Peeling Back The Layers 

It has always frustrated me that I can’t lose the extra weight I carry. I assumed that I had resolved my core issue that resulted in the extra padding/weight/protection. I have forgiven my ‘abusers’ and have created a loving, full and blessed life. So, why does the weight stay? 

And, no. It isn’t as easy as exercise and diet. I’ve done those things and get to a point and nothing more. It’s not as simple as that. My body is holding on to something more … something is not resolved and it keeps me holding on to the weight. 

My healing sessions with N and S in Minnesota have enabled me to pull some layers back and I think I’ve worked it out. 

Yes, I’ve resolved the abuse, most of it. But the root effect of the abuse, of the trauma, of all of those childhood experiences, and the lesson that keeps being presented to me in a myriad of guises, my whole adult life, focuses on betrayal

One word. It is my lesson. Resolving this will be a process. The first step is acknowledging it. I have sat with this word for over a week now (yes, it’s taken that long for the first step). I have thought about the different times that I have felt betrayed. I have been collecting them. 

I need to go back into each of them. I need to feel the pain of each incident again. And then I need to rewrite those scripts. And then I need to send each one away from me, creatively. Another book idea?! Crikeys. 

Maybe. 

Maybe not. 

I feel very empowered. I feel that I am in ownership (how deluded is that lol) of my choices and of my life. I am no longer a complete pawn in this game. I have the power to change the way I see the world, my world. 

I also know that without taking this year away from my classroom, this growth would not have been empowered. I would not have taken the time to heal me. The investigation rocked me completely but was also so necessary for me to heed the signs that I wasn’t living authentically any more. My life has been ready to evolve for a long time; I just wasn’t brave enough to trust that I would be okay. 

Watch this space if you’re interested in this healing journey. 

A Very Quiet Week 

Warning: further on in this post there are potential triggers for survivors and victims of childhood sexual abuse, and their parents. 
Between the business and casual teaching, I have had a work filled week which has permitted not much of anything else. But it’s been a calm and soul filling week. 

The kids at the school I am working a lot at are getting to know me and I am getting to know them. I like the staff I work directly with and am becoming a little emotionally connected. I have some blocks coming up too. 

But the exciting news is that tomorrow I leave for the US. In forty eight hours or so I will be reunited with two of my tribe (from our meeting in India last year) and I am so excited. Nervous – I hate being in the way (a value thing) – and excited. I can’t wait to be in their space and share energy with them. 

And the following week I head to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding. And we are getting tattooed at Pussykat Tattoo Studio. And then she gets married and then I go to the Grand Canyon and then I fly home. A whirlwind trip incorporating time in two places I never thought of going to. 

This is what my gap year/mid life crisis is about: exploring life’s potential and trusting that where I am drawn to, I am meant to be. 

I have found a stillness within me. I’m meditating more and there is a calm in my mind and life. I am finding it infinitely easier to be and to exist for sustained periods of time in the present moment. I talk to my fear, to the odd pop of anxiety, to acknowledge it and then let it go. As a result, I am enjoying the things that I do because I am wholly present in them. 

Teaching is my means to an end. It pays the bills. My business, my study and my writing is my soul work. These light me from within and bring me home. 

I have always struggled to find inspiration and creative freedom to write whilst working, until now. During the week a block that I have found whilst writing my novel was lifted and I have been able to write in small chunks of time, at lunch, between clients, wherever I can, and it has just oozed out of me. 

I am at peace. I have found a type of balance. For now. Interestingly, I’m not taking a laptop with me on my travels – iPad yes, phone yes, laptop no. I hate taking it out of my bag continually at security checkpoints and don’t use it enough to justify it. I will use my phone and transfer it when I get home. 

My novel is about a teenage girl who is raped at a party. In the course of processing it, she learns more about herself, her friends, her family, and the world, than she ever wanted to know. It’s been easy to write at times and more difficult at others. I’ve been researching and have decided to include her mother’s perspective because the role of the mother, whilst pivotal, is never really explored. 

I think my recent experiences of helplessness – through the issue that resulted in the investigation last year – will enable me to empathise with the role of mother in these circumstances – the paralysis, the fear, the not wanting to open a hornet nest, etc. I will obviously also research in other ways. 

