I am Going to Write Something True.

secret chapter

Let me first clear the air about the title of this piece. Me sitting down and saying I am going to write something true does not mean that everything I have written before this post was false. Tonight I felt the familiar tug to write and when I sat down to start this is the title that flashed across my mind. In that moment I knew it was time. I am ready to be seen in a truth I have not shared.

In this post I am going to share a chapter of my story I have never read out loud before. I have held this pain, I rescued this piece of myself many many moons ago, and now I am ready to share this small piece of a guarded part of my soul.

When I was 23, almost exactly this time of year 10 years ago I was raped.

I was raped by a friend. I did not call it rape, I called it complicated.

Complicated in that I blamed myself, complicated in that I knew him personally so who would believe me?, complicated in that when I told one of my best friends the very next day she also blamed me and minimized it – you should have known better, you know how he is.

He was excused and I was blamed. I never spoke of it again. I threw away my ripped shirt and bra, I made peace with the fact that I was never getting that missing earring back, and put healing ointment on my ripped ear that the earring had been torn from.

I got tested a month later and every month after that for 6 months to ensure my body was safe from what happened. He used a condom but still, this felt like the one way I could control something when everything else that had happened that night made me feel powerless.

By 23 I was so skilled at disconnecting from my body in times of trauma that it did not take me long to adjust and “get back to normal” as if nothing ever happened.

As if nothing ever happened is the lie I have been telling myself since childhood, I knew how to play this game.

I don’t know what my feelings are towards him. He shared his darkness with me that night, AND I know he is more than just that moment, he is more than just that darkness. AND I do not ever have to be okay with it.

I can know all of this AND I am not obligated to forgive and forget. My healing does not depend on my forgiving him or forgetting anything. My healing does not depend on him at all. My healing happened when I finally went back to that moment and rescued that girl who I abandoned that night when I was scared and in pain. It happened when I allowed myself to finally hold the pain, and shame, and fear, and rage I had spent a decade ignoring.

I am one of countless women who have experienced sexual trauma. We each narrate and make sense of our story and experience in different ways. This is the first time I am sharing this piece of myself so openly and while I am not sitting in shame about allowing myself to be seen in such a raw form, writing it and this sharing feels clunky.

Many of our stories we tell so often that they have a natural flow and ease rolling off the tongue or falling from our finger tips. My truth is: trauma stories rarely do. They feel clunky and misshapen, sometimes uneven and without that flow. I believe that is because these are our unspoken truths, we have never given these experiences words so when we finally try I think it takes time to find the words that fit, and sometimes there just aren’t any words for experiences – that is okay too.

This is my raw, unfiltered truth:

I was raped by a man who I know now was never my friend. I was shamed into silence by myself and (knowingly or unknowingly) by my friend. It may have taken me a decade but I went back for myself and I saved that girl. I took that shame and like an alchemist transformed into love. Nothing that I have ever done or that has ever been done to me in this life has made me unlovable. I am love.

 

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You’re Not Having a Good Day

That is what my husband said to me after I experienced my 3rd major calamity of the day. I agreed. While I was having a rough time my clumsy alter ego, Calamity Jill, was really living it up!

It all started this afternoon.

I drove across town, roughly 35 minutes, to meet with a new family I will be working with and unfortunately the appointment did not take place. I got stood up. No big deal, sometimes wires get crossed. I left a voicemail after waiting outside their home for a bit and once they get back to me I will reschedule. Since my schedule was suddenly open I decided to pay some family a visit who happened to live nearby.

When getting out of my car at my family’s home I turned funny and managed to spill my entire La Croix into my play therapy bag of toys and books. Good Grief!

I went inside with my play therapy bag and spent time catching up with family while I cleaned out and Lysol wiped the contents.

No big deal, these things happen (especially to me).

The real mess took place once I got home.

I let Lu out, brought her back in and started working on some documentation for work. About an hour later I was done and started picking up around the house. I went into the office briefly to grab a canvas and to put away some work documents and went on about my business for the next hour until my husband arrived home.

