Rachel and Bilhah

I finished The Handmaid’s Tale – sensational. As soon as I read the last sentence I put it down and picked up Red Tent, then I had a major Oh Shit moment. The foundation of these two stories are built on the same biblical reference. At least I am pretty sure it is a biblical reference, being a Godless woman I have never actually read the bible. I am to understand that this story, the story of Rachel and her handmaid/sister(?), is from the bible though.

The handmaid’s tale told the story from the point of view of the handmaid, the woman used for her ability to give birth, a woman who was reduced to little more than a walking womb.

I am not yet sure how Rachel and Bilhah’s story will be told in Red Tent yet. It appears to be from the perspective of Leah’s daughter, Dinah.

So what does this mean? This is the second time these women are being presenting to me. Two is my symbol fro action, it is the sign the Universe sends me when it is time for me to act. I am not sure what I am meant to do with the stories of these women though. What is my connection here?

I believe there is a strong possibility that this is all connected to motherhood and my work on that topic because I was originally called to read Handmaid’s Tale after attending the lecture around the dark side  of motherhood. I think it could also relate to the group work I am meant to facilitate with women.

It is not clear yet though. Maybe as I continue to read Red Tent and see how Rachel, and Bilhah, and Leah, and Dinah’s stories unfold I will know.

I have been leading with intuition lately and it has opened me up to so much receiving. I often do not know why I am receiving the signs/messages I am when they come through but I am beginning to understand that the why is not important, what is important is just to be open to receive.

 

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Social Work Sister Circle

The more I do my own work with other women the more I keep feeling everyone should have this! I know part of my work as a therapist is going to be holding therapeutic space for women in groups. This kind of work is so healing, I know I want to bring that energy to others in my future therapeutic work.

When I was driving home from my session today with a client I was hit by a bolt of lightening: Social Work Sister Circle.  The words flashed across my brain and suddenly I could see it all. What about a sister circle of fellow social workers where we are able to hold sacred space for ourselves and each other as we do this emotionally charged work with others? I could see the circle, and the candles, and the rose quartz. I could see the vessel we pass around in order to share our story, I could even here the stories. Maybe it starts with me in my home because energetically I am ready to hold space for this, maybe it grows past my home once others feel energetically ready to hold this work in their home.

Social work is a female dominated field, there is absolutely a need for emotionally support as we navigate these emotional demanding careers and the pressure of our lives as women.

I need to work this out a bit more in my head and really meditate on who I feel is called to this work right now before I take next steps. I am excited though. This feels right, it feels powerful. I am ready to see how this flower blossoms.

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I am a Good Therapist.

Today was a GOOD day. I had an awesome session where the client shared deeper connections she had been able to make on her own about what we discussed in last session, plus she had some big moments in today’s session.

AND I got my framed diplomas back today. The framing is so beautiful that I cried in the shop when the framer took the brown paper off to present it to me. A wave of emotion rushed over me. That is me, those diplomas, that frame, it is all me. It all feels so right and so true.

I felt big today. To be able to say out loud I am a good therapist and know this to be my truth. no one can take that from me. It is an amazing feeling, I have no shame I am only love.

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Me Too.

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My self-care is at an all time high. My boundaries with family are healthy, I am doing work that feels meaningful, I am making strides in my own personal work, my husband and I have plans for travel not to mention our relationship grows deeper and truer all the time, I am involved in multiple women’s circles right now that bring so much healing connection into my life AND I have enough freedom right now to actually breathe this abundance in and truly sit with my gratitude.

I was sitting in my gratitude for all of these outlets this morning while talking to a friend. It is not that my life is perfect, I am absolutely sitting in some struggles as well; the beauty is that right now my support out weighs the struggle making the struggle feel so much more manageable.

This morning one of the women from one of my healing circles texted us (the women in the group) and shared a struggle she is currently having.

Here is the thing I love about being part of these groups that allow us to take off the mask and be seen in our darkness, our light, and all the gray that makes us who we are; we find that the thing that makes us feel the most shame, and the greatest disconnection is actually where the true connection lies.

She shared her story via group text and shared how shameful she felt. She was waiting for our judgement, judgement that did not come. What came was the most healing sentence a person in pain can hear: Me too.

My boyfriend gave me an STD; Me too.
I was emotionally abused and aware of it and did nothing for years; Me too.
I took him back; Me too.
I am weak; Me too.
I am humiliated; Me too.
I just want to hide; Me too.

I know your pain. Your pain is my pain. What if the thing that makes us feel the most unlovable is actually the very thing that will invite our greatest love in.

