A little over four years ago, in a freak accident, I fell and broke both of my arms. Rods and screws in both wrists, the works. People tend to expect some crazy story – because, really – how does someone break both of their arms at the same time? Well, I was simply walking through a parking garage and stepped in a small hole I hadn’t noticed, lost my balance and fell forward. I caught myself with my arms out in sort of a push-up position (something that I had actually done many times before in my life with no injury at all) and watched with a sort of disbelief and horror as both of my arms visibly snapped above my wrists.
The reason I’m bringing this up today – is that I fell in virtually the exact same way this morning. I was helping my friend move some stuff in her driveway. I stepped on an uneven part of the pavement and before I knew it, I was catching myself with my arms in front of me. Just like in that parking garage, I hadn’t had even a second to think – I just instinctively landed with my arms like that. There were some metal bars that my hands landed on and it stung for a second, but I walked away from the experience uninjured. I immediately felt like there was a message for me there – partly to do with trusting the Universe and partly to do with nothing happens that isn’t meant to happen.
When I was a kid, I was a rough and tumble athlete. I fell on purpose regularly, practiced falling, imagining myself a football or baseball hero. On the tennis court, I reached for a ball or even dove for a ball many times, landing myself in a tumble. No harm done. And then there were the many times that I rolled my ankle wearing the slide shoes that my mom always told me to stop wearing because they didn’t provide enough support … and I kept rolling my ankle and falling. I am no stranger to falling – I know how to take a fall, how to roll out of a fall, how to catch myself. And yet, that one time, that ONE time, I had a very serious injury. WHY? Also, I’m older now. Why didn’t today’s fall hurt me? (I mean, I’m grateful that it didn’t, but it got me thinking.)
I learned a lot of lessons when I broke both arms – lessons that I wouldn’t have learned if something so extreme hadn’t happened. I learned who was there for me in my life and who wasn’t. My best friend at the time was someone who I had helped in multiple ways over the previous years, giving her money, babysitting for her, feeding her and her child regularly, doing all kinds of things for her. I found out the true state of our friendship when I was completely helpless. She was not willing to lift one single finger to help me. Ours was a one-way friendship. I could have seen that earlier, honestly maybe did see that, but ignored it because I loved her child so much. Nobody could have told me. Words would not have convinced me. How she treated me when I was in such desperate need was the only thing that could have made me see the light. After all I’d done for her and all of the meals I’d made for her, when I didn’t have the use of my hands … there were no meals for me, there was no help for me – she had nothing for me.
I was renting a room in the house she shared with her baby’s father at the time of the accident. I actually had to leave and go stay with someone else because my “friend” was so unwilling to help me. Can you imagine? Even so, after I’d healed and returned “home,” I let it all slide and allowed her to continue using me for another year. When her car died, I let her borrow my car all of the time, at my own expense and inconvenience. I rearranged my life for her to make her life easier. I clearly hadn’t learned yet at that point to have healthy boundaries. So, the Universe sent another painful lesson.
She found some other people, a couple, who would take her in, help her out financially, and provide her with transportation, so she took her child and left the house we were living in to go live with them. This wouldn’t have been so bad, I suppose, except that she abruptly cut off all communication with me and refused to allow her son to interact with me. This was a child who had spent almost the entirety of his first five years of life with me up to that point and I loved him like my own, we were very close. Now, he wasn’t allowed to even wave at me or look at me if we saw each other in the neighborhood, much less talk with me. It was a very painful and confusing time for both the child and me. Fortunately, his father and I remained friends and I’ve remained able to have contact with my godson through him. Now, what were the lessons there?
For starters, I learned to not ignore the signs of relationships being imbalanced or unfair. I learned to develop boundaries around how I was willing to be treated and valued in any sort of relationship (I had more lessons in that arena with a very disappointing business relationship after that, but it’s all lessons – I learn and grow). I learned more about myself, actually, and how to prioritize myself more in my own life and relationships. I learned that I needed to cultivate more mutual relationships – and that I needed to be able to receive as well as to give. I also learned that when I have needs, the Universe provides – often in completely unexpected ways.
See, when I was completely helpless, an angel who was a retired nurse stepped up to help me. At the time, she was more of an acquaintance than a friend – we didn’t know each other well. Still, she took me into her home and took care of me for two months and became one of my dearest friends. I one hundred percent believe that friendship unfolding as it has was – and is – Divinely orchestrated. A very important lesson for me in that situation was to learn to receive. That’s a lesson that I still struggle with a bit, because I’m much more comfortable with giving than I am with receiving. I like to be generous. I like to help people. And the reality is that I’ve always struggled with being able to accept other people’s help and generosity. A core fear from my childhood has been that of being “more trouble than I’m worth.” So, I’ve tried not to be any trouble at all. I’ve tried to be helpful, useful, worth having around.
The Universe has brought me to my knees multiple times in the past several years, where I’ve had no other choice than to accept help from others – even when I’ve had nothing to offer in return. When I was having cancer treatment in another state, several friends stepped up to take me into their homes and give me sanctuary and healing space. When I couldn’t even hold a fork, my friend fed me – nourishing not just my body, but my spirit. I’ve struggled financially over the past few years and I’ve had friends rent inexpensive rooms to me in their homes. And now, during this pandemic, when I’ve been unemployed and come to the point of having no money to even pay a little rent, family and friends have taken me in. It’s been humbling and not easy for me emotionally, but I have to say that it’s also made me feel loved and valued for me – not for what I can do for others, but just for me, just for existing. That is a lesson/message that I didn’t even know how much I needed. I’m still processing that one.
So, back to this morning. The fall that didn’t hurt me. The message that the Universe has got me and that my life is Divinely Guided. I’ve spent these past many months looking forward with some fear and trepidation and, honestly, despair. What would become of me? How was I going to survive? I didn’t see a path forward for me. I’m only 56 – was this going to be the end of the road for me? I haven’t been able to find a job since my job ended last June – and not for a lack of trying. I started this online healing/counseling practice on my own, but it isn’t even close to supporting me (yet). I’ve been worrying how I was going to make it. And then I got this message this morning.
The security of the money that I used to have was an illusion. It’s all gone now. It didn’t protect me. And yet, here I am. Still alive. Still have a roof over my head. Still am not going hungry – food is being provided for me. My life is still good even though I barely have any money (super grateful for the survival checks!). I could start panicking if I look a few months ahead and wonder if I’m going to be able to keep making my car payment or if I’m going to lose my car too. But I’m not going to do that. You know why? Because I’m going to trust the Universe. Because when I fell and didn’t get hurt this morning, the message I received was that the Universe has me – and that everything happens for a Divine Purpose, in the right way and at the right time. The Universe has always provided for me, and even though from my limited human perspective I don’t see how that will happen in the future, I do expect that to continue. Nothing happens that isn’t meant to happen, and what’s meant to happen, happens. I may not always understand it, but I do have faith in that. I’m holding onto that faith.
I’m working on a lot of projects, both personal and professional, and I wanted to share some links to some of what I’ve got going on. I’m more active right now on my blogs than on my IG accounts, but there’s some good content you might enjoy on all of the following links.
I’m excited to introduce a new blog that I’ve been thinking about doing for over two years now. It’s about my journey in managing my blood sugar naturally after a diabetes diagnosis. It isn’t just what supplements I’m taking, what foods I’m eating, how much I’m exercising, etc. It does (or will) include some of that too – things I’ve found helpful, recipes I like – but it’s more about what’s going on with me in various aspects of my life as I navigate this path – and how I’m dealing with my emotions and mental health, which have also been impacted by this diagnosis. When I was first diagnosed, I was scared and confused and didn’t know what to do. I’m hoping this blog, My Dance With Diabetes, will help people feel less alone and offer some good ideas.
On my personal blog, I share about different things that capture my attention as I move along this path of life.
On Instagram, I have three accounts:
Red Flags In Relationships – which is just like it sounds: thoughts about what signs to look for in relationships as warnings that you may want to pay closer attention to whether or not this is a beneficial relationship for you – and what part you may be playing in those dynamics. I also have a workbook out on Amazon, based on these red flags, that helps you to assess your own relationship/s and how they are meeting/matching up with (or not) your relationship goals and desires.
Thanks for reading. I’m just trying to do my part, as I’m inspired, to create a little more love, compassion, pleasure, joy, acceptance, space, and happiness in the world. I hope you find my work/writings helpful. Take care!
A few years ago, I was at a business conference where a friend introduced me to her friend, with whom she was sitting with during a dinner break in the hotel restaurant. My friend had told her friend about my product/invention and her friend wanted to try it. Sure! I said, and ran out to my car to get a set of Driving Wedges. I came back with them, showed her how to use them – and in less than a minute, she said she wanted to buy them. I was a little surprised at that very fast, very sure commitment to buying them, but then she explained: she had a prosthetic leg and the wedges gave her immediate pain relief by taking the weight of that leg off of her hip. That was an application which I’d never even thought of!
Although I was finally awarded both utility and design patents for the Driving Wedges, due to a variety of circumstances (cancer, falling and breaking both arms, etc.), I ran out of money and ended up closing my business. Sadly, Driving Wedges are no longer for sale or in production. I was thinking about this on a 12 hour drive I had the other day. I am so grateful that I have a set of Driving Wedges! They were expensive in terms of how much I spent to get them patented and produced – but so worth it! I don’t know how I’d make the drive without them! They keep my legs and hips comfortable and aligned. Without them, my legs would get cramps (especially around my left knee), and my hips and lower back would ache. I even used to get cramps in my upper shoulders on long drives before I started using the Driving Wedges. When the hip alignment goes, the whole back suffers.
What’s happening now is that I have five or six cases of them sitting in the basement of a friend’s house – and I need to get them out. I have nowhere to put them. I don’t have my own place and I can’t afford storage right now. I can’t sell them because I no longer have a business license and can’t afford to get one. At this point, I am happy to donate them, just so they go to good use. I have around 125-150 sets that could help people! They could help anyone who drives a lot (or sits a lot) – but what I’d really like to do is find a clinic or two where the doctors would like to test them out on their patients – see if they help. I was thinking for people with prosthetic legs, but I’m also thinking that they could help significantly with anyone with hip pain/problems. It’s worth a try! That’s where I could use your help – connect me with some doctors/clinics that might be interested in receiving this donation so that I can talk to them about this opportunity. Who do you know that is dedicated to helping people get out of pain?