Upon his arrival he called out for the dog which struck me as weird because she ALWAYS meets him at the door. Maybe she is sleeping in the bedroom and didn’t hear him? We both started calling for her: nothing. My husband asked me if I accidentally left her outback. I panicked! Oh God I hope not! It had rained- hard- in the last hour since I saw Lu, there is no way I could have left her out in the rain.  I opened the backdoor, desperately trying to temper my rising anxiety and terror, and starting whistling and calling for her: nothing. In the background I heard  my husband still calling for her in the house. The terror was really starting to grow. Did she get outside? Is she running the street with no collar and no microchip? Is she dead in a gutter? Where is my baby?

Just as I was reaching the point of hysteria she came bounding around the corner and jumped up to kiss me hello. Oh dear God Lucy where were you???

My husband came around the corner and said I needed to get a take a look in the office. This is what I found:

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I didn’t even see her follow me in when I had been in the office an hour earlier. Luckily some ripped up paper and a destroyed pine cone was of little significance compared to what she could have gotten into while accidentally locked in the office during a thunder storm for an hour. My poor baby. This is what anxiety looks like. I felt like the worst mother on earth. I can only imagine the panic and abandonment she was feeling. I got on her level and we cuddled for a few minutes. Then I declared the rest of the night The Night of Lucy! to make it up to her (or at least try).

The night of Lucy started with a nice big puppy dinner. Then she and I went for a walk at the park just the two of us where we chased frogs and played in mud puddles. When we got home I carried her into the bathroom and placed her in the tub to wash her muddy feet. After her foot bath she got a treat AND a new toy. My husband and I have a bag of toys that we bought on sale a while back and there are tucked away for Christmas. A screw up like today definitely warranted a early Christmas present.

Lu was thrilled. She and I played chase and fetch and then.. catastrophe. I was ramping up to throw her new toy down the hall for her to chase after and she got a bit to excited. This resulted in Lu jumping on my husband who was minding his own business eating shrimp ceviche on the couch. Lu’s foot landed right in his bowl of fish and vegetables dumping the whole thing into his lap before she ran off down the hall to get her toy.

My husband just sat there in his fish staring at me. He said nothing. He didn’t need to, his face said it all. I quickly saved him from the soggy fish blanket (that thankfully saved him from fish REALLY landing in his lap), got him a new throw, and cleaned up the rest of the mess. He just looked at me, laughed, and said You are not having a good day.

No kidding. I can’t get anything right today.

Suddenly Fuel lyrics flashed across my brain:

Spilled her coffee, broke a shoe lace. She smeared the lipstick on her face. Slammed the door and said I’m sorry I had a bad day again.

Some days that song is my anthem.

Later I sat in my husband’s lap, tears rolling down my cheeks; do you think she loves me even when I get it wrong?

Yes.

Do you love me even when I get it wrong?

Yes.

I am going to get it wrong. I am going to fail. I am still loveable.

While writing this post and sitting in my shame and embarrassment even while trying to minimize these feelings by finding the humor in the situation (a favorite defense mechanism of mine), I thought of Virginia Woolf. More specifically I thought of what Virginia Woolf said about women who tell the truth:

A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life.

I am a clumsy, forgetful, sometimes all together absent minded woman. I am woman who gets it wrong and sometimes hurts the ones she loves most in the world. I fail and I get it wrong and experience excruciating shame as a result from time to time. AND I stand in these truths and love myself, even when I feel so incredibly unlovable. This is my power. This is my strength. Love. My ability to stand in my truth and love myself there.

 

Candida

I am still recovering from my junk food bender a few weeks ago. For years food has been my numbing tool of choice. I had a rather extended relationship with shopping, a brief fling with different drugs, another extended relationship with social media/the internet.. The one constant has been food though. Problematic relationships with other numbing tools may come and go but food, food is always there, riding shot gun, just waiting for the cue from me to step in and provide the void needed to consume whatever overwhelm I do not want to feel.

This is not one of my prettier truths. A truth it is though, and this truth belongs to me. To love myself here I have to first own it, and with reluctance and shame I do.