Here is one of my shame stories to help anyone struggling to stand in their truth:

I once left a partner after years of emotional abuse. I self-medicated for months, red wine and Benadryl every night, then I numbed in other ways- tanning beds, exercising, shopping, hair appointments. I knew it wasn’t over, somehow I knew there was something left there. I was right. Less than a year later he reached out and we started back up. Two months later I went for my annual and was told I had an STD. When I confronted him about it he admitted what I already knew. That was it. That was the last straw.

Lying, control, making me feel less than. I was so small then that I thought I deserved this. I drew a line at my physical health though. I finally told someone what was happening, the truth was I needed someone to hold me accountable. I was lost. For years and years I was lost. I had no idea who I was.

It took years for me to process the experiences of that time of my life. Emotional/mental abuse is hard to heal because of the confusion it causes. It took a really long time for me to be able to find my truth in our story. I was blamed for everything. I was lied to and then called a liar, I was betrayed and called the betrayer.

As women when we come together and share these stories we are opening a door for other women to then feel safe to walk through. If I had been honest sooner about what was happening and someone had said Me too and shared their story maybe my story would be different.

I see now the importance of this darkness though because I am sit next to women in a circle who bring their darkness and in places where they feel most alone I am able to show up and say Me too. That is powerful. Yes I have experienced darkness, yes I have brought darkness to others. This is all true AND I am grateful for it every time I can sit with a woman in pain and say Me too.

 

Well Managed

When starting a new job I am normally racked with anxiety the first few weeks and sometimes it lingers over the first few months depending on the learning curve. I am proud to share that this time is different and the last two times have been different as well.

My anxiety levels were low when I officially started both internships during college. I had some anxiety leading up to starting because I was not sure what to expect but once I got into my placement I was fine.

I definitely experienced some anxiety leading up to my start date with this position, again it was connected with general fear of the unknown. When I actually started though my anxiety dropped off.

When I was in the professional world prior to returning to school (and therapy) my anxiety was not always well managed. I would fret over anything and everything, I never felt my work was good enough and was constantly pushing myself for perfection.

My perfectionist piece absolutely lives and breathes in professional spaces for me. These areas of my life are traditionally where I care the most about what others think. It has always felt like there is a Wrong and Right and my philosophy around the AND/Gray area has no room here.

Well not this time. I have been able to give myself so much more room while I learn and figure things out. I am not bullying myself as hard as I used to; the bully is still there but she whispers now, she used to scream and shout. I have noticed that I have a better relationship with my inner critic/bully now too so when she does pop up I am able to take care of myself and not be unwound.

Yesterday there were two items that I could not complete without reaching out to my supervisors with questions. I was bummed. I understand what to do so I wanted to be able to just do it on my own and impress both them and myself. I needed help though. I could not find a template I needed to complete one task and I was given feedback on my work for the other task that didn’t feel right to me so I needed to follow up before making what might end up being unnecessary changes.

I had a moment of feeling let down by my need for help but then I remembered, I have never done ANY OF THIS before. This is all completely new and up to this point I HAVE figured most things out on my own with minimal hand holding. I am doing great! I am not expected to know how to do everything, it is literally my first week.

I mentally patted myself on the back, sent the emails I needed to regarding my questions, and put my work away for the night as it was the end of the day.

In my past life I would not have been able to self-validate and self-soothe in this way and I would have spent the whole night worried and restless. I would have absolutely lost sleep. And for what? The next morning I would check my email, my questions would be answered, and the world would keeping turning.

So this time I validated my good work so far, relaxed with my husband, got a restful nights sleep, and when I got up this morning everything was fine.

I got my first email response and discovered that the reason I could not find the template I needed was because it was never sent to me. This was not me being inept, it was my supervisor’s error. In the past I would have been so hard on myself over my perceived inability and failure just to later find out it was someone else’s error. This time I spared myself all that grief and emotional strife and am thankful because it would have been a lot of heart ache just to discover I did everything right.

With my clients I have them rate their symptoms on a scale of 1-10, 10 being most severe; my anxiety when starting new professional ventures used to rate somewhere around an 8 or 9, now I would say at my worst I am maybe a 4 but otherwise I am a 1 or 2.

I am proud of myself. Words I never used to speak. I am proud of myself, I am doing a great job, I am following my instincts, and I am taking good care of myself.

Emotional Sun Burn

I have been talking about how overwhelmed I feel by this work around my sacral chakra and solar plexus chakra. I was telling my therapist that it feels intense like an emotional sun burn so we started talking about what my sunscreen will look like as I do this work to keep from getting burned.

After therapy yesterday I stopped by a nature trail that I used to go on as a child. I knew in my mind exactly where I wanted to go to meditate on some of what we had discussed.

When I got there the trail had changed, 25 years of weather and use will do that. The spot I wanted to get to was not easily accessible anymore, there were down trees and overgrowth. I was not deterred. I crawled under slanted oak trunks, and over fallen pines, and down an embankment through the mud and weeds to the bank of the creek. I was stunned when I got there and saw the water, it was orange and yellow, the colors of the sacral and solar plexus chakras.

