What is Holding Your Pain for You?

A major part of my journey towards growth and wholeness has been unlearning, or as I call it, Unraveling.

Over the years I have coped with my pain in harmful ways. Harmful to me and harmful to others.

I had trouble holding my pain so I tried to gift it to others through projection.
I have had a long affair with food as a way to numb pain.
I used alcohol at times but it was never my numbing agent of choice.
I also dabbled with certain drugs, again, not my go-to though.
After I was raped I actually used sex to numb because I thought it would help me feel back in control, it didn’t.
My number one harmful coping device was shopping though. Above all else I LOVED to shop.

Shopping was great because it did the job of numbing the pain so I didn’t have to feel my feelings AND it is a socially acceptable action so no one would be trying to intervene and raise concerns. Yep I flew under the radar for years, I was just another woman with a closet full of clothes.

My shopping addiction had been riding shot gun with me for years by the time my husband came into the picture. This is when it started getting complicated. He was the first person to ever energetically hold up a mirror and say, I think we have a problem here.

I had been avoiding that mirror for over a decade – Now this guy shows up and wants to love me and care for me by telling the truth? Who the hell does he think he is?

Even with his compassionate honesty and my coming to terms with a really uncomfortable truth, it still took 6 years to get a handle on my unhealthy relationship with shopping. What I learned in the process is that it wasn’t just the act of shopping that I had to address, it was my deeply unhealthy relationship with money in general.

Since the age of 18 when I got my first job I had been using money to hold my pain for me. Just like I used food, and alcohol, and drugs, and sex, and even other people through projection. I was doing everything I could to run from my truths and NOT hold the pain they carry.

Last year I worked on my relationship with money, that work continues, and it has changed everything. It is part of what got me to the place of actively wanting to hold my pain, I know now this is the only way to the other side.

I have had a few epiphanies since unraveling my relationship with money. One being that less stuff actually brings me more joy and peace. Another a-ha moment was paying attention to what I spend money on when I have a more connected, intentional relationship with money – art supplies. It is not clothes or shoes or bags or anything to impact my appearance, it is art which is one way my soul communicates.

So, like the alchemist I am, I am turning my pain into something beautiful to share through art. My healed relationship with money is going to support me in this venture, so are my own words from this blog. I understand now that nothing and no one is meant to hold my pain for me AND it is okay to allow myself to be supported. Money can support me, my writing, my art, those whom I love – they can all support me as I hold my pain.

I believe I am stepping across a threshold into the life I was meant for.

This is BIG.

I am grateful for the knowledge that love heals and I no longer have to run from myself. I can hold my pain and all of my truths in love and be WHOLE.

 

what is holding your pain

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Running Through an Open Door

My lightening bolt hit almost immediately after finishing my last post.

Killer still hurts because I am trying to belong somewhere I no longer belong.

My family of origin is Catholic Republican. I grew up surrounded by the following messages:

No sex before marriage.
Your female body is inherently shameful.
As a woman you have no power.
Any woman who has sex out of wedlock is a slut.
Your female body is inherently wrong.
As a woman you belong to your father or husband, never, not ever to yourself.
Your female body is inherently bad.
The only thing worse than sex out of wedlock is pregnancy out of wedlock.
The only only thing worse than pregnancy out of wedlock is abortion.
Women who have abortions are KILLERS.

HOLY SHIT. Literally. This is religious, men-making-rules-that-disempower-women, bullshit.

I am NOT Catholic. I am NOT Republican. NONE OF THIS IS MY FUCKING TRUTH.

I would never believe any of this ridiculous bullshit about another woman, so why have I been carrying around these lies about myself?

I do not belong here, in your untruths, in your religion, in your politics. I do not belong anywhere that sees me as less worthy. I AM WORTHY. I AM MY OWN. I AM POWERFUL.

I release my need to belong in this place I do NOT belong. I am picking up ALL of myself and walking through that – now open – door to LOVE. I am no longer on the outside looking in.

I am not empty. I am not shameful or wrong or bad. I am not a slut. I AM NOT A KILLER.