Here is the Facebook page that can give you a lot more information about them. Here is a You Tube video about them (note: the website referenced at the end is no longer active). And here is a Quirky podcast interview I did about the wedges years ago. These really have the potential to help so many people! I’d like to at least give away the ones I have to someone who could help people with them.
Please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance for your help!
A long time ago (like 40 years or so), I first heard the concept that people who choose suicide don’t usually actually want to die – in fact, they want more life, more for their lives – they want to be more alive! It may have been a line from the movie Ordinary People. At any rate, that concept always struck me as true. I think it could also apply to other mental/emotional health issues, such as anxiety and depression. When we feel these things, isn’t it just possible that we are out of balance with ourselves, with what we want – and even need – more of (or possibly less of) in our lives in order to have our lives feel fulfilling and to feel peace within our own selves?
Now, I’m not a mental health professional – and I do realize that sometimes it is brain chemistry or other issues that are causing problems. However, I am trained in energy healing and in observing the energetic flows and impacts of various influences on our bodies, minds, and emotions. For example, I can feel areas in the body where chi (energy) is blocked. I can feel places in a home where the energy is blocked. Clutter is not without energetic consequences to your body, mind, and emotions! Holding ourselves back from our passions blocks energy. Trauma often gets locked in the body tissues, impacting our bodies, minds, emotions, and lives in countless ways that we may not even be aware of. Internal conflict about difficult decisions can paralyze us mentally and emotionally, causing us to feel tired, hopeless, and/or depressed. The list of emotional states that can impact our mental health and general vitality is extensive.
So, what do we do if we find ourselves feeling trapped in our own minds, stuck in our lives, too tired and overwhelmed to move forward? Well, first of all, being evaluated by a doctor or mental health professional to rule out physical causes is a good idea. Beyond that, though, what can we do to help ourselves shake off the doldrums and the lethargy that have us unable to move in directions that get us closer to the lives which we want to be living? We need to reach for MORE.
Motivating. We all need to find or create positive things in our lives (relationships, places, experiences, music, dance, foods, play, etc.) that make us want to get out of bed in the morning, that make us want to keep breathing, that fill us up inside. What motivates you? Make a list of everything you can think of, big or small, that makes you feel motivated. In business, trainers often ask for your why? For many people, their why includes things like taking care of their family, their children particularly. But in addition to that, I’m asking you to just consider your Self for a moment. What motivates you? What brings you aliveness? What brings you joy? What makes you laugh? What gives you reasons to continue on? What are the things that drive and motivate you? What are the things that bring you pleasure along the way?
Maybe your list includes writing (or finishing) a novel. You are motivated and want to get that done. But maybe that’s too ambitious for you today or you feel stalled on that at the moment. Personally, I don’t find it helpful to keep pushing. If I’m forcing myself, then I’m not going to count that as something for which I feel motivated or something which is motivating me. You don’t have to force yourself to do anything that you truly feel motivated to do! I believe that it’s healthy to wait for the motivation (or muses) to come back. Until then, to get through the day – or even to start the day – I may need to go with something smaller. I can’t count the days that a delicious breakfast has been my motivation to get out of bed. Giving myself a tranquil morning of pleasure can be the impetus I need to get moving in other, more productive directions (not that productivity is always a mandate either, but that’s a whole other subject).
Sometimes, we are rushing off to work and we need to be creative about the ways in which we can provide ourselves the sort of motivations that get us through our days. For many of us, our commute is a nightmare. How can you make it pleasurable for yourself? Whether listening to your favorite music or podcasts, taking a more scenic route (if that’s available), or stopping on the way for your favorite bagel or coffee or other treat, what can you do to allow yourself to feel excited as you go through your day? At work, do you have co-workers with whom you enjoy talking, laughing, collaborating? What are the moments that make you feel grateful to be alive (in addition to whatever you are accomplishing)? Wherever you go and whatever you are doing, you need to find what is motivating for you. And perhaps some things in life are just what you must endure – even then, what motivates you to get through that? What can you hang onto until you can reach better times ahead?
Orienting. It’s easy to feel disoriented in life – especially during a pandemic or other major and even minor life crises. Everything is changing all of the time – and although we hear that all of the time, we often don’t grasp the emotional impact that has on us. Our jobs change. Our living situations change. Our relationships shift and change over time. The people that we thought would always be with us – the relationships around which we have created our identities – may fall away. People die, divorces happen, friendships struggle and sometimes end – and there we are, often feeling like we don’t even know who we are anymore. Especially when someone dies, life feels surreal for a long time. When important relationships shift or end, we can feel set adrift. Who are we without that person in our lives – or that relationship defining who we are? When children grow up and stop being the center of our lives and focus, then what? There are so many times and ways in which we feel at a loss to move forward.
When we don’t know how to move forward, maybe we need to just give ourselves a break – and a heaping dose of grace – and allow ourselves time to be still. We actually continue to be here – to exist – as improbable as that may seem. Our breath is still moving in and out of our lungs. The clouds are still floating across the sky, the wind still blowing through the trees. Let us find the things that can orient us, ground us, connect us into this life.
What are the things that orient you? What can you do to feel happy to be alive regardless of if anyone else is around? For some people that may be yoga or hiking or simply sitting by a creek. For some people that may be baking or gardening or meditation. For some people that may be painting or drawing or riding a bike or motorcycle. Those activities that fill you – those non-activities that allow you to breathe – they all help orient you to life. They all help you feel connected to life even when a lot of things don’t make sense and you could easily get lost in your mind in grief or despair or other painful and confusing emotions. Not that we want to avoid those emotions – on the contrary, we must feel to heal – however, even as we do our work of feeling and healing, we must also find ways to stay connected to the threads of what helps us feel oriented to ongoing life.
Recharging. Sadly, our society doesn’t value relaxing and recharging as much as those necessary components of our lives deserve. Our constant push for productivity, both at work and even in play, has created a society where a lot of people have no idea of how to just be, much less how to recharge. Many people tend to feel guilty when they are just sitting around doing nothing – they’ve forgotten how to simply be (if they ever even knew that state of being). Do you remember lying in the grass as a kid, watching clouds float by? Did you even ever get to experience that? Or playing kick the can or freeze tag or 4-square or some other made-up game with the neighborhood kids?
It seems like nowadays, there’s always pressure to have even leisure be organized. Games are turned into competitions or organized sports. Everything in exercise is measured rather than enjoyed for the fun of it. People are chastised for sitting around reading for fun and pleasure, or for other “unproductive” things. Even though most people spend a significant amount of time watching TV, we are made to feel guilty about that – and oftentimes, people just check out, not even really paying attention as we scroll through our social media feeds while paying only marginal attention to what’s happening on the bigger screen. I’m not saying that any of that is “bad” per se, but that it isn’t necessarily recharging. Do these ways in which we spend our leisure time actually fill us back up? Do they give us energy? Rejuvenate us? Fulfill us? Make our lives better or more enjoyable? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I’m just asking you to take a look at what recharges you … and also, what drains you.
Sometimes we may feel like just checking out with some mindless TV. Sometimes we feel like a silly movie that makes us laugh. Sometimes we’re up for a deeper movie that makes us think. For many people, spending time outside in nature is restorative. For others, being outside at any time may feel stressful. While it is certainly advantageous to try a variety of things, I don’t think it is of benefit to ever force yourself to do something that you really don’t enjoy. The things that recharge you will appeal to you, not stress you out. Recharging isn’t about adding things to your “to do” list – on the contrary, it is about giving yourself the time and space that you need to fill your own energy batteries – physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual – in the ways that resonate with you. That may be naps. That may be long walks in nature or wherever you have access to safe paths. That may be laughing with children. That may be sitting by a lake and watching the water move. That may be pulling oracle cards and/or meditating. What fuels you? What recharges you? Pay attention to how your energy feels and you will learn what you need.
Energizing. Beyond recharging your human batteries which may be running low from work or emotional stress or life stress or the countless demands on your time and attention, what are the things that truly energize you? I’ll tell you how to spot those things. They are the things that excite you. Pay attention and you’ll notice them. Write them down. Make a list. Keep that list handy. Do those things as often as you can.
Here’s how to recognize them. Pay attention to the energy level in your body. It’s kind of easy to spot the things that drain you. Ever get invited to do something and suddenly everything in you just wants to take a nap? Conversely, ever been literally lying down on the couch with no energy to even move, then you get invited to do something and suddenly you are up and ready to go with all of the energy in the world? That latter thing? Yeah, write that down. That is something that energizes you. That is something that you need to fill your life with as much as possible. When I say “as much as possible,” I don’t mean all of the time. You still need to pay attention to your physical limits and energy levels. Your human body still needs down time, rest and recharge time. But do notice what makes you want to jump up and get going!
So much of the time, we dull our enthusiasm. We get in our own way. We stop ourselves from doing the things we want to do, from saying the things we want to say, from having the relationships we want to have. We tell ourselves before we even try that we can’t have that. We convince ourselves not to try, then we sit on our own energy and desires – and wonder why we feel tired and depressed. We trap ourselves in lives that don’t feel meaningful or happy or fulfilling to us because we become too afraid to reach for something more – or because we’re out of touch with what is our MORE. We wait for permission from someone else to take a chance or to be invited to do something we want to do. What if we stopped waiting? What if we started recognizing what is our MORE – and started choosing to create our lives going forward with those things in mind?
Let me leave you with one final thought about MORE. Being human isn’t easy – it never has been, it never will be. Give yourself a break. Give yourself lots of love and grace. Let yourself make mistakes and do things imperfectly. Let yourself speak what is true for you in the moment, even if it feels awkward and you don’t know how it will turn out. Be willing, to the extent you can, to take chances, to be authentic, to allow yourself to LIVE! And when you need to hide, hide. When you are ready to come back out and try again, let yourself. Support yourself in whatever ways you learn that you need. Do what you need to do to claim your MORE. If you ever need professional help, reach out for that. There is no shame whatsoever in seeking out mental/emotional health treatment! The truth is that most people would benefit from that – wise people are willing and open to get the help they need. Whatever helps you to carry on, to make it to the next day, even to keep breathing in this moment – just allow yourself to have that MORE which sustains you.