If you are the mother or father of a child who has been raped or sexually abused, I would love for you to write to me about your experiences if you feel that you can – not the specifics of the situation necessarily, but definitely your emotional/psychological journey. If you can

Our children live in such an unsafe and disconnected world, I fear for them. Manchester’s events rocked all of us during the week. Targeting young people specifically is a very cruel strategy. But when I reflected further, we always have targeted young people, just not as noisily or blatantly. 

The number of kids in care, or who should be, is ridiculous. The number of kids with parents who work so much they aren’t really present, grows. The number of kids subjected to sexual abuse, physical violence, neglect and emotional abuse, grows. CASA state that 20% of women and 10% of men have reported non-penetrative sexual assault occurred before they turned sixteen, and these numbers are significant disproportionate for indigenous adults. 

Childhood sexual abuse really has become and has stayed a silent epidemic. The long term impact of sexual abuse incapacitates adults, which impacts society. It is an issue that requires a higher social profile because it needs to stop. 

I know, am blessed to know many, and be, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I’m not whole. I am close to being whole. It has taken, and continues to take, effort and work to maintain emotional and psychological health. At forty six, the impact is significantly less on my life now than it used to be. I have worked hard and for a long time. 

I love that practice, I think Chinese, where the cracks in a bowl are filled with gold – a beautiful metaphor for survivors of trauma. It is our cracks that make us vulnerable to breakage but when filled, make us more resilient and more beautiful than we otherwise would have been. 

Yep. A quiet week but apparently not so quiet in my mind. 

Namaste 🙏🏻🦋

?

I had my surgery today. I was okay with it all when I posted yesterday. Mostly okay. My wonderful gynaecologist confirmed the surgery after 9 last night. I had a moment. I had to be at Liverpool Private by 11 this morning. Earlier than originally anticipated. That required changes in plans. 

I cried. I felt so sorry for myself. So sorry for myself that I didn’t avail myself of any offers of help that had been offered by many different people. So sorry for myself I just wanted to feel like a victim and blame the world. It was emotionally just too hard and I didn’t understand and why so I reverted to my two year old self. 

I’m an idiot. 

By quarter to ten I had pulled my head in, spoken sense to myself, all too late. My tantrum disempowered myself, ironically when I wanted control. Common trend of behaviour for me when I feel powerless (but are we really ever powerless? No.) and behaviour that I do not respect in myself. 

It is so easy to play victim and become petulant and hate the world. It is harder for me to accept that it is okay to rely on other people sometimes. And this is a trust issue, stemming way back to my very early childhood. 

I’m 46 now. I’m no longer a child. And I dictate my life’s trajectory. Last night I forgot this. I’m shaking my head at my behaviour with a wry grin. Don’t panic. I am being kind to myself and cutting myself some slack. And I know that my surgery is laden with grief about my failed attempts to become a birth mum. 

Because I barely slept. And when I did, I processed. So I woke up feeling nervous but better about it. Contemplated texting my ff to ask if she could drive me but decided I was okay with the bus and train. I had to trust that I was okay even though I thought it might be nice to talk to someone. 

The universe will always conspire to provide what we need. 

First train was cancelled and an old friend happened to be catching the same train so we talked and talked and talked. Thank you, Anne. 

The walk was easy. I was calm. At peace. 

I was admitted. My blood pressure was good. My sugars were okay. I’d been through this before for my egg retrievals. And then I got it. 

The tantrum was the memory of all that came before. Three times I’ve been in hospital for procedures. Three times I woke to find a number written on my hand (eggs retrieved). Three times it came to naught ultimately. 

Once, it resulted in a miscarriage with lots of blood. That ultimately resulted in my last bout of long term bleeding. That time of my life hurt me a great deal. I still think of the child that would have been. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in a good place with my childlessness. But I’m also conscious my life is different now because of that. 

I was lying in my bed outside of the theatre for over an hour. The anaesthetist had been caught up somewhere. I was completely at peace. I gave myself a reiki and focused on breathing and being present. I could hear the tinny sound the hands of the clock made and so I counted the seconds in lots of five. 

And I watched them tick over. 

Occasionally my mind moved to other thoughts, contemplating not terrorizing myself, about life. What if I died on the table. Had I lived a happy life. Would I be at peace. Resoundingly, yes. I have no will. I know my pets would be looked after. Would there be custody fights. I haven’t left a copy of all my passwords anywhere. No one knows who has keys. It was interesting. 