I am a mother. I am a woman full to the brim with my sacred power. I am the owner of all of me, no one owns me. I am BIG. I AM BIG. I am the fucking hero of this story – I will always do the saving.

Come on sweet girl, you do not belong here anymore, we are going home.

my baby saved

Home in My Truth

I want to share with you one of my most sacred stories.

 

It is a story of pain. of grief. of fear. of shame. AND it is a story of love.

It is time. Time to LOVE myself openly. Time to feel any and all things that I feel about this OPENLY, FREELY, PUBLICLY, TRUTHFULLY.

With my hand at my heart I share with you something precious.

I was sixteen years old when my relationship with motherhood began.

I was afraid.

I wanted to be small. I remember that specifically.

I wanted to be small, a child, innocent, not capable of creation. I wanted to hide, I wanted to be saved, I wanted to disappear.

I was afraid.

I told my mother. I stared at the blue of my bed, tears in my eyes, and I slipped away.

She told my father.. I am not mad, I am disappointed.

They made the decision for me. I was a child, their child. They were saving me, I was letting them. I said nothing.

I was not saved.

My father was noticeably absent. He dropped my mother and I at the clinic and left. My mother dressed me that day. Like a child, she picked out my denim overalls and pale pink shirt, and my hat. It was important that I wear a hat so she could hide my face from the protesters. She was saving me.

I was not saved.

A woman took me into an office and talked to me about sex, how the female body works. My mother asked if the talk was necessary, she thought I was too young to be hearing it.

Years later looking back at the parts of this story I consciously remember, it amazes me how powerful denial can be.

If I treat her like a child and dress her like a child, she will be a child again and we will make this go away and she can be my baby again.

I am sorry Mom. I am sorry we had to experience this together. I am also sorry that I can no longer carry the burden of these untruths for you.

THIS HAPPENED.

I was not given anything for pain or comfort.

I know that I felt everything but I remember almost nothing.

I remember feeling empty.

An indescribable emptiness. The floor opened up and ate me up whole. This is where my largest void was created – in this room with my feet in stirrups where I was made empty.

This is where I became hard, rigid, AFRAID. This is where I was made empty.

I could not love myself anymore. The darkness enveloped me. It did not creep in slowly, it swallowed me whole in one gulp. Then I was gone, all that was left was empty.

Empty and shame and fear.

There are so many stories in this story. This pain is so layered there were times I never thought I would be able to unravel enough to tell any part of this story with clarity. I will start here, with this truth; when I was sixteen I became a mother, a mother who would never hold her baby.

This is my start. My BIGGEST moment. I am allowing YOU to see me in my most naked state of truth and love and pain. I do not know who you are, I do not know if you are safe.

What I do know is that I AM SAFE. I am safety.

I am no longer empty. I went so deep into myself to rescue this mother who was abandoned. I love her without exception. Without fear, without shame. I am in love with her and this is not dangerous, it is one of my most sacred truths; I love my darkness.

Nikoli

Re-Defining Safety

Fear, shame, and doubt popped up this morning to tell me untruths about the danger of what I am doing. They were warning me about the calamity that will come from allowing myself to walk openly out in the world with my heart exposed. What you are doing is dangerous – you will only get hurt! 

I scooped my little ones into my lap and held them close as I examined where these messages were coming from. What I did not do was believe the messages. I did not shrink. I can no longer pretend to be what I am not, and I am NOT small.

I started to wonder what these littles learned about love and about feeling things – any things, all things.

To love openly is dangerous.
To feel what we’re feeling openly, freely, publicly, truthfully is dangerous.

This is where disconnection happens. Right here in these untruths.

This is where we shut off our heart, our soul, our creativity, our ability to be with each other and experience connection.

We become hard, rigid, afraid, empty. We create a void and the only thing that can fill that void is the exact thing we are running from, the thing we told ourselves was dangerous. Love is the missing piece. Allowing ourselves to feel what we feel without shame, without fear – this is the only way to fill the void and reconnect with our truth about who and what we are. Some people call this our essence, some people say light and love, some people say sacred, some say holy. I like all of these words, right now the word that has been coming up for me is color. I am bright, boundless, exploding, illustrious color. The word is not what matters, the feeling that rises up when you know you are home in your truth – that is what matters.