For the moment food and I are okay again and our relationship is balanced; I am not trying to control food and food is not stepping in to numb/control me. That balance is about to experience another shift.

As a result of the two week long binge I went on last month my gut is now completely out of whack.

Last year my allergies became so intolerable I finally broke down and went to a specialist. I have had allergy issues since I was at the end of high school, in recent years it has been hard to manage. The year I got married it was so bad I thought there was a chance I would not be able to wear make-up on my wedding day due to my constantly itchy watery eyes.

So I saw the allergist, did the scratch test and some blood work, and discovered the underlying issue was candida overgrowth in my gut. The solution: 1 year of allergy shots once a week (no thanks!) or 3 months on the candida diet to rebalance my gut. I chose the latter.

The candida diet sucked. It felt super complicated, I went through terrible withdrawals, my mood was over all over the place. It was not fun AND it absolutely did the trick.

My allergies cleared up, my symptoms of IBS (that I would never talk about out of embarrassment) went away, my mood improved, and I felt more alert/clear headed.

I went off the diet and started reintroducing certain foods to my diet while others I have given up permanently because of the way they make me feel. Mushrooms for example, I have a major mold allergy – mushrooms are no good for me.

In the last few weeks I have seen the signs that my candida issue is an issue again. The texture of my nails, my mood, bloat, craving certain foods that I know cause a reaction/overgrowth issue, and most of all severe allergy symptoms even with my meds.

So I am restarting my efforts to bring down the overgrowth and restore my gut to healthy functioning. I am not hitting the issue full force like I did last time. This time I am doing it for about a month, compared to 3 months last time. I am not going to be completely rigid about following “the rules”, I am just going to be mindful about avoiding foods that feed the candida in my gut.

When I was spiraling last month I allowed myself to have my moment with food because I knew I could stop. I knew I was struggling AND I knew I would not continue to struggle. I believe that I will get to a point where I can experience overwhelm, and struggle, and pain AND not feel the need to rely on numbing to get me through. I am not there yet and that is okay. I can see my progress. I am aware of my emotions, I am aware of my numbing, AND I am making a conscience effort to avoid judgment for how I take care of myself.

I am still figuring this out and these are darker parts of myself that I am working with. What is important is that I am showing up and trying to work with them. Rather than shutting down in my shame and judging myself for this numbing behavior, I am showing up in compassion and curiosity and trying to get know myself better here so I can love myself well in this space.

At the end of the day eating well or not eating well is not the thing that will make me feel better or worse. I cannot cure this with kale the same way I cannot cure it with chocolate. It is not about the food, it is about me and my relationship with myself. It is about showing up for the piece of me that is suffering instead of abandoning her in her pain. Loving myself well is the only cure to what ails me, that is my truth. Nothing from the outside can make this feel better; whether that be love/validation from another person, food of any kind, medication, my career, having children, my material possessions. That is just not how it works. It is inside work.

So I will mend the parts of my body that need mending, once again find my balance, and travel into that dark emotional space of pain to find whoever is hiding there needing to be seen and loved. So often self-love is a rescue mission, and today I am here to do that work.

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Getting It Wrong: Shadow Work

A week or so ago I wrote a post that I was so embarrassed by after the fact that I deleted it. First time ever in all my years of writing that I straight up deleted something. This is not the first time I have felt embarrassed by myself after the fact.

I have a whole other blog that holds five years of writing and you better believe I evolved quite a bit in five years, the early stuff is embarrassing to the point of nightmarish. I never deleted any of it though because that is who I was at that time and I will not dishonor that girl by hiding her, that was my truth at the time, I own that, for better AND for worse.

So fast forward. I got it so wrong the other week and I was almost so completely destroyed by how wrong I was that I deleted a post. I started to go in and edit it to correct my mistake but I realized that didn’t feel right, I also realized that I was not comfortable leaving it up as is SO I decided to start from scratch, write it over with my new truth included.

So a week or so ago my husband called me in the morning after he left for work to inform me that there was a gopher tortoise in the road that needed help before it was run over. I immediately started putting pants on.