Like I said, I’m not a mental health professional, but if you would like some coaching in regard to finding your MORE or in helping to identify energetic blocks and releasing them, I am available. You can find me here. My best wishes to you for your happiest, most fulfilling life!
I spent my youth and a significant part of my adult life with the attitude that being self-critical – and even hating myself – was somehow “cool” – that it made me “deep,” “edgy,” and interesting. I actually thought it was arrogant and embarrassing to ever say I liked myself, thought I did a good job at anything, or heaven forbid, loved myself!
When my daughter was born, I somehow innately knew that if I were to give her the love she deserved, that I was going to have to learn to love myself. My self-love journey began. I read a ton of books, did a lot of journaling, attended workshops – and over the years, learned to deeply love and support myself. Today, I have no problem saying I love myself – even though I still have faults and flaws, I love ALL of me.
The workshops that were most helpful to me were the HAI (Human Awareness Institute) weekend workshops. Somewhere along the line, I started to think of that critical voice droning on inside of my head as “the imposter” (I believe that concept was from a teaching at a shamanic de-armoring workshop). I began a campaign of fierce self-love and unconditional self-acceptance. I wrote love letters to myself regularly – and in them, I included embracing and loving the parts of me that aren’t so spectacular. I still do that. What I’d like to share with you here are some paths that I have taken over the years to self-love. This is not a comprehensive list. There are many paths to self-love – but here’s a start.
Make a pact to have your own back, to be in your own corner. It seems so basic, but don’t say negative things about yourself. (Pro-tip: refraining from even saying negative things about others helps you in this endeavor – because when you’re critical of others, that condemning, judgmental energy tends to come back and get you too). Many of us say harsh things to ourselves that we’d never say to anyone else. Don’t allow those cruel voices in your head to continue unchallenged.
When you find your mind going down those familiar roads of self-criticism, you can: 1) Say to yourself, “Stop. We’re not talking like that to me anymore.” Make your boundaries clear to that imposter voice inside your head, “This is not how we’re doing business anymore. You do not get to talk to me like that. I am a sacred being.” 2) Fill yourself up with love. “I love you – even when you are not doing as well as you would like (that sort of thing, whatever it may be) – I love you!” Give yourself that love and appreciation on a regular basis.
Note: You don’t have to “earn” your love, value, worthiness – you are those, you have those – these are integral to your existence. You have nothing to prove or earn. You deserve love.
Don’t tolerate negativity from other people about who you are. If other people are negative toward you, don’t let that in! Have your own back. Defend yourself as necessary. Sometimes defending yourself means walking away and protecting your own energy. You can admit if you’re wrong or if you’ve made a mistake, but being wrong and making mistakes just makes you human, not a bad person. You can adjust things that are wrong or ineffective or not beneficial in ways to be more beneficial for you and others in your life, but there is no reason to be self-critical or to allow anyone else to belittle you. “I’m not always as considerate or thoughtful as I would like to be. I’m not always the person I would like to be, but I still love me deeply and I’m still worthy of love and of being treated with kindness and respect.”
Know your worth. Respect your boundaries and your unique beingness. You matter. You are worthy of love. Know it. Own it. Live it.
Write yourself love letters and love notes. I have a sample love letter on an Instagram post. When you write, be sure to include the parts of you that aren’t ideal. It’s easy to love the parts of ourselves that we get approval for out in the world, but what about the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden? Your anxious self needs love too. Your anger, your insecurity, and everything else that is a part of you needs love too. Really, deeply think about you and all of the parts of you that make up you – and write your unconditional love for yourself.
I found that doing this not only helped me to love me, but also helped me to overcome shame over any part of me – and to truly OWN my Self. This is not to say that I never feel a twinge of shame or the pain of not being accepted as I am by others, but that my recovery time is much faster – and I get back to self-love and a good place much quicker than I used to. In fact, when I feel hurt, my remedy is some love words to myself – a short note, or a longer letter, whatever I need to work it out that I am loved, that I love me! Reaffirm your love for yourself constantly. “I love me ALL the time!”
Gaze into your eyes in the mirror; do “mirror work.” This path to self-love, I learned at HAI workshops. Looking in your own eyes in a mirror, work up to five minutes a day – while connecting with your own eyes/soul in the mirror, say, “I love you” over and over again. You can elaborate if you like: “I love you. I love the human being that you are. You are worthy of all good things. You are worthy and deserving of love, of kindness, of compassion, of empathy. I love you so much.” Say what you need to hear – but most of all, say, “I love you.” Give that to yourself.
Once you’ve got that really down, you won’t need to spend five minutes doing that every day – but every time you look into the mirror, smile at yourself. Smile into your eyes and say, “I love you!” at least once a day – give yourself that reinforcement. “You and I are in this together!”
Make a commitment to yourself – kind of like marriage. I got this concept from a HAI workshop as well. You can write something similar to marriage vows to yourself if you want. You are, after all, going to be with your Self until the end. Don’t you think you might want to make some promises to you? “I love you and I will be with you until death and beyond. I love you and I will do everything in my power to protect you and to make your life joyous and happy and playful and loving.”
Take some time to write down all of the commitments you’d like to make to yourself. Yes, you can adjust them over time as you change and grow. In fact, renewing your vows at least every year (on your anniversary?) is a good idea! You can even do a ceremony. Light some candles, have a mirror. Say your vows to yourself. Make it holy. Make it sacred. Hold yourself in sacred reverence. “I have a sacred reverence for you, my beloved.” Make that true for your life.
Note: Every once in a while, I have an imposter voice butt in and demand, “Who do you think you are to think you’re so wonderful?” Well, who I think I am is a human being just like everybody else! – and we ALL deserve love and compassion and kindness. Return again and again to a deep and abiding love of the Self.
Say “I love you” to yourself multiple times a day. Make it a normal part of your self-conversation. Just throw it in regularly. Be your own BFF, best friend forever. Be your own champion. We spend so much time seeking love and approval from outside of ourselves. Be that love for yourself. Do nice things for yourself. Be considerate of yourself and honor your own needs and desires as much as you can.
I record a lot of voice memos because ideas occur to me at times (like while driving) when I can’t write them down. No matter what the topic, at the end of the voice memo, I say, “I love you, Kat.” Because I feel like I’ve been talking to my Self – and I want to, just like I would when I’m talking to anyone I love, express my love as I’m ending the call. Why not? Express your love for yourself regularly! Cherish yourself. Truly!
I’m going to talk about self-love and relationships in another post – there’s too much to say here – but your own self-love (or lack thereof) affects all of your relationships as well. More on that coming soon!
Embrace your body, your nudity, and your sexuality. We have an epidemic of poor body image in this world. This is by the design of people and corporations that profit in multiple ways by keeping us living in fear and shame regarding our natural bodies. We don’t have to accept that. We can choose to embrace our bodies, to love our bodies as they are, to become comfortable in our own skin, whether we are clothed or nude.
Take time to appreciate every bit of your body from your toes to the top of your head. Appreciate the miracle that is you – and be sure to include your genitals, your breasts, and your belly – any and all parts of the body about which we’ve been taught in so many ways to feel inadequate and ashamed. Love and appreciate the color of your skin, whatever it is. Everything about you and your body is a sacred miracle. Hold that space for your body and your Self.
Becoming comfortable with our own nude body is a very healing thing. Becoming comfortable with the consensual nudity of others is also a very healing thing. It’s important to understand that nudity and sexuality are not the same thing! I would totally recommend spending time at nudist beaches, resorts, and campgrounds – because when you can see that we’re all just human, and you can accept your own humanity and that of other people, it can create a peace inside that is beyond words. If you decide to check out social nudism, check in with AANR, the American Association for Nude Recreation, so that you can find safe, family-friendly places to go.
There is a huge gift in accepting your sexuality as it is – accepting what gives you pleasure – and what does not – and not feeling shame around that, either way. Being able to feel joy and ease regarding your sexual pleasure and sexual attractions is wonderful. “This gives me pleasure and I’m attracted to (whatever/whomever).” How would it feel to embrace your full sexuality, including whom you love, and with whom you want to be sexual, and what your attractions are, and what your attractions are not, and the ways in which you do NOT want to be sexual? Make it all okay, whether you want to be very sexual (consensually, of course if other people are involved) or not sexual at all. Can you imagine? No shame? Just sexual joy? Or nonsexual joy? Whatever your preference?
Give Yourself Some Grace: We are only human. We will have good days and bad days, celebrations and challenges. We will make mistakes – even in love, even in self-love. It’s part of life. We need to allow space for ourselves to be human, and the grace to keep returning to love. Loving ourselves is a worthy endeavor that not only improves life for us, but also for everyone who loves us – as well as for everyone with whom we have any connection or even passing interaction. Because when we love ourselves, we spread love in the world. Loving ourselves is not selfish, it is necessary. I like the term, “self-full.” Perhaps we should examine the nuances of the word “selfish” – and understand that while altruism can be admirable at times, looking out for our own needs and well-being is also essential. We need to look for ways to create situations that are beneficial for all concerned – and we can start by being aware of what is beneficial for our own lives. Self-love is a good place to start. You deserve it!
It started innocently enough. I read somewhere that words have power, and was admonished to watch what I say so that I didn’t accidentally create anything that I didn’t want. I stopped saying careless phrases like, “it’s killing me” or “I can’t afford that” and started doing mental gymnastics to phrase things in a way that didn’t promote new dangers and threats to my life, happiness, wealth, and well-being.
One superstition led to another. I avoided saying anything “negative” and started saying affirmations like mantras, concerned that if I didn’t offer enough affirmations to the powers that be, that my luck would fade and I would be cursed (never mind the fact that I was already living a very blessed life and had never previously uttered any affirmations at all!). I affirmed everything I wanted to be, do, and have – both in writing and verbally. I started keeping a gratitude journal, believing the trope that the more grateful we are, the more good we attract. Even when I’d rather have been doing other things, I made myself slog through writing a whole page of things I was grateful for each day. When life got busy, I would fall away from the practice, but then I’d remember and start doing it religiously again.
