Healing is Messy: Step into the Arena

I am starting this post with, I am good and I’m in a good place. But, healing is messy and it is unattractive and it is an individual process, and as a result, can be quite shameful. Mental health still has a deeply ingrained stigma attached to it that is entirely unwarranted and socially unhealthy for us, people.

My perception of my childhood is that it was traumatic. I have resolved a lot of the deeper stuff, but every now and again, another layer becomes ready to be peeled off and I need to put the work in to do that. I’ve been doing this work on myself for thirty or so years.

I live a blessed life because I worked hard to create it. I’m a strong, wise, resilient and empowered woman because I do the work and own my truth.

I would love for it to be finished, but it isn’t.

Last weekend, I was at an intensive training weekend for tuning forks for my Diploma in Sound Healing. It unlocked another hurt that needed to be healed.

Healing is a process.

First, there was the unlocking of a deep hurt. I cried and cried and sobbed and ugly cried and then cried some more.

It took a few hours of just sitting in this teary grief before I felt an old anger pattern emerge. Anger that no one loves me, anger that no one reaches out, anger that I give so much to others and it never feels balanced or reciprocated or fair. Just plain pure unadulterated anger. Unreasonable, unfair, childlike and fully ego based and driven.

Then, well, then came the heaviness, the numbness, the desire to run away, the embarrassment, the shame, the fear that you’ve fucked your entire life up and scared everyone away because you are ungrateful for all that you do have and all the people you’ve shared time with throughout your life. And really, shouldn’t you be over this by now.

So, at this point, self care became important. For me, this means one breath at a time, and time for the soul to reconnect to source in nature. I did this yesterday. I left, breathing deeply again with a headache lol. But, balanced and calm.

This enabled me to work and to start sharing my energy again, in small doses with armour around my heart. Just the reality.

Back in this space, I can ask questions: what is the root cause of this grief, this recurring pattern, this destructive and intense emotional response?

The answers come. On the toilet this time.

Abandonment.

As a child, ideally, we feel supported and loved and safe and protected.

I didn’t feel this way.

The narrative I crafted for myself was that I wasn’t worthy of being held safely, I wasn’t valuable, I wasn’t good enough just as I was.

I give to receive. That’s the ugly truth of it. In recent times, I’ve shifted that motivation significantly and have surrendered a lot of that attachment to expectation, but obviously, not enough. I had never dig into the root cause, around it, sure, but not into its marrow.

The time has come for me to do just that.

From the abandonment fears, deeply connected to it, is a strong sense of betrayal and trust.

As I reflect to my miscarriage, I see these patterns and threads weaving together. As I reflect on the Investigation, again, these threads interweave. Now, my life is ready to do the deep soul work to correct and rebalance this imbalanced perception.

Before I could do that though, I needed to relive it one more time, out of a crisis situation, that I could understand it without the immediate intensity of emotion.

I share my journey because I think it’s important that we all share our stories to heal, not just for ourselves, but for past generations and for our world.

We don’t talk about the darkness and heaviness in ourselves and our world enough. We hide in it. And we do this because too many people don’t understand it. And we are scared of being labelled or stigmatized it judged.

A very well intentioned friend said that I was better than this. I’m human. I’m a work in progress. I have many layers and many faces. My strength in spirit comes from me standing in my truth. I still feel the shame of this though. I acknowledge it and tell it to fuck off because I think more positive comes from me doing this, than from hiding it. Time might prove me wrong. But I don’t believe so.

My truth isn’t always tidy; it’s very often a very messy conglomeration of different things. It takes courage to be real in a world where real seems to be a dirty word. I own my trauma and I own the impact. I’ve lost good people from my life as a result of my messy truth; I am an acquired taste and I can be intense. I can be mean and bitchy and ego driven. I can be selfless and wise and so loving.

I am all.

And I make no apology for that.

Out of the Darkness

Intense past month or so for me. And many others, I know, I feel you.

I have been (and am) in a massive place of transition at the moment. I can feel it – it’s like I’m lost, utterly lost, but know I need to feel that way to be able to shed and leave behind everything that no longer serves me.