And then I’d come back and count again. 

Nurses came and went. I had to repeat answers to the same mundane questions. Changing nurses. Changing shifts. My lovely doctor laughed with me; I hadn’t eaten since last night and it was now well after one. Concern over my sugars but not re-tested because the new nurse didn’t listen to the previous nurse. Death could be a reality. New anaesthetist. Surgery done. 

Recovery. 

I love coming out from anaesthetic. Very sore vagina. Lots of blood. Discomfort. 

Panadeine forte. 

Winning. 

An old Asian man in recovery next to me. Beautiful soul and smile. Shift change. Relatives rung. Food provided. Time to get dressed. 

I walked past his chair. He said, “You can walk.”

I smiled, threw my hands in the air, and said, “It’s a miracle.” 

We laughed. 

He walked past me, arms in the air. He said, “I can walk.”

I laughed, “Another miracle!”

He namaste’d me. 

Gold. 

My fertility is done. I have a Mirena IUD. Five years. I’m waiting for the no period. I’ll bleed heavily for a few days, maybe a week. My results will be back within two weeks. Hopefully all will be good. Hopefully the mass wasn’t cancer. 

At any rate, I think I’m still a little high. 

I’m going to bed. 

Breakthrough

So I was just sitting here, watching Dr Phil, my head pounding, and I thought, “I struggle with my Birthday because I don’t believe I’m worth celebrating.” 

I know how ridiculous that is, but it’s truly what came into my head. I know I am worth it but it’s like I don’t believe other people will think I am. Lower my expectation, minimize disappointment. How f’ed in the head is that?! 

And I stand by what I said the other day, this stems from the IVF journey; the journey that just keeps giving lol. And that stems from being single.

For the majority of my life, probably until I hit my late thirties and forties, I hadn’t believed I was worth what I now think is very obvious worth. IVF compounded this because even though I was surrounded by people, it is a very alone journey, not lonely but alone. There are aspects of it that only the woman could understand, even in the most loving relationship. 

The drugs, the injections, the emotional rollercoaster, the listening and feeling and questioning every single physical aspect, well, you do that alone. The continual failure takes its toll. And then miscarrying, and misvarrying entirely alone and isolated, well, that compounded it all too. 

And so I learned I would do my life myself. I would pull back from everything (except work) to protect myself. I think when I wanted people to just know what to do, and to just be who I needed and wanted them to be, and they weren’t, I internalized that by reverting to my childhood narrative. The one where I’m not pretty enough, funny enough, smart enough, worth enough. 

Then there was the workplace bullying, healing from the miscarriage and another failed IVF, and then the investigation, more ‘voices’ telling me I wasn’t good enough; to the extent that my support network was shut down by the institution through their installation of fear by threatening that I would lose my job. 

Oh wow. No wonder my head is abnormal 😉 trying not to swear lol. 

And that’s why when my friend said we needed to do something for my birthday, and suggested something, and organized it, respecting my request to keep my birthday quiet, I was happy to say yes: best of both worlds, celebration without pressure. 

I’m looking forward to my birthday. A year wiser in a transformative year. A year where I am rebuilding my entire life, from the ground up. 

What a blessing courage is. 

What a blessing freedom is. 

What a blessing this life is. 

Happy Birthday, Tina. You are becoming, you are, the woman you always wanted to be. I’m proud of you kiddo! 

“Trauma not transformed becomes trauma transferred.”

Below is a link to a TED Talk presented by Ashley Judd. It has strong language content (including the c word) and some possible triggers for trauma in all its guises (in particular sexual assault and/or domestic violence). 

But it is amazing. 

Ashley Judd is a Hollywood actress and is outspoken. She speaks up. In fact, I should have introduced her as an activist first. That says something. 

Her talk focuses on gender trolling online and how that manifests in women’s real lives. Some of you may roll your eyes at this point, maybe stop reading, maybe not click the link. It will not only be your loss but also the world’s loss. She has some things to say that we all need to hear. And that we need to act on. 

Now. 

I have seen this gender specific trolling in comments on posts on Facebook (my social media addiction of choice). They appear whenever a woman voices an opinion. The trolling is designed to minimise the voices of women and terrify women into submission. 