I grabbed onto “spiritual insights” like someone in the desert rushing toward mirages. Not just spiritual insights, but also beliefs about love (which may or may not be spiritual). I became immersed in this philosophy of “see only love” – like, to look beyond the annoying and horrible things (of varying degrees) that people do and see their “true essence” – which, of course, is love. I tried to believe in the “we are all one” concept – and while I can see that from a standpoint of that we are all connected and that what we do affects the whole, I need to emphatically state that while we may all be connected and part of the human family, we are most definitely not all the same – and we are not impacted the same by various events and systems. I also don’t believe that the core essence of all of us is love. I’m in deep questioning in this moment if some people actually have any love or humanity in them at all – or are simply pure evil. I’m definitely not willing to “see only love” in these people who cause so much harm and destruction.
I’ve embraced the “love conquers all” philosophy. I’ve wanted it to be true. I’ve wanted to be a “good, loving person” who practiced unconditional love and peace. If others held that same intention, it might work – but when so many others do not, it just makes one an easy victim. It’s easy to gaslight, manipulate, and even abuse people who are determined to keep loving and seeing only the good in everyone. I’ve written before about how I’ve gaslighted myself and used spiritual bypassing as a way to not deal with acknowledging the real harm and abuse that I was accepting in my relationships in the name of “love” – and doing something to protect myself, like ending those relationships. Choosing to “see only good/love” in other people is a dangerous, misguided concept that puts everyone and everything that matters at risk – at least at the level I was attempting to practice that concept.
I went from the religion that I grew up in (Baptist) where everything made sense because “God willed it” – to rejecting that religion and searching for another way for everything to make sense. Unfortunately, I think that some of the ideas/concepts that I grabbed onto were just as misguided and man-made, born of fear and enmeshed with demands of compliance, as those of the religion that I’d left behind. I think it’s natural and human to seek answers that give us comfort and some understanding of our place in the Universe. I’m not trying to take that away from anyone – whatever works to get us through the day/night is beneficial. For me, though, I’m finding these fear-based spiritual superstitions and mandates of love/understanding/peace to be almost as limiting and damaging and false as the abusive religion that I grew up with.
Here’s what I’m noting: my dad came to this country from Scotland with nothing. He built a business, became successful, had a beautiful home and a succession of yachts, each increasing in size over time. I’m quite certain that he never wrote or said an affirmation. He wrote a business plan. He didn’t write a gratitude journal. Ever. His life was blessed, but he was tormented and drank/smoked himself to death by the age of 61. After my dad got my mom to leave the Baptist church, she became under the spell of the same sort of spiritual principles as I did. She kept a gratitude journal, said and wrote her affirmations, meditated, ate healthy, saw a chiropractor and an acupuncturist, took endless supplements – in other words, “did everything right” – and in spite of it all, coupled with lots of prayers and healing energies sent her way, still died at the age of 72 of the breast cancer that she’d suffered with for 4 years. At what point do we question if all (any?) of this stuff really works?
Speaking for myself, I can say that I had a blessed and fortunate life in my younger years, in spite of nearly debilitating low self-esteem that was primarily due to abuses of the church and church school I attended until I was 14. My life improved immensely when my dad finally put his foot down and got us out of that church and parochial school. Some of the damage ran deep and impacted me for decades. I will say that affirmations helped me to heal in some ways. But the affirmations themselves became their own problem in other ways – a false crutch, perhaps? My commitment to unconditional love and to seeing the best in others led me into unhealthy, imbalanced, and at times, abusive relationships. I’ve willingly allowed myself to be used and manipulated. I failed to have self-protective boundaries because I thought it more important to put “love” and the relationship first. I tried so hard to be the “good” person that I thought my spirituality demanded of me – and all that landed me was broke and alone. I do have good friends and dear family, but that’s not because of affirmations or gratitude journals. In fact, I’m pretty sure that nothing good that has happened in my life has had anything to do with affirmations or gratitude journals.
Maybe life is just life – and we have the experiences we are meant to have regardless of whether we ask, pray, affirm, or otherwise request what we want. I’ve had too many synchronicities and signs to believe that I’m not guided or that there aren’t angelic messengers or some kind of Spirit Guides or organizing force/s at work in my life. I’m just questioning my ability to have much influence on what happens. I’ve had many good times and many bad times in my life – and generally very little to no control over how it was going. I’d like to say I’ve had control over my attitude – but even that is barely true. I’ve tried to keep a positive attitude as much as possible, believing that was the “right” thing to do – but I’m starting to wonder if that isn’t another toxic belief that prohibits us from a full range of necessary and appropriate emotions. Maybe we all need to spend a little more time with our anger. Maybe we need to not let things slide, not look on the bright side … but rather fix the shit that is going wrong and is unacceptable. Maybe we need less civility and more social justice, less programming (religious, spiritual, social, cultural) and more authentic passion and expression.
I don’t have the answers. I’m not sure there even are answers. I just have questions … and I’m trying to create some breathing room between myself and some of the belief systems that I’ve embraced. I still like looking at, for example, inspirational memes – but now I take everything in with a more critical eye. Do I believe that? Is it true? Is it always true or just sometimes true – or maybe rarely true? I’m not writing in my gratitude journal these days. It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful. I am. I always have been. Even as a young child, I remember looking out at the lake and the trees where I lived and feeling filled with a sense of connection and gratitude. I’ve spent many days during this pandemic looking out at the tree I’ve connected with and the blue sky and clouds and feeling grateful – not out of a sense of duty to be grateful, but out of a natural connection that I feel with life. That gratitude is not performative, as is potentially the gratitude in my journals. It just exists in me of its own accord.
Can I tell you something? Years ago, my good friend who also works in energy healing suggested that I write a “hate” journal – that every day I write down ten things I hated. At the time, I had tremendous pain in my feet – so much so that I could barely walk across a room, much less around the block. When I woke up in the mornings, I hobbled to the bathroom in nearly excruciating pain. I wrote down the things I hated for a few months. The pain went away. I haven’t had trouble with foot pain or walking in years. I can walk for an hour now without suffering – for years that possibility had been inconceivable. Maybe all of this spiritual bypassing and trying to be a “good, positive, loving person” is actually driving pain and negativity into our bodies? Maybe pushing down or sublimating our anger, hatred, rage, and other so-called “negative” emotions is detrimental to our well-being? Maybe our affirmations, insistence on avoiding negative emotions, forgiving transgressions instantly (or worse, saying that they never existed, that there is nothing to forgive – looking at you, Course In Miracles), and clinging to our positivity and determination to “be love” in all instances, is not actually beneficial for our lives at all.
When I left my religion, I remember spending some time semi-waiting for God to strike me dead. I thought blasphemous thoughts. I did “sinful” things … and waited. Nothing. Eventually, I stopped living in fear of a vengeful God. I’m experiencing a similar feeling right now – a sense of blasphemy – and waiting for the “Universe” to strike me down. But I’m not really that afraid – because I have this knowing inside of me that I’ve been believing lies (or, more generously, misinformation) and I’ve been afraid of illusions. Just like the Holy Bible was written by men, so too have all of the spiritual principles I’ve ever been exposed to, been written by human beings, perhaps inspired by a Higher Power, but nonetheless, filtered through a human’s limited awareness and experience. I’m not blindly accepting any of it as my truth.
Whatever Truths are out there – they aren’t malevolent and they don’t demand my submission or obsequiousness, of this I am sure. They don’t demand my affirmations, my positivity, or even my gratitude. I’m fairly certain they are unmoved by any of my thoughts or emotions. The only impact my thoughts and emotions have is on me – and perhaps the people around me, just by virtue of my energy, mood, and actions. I’m learning to be okay in the not-knowing. I’m loosening my grip on the illusions I’ve been clinging to in order to try to give myself a sense of safety and control in my own universe. I’m realizing how truly illusory that has always been. I don’t know what comes next. I’m not drawing it on a freaking menu, giving God His part and doing my part. I’m not “manifesting” in detail what I want. I’m sick of playing those games. I’m proud of myself for leaving the phrase “I’m sick of” in here – because for decades I would have feared that invited illness and would have changed it to something else so as not to get sick. I’m not living in the fear of “doing it wrong” anymore.
You know what? In spite of how careful I was, I still got cancer. I still suffered through many illnesses over the years. I still fell and broke both arms. My affirmations and prayers and relentless positivity and unconditional love did not deliver me from life. Nope. Life went on and did its thing. If I get sick now or in the future, it won’t be because I said I was sick of something! It will be because sometimes people get sick. Life happens. I’m taking my Vitamin D and wellness herbs and staying home/in as much as possible and doing everything in my power to stay well. I’m sick of being afraid that if I don’t think and feel all of the “right” thoughts and emotions, that some great tragedy will befall me. That kind of “spirituality” feels as abusive to me as my former religion. I’m not going to allow or accept any fear-based concepts to run my life or manipulate my belief systems, to the extent that I can help it. I recognize that some of these beliefs are so ingrained in me at this point that I’m not always aware of them. I’m doing my best – and that’s enough.
I still have faith and hope and compassion and values and ethics. I remain a multi-faceted spiritual being. I value love above all things, but self-love and boundaries are a top priority. I also value anger and even rage and hatred. They have their place. I don’t believe that you can truly love if you aren’t willing to fiercely defend and protect when necessary. You don’t allow someone or something you love to be harmed without taking action to keep them safe. I’ve often quoted Carl Jung’s “I’d rather be whole than good.” My spirituality includes it all. My spirituality allows me to feel safe in my wholeness, unrebuked for my mistakes and flaws, and unpunished for my lacks, limitations, and non-compliance. My spirituality refuses to be contained by words, concepts, emotions, feelings, or beliefs. My spirituality does not expect or demand my fear. There are no forces waiting for me to say or think or feel the wrong thing, then swoop in with a punishment. On the contrary, my spirituality allows me to rest in the knowledge that I am limitless, powerful, free, connected, and unconditionally loved. Even so, life remains a mystery and much is completely out of my control. My attempts to pretend otherwise have been futile. Now what?
I think and write quite a bit about “trust your path” and “pay attention to the signs” and those sorts of philosophies. And yes, for the most part, I do believe in those basic concepts. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I nearly always believe them at least on some level – but that sometimes (frequently?) I resist them anyway. Trusting is oftentimes much easier said than done … particularly when I feel like the Universe just isn’t listening to WHAT I WANT! (LOL)
I read a poem when I was a kid, called “Life Is But a Weaving” by Corrie ten Boom, about how our lives are a weaving – and how what we see from the underside is not the masterpiece that the Creator sees from the perspective on the other side. I tend to forget that I don’t always see the bigger picture and that Life always does lead me to where I need to be, always provides for me … and even though I’ve gone through some very hard, painful, and challenging times, Life does ultimately protect me and see me through. Every time.