As many of you know, I once thought (and for a very long time) that I wasn’t worth very much and I was pretty much an ugly duckling. I’ve had a recent lesson that has supported me in owning and accepting my worth and my beauty (in and out).

I finally believe that I am worthy and deserving to be my best self and have people around me who are striving to create a beautiful inner and outer world for themselves and others.

I feel like I have developed, through the darkness, a stronger sense of why I am here. It’s a little scary – not in achieving it, but in the machinations of how to achieve it.

I have a vision for this world.

A unity and community borne of, and from, love, as well as a deep connection arising from our collective similarities rather than our differences. I believe it is achievable. And I believe the way to get there is through collective healing.

I’ve had to step back from my normal lifestyle to regenerate and repair my energy. At the end of last term, I was completely exhausted – physically, emotionally and at a deep soul level. I tend to give a lot of energy out. All. Of. The. Time.

I have slowed down. I am realising that too much work brings money in, and takes happiness and fulfillment out. For me, in this moment. Money is great. I’m not knocking it. I’m just not wholly fulfilled earning it the way that I am. So, I’ve started pulling back from that. If I don’t believe I am serving people well, I need to step out. It’s hard, but necessary.

I have also realised that I am worthy of a deep and profound love. I do second guess it a bit, but in my core, I am worthy.

I have chatted to a couple of people over the last couple of days, overwhelmed that people can see me as amazing when I’m just being me.

I’ve been me my whole life, and have never been regarded with as much enthusiasm and validation as I have since India in November of 2016. Just recently, it has amped up even more.

My healing intentions for the world are being supported and people are ‘impressed’ by me. Freaks me out. Little girl lost is finding herself. I wish that for everyone.

I’m ready to evolve. Ascending higher. I know that won’t be solitary work. And it will be fraught with challenges for me to learn and grow from. But, I’m learning that there is a larger plan, that I need to be patient, that everyone who enters my life enters to teach me something, and that not everyone is here to stay. And, that’s okay.

A little lost still. Reread a book today and finished another book. Peaceful, but a little lonely. An interesting feeling for me because it’s a foreign feeling. I also feel raw, open and exceptionally vulnerable. Yet, I blog. I’m such a weirdo.

I am grateful for this darker period. I am grateful for the light occasionally flickering to remind me it is temporary. I am grateful for the deep connections I am able to build with people. I am grateful that I have courage. I am grateful that I am me. I am grateful for growth. I am grateful for pain. I am grateful for loveliness. All serve to remind me of where I have come from and where I am.

Healing is Hard

I am in a slump, spiralling down into the hole.

The difference this time is that I am mindful and have been mindful and am doing what I need to do.

I could feel and see it coming. I was tired, like soul tired; I had nothing left to give. I became impatient. It was harder to stay in balance. I just wanted to hide away. I got sick and couldn’t shake it. I had no patience for other people who’s experiences are mirroring mine – no one likes a mirror on a bad day.

I started to self care. I cancelled appointments, but I explained why. I have said no. I have been careful to not over commit. I have had a lot of silence. I have been really honest with myself about where I am at.

I know this transition is temporary. I know my body, mind and spirit need time out to process all of the changes I have made to my life in the last twelve months. I need to process who this new identity is. And I need time to really love her, for all that she is. She’s pretty darn amazing and quite a beautiful person. I’m happy to be her.

Massive growth right there.

I think when we’ve experienced trauma (and I did this for more years than I can count and feel blessed that people have stayed with me), it is easy to feel like the world owes us something. It is easy to blame other people for not getting it and for not trying to get it.

The impact of trauma really changes the way your brain is wired. A traumatised brain doesn’t see the world the way a healthy brain does. Everything is personal – everything. It is a horrible way to live. It keeps you victimised. It doesn’t permit happiness or stability.

During my tapping class last night, I was triggered by what we were doing – playing it small in life. I had a flashback to a moment in childhood. The word uncertainty kept popping into my head.

I was uncertain I would be safe, uncertain I would be cared for, uncertain that I would be okay.

I was safe, I was taken care of and I was okay in this moment.