It is disgusting. 

When we minimise, demonise or objectify women, we are changing the fabric and humanity of society. The consequences of this serve none of us in the long term. 

We all need to be supported to fulfil our potential and purpose in living. For anyone to intentionally bring another person down and corrupt this process is not only reprehensible but also exceptionally dangerous. When we are treated as less than, the ripple effect permanently changes the world we live in. Trauma not transformed becomes trauma transferred, and we are all responsible for minimising the impact of trauma as well as the incidence of it. 

I hope you ‘enjoy’ the talk. 

How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control https://www.ted.com/talks/ashley_judd_how_online_abuse_of_women_has_spiraled_out_of_control

Ah, Sunday Mornings …

Lying in bed. Scrolling through Facebook. Finding inspiration, or consolidation, or articles of interest as I listen to the clock ticking and the birds chattering. Light is coming through the open back door whilst my room breathes in the last moments of darkness. The summer heat is gone and a fresh chill settles the air. Max scratches his head whilst Sammy’s jaw rests on my leg. Molly is sitting on the floor next to me. 

My home. My family. My life. 

Solitude and happiness; contentment I never thought I would experience. 

It is these small things and in these moments that I feel peace within my soul. Nothing is worrying me, I feel no pain, I am safe and I am free. The day spreads out before me. I have no plans. 

I might write. I might work on my Sound Healing course. I might read. I might dig out the garden bed. I might dye my hair. I might sit outside and reflect. I might – 

Possibility. Endless possibility. 

It reminds me of some of my childhood days. Usually summer. Neighbourhood friends. Daisy chains. Lemonade. Play. Days that seemingly lasted forever we were so present in each moment. 

And that takes me to the days that were the opposite extreme. I didn’t know that the pain would be temporary at that time. In childhood we don’t know that we will be okay; we have no life experience to know this. It is one of the gifts of aging: resilience. I didn’t really learn or believe or know that I would always be okay until my thirties; only I could defeat myself, life would not defeat me.  

It had no desire to. 

I was here to learn as much as I could and experience as much as I was able. 

This damaged child has travelled, studied, loved, and continues to do so. I have grown into myself, trusting that all will be as it should be in every moment, and that I will be okay. It’s been a process, a long journey, and I am grateful for it. 

I choose to learn from experiences, not to be bitter. I choose to feel the pain and choose to work through it to attain wholeness, irrespective of how long it takes. I choose to see beauty and to express my gratitude for it. 

Especially in the seemingly small, blessed moments; they sustain me and remind me that life truly is worth living. It is a special gift to be present as the years unfold, and as life becomes richer and I become more myself. 

A beautiful, wild, intelligent, empathic, powerful soul. 

Namaste. 

And, I wish for you, gratitude for the small moments of beauty you experience today. 

A Thoughtful Week

Generally, when I go quiet here it is for one of two reasons: flat out or processing something big. 

This week I have been processing. I have also had a cold, then gastro, and then a migraine (which is still here but permitting some function finally). 

Since finishing IVF a couple of years ago, and after my miscarriage, I have had ongoing issues with my menstrual cycle. Prior to fertility treatments, my cycle was regular as clockwork (with only a couple of exceptions in like thirty years).  Since finishing IVF I have experienced two runs of menhorragia (abnormal bleeding) with my last run of bleeding lasting from September last year through to February this year, virtually every day. 

As a result, I went to see a new doctor and he referred me for full blood work. The results came back to me on Monday. 

My iron, expectedly, is low. My sugars are high. My blood pressure continues to be high. 

I’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. A bit of a shock on Monday and it has taken some processing. I’m on meds for both now, hence gastro. 

It is reversible and I will reverse it. 

I hadn’t mentioned it here, but last year I attended an information session regarding weight loss surgery. I actioned my health insurance and had my initial consultation with Dr Zarrouk last week. I also booked in the surgery for later this year. 

With lifestyle changes and the surgery, my diabetes is entirely reversible. 

I’m okay with it; it is the kick in the pants that I needed. 

However, the diagnosis also forced me to track my journey to this point. And, as a result, I’ve had to focus on some negative things that cause shame (stupidly). 