The person I would like to be would see a closed door (or a bunch of closed doors) and still calmly and optimistically look around for the open window … or would, as the saying goes, see a giant pile of shit and look around happily for the pony. I really want to be that optimistic person who always looks on the bright side! To my great disappointment and consternation, that turns out not to be the person that I am … at least not always … or to be blunt, not even usually.
Recently, I had the experience of looking at a lot of closed doors – like over a hundred. I’d said my affirmations, kept a positive attitude, made detailed lists of things I wanted (because I’d read that the more detailed, the better for manifesting), was sure that I’d manifest everything just like I hoped (was even willing to compromise down to the bare minimum!) … and then was sitting with the uncomfortable reality that there were no doors opening and I couldn’t see how I was going to make it – and by “make it,” I don’t mean get everything I wanted how I wanted it, but literally, how was I going to even survive? I was feeling desperate and mightily pissed at the Universe, my Angels, and every philosophy that had coaxed me into believing something that obviously wasn’t true! And in the middle of my meltdown hissy fit, a door quietly opened.
Now, I have to tell you that this door wasn’t leading to where I thought I wanted to go. On the contrary, it was leading me away from where I thought I needed to be, which was close to my daughter. I would not have voluntarily chosen to move away from her for any reason. Had the Universe given me the success and money that I was hoping for – even in a small measure, enough to survive – I’d have gotten an apartment and stayed here near my daughter. But that’s not where the Universe wants me to be right now, so I had to be brought to a point where I would cooperate. I had to be given virtually no choice – and because I’m me, a stubborn Taurus completely addicted to comfort and security, I had to fight it indignantly and desperately until fighting was clearly pointless. Then, and only then, did I give in and allow myself the opportunity to actually see what was before me and why.
I’m not sure of everything or what’s coming long-term, but I know that the next step on my path is spending some time in Sedona, Arizona with a good friend. I know with everything in me that is where I am meant to be at this time. I don’t know all of the reasons why or what will come of it. We are talking about collaborating on some projects together. I enjoy her company. I know this will be a healing time for me – a necessary time for me. That’s about all I know right now. I am learning to go with the flow, a philosophy which I have intellectually embraced, but still struggle in the practice of actually doing.
Because I’ve stopped resisting, I am now open to seeing possibilities and being excited and hopeful about the future. I’m learning to let go of control and to be fully in the moment, trusting my life path at a deeper level than ever before. I’m learning to let go of being so afraid so much of the time – and allowing myself to live in joy and confidence that all will be well. I realize that over the years, I have built up many walls and shut many doors inside of me for many reasons. I feel some of the doors beginning to swing open – and I’m slowly dismantling some of the walls. It is time for me to let love and hope back in at deeper levels. It is time for me to get excited about life again. I’ve been angry and defensive and afraid for long enough. I’ve been in survival mode for too long. Maybe it’s time for me to drop my defenses more and allow myself to connect with friends and community at deeper levels than I’ve allowed before now.
Living authentically has been my goal for many years now. Unfortunately, my efforts have not been from a place of strong self-worth, so I haven’t had the boundaries needed to deeply connect without losing myself. Also, up until now, my focus had been on giving (with a little codependent need to be needed). Now my focus is on actually connecting, which includes both giving and receiving. In fact, I’m in such a position now that I find myself forced to receive, compelled to accept with humility even when I have nothing other than gratitude to offer in return. It’s a strange, unfamiliar and uncomfortable place for me to be in. It’s also a place that may allow me more intimate, deep, and loving connections than I have allowed myself previously.
My image of myself has long been as the “strong one,” the one in control, the giver, the healer. I help people. I’ve liked to think of myself that way – and as not needing any help from anyone. As I write this, I can hear my inner two year old self shouting, “I can do it MYSELF!” What a rude awakening that I can’t! And also, that I really don’t want to! I want to have love and support in my life. I want people to want to be there for me and do kind things for me. I want to accept and receive as well as I want to be able to enjoy giving. Which means that I have to let the masks and the illusions of control fall away. That I have to allow myself to be human and to even appear (gasp!) needy. That I have to drop the pretense of self-sufficiency and admit I can’t do everything by myself. And also, that I have to allow myself to feel worthy of being loved and cared about by other people. That one’s hard.
I haven’t completely worked this out yet, but I’m sure some of you will understand this feeling. I love myself deeply. I have worked on self-love and I feel lovable and I say kind things to myself and almost never am mean or cruel to myself anymore. I’ve come a long way from the teenager who thought hating herself was some sort of badge of honor. I’ve become better at boundaries over the years, working on healing from my people-pleasing, codependent ways. I’ve learned to stand up for myself when others were being unfair. I’ve ended relationships that were damaging to me.
The area that I haven’t been able to master in the way I’d like to be able to do – is letting in love from other people. I love myself, but I don’t expect other people to love me. I see my magic, but I don’t expect other people to see it or to value me. I’ve always held myself apart. I haven’t acknowledged it in that way. On the contrary, I’ve tended to say, “I never fit in” or “I’m not welcome/included” – and to be left feeling, “I’m not good enough” (at least for other people – I consoled myself with my own love and lamented not being seen/loved by others). Perhaps this feeling of rejection/alienation was because I didn’t allow myself to show that I wanted to be included? Maybe I was looking at closed doors (the wrong people) and not seeing the open ones right there? Maybe it’s time for me to learn to let love in from connections with others – and stop feeling so alone and like I have to do everything on my own?
I suppose a lot of this comes down to fear – and the ways in which I (we?) try to manage it. One of my core fears has been the fear of “being more trouble than I’m worth” – so I’ve always tried to over-compensate, to be the giver rather than the receiver. Like many (most?) people, I’m also afraid of rejection – even though I tell myself intellectually that it doesn’t matter, that I love myself anyway, that everything works out how it’s supposed to … rejection remains challenging. Avoiding rejection by avoiding risks remains tempting. I’m afraid of disappointment – my own or that of others – and have done everything I can to avoid that, including shutting down my hopes and dreams and desires. I’m tired of doing that – tired of living in fear. Life has got me feeling like I’m dangling on this precipice, about to drop – and I’m not sure how far I’ll fall or how/where I’ll land – but what if Life is just stripping me of all of the things that are keeping me from living the authentic, loving, connected life that I really want – that I’ve always wanted?
Maybe I’m actually on the verge of getting out of my own way. I am already beginning to allow people to love me as I am, to accept their kindness and support and love without feeling like I’m a burden who isn’t worth it. Maybe I needed to allow myself to believe that I am worthy not only of my own love, but also that I am worthy of the love of others. Maybe I can actually offer myself the unconditional love and grace that I have offered to others – and carry the expectation that I will be valued by others too even if I don’t have anything other than myself to offer.
I’ve been fighting and swearing and stomping around and cursing the Universe for what I’ve been seeing as a bunch of betrayals – a lack of help or at least cooperation. They say the Universe helps those who help themselves. Well, I call bullshit! I’ve been working my ass off! I’ve (I thought) been following Guidance and doing what it seemed like I was being guided to do. I did NOT see the Universe stepping up to do its part. On the contrary, I saw the Universe just allowing me to fall on my ass repeatedly. I risked everything getting my invention patented and trying to bring it out into the world to help people – and ended up breaking both of my arms and going bankrupt. WHERE WAS THE HELP THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO MEET ME? I published my 3 book series – and I’ve only sold 16 copies so far, not for lack of trying. WHERE IS THE HELP OF THE UNIVERSE TO PUT ME IN FRONT OF THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND HELP ME BE SUCCESSFUL? I did the work. I took the chances. Where is the “you build it, they will come”?!? Why isn’t any of this working out for me? I’ve worked my whole life helping people, being kind to people, doing good in the world … and here I am with nothing to show for it (financially speaking, anyway). WTF, Universe?!? Seriously, W.T.F?!? It’s so insulting to have done everything “right” – and to end up in this position!
What I realize now – is that even though things don’t look ideal for me in this moment – I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Also, even though I don’t have the kind of financial security that I would like to have, I do have a roof over my head. It’s not my roof, but I have shelter and a comfy bed. I have not gone hungry. I have spent – and am spending – time with people that I love dearly. When I fell and broke both of my arms a few years ago, a human angel took me in and took care of me for two months. No matter what has happened in my life, Life has sent people to help me. My life mostly hasn’t looked the way that I wanted it to look, but honestly, Life always has led me to a pretty good place. Since I’ve stopped fighting it, this new move has got me excited. I think this is just the beginning of a great new adventure and more blessings than I can even imagine from here! I’m holding the idea as strongly as I can, TRUST YOUR PATH! I may not have the level of control I’d like to have – and it may not look like what I thought I wanted – but I am being led in the right direction. I know this now. It’s also a much more pleasant experience when I’m not fighting it, so there’s that. Here we go!
I’m not really sure how to talk about this, but I am sure that talking about it is likely to help someone feel less alone – and may even help – so I’m just going to jump in. I’m just coming out of a dark night of the soul. I’ve had a few in my life. They just seem to happen from time to time – I’m not even always sure why. Sometimes life just seems overwhelming and/or hopeless, no matter how much optimism I try to inject or how many affirmations I say. The masks fall away and there I am, feeling alone and broken and like my life will never be okay again.
This one I kind of saw coming. A slow build-up of months watching money go out and no money coming in, while the little I had was rapidly disappearing. A few rejections to over a hundred job applications, but mostly nobody paying any attention to me at all. No responses or acknowledgments, not even a form letter saying, “Thanks for applying, but we went with someone else.” I bitched about that on my other blog. Like, at least the courtesy of a fucking response! Is it so hard in 2020 to be human?