However, that loss of certainty because of the trauma I endured has lead my life. It has kept me small – the what if question was always framed negatively. Now, I am rewriting it positively. Or need to.

Because I am not that child anymore. I am a strong, resilient, empowered woman with a strong voice and a massive heart who doesn’t tolerate bullshit.

As children, we didn’t have choice, or control, or the knowledge that we were going to be okay.

As adults, we do. As adults, we create our lives through our choices.

I think it is easier to stay where you are safe, as a victim living in the trauma, but it keeps you small and none of us were destined to be small.

As adults, we can change what we aren’t happy with. We can move through and alter patterns. We can own our own shit. And we need to. If you aren’t happy, be honest with yourself, step out of the victim mentality, and own your healing.

Empower yourself.

You are worth that effort.

Unsettled

This doesn’t happen often anymore very much at all. I’m going to own it though now that it has happened.

I’ve woken up with a head heavy with swirling thoughts. I think one of my friends sensed the downward spiral starting yesterday because they randomly asked if I were okay.

I was – mostly – I have been sick and have pushed through except for Tuesday when I cancelled all of the clients I remembered (a sign in itself) and slept through the afternoon.

I’m exhausted. It’s been a big start to the year and feels like December already. The term is almost done, and I decided to write the bloody trauma book lol. It triggered my process last week. This week the process has triggered something.

I dreamed of sexual abuse last night. I can’t remember the dreams. I was not the abused. I feel that. Meh.

I knew the book would be difficult to write. And I know I’ll be okay. I’ll work through whatever this is.

I have already stood on the grass to ground myself. I’m going to do some body groove and I’m going to do a grounding mantra I learned at yoga yesterday.

Once my brain is ready to release whatever emotion it is processing, I’ll work through that too.

Childhood trauma is the gift that keeps giving. Like IVF lol.

Memories, feelings, stuff can come up at any time and knock you. And that’s okay when you have a self-care strategy. I do – years in the making to deal with these times. I won’t slide deep. I know what to do. And I’ll take the time I need to do it by saying no more often.

I’ve got this. You’ve got this. We’ve all got this.

Losing Myself

I think one of the hardest parts of the losing weight/returning to wellness journey is the continual inner battle with yourself.

I want to be well. Inside and out. As a healer, I feel that I need to walk the talk. It’s okay to be a work in progress, but imperative to be doing the work.

Like my dreads, my weight, in some ways, is part of who I am. It’s been so long since I was at a healthy or near healthy weight, and even when I was, I didn’t think or know that I was. My inner narrative has always been that I am fat, ugly and undeserving of love. In fact, it has only been in the last two and a half years that I have started to rewrite that narrative.

Now, I’m fat, beautiful and worthy of all that is good. I chuckle to myself.

A few years ago I looked into the bariatric surgery which has been so successful for so many. I almost had it done. But something wasn’t ready within me. For surgery, it still isn’t.

I feel that my weight is baggage I am holding on to and to be well, I need to sort through and heal the baggage. Maybe that’s just another story I tell myself, I don’t know. But I believe it.

So, on the first of March, I started a new eating plan. I’m time poor and ignorant about food and portion sizes and all of that sort of stuff beyond a superficial level. I’m using a meal replacement system that is a whole system, including snacks. I’m carrying a bit of fear of judgement for this, but I’m doing what I need to do to return to physical wellness.

People say it’s easy. Just eat healthy foods. Exercise. It’s not easy though or no one would be fat. Not easy when you don’t know what healthy looks like and feels like, and not when your weight is attached to trauma.

I can’t just eat healthy because I don’t now what that is or what it looks like. I mean, for the most part, I thought I did eat healthily. I’m vegetarian and I don’t eat much crap. Meh.

My whole life I’ve been scared of being seen and noticed and adored. It’s happened anyway, and to rebel against it rather than confronting my true self head on, I kept myself small (ironically) by not living my best life and being shackled by unspoken fear.

I stayed in a job that minimised me and never embraced my talents or abilities. Staying in that job exhausted me. I didn’t make time for friends or love. I didn’t make time to be normal. I think my whole life I’ve been searching for wellness and belonging.