As I walked outside, still on the phone with hubs I asked him if he was sure it was a tortoise because I know better than to mess with turtles, some are mean, especially the snappers we have here in Florida. He was reasonably sure it was a tortoise and when I saw it I knew for sure it was NOT a soft shell snapper (which are no joke with their aggressiveness) so I went along with this assumption of it being a tortoise.

The thing is, I wasn’t just going along with the assumption of it being a gopher tortoise, I convinced myself that it was a gopher tortoise and that it was a sign from the universe because I had just had a meditation a few days prior where I identified the gopher tortoise as my animal totem for my root chakra. Now suddenly one was appearing before me a few days later (after I had not seen one since I was a child). I got so caught up in my spiritual place the truth is I was not actually experiencing this interaction with this animal from a place of grounded realism.

I was able to help the little guy over to the park next to our home, which was the direction he had been heading, and once we got there he was trying to get past the fence that circles the pond so I helped him get there and he quickly scooted off into the pond.

Here is where I got it wrong, devastatingly wrong!

  1. My sign from the Universe was not in fact a sign from the Universe. This was not a gopher tortoise, it was one of the painted water turtles that live in our pond.

Now this is an absolute blessing and I am BEYOND grateful for this fact because:

2. Gopher tortoise cannot swim!

Legit, if my turtle friend had been a tortoise than my “helping” would have literally killed him.

I have never EVER been so fucking thankful to get anything wrong in my entire life. The way I figured all of this out was a few nights after helping my little friend I started thinking about the gopher tortoise’s from my childhood and realized: Wait a second, they live in burrows in the ground, I never saw one near the water, can they even swim?

A quick google search confirmed what the shadows of my mind already knew: no, they cannot.

My brain exploded.

Oh my God I killed it! It drowned and it is all my fault!

I was beside myself. I was sick with shame and guilt.

I spent the next I don’t even know how long researching every kind of tortoise/turtle that resides in the central Florida area. It was apparent almost immediately that my little friend was not in fact a gopher tortoise, nothing about the shell shape, texture, and coloring matched (thank goodness I took photos of him so I had something to compare to the pictures I was finding). This fact did little to ease my mind however. I needed to know that whatever he was he was able to swim. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want to kill a gopher tortoise, I didn’t want to kill anything!

I finally found my match and with relief my husband confirmed my picture to the picture online. The little friend I helped was in fact a turtle, a turtle that swims, the same kind of turtle that lives in the pond next to our home.

The moment I was able to finally breathe knowing that I had not contributed to the drowning of an innocent creature it was time for me to take a hard look in the mirror and address how wrong I got this situation and how to be more mindful and aware in the future.

  1. As well intentioned as I was in helping the turtle get to where I thought he wanted to go, I should have stopped at getting him out of the road. That was enough. Getting him to safety was enough. I should not have interfered past that point.
  2. This speaks not only to my shadow piece around arrogance but also to my shadow of denial and spirituality. I know, and have always known, that gopher tortoises cannot swim, I grew up next to their burrows, I know they are land dwelling creatures with claws for digging, not fins for swimming. Yet I allowed my “spiritual moment” to completely cloud this knowledge I possess because I thought I was having this profound moment with this animal.

Wake the fuck up girl and do no harm! This is a perfect example of why it is important to have your enlightenment and spiritual awakening AND keep yourself grounded and tethered to the earth/reality. I was arrogant to not only be so sure I knew it was a tortoise just because I wanted it to be because if it was that would mean something, but to also ASSUME I knew what was best for the animal. I was in denial to not make these connections sooner; that tortoises do not swim and that is wasn’t even a tortoise. And this is all true because of my shadow around spirituality. Lesson learned.

I clearly do not have a well established relationship with my shadows of arrogance, denial, and spirituality because now that I am facing these truths I am sitting in shame. I was in an absolute shame spiral when I did start to put all this together. I got this so wrong and I am absolutely ashamed of myself. The phrase that keeps flashing across my mind is: You should have known better. That is the worst!

I really need to have a I show myself love moment right now.