There is family history of diabetes and hypertension, so I should always have been more proactive regarding prevention. 

I’ve had to revisit why I wasn’t. I don’t feel sorry for myself but I felt the need to acknowledge how I got here. I asked myself why I emotionally eat, when did it start, why did it start, why did it continue, when don’t I emotionally eat, why, etcetera etcetera. 

Childhood trauma, shame, silence, inability to form healthy relationships, poor life choices, work related stress, being empathic, alcohol, experimentation with drugs, self harm and suicidal tendencies, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, putting others’ needs first, failed IVF, failed fostering, and the list could go on. I don’t emotionally eat when I travel; travel equals happiness and comfort in my own skin. I like me when I travel. 

And as an emotional eater, last year was a horrendous year for me. Diet and exercise just didn’t factor into my choices; anxiety reigned supreme and getting through each day became an achievement. 

I’m an intelligent person. I could have prevented this. But I didn’t. And as a result, I’ve had to work through feelings of shame and fear all over again. Ridiculous, really. 

And I do trust that things happen when they are meant to. So I haven’t cried over this and I’m alright with the diagnosis. For real. 

I’ve modified my diet. I’ve read heaps. I’ve thought heaps. I’m taking my medication. I’m making appointments. 

I know I will beat this. 

My mum was diagnosed similarly at my age and she reversed it with diet and psychological strength. I’m her daughter; I will achieve the same. 

I am regarding this as a continuation of the wake up call I had already given to myself. And, as affirmation that the surgery decision was the right one to make. 

This year for transformation really is becoming a year of transformation. 

I’m blessed, really. 

Owning It 

At the workshop yesterday I felt that we were a room of like minds. One of the beliefs that we seemed to share concerns ownership and responsibility. 

Today I was chatting to a mate, and she said that she believed that people always left her and never came back. 

I have had times (many times) when I have made similar sweeping statements that lay responsibility on the shoulders of others. Predominantly through my IVF journey when I often felt misunderstood, sorry for myself and very much alone. I don’t hate or dislike myself for this; it was what it was. 

But, I do think it was important and vital to my happiness that I was able to move on from these feelings. The only way I could do that was to focus on what responsibility I held in maintaining the situation. 

I could not control what my friends and family chose to do, but I could own my part in it. Once I owned my part, I found that I was liberated from expectation. Not in a bad or bitter way, but in a loving way. In turn, I think this made it easier for me to maintain my friend and familial relationships. It has also empowered me to work through my own issues as well as reach out when I need to. Basically, from owning my part, I have liberated myself from unnecessary psychological torment. 

Our host yesterday spoke about this too. If we have a recurring pattern in our lives that is unproductive, unhealthy or unhappy, we need to own our part in it. 

Often in life, things occur that are beyond our control. This is normal. But there is always something that we can control ~ us: our physical reaction, our emotional response, our future choices. 

There is always something. 

Sometimes it may just be that we control whether we take another breath. The important think is to own the choice. Once we can control one thing, it becomes easier to believe that we can control more things. 

Like with anxiety, focus on what can be controlled rather than what can’t be. Own what we can, because yes, we can’t control everything. 

Saying it makes it sound so easy. It isn’t. Like with everything, it is a process that requires consistent effort, stuffing it up, and then trying again. But it’s a worthwhile process. 

For me, it has resulted in an unrivaled and unprecedented happiness/wholeness that I am also owning. 

Season 6 Episode 3 Girls

“I want to write. I want to write stories that make people feel less alone than I did,” Hannah, and Tina. 

But, not the whole point of this post. I dislike Hannah, and not a huge fan of the show, but something caught me when I saw the first episode of Season 1, and I’ve watched every episode since. It’s like a pulling to waste time. I’m weird like that. 

I like the episodes. This one, in particular, is exceptionally clever and Hannah seems to be finally growing up, into herself. I don’t know. Maybe she reminds me of how I once was, am, will be, and that’s why I don’t like it but watch it anyway. 

This episode, number three of season six, targets an issue that seems to be popping up for me in conversations, my friends’ experiences, TED Talks, everywhere. 

Consent, sexual violence, intent, power, imbalance. 

Relationships are difficult enough to navigate, attraction more so. 