It’s hard to belong with others when you don’t belong to yourself. And it’s hard to belong, wholly, to yourself, when your weight is unhealthy. For me, my unhealthy weight is symbolic of a pain, a hurt, that runs deep. I’m trying to unpack that hurt as I journey.

Expressing and owning the reality of the journey is a massive part of that. This is the my first step to owning I have a problem, unresolved hurts, and work to do. My weight is just a symptom.

Pell Take 2 🥵

Aaaargggghhhhhhhhhhhh.

Getting the anger out yesterday helped.

We know I’m into acknowledging the benefits and drawbacks in every situation to maintain balance. I did that yesterday too. It empowered me to enjoy the day. And it gave me space to process.

The triggering I felt yesterday wasn’t about my abuse situation – I’m grateful for that journey in its entirety. What triggered me is that in this society, as much as we’ve seemingly moved forward, we haven’t really at all. Well, in a minuscule way. And, yes, it’s better than nothing.

I guess, until the patriarchal power structures change, we will continue to fall into the same sort of patterns.

It’s like in Child Protection – referring is mandatory, but the legislation stops there. Report, but no, there’s no real support for the mandatory reporter or the child who shares their story. You guys just do what you have to do.

If we were serious, really serious, about changing this culture and healing the children, men and women who have become prey to it, we would focus on rebuilding social attitudes, and ensuring help and real support for those who need it – perpetrator and victim.

Instead, we have a situation where a judge acknowledges the barbaric and self-serving acts of an official of the Catholic Church, acknowledges the short and long term impact for the victim who did not die from a drug overdose (the other did), acknowledges the lack of remorse from the official, and with the potential for a fifty year sentence, orders 6 with a non-parole period of 3 years and 8 months.

Because the perpetrator should not have to die in prison and has health concerns and has been vilified in the media. FFS.

Balance, Tina, and breathe. Fucking ridiculous.

So, where is the benefit?

In the outrage. Palpable outrage that people from all walks felt yesterday. From the outrage, change will come. From the outrage, healing will happen. From the outrage, people will unite and a community will be borne.

Yes, the outrage will start conversations – uncomfortable and challenging – but conversations that will spur movements and that, inevitably, will trigger the cultural shift in attitude that we need.

A War Within Yourself

I think one of the hardest parts in resolving trauma, in particular childhood trauma, is that it is a long process. A looooong process.

The journey for me, has spanned decades. I had to go through every uncomfortable thing I did to get to health, and I’m still getting there.

Through my twenties and thirties and early forties, I struggled to manage depression. I engaged suicidal thoughts too much and was a roller coaster of irrational emotions.

I endured an inner blood curdling scream for over twenty years. I never felt in control and I never felt worthy of good things. I sabotaged friendships and potential good relationships all of the time. I was almost happy being unhappy, but not.

My mid forties has been a reckoning for me. I’ve learned so much about myself, about the healing process, and about managing our pain.

Two things have to be present for healing to take place:

1. The desire to heal.

2. The right time.

You might scoff at both. You might say, No one wants to be unhappy.

You are wrong. It’s not that people want to be unhappy, but they have become safe in that place and pain has become their identity. Breaking through that requires a great deal of work.

I encounter people all of the time who say they want things to change, they want to heal, but they are stuck where they are and unwilling to take any steps away from the safety of where they are.

I get that. It sounds harsh of me, but it’s true. Sometimes, in our head, where we are and what we know feels safer than the unknown. Feels safer than risking it and failing.

The worst thing we can do though, is stagnate, not move, die where we are. You don’t want that.

And yes, the second we have little control over.

I have had opportunities my whole life to heal. Most I’ve taken, some I have not.

What I know for sure is that if we don’t listen to the whispers of intuition we get that we need to change something, our lives will eventually crash around us and force us to take action.

That’s what happened to me in 2016. I had been too scared, too stuck in the fear of life outside of teaching, that I had not left. As a result, investigation for almost a whole year.

Now, I’m grateful for every second of the torment and anxiety and life as it was.

The Phoenix rose.