I show myself love when I get it fantastically wrong.
I show myself love when I feel ashamed.
I show myself love when I do not want to see the truth because the truth is painful.
I show myself love when I dare to be honest about my mistakes and failures and be seen as the imperfect being that I am.
I show myself love when I am doing my best to love my shadow pieces and invite them home.
I show myself love when my good intentions fall short and injure others.

You are okay girl, you are doing okay.

all parts welcome

 

So Sure So Wrong

Have you ever been sure of something? You were absolutely positive about something, your mind was made up, this is the way it is. Have you ever been wrong? I have. A LOT.

When I was 6 or 7 I was absolutely certain that I had the ins and outs of human digestion figured out. I remember standing in the dining room telling my brother while he ate his lunch, See this is how it works; you eat your food and then it travels through your body down to your knee where there is a trampoline, the food bounces off of the trampoline into your tummy and that’s the end. Then my Mom walked in the room and complimented me on my vivid imagination as she explained how tummies actually work. I was quite disappointed to learn there was no food trampoline in my knee, my body seemed so much more exciting with a secret knee trampoline.

I just asked my husband, who is laying in bed next to me doing his math art on his laptop, if he had a funny anecdote about getting it wrong he would like to share. He reminded me of a situation that took place not too long ago.

A few months ago my husband had a so sure so wrong moment regarding the blankets in our home. My husband is from Illinois where they have real winters. When he and I moved into together I realized this man comes with a lot of blankets. They are all from back home where in the winter they are needed, here in Florida where it can get in the 90’s on Christmas, not so much.

So a few months ago, on a particularly cold day, my husband and I were making our blanket burrows on the couches and getting ready to watch one of the Harry Potter movies together. My husband comes strolling out of the bedroom with my quilt at which point I immediately objected; Hey man, lay off my quilt, I was going to use that for my nest. My husband proceeds to tell me that it is not my quilt, it is his quilt, as he begins making his burrow with it.

At first I thought he was just being an ass and telling me to deal with it that he was going to use my quilt. My inner 5 year old started having a tantrum, she did not want to share her quilt, and my inner feminist was ramping up to verbally kick his ass; no man is going to take my shit and get away with it! When I opened my mouth again in protest I realized he wasn’t being an ass, he was being serious, he honestly thought it was his quilt.

In his defense this mistake could be easily made for someone who is not being super observant. My husband has a quilt that was made for him by his aunt which has brown, green, and tan box pattern on it. I have a quilt made for me by Target which also has a brown and tan on it. Mine however has turquoise as the third color and is a paisley design rather than the boxes and rectangles of my husband’s quilt.

So now I am explaining to my husband, No honey look at the pattern, this is my quilt yours looks like X,Y, and Z. He was not budging. He was absolutely adamant, so much so in fact that he did not even believe me that I had a quilt. He thought the two quilts were one in the same and that there was only one brown quilt and it belonged to him.

At this point I bet him a dollar that I was right. My husband knows what this means, most people who know me know what this means. I only bet a dollar when I am 100% certain of something and I almost never lose a dollar bet. For me the dollar bet is the equivalent of swearing on the bible. He knew I meant business. Usually when I pull out the big guns on a debate and bet a dollar he immediately folds because he knows he has lost, she knows the truth and I am only guessing, time to surrender. Not this time. The man was sticking to his guns.

I was done talking, time for action. We halted all prep for cozy movie day and I made him come with me as we searched the house for his quilt. While we searched I told him the story of how I bought that quilt online in my early twenties with two shams and a sheet set, he still was not convinced. Low and behold we found his quilt tucked away in the armoire in the guest room. Needless to say my husband was eating humble pie the rest of the day.

Sometimes we get it wrong and it is not cute or funny. Sometimes it is humiliating, sometimes it can be a very real problem.

Like being certain that it is clear and safe to change lanes when driving to then discover a car in the blind spot that we nearly collide with, terrifying.

Or any scenario where we are so sure and then so wrong in front of people we would never want to be that exposed in front of; like at work or with our in-laws.