It came down to that I was asked to leave where I’d been staying for free (complicated story, irrelevant) – I had no money for a place to live, and I was only going to be able to make one more car payment before I was out of money completely. Desperation set in. I thought I had no other choice than to do what I’d been avoiding: accept a job doing massage therapy and work outside the safety of home. I interviewed at one place and was like, no fucking way. I interviewed at the second place, gave the owner a massage, and was hired on the spot. (I was uncompensated for that massage, by the way, which is disgustingly unfair in my opinion – even if it’s a fucking tryout, pay the massage therapist for their work!) From that moment, anxiety and despair took hold at an alarming rate.
I was mad at Life. I was yelling at my Angels, rejecting the spiritual principles that are usually my guiding light (see my last blog post for evidence of that – I don’t disavow what I said – I just hold space for there being more), and stomping around like an angry toddler. But it was worse than that. Because I felt like I was risking my life for a tiny stupid paycheck – and that even with that job busting my ass and potentially exposing myself to Covid (and as a high risk person in multiple ways, that was terrifying to me), I still wasn’t going to be able to afford an apartment by myself! Most single people can’t afford to live on their own in this economy – especially if they don’t start off with a hefty savings account of (probably inherited) money.
So, my future was looking bleak. I couldn’t see any way that my life would ever be anything other than a painful struggle just to survive. I’d been having flashes of thoughts for months, thinking that maybe it was just time to give up, to slip away, to die. I wasn’t planning my suicide – I wouldn’t do that (I thought – we never actually know what we may or may not do until a situation that tests us arises), but I felt like I didn’t care if I lived or died, and spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about just letting my heart stop. Could I will that to happen? There are people that I love immensely and didn’t/don’t want to leave or hurt – but I couldn’t conceive of myself in those moments as being anything other than a burden. I couldn’t see how I could live through that.
These “torture thoughts” (what I call them) got worse after I accepted the job. It was almost like to get over the fear of going into the office, I had to aggressively stop caring if I lived or died. On a bike ride after that, I rode hard and fast through blind intersections where I didn’t have the right of way. Fortunately, the approaching cars were 20-30 yards out. The second time I did it, I scared myself enough to not do it again – but still, WTF was I doing? It could have had a very different outcome. I wrote about it on Twitter because I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about it other than anonymous strangers. I didn’t want to alarm my friends or loved ones or make them feel bad about me. A few people on Twitter were very supportive and kind.
I found out that I actually do care about my life – and want to live – when I reported for my first day of work. Well, it started the night before, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I woke up around 3 am and started crying. Not gentle crying. Huge, racking sobs that continued the rest of the night and throughout the morning. I couldn’t stop crying. As I showered, I briefly wondered if I would ever get to see my future grandchildren or not – and I totally lost it. My shift started at 1:00 pm, so I needed to leave my house a little after noon. I forced myself to stop crying about an hour before it was time to leave. I got my collection of masks together and some goggles that I wasn’t sure if they’d allow me to wear – but knowing from orientation that the clients didn’t have to wear a mask when they were face down, it seemed important to me to cover my eyes too.
I walked in and the front desk didn’t have the things they were supposed to have for me. A young woman walked me back to the small break room/supply room and someone was in there eating, maskless. Anxiety started to creep up. As I was setting up the tiny room with no air circulation, that was to be mine for the day, everything in me started screaming, GET OUT! I went to the manager and said, I’m sorry, but I can’t do this. She asked if it were Covid. I said yes and started crying. I said I needed to leave and apologized again. I grabbed my stuff and walked out the door. Neither making a fool of myself nor breaking my word come easily to me. I’m not one who’s willing to let anyone down if I can help it. That’s how I knew how valuable my life is to me – and how willing I am to fight for it. I’m not willing to put myself in harm’s way – even if protecting myself may make me look like a fool.
I called my good friend and told her what had happened, told her all of it – including about my misadventures on my bike ride. She invited me to come stay with her for a while – to come heal and just be. I’ll continue looking for remote work, continue writing and promoting my books, and continue doing Oracle card/intuitive readings and energy healing for people. But what I won’t be doing is anything that I consider to be putting myself in harm’s way. I don’t know what the future holds. I do know that I want to have a future. And that I’m feeling more hopeful today than I was yesterday, before I decided to take a stand for my life and well-being.
Looking back from here, I should have known that my incessant crying was a sign that it wasn’t a right decision for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever cried so hard for so long. I’ve had hard crying jags from time to time, like when I lost my Mom or when it hits me occasionally how much I’m missing her – but they usually only last a few minutes, at most an hour. To cry desperately for about 8 hours straight? Clearly, something was very wrong!
I started feeling better the minute I got back to my car – as soon as I made the decision to honor my life, I felt myself start to heal, mentally and emotionally. I talked to my friend the whole drive home and was smiling by the time I walked back into the house where I’m currently staying. This episode of my dark night of the soul has passed. I’ve seen how easy it is to get so desperate that I feel like giving up. I understand the pain of letting go of the person who I thought I was/would be, to become someone I can’t even imagine from here. I get how it feels to lose most of my material possessions – and to have to be okay with letting them go so I can be free to survive. I’ve been losing things for years. I lost my house a little over three years ago. Along with it, I lost most of the furniture and many of the possessions I’d inherited from my parents. That hurt, but I survived. I’ve moved three times since then, losing a little more each time. Now I’m about to move again – and leave almost everything behind. My life is worth more than that stuff.
I get what it feels like to feel alone – to know that, yes, theoretically people love me, but I don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want to be a burden. I get it. That’s just not the reality – people love you and want to help. You need to fight for your life. You need to reach out. You need to let people know exactly how bad your struggle is so that they can be there for you. It’s tempting to think that you’ll just drag them down and you don’t want to be perceived as someone who is negative or has mental health issues or who can’t manage their own life. I get it. I felt all of that. My deepest core issue is fearing being, “more trouble than I’m worth.” It haunts me. I have to fight to feel worthy, no matter how much trouble I am (or not) and what I can contribute (or not).
I used to adamantly say that I would never let a man hit me – and I meant it one hundred percent. In fact, I wrote that in my book. I left it in there, but in my next book, I’ll talk about the time that I slipped so low, was so desperately in love and wanted his attention so badly, that I wanted him to come over even if he would hit me – even if he would shoot me. I just wanted him to care – to not be indifferent to me or ignore me! I am perfectly aware of how fucked up that sounds – how fucked up that is – and I would have never thought myself capable of thinking or feeling that way (if you know me at all, you know I’m a strong feminist who doesn’t remotely believe in allowing any man to have that kind of power over your life and/or emotions), but there I was.
I’m noticing that there’s a core root between these two moments of my life – where I was deep in a state of not valuing my life, but rather thinking of just tossing it away, out of fear and desperation and/or a lack of hope. I don’t think that I’m unusual in that at all, even though it’s something most people don’t want to talk about or even admit. I read once that most people who try to commit suicide actually want more life, not to end their life – they just don’t know how to open up to that more. Some people think that suicide is a selfish act. I think that when you’re in that state, you aren’t even capable of thinking clearly. You aren’t thinking of the people you would hurt by taking yourself away from them. It’s so hard to see past your own fear and pain and desperation. I’m really so lucky that my Angels were looking out for me and didn’t allow me to get hit by a car. I was cursing them, but they were still loving and protecting me.
I think I needed to know that. I think I needed to know that if I weren’t always positive and upbeat, that I would still be loved. That if I were broken and angry and defiant, I would still be blessed. That I don’t have to be perfect in any way in order for my life to be filled with joy and pleasure and all good things. I get to be my whole self. I get to have my doubts and my temper tantrums. I get to be unreasonable and ungrateful. I get to have my peace and my bliss and my gratitude. I get to get dragged kicking and screaming along my path, rather than cooperating and moving forward in faith and trust. It’s all good.
I don’t know when my next dark night of the soul will strike. I’m going to try to keep it at bay by listening more carefully to myself and staying grounded. I don’t know how I missed the giant waving neon sign of an 8 hour crying jag, but now I’m paying better attention. I did, in the end, honor my own feelings and walk away – but next time, I don’t want to get to that desperate point. I could have realized much sooner. And, just in case, I’m going to keep the phone number for the National Suicide Hotline available: 800-273-8255. Phone them or reach out to a friend or loved one. Please.
Let me just say that it’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you if you’re thinking about suicide – or just giving up – it simply means you need help … and maybe you don’t know how to ask for it. Please just reach out. Let yourself be helped. Let yourself be valued. Let yourself be loved. This being human isn’t easy – we need each other. And someone in this world needs you – so please, stick around. Also, it does get better! It’s worth hanging around until it gets better!
One more thing (side note): I realize that some people need massage even though there’s a pandemic happening. There are some offices that are taking strict safety precautions – these are usually private offices, not franchises or chains. Where I’d been going to work gave you five minutes to get the client on the table, and five minutes to have them get back into their clothes and leaving, and for you to change the table to welcome the next client. FIVE minutes for all of that! That doesn’t even remotely give you time to do a good job wiping down surfaces or doing any disinfecting – you barely have time to get the new sheets on the table! If a place isn’t offering at least 15-30 minutes between clients – and if they don’t have any sort of air purifiers or even air circulation in the room, then I don’t think it’s worth the risk!
TW/CW: This post could be considered highly blasphemous and it contains quite a bit of profanity, so if either one of those would offend you, please stop reading now. Also, if you’re a huge fan of The Law of Attraction type stuff, this post might not be comfortable for you. I’m not here to offend anyone, but I am going to speak my truth in this moment.
My last post was about sexual shame. It didn’t occur to me until just now how closely connected that is to spiritual shame. They both have at their core, a feeling of not being “good enough” – and/or of being “bad.” They both hold a fear of judgment – both being judged by other people – as well as by God, the Universe, the Angels, Life – whatever you want to call that Higher Power. They are both programmed belief systems that cut off our life force and keep us living small, rather than owning, living, and being all of who we are.
I’ve long resisted sexual shame. I think it’s wrong. I’ve also long seen a connection between sexuality and spirituality. I think that they are closely related – and that sexual connection can be a decidedly spiritual experience.
It’s just coming together in my head right now how similar sexual and spiritual shame are. In both cases, we are taught that there is a “right” way to be – and that anything that deviates from that way is “wrong” and “bad.” Both strike at the core of who we are. Both shame us for having natural, normal, completely understandable feelings. Both are used to control our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are both sometimes couched in the attitude of “it’s for your own good” – but why should anyone else tell you what is for your own good? Why wouldn’t you get to decide that for yourself? And why would you accept some arrogant, power-hungry man being a mediary between you and God/Goddess/your own experience of the Infinite?