I think it is safe to say that more often than not, women need closeness to be intimate whereas men feel closer after intimacy (thank you Kell, for putting it so succinctly). Women feel the attraction and want to know the man, but also feel ‘valuable’ and ‘special’ when men pay attention. It does seem to be the way that we are socially programmed. Our worth is intrinsically linked to the status of the men who ‘love’ us. 

I don’t completely believe this to be true unequivocally but it can be true. Meh. I should process before writing. In this case, trying to process through writing. 

Anyway, sexual violence changes a person permanently. This is true. A person, male or female, is never the same again after sexual violation. What constitutes the violation though? This area can be murky and grey. 

Tom Stranger (video link yesterday) reflects that he believed it was his ‘right’ to violate his drunk girlfriend, and that the culture he grew up in gave permission for this. Chuck Palmer, the writer in Girls, eloquently crafts a story that forces us to question his abuses of college girls and the extent to which he is victim too. 

Our society demonises perpetrators of sexual violence. I don’t this is wise. 

When I wrote the final piece for my Masters, I wanted to really write by exploring a voice that wasn’t mine. I chose to research and write the voice of the pedophile. One scene in particular made me physically ill but to be able to write the character well, I needed to find that part of myself that was a demon, for want of a better word. 

We are all capable of evil, of darkness, of violation. Maybe not in terms of sexual violence, but I remember I once killed a spider with bug spray and took delight in watching it writhe futilely (no, I’m not proud of admitting this). I became disgusted, repulsed, abhorred by my behavior, and don’t use bug spray or kill anything intentionally anymore. 

I learned the value of life in that moment, and the responsibility of power. It was a significant moment in my life. 

On Q&A on Monday night, Josephine Cashman, was quite condescending to the experience of Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger, and of the concept of forgiveness as it relates to sexual violence. I found her perspective way too literal and too rigid. Obviously, her context as a legal warrior has created this; she experiences the darkness of women in domestic violence situations who forgive others from fear only to be abused again and again. 

I believe that forgiveness is vital for mental health. When I hang on to anger, I am unable to live unencumbered. Forgiveness is not for others. Oprah suggests that forgiveness is really just giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. And when you do this, the weight literally lifts from your shoulders. Forgiveness is a gift that everyone who has ever experienced anything negative, any violation, deserves. 

Meh. Many thoughts weaving in and out of my consciousness. 

I think the way forward for all of us extends from people owning their behaviors, out loud and often. When we own our shadow selves, we bring light to them, and this reduces the impact of shame and guilt. The more light, the more voices, the healthier we all become. 

This is why I write this blog. I own my experiences, good and bad. Killing the spider, still seeing the delight I felt as I watched it die, reminds me that I have a shadow that thrives on power. I am vigilant to ensure that I do not abuse the power I have. But it does require vigilance. 

I emerged from a childhood devoid of power, and my natural instinct is to desire and covet power. I have met many adults, and due to dysfunctional pasts, in childhood or adulthood, they claim power against other people all of the time. 

They do this in a variety of ways, but mostly they keep others small by relentlessly putting them down. They stop others from being their best selves with criticism, by silencing their voices, through not creating an environment where others feel safe to just be, warts and all. 

I struggle in these environments, and I struggle to defend myself in these environments (when turned against me). My first instinct is to run. My second instinct is to shut a part of myself down, away from the ‘abuser’. When a person loses power to another, they try to address the imbalance by exerting power over someone or something else. If we just started by owning these times, I think we would all be happier. 

At the core of most sexual violence is the issue of power. 

Let’s light this up. Let’s fix it at the most basic level in all of us. Let’s change our world. Together. With many united voices. 

When you put my beliefs down, it makes me feel worthless and like you don’t care, and then I don’t trust you. When you don’t own your behaviour, our relationship breaks down. When you do own your behaviour, we both flourish. 

The Power of Words 

Warning:

I don’t want to say too much about this TED Talk; the power is in viewing it. However, it is about sexual violence and could trigger you if you have suffered or perpetrated such acts. 

I love that it humanises both victim/survivor and perpetrator; something I aimed to do when I wrote my final piece for my Masters in Writing a few years ago. 

I think everyone should watch this, think about it and talk about it. 
Our story of rape and reconciliation https://www.ted.com/talks/thordis_elva_tom_stranger_our_story_of_rape_and_reconciliation