Because of that, because of the psychological and emotional healing, I’m now ready to manage my weight effectively. The last frontier for my healing journey.

After this, it will become a journey of maintaining mental, emotional and physical health whilst I grow spiritually and intellectually.

I’m excited.

Healing takes a lot of work and a lot of time, but it’s worth it. Every tear, every breakdown, every second.

Living With A Trauma Survivor

I write a lot about what it’s like to live with a trauma history. I’ve only occasionally thought what it must be like to live with me or to be my friend or partner.

You see, when you have experienced a trauma, the person you were and the person you could have been, no longer exist. There is a grief attached to that, the loss of you and of your past potential, that takes a long time to heal for most.

And the rules that apply to people without trauma, don’t really fit those living with trauma and it’s impact. Trauma breaks people; most temporarily, but for some, permanently.

It changes the way you see the world, and people, and relationships.

When you are abused as a child, you lose trust and a sense of positive self-worth.

As a result, as an adult, you need validation continually that what you are saying, what you are doing, and what you are feeling is okay. You second guess yourself all of the time. Trauma survivors don’t know what the boundaries are and can drive the people closest to them nuts by seeking validation and/or approval constantly. It is hard to live with, but harder to live through.

Remind your survivor that they are safe with you, and that they are enough, especially on the really hard days.

Once a survivor opens up and trusts you, you’re pretty much in for a hard ride. You’d think it would get easier, but it doesn’t.

Because a trauma survivor’s sense of trust has been demolished, when we trust, we trust wholly and expect you to live up to our expectations. It’s not fair, but it is what it is.

We don’t trust easily. We are used to people letting us down, but we expect you to be better than everyone else which sometimes means we don’t allow you to be human, and you feel like you can never win. You can’t. Sad, but true.

Your survivor still loves you, they just need more. Like, if we are feeling something or processing something or working through something, we need to work it through fully. You need to listen. You need to engage. Until it all makes sense in our heads from our perspective, just nod, hold a hand, remind us, “I love you. I’m listening. Keep talking.”

If we express that your behaviour doesn’t help our situation, listen closely, say what you are hearing back, and maybe negotiate a compromise on your behaviour. If that could work.

It’s hard, living or being close to a survivor of trauma. Most of us experience, especially in the early days of healing, irrational rages. If not rages, serious bouts of depression-like behaviours – not wanting to leave the house or interact with others or get dressed or do anything.

We hurt those closest and we try to push them out of our lives before they can hurt us. Even if you stay, we will keep pushing and trying to see how far we can push you, what it takes to break you, because we don’t believe we are worthy of you or your love or your friendship. If there is a chance you can hurt us, your life won’t be easy.

We are damaged.

The world doesn’t look to us like it looks to you.

Where you see sunsets, we see night coming, and that means fear of someone hurting you.

Where you smell eucalyptus, we smell the abuser who wore Vick’s as they hurt us.

We are triggered by the weirdest things at random times, and often can’t access why until we have completely lost our shit. After the release of breakdown, the shedding of another layer of healing, we return to the vulnerable human you know and love.

It’s a hard life for everyone involved. You, the partner or the friend or the parent, well, you need to self-care, you too, need a support network, you need to do what you can for yourself to ensure you cope okay.

You’re right, it isn’t fair.

But it also isn’t fair for the survivor. Healing is a process. There isn’t a one size fits all. And often, healing can take a lifetime as the survivor learns how to live in a world that allowed the damage to happen in the first place. Surely, that, is the ultimate betrayal in trust.

Boundaries After Childhood Trauma

A difficult post to write and to own; cuts to the heart of vulnerability and shame for me. I’ve been writing it in my head and processing the truth of it since my workshop on Wednesday night when I realised I had unresolved business for myself. It’s taken a few days but I think I’ve managed to focus on the heart of it.

It might trigger some people – childhood abuse and adult content.

One of the very long term impacts from childhood trauma, for me, focuses on boundaries. I’ve had to, and am in the process, of re-learning them. By boundaries, I mean social, sexual and self boundaries, what is appropriate behaviour and what is not, for a myriad of reasons.