I’ve already talked about sex – it’s a topic I never get tired of, but right now, I want to talk about spirituality. I want to talk briefly about the abuse of religion and a little more about the damage of spiritual superstitions that I have believed in (at least, how I feel these things have been damaging for me personally – mileage may vary and the experience/s are different for everyone – this is my opinion/experience).
I grew up in a Baptist church that was ALL about shame. I learned that I was a “worthless sinner.” (Talk about psychological/emotional abuse!) From grades 2-8, I went to the school this Baptist church founded and ran. At age 11, I learned at a mandated church/school retreat that all sensual pleasure was bad/wrong. Even kissing was a sin because it led to “other things.” I went home from that retreat and broke up with my boyfriend of one year – because we’d been kissing and a little more. I was so ashamed and mired in this ridiculous quest to be “virtuous.” At age 12, after a revival, at the visiting preacher’s suggestion, I burned all of my John Denver records in the oven – because secular music was a sin. <eye roll>
I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember that jackass pastor talking in a sermon about my dad. He was talking about this wealthy man (and gave more details, so it was clearly about my dad), who was a good person, but who was still going to hell because he hadn’t accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. When I think back on the cruelty, the smallness, and the hypocrisy in that church – it disgusts me beyond words. Fortunately, it wasn’t long after that bullshit that my dad put his foot down and pulled us kids out of that hellhole school. Unfortunately, a lot of psychological damage had already been done. It took years to pull out of that warped thinking. Sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t remain inside of me as core issues that have contributed relentlessly in my life to over-thinking, over-giving, people-pleasing, and other codependent-type feelings and behaviors.
I happily left religion behind. I was angry about it for many years. I’m still repulsed by a lot of the manipulations and trangressions of religion/s. I mean, many of the worst atrocities on earth have been committed in the name of God (whatever “God” is called) and with the full support of the church/es. Just look nowadays at the number of churches that support the embodied evil that is Trump. How anyone can not see that is beyond me.
I don’t believe in a man-made, vengeful “God” – nor do I believe that the “Holy Bible” is any more inspired by God (whatever your concept of that Be-ing may be) than any other book ever written. The reality is that it was written by men who were trying to secure power. I have no fear of the Universe for saying that – only fear of men who are so transfixed by their beliefs that they value their “religious ideals” (i.e. power) over the sacredness of the human beings right in front of them. Religion is used as a weapon at least equally as it is used as a solace or guide – and there are SO many fake, completely unqualified, hypocritical “men and women of God.” It disgusts me. Most of all, these tele-evangelists – who spew hatred and venom, while raking in the dough, living lives of ostentatious luxury, while allowing children down the street to go hungry. Jesus had feelings about that too, if memory serves.
Which brings me to spirituality. I do believe there is some sort of Higher Power or organizing principle to the Universe. I do believe in guidance from Angels and Spirit Guides and other non-physical beings that help us along our paths. There are endless things I don’t know, but I find it interesting to explore and discover. I feel like I’ve fallen into some spiritual traps that have caused me to live with some superstitions and a great deal of fear – which I’m finally resisting. I mean, I wrote years ago about some of the problems I saw in works such as The Secret and The Law of Attraction – however, I kept being influenced (and honestly, still am) by some of the superstitions engendered in these sort of writings/philosophies.
For example, for many years, I have been quite afraid to have a negative thought – and, God forbid, say a negative thing – because our thoughts and words have power. Not only that, but our feelings have even more power! According to many of the tropes I’ve read and videos I’ve watched, if you combine the thoughts with a strong rush of sustained good feelings, you will absolutely manifest anything. If that were the actual case, I’d be happily married, a best-selling author, living in a secluded, beautiful cabin in the woods in the mountains by a lake, making love with my husband every day. I have visualized and held my visions, hopes, and dreams with all of the excitement, joy, and gratitude that I could possibly muster – for years – and you know what? It is all bullshit. I’m not even dating, much less happily married. I’ve sold a grand total of 13 books. I’ve been living the past few years in small rented rooms of friends’ homes, and the only sex I have is with myself. I think I’ll indulge myself at this point in a few negative thoughts.
Not that I haven’t had wonderful blessings and many happy moments in my life. Not that I’m not grateful for my life. I am. But this manifestation bullshit – and all of the superstition around it – has seriously caused me more stress and done me more harm than good. Of course, proponents of these thought systems will say that I was just doing it wrong. How convenient for them – to sell everyone on crap – and when it clearly doesn’t work, just say they’re not doing it right! It would be funny if it weren’t so damaging. And so many people can clearly see it isn’t working, but hold onto the hope that it’s about to work. It’s very similar to dieting, isn’t it? Where it clearly fails 98% of the time, but the diet industry has everyone so fucking brainwashed that people believe they can lose weight and keep it off and be “healthy.” (That body-hating insanity is a whole other post). In this case, people keep obsessively thinking positively, and following these spiritual principles in the hope that they will one day hit the winning lottery ticket of actually manifesting their dreams. They continue to struggle, and blame themselves for not doing it right. Honey, maybe it’s just that like diets, all of this positive-thinking/spiritually manifesting stuff doesn’t actually work?
Now, I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to stay positive. Nor to visualize what you want to create in your life. Those are fine things if you want to do that. What I object to is the mandate that you must do those things and produce results – or you are judged as failing at spirituality, failing at living a “good” life, failing to be an inspiration to others. One, you can’t fail at spirituality. You have your own relationship with your Self and Spirit – and that’s your business. Two, the definition of “good” is so varied that nobody gets to define that for you – and besides, life isn’t always good. It doesn’t mean you don’t value life anyway – even when it totally sucks. We should be able to say when life sucks or is painful without fear that because of our speaking what is true for us in the moment, we will be sucked into a downward spiral of more pain and suckiness – or that we’ll be judged for being “negative.” NO! Third, it is not our job to be an inspiration to others. I mean, we may have moments where that happens, but that should just come as a result of our living in integrity with our Selves and our own needs – not as a premeditated mandate of how we talk, look, and act. If we are inspiring others by wearing a false mask, then our inspiration is false. I’d rather be inspired to be authentic.
Look, as I’ve said before, I am a fan of “love and light.” I’m also a fan of, “you can fuck all the way off.” I get to hold both within me. I get to hold anything I want within me. I get to accept ALL of me – the good, the bad, and the ugly – without being punished or penalized for it. I’ve been a “good girl.” I’ve been “positive.” I’ve done the “right” things – and it’s gotten me fucking nowhere. Now, the superstition kicks in and says, “you know, it could have been much worse – at least your positivity kept it from being worse” – and also, “you should be grateful – if you aren’t appropriately grateful, things could get much worse for you.” You know what? (Sorry for the coming profanity, but) Fuck. That. Shit.
No, seriously. I’m so at the end of my rope with thinking that I have to be careful about what I think and feel and say and do. I’m tired of trying to tow the line of being a “good,” compliant, conforming person in order to get the rewards that never, in actuality, come. Fuck. That. Shit. I’ll be a good person on my own terms – what I decide is good based not on superstitions or groveling for rewards, but on what is authentic in my heart and soul and life. I know the compassion and the kindness and the love that come out of me authentically and naturally. I know the goodness in me that isn’t relying on any fear of “God” or dancing around for the Universe’s perverse and whimsical pleasure. I refuse to live in fear of accidentally creating something I didn’t want. I refuse to keep spiritually bypassing the reality of my existence.
It’s a weird place for me to be in right now, because I’ve spent decades trying to feel some level of control over my life by referring to things like Louise Hay’s spiritual explanations for the things that go wrong in our bodies and lives – and the affirmations that can heal them. Saying affirmations gave me great comfort when I had cancer – they gave me hope. As did prayers – to whatever benevolent Force/s may be out there. Maybe hope helped to heal me – but maybe it was just the doctor cutting out the cancer. Maybe the outcome would have been just the same whether I’d faithfully repeated affirmations and tried so hard to have a “positive, healing vibe” or not. Maybe I, in fact, have zero control over my life – other than the decisions I make in each moment – and my life is going to turn out how it’s going to turn out, regardless of what I say, think, or feel. I’m sitting with that possibility. I’ll be honest – I’m not loving the lack of control that leaves me feeling, but any sense of control I ever felt was always an illusion anyway, wasn’t it?
I’ve generously attributed all of the horrible things that have happened in my life to being “lessons that I was meant to learn” so that I could become the person that I am. Maybe that’s true, but maybe having my first baby be born early and only live 10 hours was just a cruel twist of fate. Maybe the fact that the very next year, doctors developed technologies that saved tiny babies like mine, was just twisting the knife. Maybe all of the other shit that’s happened since is just shit that happens because life isn’t fair. Life is capricious. It’s beautiful and horrible and … everything. We tend to have this expectation that life should be all good – and I’m still super pissed that life isn’t remotely fair! – but these expectations, perhaps, don’t serve us. I’ve been so afraid of something bad happening if I ever stopped being vigilant about my attitude and my homages to the gods (in various forms) that I’ve been living in a cage of fear and anxiety. I. Can’t. Do. That. Anymore.
I reserve the right to have a fucking bad attitude and to stomp around like an angry toddler when I feel like it – without having the Universe come and thump me for it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the Universe hasn’t even been paying any attention at all to any of my thoughts or feelings, “good” or “bad.” I’m starting to think that the Universe is mostly indifferent to my thoughts and feelings. Definitely indifferent to the plans I have for my life. This is ancient wisdom: “You make plans, God laughs.” It’s kind of cruel, in my opinion – but then again, at times, so is life.
I think that a lot of times, people use some forms of spirituality/spiritual beliefs, in order to not take responsibility for what’s happening on the planet. Like, justifying horrible things happening to people by believing that they must have somehow agreed to those conditions or that “this is what they signed on for in this life.” The Secret and The Law of Attraction are notorious for this kind of thinking. I call bullshit. Nobody signed up to be victims of war or famine or violence. We don’t get to comfort ourselves by thinking it couldn’t happen to us because we are thinking/feeling correctly – nor that we have no obligation to try to stop these atrocities. Where is our moral courage? We’ve been taught hate in too many of our churches and complacency in too many of our spiritual practices.
