powerful and strong in her Self? What if I was that hero?

I want to have a future based on the strength of my own convictions, the power of my ability to heal, and the depth of possibilities available to me when I open my heart and begin to trust again.

I want to adopt a new set of truths for myself based on this new story. I want to be able to say with confidence that...

The relationship I have with myself is inspiring. I am driven and confident yet balanced and humble. I know when I'm wrong and I apologize immediately and sincerely. I can be alone with myself without crawling out of my skin. I enjoy my alone time in fact. I devour literature. I take pictures in the forest. I teach myself how to do things like hula hoop and speak spanish.

I know my personal boundaries and am not afraid to share them with those close to me. I express myself succinctly, with respect and compassion for myself and others. I don't give more than I have to give, and I protect my energy.

I know what lights me on fire and I follow my passions around like a lost puppy dog following the scent of a T-bone. I express gratitude and offer myself as a help to others selflessly. I take care of myself and have high standards for those that I am with to do the same.

When something happens that triggers me or upsets me, I resolve it as quickly as I can. I am not afraid of conflict because I know within conflict there is truth and understanding.

I take the time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me on a daily basis. I am full of wonder and not jaded by negative experiences. I understand that we are all human, battling our inner demons that cause us to want to harm others. I work with people who are hurting and help them to learn new skills to defeat their demons. I am a coach who helps people heal from sexual trauma. I help people connect. I am a seer. I genuinely love people. I genuinely want to make connections with everyone I meet. It fills me with energy to stay connected and realize that we are all one.

I don't isolate myself in times of sadness. I take solace in the comfort of a bustling home full of laughter and aliveness. When I need time away I take it. I write about my feelings so I can understand them better. I feed my spirit, body and heart with juicy relationships based on respect and compassion. I take responsibility for my actions, for my thoughts and for my feelings.

I don't need to be in control all of the time, in fact I enjoy letting go of control and allowing others to run the show. I also like to lead and take charge. I create a balance.

I am outgoing in my expression of love and everybody knows exactly how I feel about them because I show them with my actions and tell them with my words. My words and my actions match. My word is everything to me and I do everything I can to never betray the words I speak, break the promises I make or speak against myself.

I have done so much internal work that I am completely in love with myself and absolutely glow with confidence. I inspire people because I share myself so wholly and so fully for all to see and feel.  I am fully me. I don't apologize for who I am. I am vulnerable, I am open, I am available, I am able to make contact with people in the darkest, deepest parts of them.

I make mistakes and I understand that life can be complex and messy. I don't judge myself or others based on their inability to reach perfection. I am authentic to my core.

I embody love and compassion. I am full of life and full of aliveness. I do not hide.

This is my path in life. This is my conviction. I will never give up. I will sit in this stillness and allow myself to heal for as long as it takes until I can get up and start over. Over and over again.







Tuesday, September 16, 2014

being open

I've talked a lot on this blog about shame. A lot of navel gazing in the name of vulnerability, self expression, processing difficult feelings that are hard to talk about, and unraveling the mysteries of my mind.  This particular blog post has been one in the making for a long time, and no exception to the above mentioned motivations for writing.

I am a bi-sexual polyamorous woman. I am, and have been, in an ethical non-monogamous relationship with Reggie for 5 years now. That means we know about each other's outside relationships, the status of those, and we support and respect each other within those relationships. Our marriage is loving, playful, sexual, and our family isn't affected negatively by our being open.

I don't want to make a big hullabaloo about it, and while I don't believe this will be a single event in transparency,  I do want to have a measure of openness and casual atmosphere in my life that doesn't restrict my language, put boundaries around topics of conversation, and impose a secretive level of shame that perhaps I still carry around from growing up with the traditional values that our society tends to lend itself to.

Towards the end of my first marriage 11 years ago, I realized I was questioning the type of marriage and relationships I desired. Certainly, that doubt contributed to my unwillingness to work through the toxicity of that marriage, and instead of plowing through more years of struggling in a relationship that simply was never going to make me happy, I walked away. With that freedom I was able to talk to people in non-traditional relationships more intentionally, and began to research and explore those ideas for myself.

Reggie and I had always talked and flirted around the idea of opening up, and when we finally did, all cocky and self-assured, I don't think either of us were prepared for the journey we would eventually take in all of it.

