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.

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.

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.

If You Build It

Tonight is the first night of my Moving Beyond Childhood Trauma workshop. I am excited and terrified all in one.

Running workshops always terrifies me. The impact of my own trauma becomes very obvious to me: the fear that I’m not good enough and have nothing to offer of use.

Obviously, this is garbage, but it is the narrative I’ve told myself my whole life. I’m not good enough. I think that’s why I stayed in teaching for so long – the system kept me very small and I enabled that because it fed my narrative – I’m just not good enough.

So, I have to walk the talk. I have to tell the fear to sit in the back seat whilst I drive the car. It can come, but it can not speak. Thank you, Liz Gilbert. I pay this metaphor forward and it changes lives.

Fear is normal. Minimizing yourself as a result of it is something you can control. To live our best lives, we need to learn to harness it. Acknowledge its existence, but do not give it power.

I scaffolded the program weeks ago. As you do. Something had been holding me back from fully committing to that scaffold. Yesterday, just before heading to work, tonight flashed into my brain.

The last week, first.

Always have the goal in mind. What do I want my life to look like? Who do I want to be?

Then, we will deal with the trauma.

I’m hoping the participants find the courage within themselves to attend; I have such a good feeling about the group.

Another impact of my own trauma is that I used to struggle with stepping outside of my comfort zone. Twenty seconds of courage to click yes and to knock on a door changed that. I now go when and where I am called.

Changing my trauma narrative comes one word at a time, one impact at a time, one change at a time. With lots of self-love practiced.

Trauma doesn’t have to define our lives. It is our choice.

The Long Term Impact of Trauma

I was having coffee with a great friend yesterday afternoon. We are in the process of developing an idea for You Tube content. The series will focus on childhood trauma and its impact.

We are both examples of surviving and healing childhood trauma, and creating impactful lives for ourselves in the process.

Our trauma occurred in very different areas: she lived in a cult and I lived in suburbia. We both have very high ACE scores (Adversity in Childhood).

The interesting thing about this, is that for both of us, the long term impact and effect of the trauma (unresolved and untreated during childhood) has been the same.

We both struggle or have struggled with confidence/trusting our judgement, we both have found a voice that had been silenced by shame, we are both workaholics, we have both suffered depression and contemplated suicide, and the list goes on.

The impact is not all negative though – we both want a different world and we work hard to raise awareness, and enable and empower the healing in others. We are both very passionate, very focused and love music (a safe place).

Trauma is interesting. It can keep us stuck, afraid, and unhappy repeating desperate cycles, but it can also liberate our souls so that we achieve bigger things than we ever dreamed possible.

Ultimately, our lives are what we make of them. Our lives are the collection of choices we make every day. Even after trauma, maybe because of trauma, life can be amazing.

Healing Truly Is A Process

Well, I’m exhausted lol. Another layer of healing pulled back and processed yesterday.

What I have noticed is that once upon a time, triggers took days, even weeks, for me to process, and during that time, I would slip into depression and sabotage my friendships. I would be immersed in and suffocated by darkness.

Yesterday, during the trigger and processing process, I was a little disoriented when a friend came knocking on the door, but I was functioning and to a high level. In fact, the visit brought the remaining cortisol down. Apart from tired, my self-care and tool kit of strategies took me through the process.

Very often, the triggers are not the cause of the emotional and/or psychological chaos. They just trigger it. I’ve found, that as I’ve added to my tool kit, the triggers no longer disrupt my life or my psyche for long.

I think the greatest tool I use to return myself to balance is what I’ve learned from Mai Mai in our sessions, and from reading Dr John Demartini’s books and applying the ideas.

I no longer have to look for the support in the moment – it is always there in some form – I still acknowledge the step as part of the process though.

The drawbacks are always fairly obvious, and then I focus on the benefits and list them one by one. I also now connect them to my values – how does this incident support my highest values?

Then, after that intense work, I’m just tired and yesterday, I practiced self-care. I apologized for not being able to attend an event I had been looking forward to, and I was honest about why, which whilst embarrassing and shameful (in my eyes at the time) liberated me in the long term.

It is so important that we use our voices and share where we are. Honesty enables trust in relationships and removes guilt.

Ultimately, yesterday was an opportunity for me to walk the talk, and to demonstrate to others how I did this.

Healing is a lifelong process, and that’s okay, because I’ve got this.

Poor George 😝 onwards and upwards

The Hard Lessons – Shame

Third post in this series that started this morning with a mid post breakdown.

I mowed the lawn after the last (second) post. The cortisol moved through my body, I sweated heaps, showered and vomited, and after my shower, I felt cleaner and the cortisol had subsided enough that I knew taking time out and just being, with some meditation later on, would bring my body back to balance. Oh, and eating food with nutrients. Plus a coke or chocolate (this part is not nutritionally sound and a habit I need to break – just not today – don’t judge).