Yeah, there is not much/nothing I can personally do to stop the violence around this world, to stop abuses of power, to stop hunger, etc. But I can at least offer the courtesy of having compassion and empathy rather than dismissing it with a pat, “they must have attracted that or agreed to that in their lives,” thus absolving myself of my own humanity. Maybe we could see violence against anyone as the horror that it is. Maybe we could stop allowing abuses of power – and loudly and angrily call them out – and imprison some of these traitorous and corrupt motherfuckers. Maybe we could stop accepting a system where 1% of the people control so much money and resources while millions struggle and go hungry. Maybe we could acknowledge the violence in that. Maybe we could work toward a justice system that actually reflects justice and honorable values, rather than accepting the farce we have now. Maybe we could stop being such fucking sheeple, living in fear of both God and man – and of our own thoughts and feelings.
I’m saying this now because I am at the end of my rope. I am feeling angry and disillusioned. I’m also feeling free – and I like this sense of freedom and defiance. I’m also tired of living in fear. I’m planning to do like I’ve always done – to make the best choices possible for my life in each moment. I’m also embracing my “dark side” like I’ve never done before. I’m letting it all flow – my anger, my joy, my rage, my peace, my pleasure, my bitterness, my wild love, my despair. All of it. Everything. No more blocking feelings. No more moderating my responses with the deadly masks of politeness and civility – and the insidious social mandate of being positive. In this moment, I just need to be fucking real. A human being. A spiritual being, yes – but thick in this human experience. My Spirit is calling (has been calling) for me to be more authentic and less afraid.
Just like I needed to delete many of the teachings of the church I grew up in, I need to delete and detox from many of the “spiritual” belief systems that I turned to in order to make sense of life. They are just as harmful and false as the religion I long ago rejected. I don’t know what’s next on my spiritual journey, but it starts here with letting go of shame and superstitions.
The shame I’m referring to stems from not living up to what I have long considered to be the mandate of being a spiritual example – loving, positive, upbeat, uplifting, inspiring, nurturing. All of this fucking positive thinking training has left me feeling like a failure, both as a human and as a spiritual being, if I’m not constantly reflecting those higher values that have been labeled good/worthy. It’s very similar to how I felt as a child when the Baptist school told us that everything we did in our lives was a reflection on the school, and on God/Jesus – so don’t ever do anything that would reflect poorly. There was a whole list of ridiculous rules to follow in order to live in accordance with “God’s will.” Many of them reflected an appalling level of “moral” judgment and pettiness and hate.
I rejected the church, and I reject the mandate of always being positive and inspiring. I want to be whole. As Carl Jung said, “I’d rather be whole than good.” I also reject the concept that deep down inside, everyone is love. That’s simply, demonstrably, nottrue. There are clearly evil people in the world. We are all one? Maybe in the great, cosmic ocean of reality, yeah … but we are not all even remotely the same. Are we all connected? Who knows? We all share the same planet, but we do not all share the same experiences. We share some similar experiences and many vastly different experiences. We are all unique … and many of us go through very common stages, emotions, etc. Life is truly a mystery. I’m tired of trying to control it – or even understand it. I’m entering a new stage of surrender and seeing what unfolds. Of course, I hope it’s good – and I have no expectations – because I know damn well that Life doesn’t care about my expectations.
Growing up, the Tasmanian Devil was always my favorite. That’s how I feel now. That’s how I see myself in my mind – sort of this whirling dervish, spinning furiously around, creating space. I just need some space – away from thoughts and feelings and expectations of who I should be and how I should think, talk, feel, and act. I want to stomp around a bit. I want to stand strong in all of who I am. I want some silence in my mind. There’s a whole lot of things that I want in my life. I’m no longer relying on positive thinking, attracting, manifesting, or “allowing” – coupled with my hard work – to get them. They’ll happen or they won’t – but it won’t be because I was or wasn’t good enough or worthy enough or spiritual enough. It will be because that’s life. And shit happens. And good happens. And life happens.
For many of us, religion and/or spirituality help us to navigate this life. They help us to hang on, to have hope, to keep going. For many of us, alcohol or drugs or food or sex is what helps us make it to the next day. Sometimes I rely heavily on escaping into romance novels or adventurous movies. I’m not trying to take away anything that helps anyone. Whatever gets you through, hang onto that. Sometimes what gets us through changes over time. Right now, some of what gets me through is shifting under my feet and I feel a sense of groundlessness. Paradoxically, I also feel more grounded in my life than I ever have. I wish you health/healing, prosperity, peace, love, and every happiness. That isn’t a magic wand and it isn’t a guarantee. It’s just a wish, from my very human heart to yours. Peace be with you.
I woke up this morning thinking about how female sexuality is consistently shamed or exploited (yes, I think about these issues night and day). Girls and women generally aren’t allowed to enjoy or embrace our sexual power, pleasure, and/or play. Female sexuality is commodified and used to sell everything from toothpaste to cars to vacations, but it isn’t allowed to freely and openly stand on its own. Real life versus media life is such a bizarre dichotomy we all (mostly) put up with or endure. Fairly strong social expectations and strictures keep most of us “in our place.”
For many, even any of the words that point toward being a sexual being feel shaming and threatening. Even the word “sexuality” used openly, publicly, makes many people feel a little edgy or nervous, self-conscious, or even like running away. Why are these words so charged? Why is such a normal, healthy, beautiful part of our lives heaped with so much secrecy, hiding, and shame? Honestly, why is it okay to show violence in all of its gory detail, but showing intimate pleasure gets an X-rating and general social disapproval? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Our concept of obscenity is itself obscene, not to mention immensely harmful.
One day, years ago, my friend and I were commenting back and forth on Facebook (so basically having a public conversation) about National Masturbation Month. I don’t remember what we were saying, but I was laughing out loud so hard and frequently that my (then) husband came to find out what was so funny. When I read the conversation out loud to him, he blanched, absolutely horrified. “But our friends will see that,” he whined aghast, demanding that I delete it all immediately. The fun and hilarity and unbounded joy came to a sudden stop as buckets of shame were thrown on our pleasure fire.
One of the things I cherish the most about being single is having the freedom to live my life on my own terms – to be able to say what I want to say without censoring myself for what might make a partner feel embarrassed or ashamed, and to make my own choices without someone else’s undue influence/judgment on how I get to spend my time and/or create my life. Yes, I have my own internal censor that I have to deal with, but that’s something I can work on and make my own choices about. And I mean, yeah, I’m sure other people judge me, but it’s not the same as someone you’re living with and “in love” with judging you, pulling their “love” away – and besides, almost half of this country voted for Trump, so if I were hard-pressed before to care about what other people think, now it’s come down to how could I possibly give a shit what they think? Seriously.
You want to talk about obscene? Let’s talk about this country pulling babies and little children out of their parents’ arms – kidnapping them with no way/intention of reuniting these little ones with their families. It is incomprehensible in the magnitude of its cruelty and depravity. There is seemingly no end to the atrocities committed by this current administration. Hundreds of thousands of people dead, millions of people infected, hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia all fomented – and we go on living our lives as if our country weren’t (literally) on fire. Before I digress further down this rabbit hole, allow me to return to the topic at hand.
Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about sexual power. Let’s talk about sexual pleasure. Let’s talk about pleasure in general. Let’s talk about new ways of being – in our sexuality, in our relationships, in the choices we are able to make in our lives. Let’s talk about how to create safe space for everyone to live their authentic, joyful, happy lives. Let’s talk about safe space for healing, for personal and/or spiritual growth, and for honoring ourselves and the pain and shame we have all experienced. Let’s talk about respect for all bodies, for diversity, for our own uniqueness. Let’s talk about how society (government, churches, schools, media, etc.) tries to control us through shame and ignorance – and how we are complicit accomplices in accepting and spreading shame, particularly sexual shame.
Not me? Have you ever called another woman a slut or some other derogatory name for how she dressed or behaved? You. Have you ever gossiped about the relationship choices someone else made? You. Have you ever criticized another woman’s body (even if just in your own mind)? You. Have you ever criticized your own body? Hidden parts of you that you were taught to believe were embarrassing? Body parts, thoughts, feelings, desires, pleasures? How about anger, disappointment, depression, sadness, or anything that made you feel at all vulnerable and/or imperfect? We are all complicit in this stranglehold that limits our own life force – not because we necessarily want it or choose it, but because we allow it.
Stepping out of shame is literally a step toward healing ourselves and the world. Consciously thinking and talking with others about how our values are formed, about what it true and what is just harmful social programming, is essential toward not only our own healing, but also healing many of the social ills which plague us today. Actually, which have plagued us for many centuries as humanity has endured “dominator” political and religious systems (as Riane Eisler calls them). We desperately need to move toward partnership systems, where people are respected, valued, and embraced rather than controlled, shamed, and discarded. By the way, Eisler’s book Sacred Pleasure is a must-read. This woman is beyond brilliant. She has a new book out called Nurturing Our Humanity. I can’t wait to read it!
I desperately want women to realize that sexual shame, body shame, lifestyle choice shame – all of the shame that society tries so hard to serve us, to keep us buried in – is how they take our power away. It is time – and it is necessary – for us to refuse shame and to take our power back. There is actually nothing shameful, embarrassing, or obscene in sexuality or in our natural bodies and desires. Those feelings have been taught to us – we can unlearn them and teach ourselves and each other something better, something more honoring and sacred.
I continue this conversation in my book, The Sexuality Reclamation Project for Women. It contains some of my thoughts on a variety of related topics. It’s just the beginning of the conversation. I’m not asking anyone to agree with my viewpoints or perspectives. I’m simply asking you to deeply consider what is true for you. If there were no fear or shame, who would you be, how would you feel/act, what choices would you make? If you were safe, how would you express yourself? What relationship/s would you have? What relationship/s would you end? If you were centered in your own power, how would your life look? There is a companion workbook that invites you to consider questions like this and more. There is a journal that invites you to assess your current relationship/s. Are there red flags? Are they about you, the other person, or the relationship dynamics? What do you want to do about them?
Let’s think about these things and keep these important conversations going! Let’s make it safe for each other to allow our authentic selves to rise and be expressed. It is essential to creating a better world and to healing ourselves and the planet. Feel free to comment below.