I never really considered myself to be a jealous person. (cue laughter)  I knew I had a Costco size jar of insecurities, but what I didn't know is how deeply rooted jealousy is in the tree of insecurities, and how opening up taps into each and every branch of insecurity you have. How the roots of that asshole of a tree creeps to the surface and force you to deal with them, like a whiny toddler banging on the bathroom door after you've locked yourself in with a good book, softly lit candles, and the hot bubbles of a luxurious bath. There have been, and probably will always be, interruptions on the way to bliss.

However, I have yet to find a more productive avenue for extreme personal growth. Together, Reggie and I have slayed a number of dragons along the way, becoming ninjas in healthy, open and respectful communication, all the while falling more deeply in love day by day.  We are not the same people as we were when we started this in 2009. And while our marriage has flourished within it, we have been forced to grow through all the challenges. This lifestyle isn't for the faint of heart, as you can imagine.

In my own process of personal evolution, I have grown to identify as solidly, without question, polyamorous.  Though we have had to take breaks and close our marriage to others during times of emotional crisis (yes they were my emotional crises), there has never been a doubt in my mind that I am fundamentally non-monogamous. I do not desire a "one love forever" type of arrangement. I deeply value freedom, expression of affection and the abundance of love in the world. I believe each time I make an emotional connection, there are no boundaries or limits on the potential of that connection. There is no room in my world for the exclusivity of that love and desire. It was put within me to share, and so I must.

None of this should or will come as a surprise to most of my friends, as I have created a large intentional community who also strongly identify with and respect non-traditional values and relationships. There are, however, many people who it will surprise, perhaps shock, and possibly even disgust to the point of alienation. While I understand and respect others' decisions to live their lives according to their own values, I do not wish to lose anyone in my life due to my lifestyle and values, but I will not compromise mine.

That said, my coming "out", isn't some kind of preparation for the invitation to the sordid details of my private life. While I won't be discussing my sex life, I do want the freedom to be able to talk about my relationships the way we all talk about our relationships in a traditional way. There are many MANY exciting things happening in my life that are simply too big to continue to keep quiet about. I''m looking at you, Facebook.

The first of those is that my girlfriend, Cher, whom I'll be celebrating 6 months with next week, is living on our property in our "man cabin - now known as the "Gypsy Shala"and has become a beautiful branch in our family tree. She absolutely love my kids, and they absolutely adore and love her. Really, what's not to love? She is one of the most loving, kind-hearted, adorable humans on this earth. Reggie and her have similar personalities and get along famously though they are not involved romantically. I guess that makes our relationship a sort of "V"?? (cue big cheesy grin) She is a sweet addition to our family and I'm grateful for her amazing contributions to our home and lives.

Reggie will be celebrating a year with his girlfriend in a couple of months. Neither of us have dated anyone new for months and months, as we've taken some time to settle into our new relationships and invest in those, giving them our focused attention.

In other news, this next year will see me attending a coaching program out of San Francisco (http://www.celesteanddanielle.com/professional-training/). Cher and I took a road trip to California last month and I had an interview with Danielle while we were in San Francisco, and was accepted into the training for 2015, starting in April. As you'll see in the link, it is a coaching program focused on sexuality and relationships. It is perfectly aligned with my career goals, (empowering individuals in living authentic and juicy lives). Until then, I'm working to find a job to fund my trips and tuition, and then find time to read the 11 books that are starting to arrive. (cue laughter...again)

The training itself I forsee being a powerful force for continued growth for me, personally. I am ready to tackle the remaining demons that tend to encourage me to stay closed and afraid. Vulnerability is an intense life skill that needs many opportunities for practice. Diving head first and trusting the Universe will see me safely to the shores of self acceptance, intimacy and more more more love.

All this has been put on my heart to share because it's been once again proven to me how sacred and short life can be. Over the past couple years I have slowly started to create a protective shell around me, closing my desire to be authentically open and transparent. During that time, I have felt hurt and pain and kept my joys private and my cards close to my heart, allowing only a small fraction of people into my soul. When a sweet and precious friend passed away a few days ago, I realized how closed off I've become, and how living that way has hardened me and prevented vulnerability from really reaching me. It served it's purpose and given me time to cocoon, but it's not a sustainable mechanism for my ultimate happiness.

Her sudden death, after months of her unwavering hope and soldiering on through her battle with cancer, reminded me that my purpose on this earth requires me to be freely open and fully embracing this life with my heart stretched wide open, like she did, risking the pain of loss and pain for the reward of joy and happiness.  So here I am, starting again, unfurling and unzipping the truth of who I am. Onward and upward, here I go.