There is certainly a shadow present with certitude and that is when our assurance of something crosses into arrogance. I was thinking about this when it comes to truth speaking. My truth is a mixture of belief and opinion, it is what I personally have decided is true for me in my life. When I speak my truth I feel liberated and bold, I am a lioness standing my ground. And this is all well and good AND it is always important for me to remember that my truth belongs to me. No one is required to agree or validate me in my truth just like it is not okay for me to assert my truth onto others with the expectation of this.

While in a group recently I noticed there was a lot of truth speaking going on which is beautiful AND it occurred to me that those standing in their truth may have actually believed that their truth, that belongs solely to them, was objective fact. I saw this as a sign for me to step back and acknowledge where in my life am I guilty of doing the same. I see my shadow of arrogance, I know where my work is with this shadow.

Always thankful for messages and mirrors that hold me accountable for my work. Tonight I welcome this shadow home, I am sure I will have much to learn while building my relationship with this part of myself.

Carrying My Brick

This morning I sat in a rocker in the sunroom of our home with a mug of decaf and my thoughts. I was thinking about some of the women that inspire me. The women whose books I have read and said to myself Me Too. Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle Melton, Cheryl Strayed. Women who were lost and found and hurt and loved and honest.

My husband and I listen to a podcast that is all about story telling. Week after week we listen to people across the nation, and sometimes across the world, tell their story on this radio show; and week after week I wait for a story like mine, a story that will allow me to say Me Too. This weekend while we were driving to my parents house we decided not to listen to the podcast and instead road in silence, each of us with our thoughts. It was in that 30 minute car ride that I had my epiphany, maybe I am the one who is supposed to tell the story. I am waiting in the sidelines for someone else to tell it, maybe I am that someone.

I don’t know what that will look like yet. Maybe it will be me sharing it here on my blog, maybe it will be me standing on a stage, maybe it will be me finally standing in my truth in front of my family, maybe it will be leading a support group for women like me. I don’t know.

I do know I am scared. The very thought of truly allowing myself to be seen is terrifying. That is what brought me back to these women, Brene, and Glennon, and Cheryl. These women paved a path by sharing their stories, a path for the next woman to walk down. Each woman who brings her brick to this path and allows herself to be seen in her truth and share her story extends the path one brick further for the next woman who will walk the path and bring her brick. I understand now that we are all connected, this path belongs to all of us and it is important that I bring my brick in love, without fear so the next woman will have the courage to bring hers. This is the path of women, the path of love and worthiness, the path of connection and infinite enoughness. This is the path we are called to walk and with courage I will pick up my brick and place it on the path in the spot that was created just for me knowing that one day my brick will support future generations of women bringing their bricks to claim their rightful place on this path of love.

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Womanhood

tired

I painted this picture today that made me feel completely overwhelmed. It brings up all these emotions around sexuality, and passion, and this energy and power I am supposed to have as a woman. Standing in these energy spaces do not make me feel strong and empowered, they make me feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

Suddenly I felt that flash of passion rise in me, it was frustration and resentment.

I sit in these women’s circles and allow myself to wear certain social labels such as feminist, and the energy behind all of it is a celebration of womanhood. That is just not my experience though, not completely at least. There is an “AND” there.

I am proud to be a woman AND I believe women are powerful AND I feel overwhelmed by my experiences as a woman.

My truth is that womanhood is not something that I stepped into, there was no sacred, beautiful right-of-passage. For me it felt like womanhood/becoming a woman was something that happened to me.

Before I even had the opportunity to process the fact that my body was changing the boys around me were taking notice. I never got to experience these changes and try to understand my new self before I was being grabbed at and taken from verbally, physically, and energetically.

I think of the idea behind the Red Tent, it was a place of sanctuary where women could take counsel with one another and celebrate their magic and be free from the shackles of womanhood placed upon them by society during their sacred cycle.

I grieve for the time I was not given. I grieve for the space that was never there. I grieve for all the parts of myself who have never gotten to call my body home. I feel like a child that has been trying to play catch up in a land of women.

I am tired of running, I am tired of having no where to call home. I am tired of being tired. I am just so breathlessly exhausted.