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I had forgotten this from my childhood, once I saw it I remembered. I understood in that moment why I felt called to meditate about this at my old creek.

I sat down and watched the yellow and orange water gently flow and tried to visualize the energy of the water flowing through me. I watched as fish swam tirelessly against the current and realized that is how I feel. This energy wants to flow naturally in me as it is meant to but hear I am constantly fighting it, struggling against it. Inevitably the fish would surrender to the current and be carried gently down stream. I watched one fish and held my breath while it struggled because that is what the struggle feels like, it feels like that burn in your lungs from holding breath for too long but the burn is spread all over your body. The power inside me is a fire and unharnessed or disrespected it will burn me to the ground. When the fish finally surrendered so did I letting my breath go, letting the feelings of relief blanket my entire body.

When I was walking back up the hill through the mud and weeds onto what once was a path I decided I wanted to put my feet in the orange and yellow water to feel the energy, to prove to myself that I could handle these colors and not be overwhelmed.

As I climbed back over the pine trunk I cut my ankle, not enough to bleed but enough to take the top layer of skin away. I brushed it off and kept walking, picking up red and yellow leaves that called to me along the way.

When I came to the bank at the mouth of the trail I put down my bag, took off my yoga sandals, and walked towards the water. When I got close both feet became completely consumed by mud and I began to squeal in shock as the earth gave way beneath me (this holds a different kind of symbolism for me). Once I regained some footing I shimmied down a fallen trunk into the yellow-orange creek. As soon as I stepped in I felt a burn, it was coming from my ankle where I just been cut. This was my epiphany moment.

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I expected to step into this water and although it is orange and yellow, these colors that symbolize emotional overwhelm and intensity for me, I knew I would not get burned because it is water, water is soothing and cool. I was wrong, I did get burned. What I realized is that even things that would usually be comforting or soothing can feel overwhelming and burn you when you have an open wound.

The reason I feel burned under the intensity of sexual healing work is because I am covered in open wounds. In order to make peace here I have to address each wound and heal. It is not the color or the topic that feels too intense, it is the pain. It is not just one wound, it is hundreds of varying sizes.

This does not make the work feel less overwhelming but I did gain insight. I feel like I have a better understanding and can proceed now knowing exactly what my work is.

 

Animal Guide

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I am continuing this animal mediation even as we speak. I am recognizing how animal wisdom will be able to help me when I am feeling unbalanced.

A visual animal representation of my root chakra becoming unbalanced would be the gopher tortoise on it’s back. What message is present here to help me find my balance again when I am not feeling grounded.

Give myself the time I need. A gopher tortoise can correct itself on its own but it takes time, and often times determination.

You can always find safety within. When I am feeling a general feeling of disconnection or overwhelmed, all signs that my root chakra is unbalanced, I can take a moment and retreat within myself no matter where I am. While yes, the gopher tortoise has a physical home under ground the tortoise also carries his home with him thanks to this shell on his back. At any moment when he feels overwhelmed or scared or unsure he can retreat within himself until he feels safe again to reemerge. When I am out in the world my inner wisdom is my sanctuary I carry with me, it is always there when I need it.

Remember the earth. The tortoise walks slowly, methodically across the earth with intention in each step, he makes his home beneath its surface, the tortoise has a deep connection to the earth and relies on it to survive. This is no less true for me and I can rely on this connection whenever I am feeling unbalanced.

 

The mocking bird; my throat chakra. What message does this animal hold for me about speaking my truth?

Stand up for yourself/your truth. The mockingbird is territorial and will chase off birds much larger than themselves, even predators like hawks, to protect their nest. When I feel my nest (representing any part of me) is being threatened it is time to stand in my truth and set a boundary much like the mockingbird.

Be open to learning from everything around you. The throat chakra is not just about speaking, it is also about listening. It is the energy space for communication and all good communication encompasses both giving and receiving. The mocking bird is unlike other birds in that it does not sing just one song. Most birds species learn there song early on from a parent, mocking birds listen to the sounds of their environment and interpret what they hear. They are not limited to bird call either, they can mimic other animals and even cell phones. This amazing ability to listen and speak the language of their environment represents universal communication. The ability to listen intuitively and speak the universal language that all speak, love.

Don’t forget your own song. I think it is important to recognize that while it is an amazing feet to be able to listen and communicate in a language that transcends so many barriers this gift is not solely intended for others. The mocking bird was given its name because of this amazing gift it has to interpret others so accurately. That is all well and good, it is of equal importance for me to know what my song is and sing my song for me as well. I do not want to be labeled like the mocking bird and be known just for my ability to communicate with others. I need turn my gift inward and listen/speak my own wisdom as well.