When you experience childhood trauma, it changes you – the way you perceive the world, your place in it, the people around you, everything. You no longer quite understand the way things are meant to work and you spend a lot of your time scanning your environment and the people in it to determine what is normal, what is acceptable, and how you should be behaving. If your environment is dysfunctional, well, no other way to put it, but you’re screwed.

This week, I’ve realised that I’ve been trying to work out the boundary thing my whole life.

It starts with me, just being in the world. My perception as a child was that I wasn’t worth very much. Rightly or wrongly. That perception, unchecked until much later on in my life (last five or so years), really governed how I fit into my world.

Because I perceived I wasn’t worth much, I found my value in giving to and doing for others. Most of my life I’ve been a fixer for and supporter of others.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good way to be, but only if it is who you are and not because you’re scrambling to belong, to be accepted, to be worthy. I had no real boundaries – I didn’t know when to stop giving or doing or being. I just gave and gave and gave – not altruistically – and that makes the giving unhealthy.

It is also unhealthy because I did have the expectation that because I gave and gave and gave, others needed to give back.

What they gave was never enough though.

And it wasn’t enough because I was really wanting someone to rewrite my narrative and tell me I was worthy. I was filling a hole inside my soul that only I could fill. Only I could rewrite that narrative of misperceptions.

And I now know, you can’t belong with others until you wholly belong to yourself. Ooh, that pricks tears.

I always felt a little betrayed in friendships – by myself mostly – because I didn’t maintain them well. I could walk away easily – never really fully invested – until about fifteen years ago. And even still, I’ve been relearning all of that time what it means to be a friend, relaxing unrealistic expectations, and understanding what is healthy. And understanding that friendships don’t have to be suffocating – I don’t need to be in their faces or on the phone all of the time.

It’s been, at times, very painful, very vulnerable, very shameful work. I’m still learning the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. I’m just blessed to have beautiful friends who cut me slack.

And then there are the boundaries of intimate relationships. I’ve fallen for quite a few married men – yep. Safe in one sense because they are unattainable in a holistic sense. And because I was so thirsty to be loved, desired, and found to be worthy, would follow blindly and become hurt eventually.

I’ve also fallen for people who are like me and can’t commit emotionally – the reality of emotional connection sounds great in theory, but in practice, completely untenable between two broken people. Too much vulnerability, no understanding of boundary, and god knows what else lol.

So, I’ve found myself in situations I haven’t known how to handle in any way, shape or form.

I don’t regret anything, but I am developing a clearer understanding of how my lack of understanding of boundaries, has shaped my life.

I feel that some people have, consciously or unconsciously, taken advantage of the broken person throughout the years. It’s a given. Some ‘friends’ have used me for money, for connections, for support to fix their own brokenness, for their own agendas. They provided lessons for me. More friends have not.

As a child, I felt I had no power. To function, to survive, I learned to do as I was told. As an adult, until very recent years, I was still doing this. I felt and expressed an unreasonable, child-like fear of getting into trouble. The thought of doing something wrong and getting into trouble paralyzed me – hello, 2016.

There is one that I’m still processing. It resulted in me losing people I thought were friends, again the need to be loved and to be badged as worthy, and whilst the behaviours made me feel ‘normal’ and like I could belong, I now realise it was all far from that.

I was trying to recapture the experiences of youth, of normal adolescence, of that rite of passage of doing dumb stuff before you start to mature and grow up. I never had a normal adolescence and it stunted my emotional growth. Ultimately, to move forward I had to experience this time in my life. I’m grateful for it. The last bit of anger is trickling away.

Sometimes, without clear boundaries, we make snap decisions that enable us to think we are normal and do things to belong, or because we feel loved in the moment, or for both reasons, and it’s just plain unhealthy. We end up in a deep pit trying to find ourselves and understand what happened. It’s important to make peace with that and to understand it’s a process in healing. It takes us to where we are meant to be.

I think I’ve made peace, now, with a lot of my adult behaviours and decisions that were or were close to inappropriate. I can see the drawbacks and the benefits in each one, at the time, and for me now.

Still some work to do – we are all works in progress.