I have worked hard to dissolve the actual abuse triggers. I realised this as I pushed the mower through the grass. This isn’t about the sexual abuse itself. I am grateful to those people for my abuse; I have posted about that before, and this trigger hadn’t changed that. This is about the impact that the trauma of my childhood made. This is about my automatic reactions to things and having to work through every trigger as it comes up.

And that’s okay. Three hours after the incident, I am lying on the lounge, feeling much better, empowered and fully feeling that my mission to empower others is my soul work for this lifetime. So, I’m good.

I want to talk about the shame though. Receiving those messages made me feel like I had done something wrong.

Maybe I shouldn’t have replied. Maybe I said the wrong thing. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough.

Intellectually, I know otherwise. Trauma is a funny thing though. And trauma is not intellectual.

Posting my initial Facebook post yesterday made me feel vulnerable; I was worried that people would judge me, blame me, hold me responsible. I was worried that people would say, and I shit you not, that I am ugly and no one would look twice at me, how many tickets have you got on yourself. I posted anyway.

I wasn’t letting irrational fears guide my choices – this is real growth for me. Trauma is fear based and very hard to ignore or move through. It requires feeling the vulnerability and dealing with the shame.

When people, out of love and kindness, pointed out that George was probably a bot or a Nigerian catfish scammer, my brain told me that I was stupid and I should have known that (how, I don’t know). I felt significantly more shame. I am still unwriting this shame narrative. It will take time.

I think my belly weight is the shame manifested physically. This is really important for me to realise because that knowledge will empower me to lose my excess weight. I thought it was the abuse that caused the weight. I think it is actually unresolved shame. I think my underlying narrative is a strong shame narrative that I fight against.

I now own that I’m an amazing teacher. It took me years to not feel like I was being conceited and to stand in that truth. When I said it to some people, they tried to shame me out of it, but I refused to be shamed.

I now own that I’m a very attractive woman – and the belly twinges – I am, I argue with my belly. I’m not model beautiful, but I’m gorgeous. I am me, wholly and proudly, and shame only has the power to make me buckle, not drop.

Trauma is insidious. It told us we weren’t valuable, we weren’t important, we were disposable, unworthy, undeserving. Trauma is wrong though. And my trauma and my healing is the legacy I will leave this world.

There is more to say. I’m not sure what it is at this point. But I am so grateful for being able to express my self, grateful for having a medium to express myself in, grateful to have the courage to acknowledge the shame publicly, and grateful that I empower myself to stand in my truth.

Oh My. Healing the trigger.

If you have read my last post, you were witness to a triggered reaction/break down from unwanted male attention. I had to stop writing and responding to comments, and move away to process what I was experiencing.

I felt shock at first, as I realised the extent of the violation because I connected it to my childhood sexual abuse. I have always known that my weight issues were connected to unresolved childhood trauma and the subconscious desire to protect myself. I have been wanting to resolve that – ask and you shall receive – as I roll my eyes at myself.

After the shock and the realisation I was breaking down mid post, I felt sick in my stomach and my shoulders tightened. This is where I usually carry stress. I walked through my house and fed my pets. Made the bed, opened the blinds and turned on my salt lamps.

Amidst that, I started to unravel purpose. I need to resolve more layers. I’m good with that. This is a healing opportunity, and a teaching and learning experience. That’s the purpose.

Then, to gratitude. Find the gratitude in the discomfort, Tina. What am I grateful for?

I am grateful that I am still healing, for I am human and I love learning. I am grateful for the immediate support I received, and for the love and solidarity that was so strong in their comments and messages. I am grateful that I have a voice that empowers and enables me, and hopefully others. I am grateful that I am strong and that I am resilient. I am grateful that as I write this, I can feel the cortisol that was coursing fast through my body, start to abate. I am grateful that I am taking deep breaths and that I know to do and how to do that. I am grateful that I know this is temporary. I am grateful for all of my past healing. I am grateful because this will not destroy me, not ever. I am grateful that I have grass to mow. I am grateful that I can apply all that I have learned, including self-care. I am grateful for my ability to help others. I am grateful for the intensity of the experience and for the ability to feel my body’s response so that I can empathize with others to become a better healer. I am grateful …

These are my first steps. I will take the time today to continue my work on me. I will give myself the space to do that. I will walk the talk.

I will cancel my commitments today. I will mow the lawn and water my plants. I will make a nutritious breakfast. I will focus on me. I will Demartini the experience and look at the benefits and drawbacks which I’ve already started to do.

The beauty of having done so much work is that I feel already that I’ve got this. This will work for me. I needed to do this. I will model what others can do.

Funny thing – I’ve been blocked bowel wise since this happened yesterday and I rarely get blocked. After this, my body let go. Something in that for all of us I think. Our bodies hold our trauma and our grief. That isn’t healthy.

An Unfortunate Culture

I woke up this morning to my Facebook feed, as I do most mornings (this from a person who in the early nineties was never going to get the internet because only bad things could come – insert forehead slap here).

Van Badham, an Australian commentator, has shared an article about Don Burke’s predatory bullying and misogynistic behaviour, and how the Channel 9 Television Network took no appropriate action because he was their cash cow. They acknowledge, at the least, that there was gossip about Don Burke’s behaviour, but nothing was formally reported.

Who knows what is true.

In the comments, often the best part of anything on the internet, was a seemingly harmless comment along the lines of, “This is so sad if it is true.” The man, probably thinking nothing much of the words he chose, opened himself up to some not nice responses. In one, he was called a “douchebag.” He tried to defend himself by replying that he hadn’t said he didn’t believe it, but he was erring on the side of caution until Don Burke was in front of a court, rather than being tried on social media alone.

God love him. His argument appears logical. I lean towards agreeing with him. I do believe that any court would find Don Burke guilty; there seems to be a lot of evidence, a lot of reports with similar themes, and a lot of witnesses to the behaviour.

However, it sent me into a tail spin. I was drafting a comment to let him know that I had heard him, but I couldn’t find the words to express it clearly, without sounding like I was supporting Don Burke’s disgraceful behaviour.

That forced me to look at my own potential biases. Where does my need to defend this man come from? Am I being so careful to not become part of a witch hunt that I am complicit in seemingly condoning bad behaviour? What is right and what is wrong?

I get that the man who commented and was then attacked, probably didn’t think his seemingly innocuous comment would unleash what it unleashed. Probably didn’t think. Probably doesn’t need to think. It is obvious from his replies and attempts to protect himself, that he didn’t mean harm and was not condoning Don Burke’s behaviour. The responders didn’t want to see that.

But, our society’s culture did and still does permit Don Burke’s behaviour. Women and girls are still routinely subjected to comments about their appearance, their sexuality, their personalities, their everything, and much of it is demeaning.

We are held to ridiculous standards of beauty and minimalised for our opinions if we dare speak them. For Christ’s sake, our first female Prime Minister was routinely attacked for not being married, for being childless, for her clothing choices, for the size of her bottom and for the colour of her hair. And so many moronic imbeciles condoned this behaviour from the media, and it validated misogynistic behaviours and attitudes from unintelligent people who then felt they had a public platform and public permissionto air this vitriol.

Australia went backwards at this point. Thank you, Tony Abbott and Australian media.

We then had the atrocious behaviours from Harvey Weinstein in the US made public, following the #metoo movement (interestingly, following on from the allegations against Bill Cosby which did not give rise to such a furore – I wonder if colour plays a part here). This opened Pandora’s box. In the US and here too. And, rightly so. For so long there has been none or not enough public condemnation of this type of behaviour.

I used the me too hash tag. I debated using it. I read articles from women who were against it, believing it marginalised men and vilified innocent men. It may have done. It was also argued that no woman should feel pressured to own their abuse/assault in a public forum. I don’t think there was pressure; it was personal choice.

I think it was powerful, ultimately. I think it provided an alternative platform for women to own their assaults/abuse (the distinction being that abuse is longer term). It was empowering. For me, who speaks and writes openly about my life, it wasn’t too big a deal. For others, who don’t, and who chose to use the hash tag, it was empowering and unifying. They knew they were not alone.This enables and empowers healing. It strips shame away. It makes the abuse the focus, not the individual.

And, the hash tag wasn’t gender specific – males suffer abuse and assaults. That is undeniable. The impact of violation does not discriminate; however, for way too long, too many women have endured the shame and guilt that comes with behaviour that is not condemned by our society. And I feel myself checking myself, too many people.

Gender politics. I am a feminist. I have been marginalised because I am a woman. I have fought harder because I am a woman. I have been abused because I am a woman. And, a strong woman at that. Intelligent, compassionate, articulate, informed.

I have also been privileged to work with a therapist who has empowered me to see what I have yielded as a result of the abuses against (for) me. And I mean privileged. So many are not in the position where they can afford or access this type of therapy (Demartini).

For every male student who has disclosed abuse to me, I have had five female students disclose. Neither is supported adequately at the end of the day, despite all of the child protection rhetoric. It’s all about ticking boxes. And this entitled behaviour from all genders needs to stop.

But, we all need to understand that change is a process and learning the right language takes time, and at the end of the day, only compassion and love will move us forward.

Abuse, assault, bullying, aggression, unkindness, violence – it all stems from the same place – disconnection. We need to work together to change this unfortunate culture, not against one another.