When any part of me wants to play small I think I am ultimately looking for safety. I have to keep showing all parts of me over and over and over that we can be BIG and safe. I am comfort. I am love. I am safety – These arms, this heart, this lap, these words. I am safety AND I am NOT small.

I want to take a moment to recognize the monumental growth I have experienced when it comes to holding myself in love and sacredness. In years past when shame came to visit (multiple times a day) it was a tornado of an experience and I was always sucked in. Today it took me a matter of moments to say out loud, No. This is not my truth., and then hold the pieces of myself that were experiencing fear, shame, and doubt in love and gentleness. I am a good mother and all of me feels that truth deeply because of the way I have learned to love and nurture myself.

What I am doing is not dangerous, it is the most courageous thing I have ever done.

Sweet girl, 

You are. You know. All you have to do is trust.

daisy

REdefining “Successful” Communication

As I sit here in front of the next hard thing I have decided I am going to do I am sitting  in the energy and knowledge that being BIG is so hard.

That is absolutely my small self speaking. She is not used to the amount of work that goes into standing in my truth and being seen full-time. It was something I played with before, and it was hard then too, but being fully committed to owning my value and worthiness is absolutely a full-time job. Right now I feel well-loved AND worn out.

I have to go through it though, there are parts of me to rescue and important love on the other side that is waiting for me.

This particular hard thing has to do with setting boundaries and speaking my truth with love.

There are people in my life I already practice with, I have had mixed results.

Usually my level of success has to do with the other person’s ability to meet me in the energy of truth-speaking and willingness to do hard things. Not everyone is ready for this kind of communication.

You know what, I need to call bullshit on myself.

That is not true. My success does not in anyway depend on the other person. I need to redefine success if I am giving the other person the power over it.

Okay, so when my success was dependent on the other person (when I was playing small) I was defining success as the conversation going well (me feeling heard, the other person being receptive and responsive, and the interaction leading to deeper connection in the relationship).

Successful communication (wherein I set a boundary and speak my truth in love from my BIG place) is defined by me setting the boundary clearly and concisely, speaking my truth compassionately (which means holding myself in compassion and being kind). That is it. Success is defined by my action, not the reaction of the other person.

So going back to my previous statement.. There are people in my life I already practice with, I have had mixed results.

Under my new definition for success this is no longer a true statement. I have been successfully communicating boundaries through compassionate truth speaking for years.

It is not always well received but that part of it belongs to other person, I don’t have to hold that. Their reaction does not diminish my success in showing up, being seen, and not playing small.

Now that I have unraveled my former definition for successful communication and REdefined it I feel much more confident going forward with my next hard thing.

When I was small I was not taking credit for my success, I was giving all my power to the other person. Now that I have taken my power back I can clearly see that I already have a long track record of success and I am fully capable of DOING HARD THINGS!

I can do hard things because I am not small, I am BIG. I am the hero.

I am a Leader

Here are a few words that have been used to describe me as a child; willful, tenacious, ring-leader, bossy, strong willed, stubborn.

Not all of these words have a natural negative connotation so let me be clear; they were absolutely meant as criticism.

Any attempts to get me to conform were met with fierce opposition.

I bucked every Sunday at being forced to attend church. I refused to get out of bed, I hid from my  mother who chased me with a hair brush, I squirmed and screamed as I was forcibly stuffed into tights and a lacy dress. If my parents were lucky I slept through mass; otherwise I spent my time sitting on the floor between pews poking the feet of the parishioners in front of us, or banging the song book against the wood of the pew.

My parents were relentless week after week, as was I. This was an ongoing battle throughout my entire childhood.

My willfulness did not apply exclusively to my resistance to religion. This energy carried over in other areas garnering me further unwanted attention.

The boys of my youth did not like my loud, decisive way of being. The specific group of boys I am referring to were raised strictly along the gender lines of boys will boys and girls will be ladies.

Well no one has EVER accused me of being a lady.

So once again someone who insisted I be something other than what I am attempted to (literally) beat me into submission. Submit I did not, taking the beating I did.

I come back to reflect on all of this now because motherhood is teaching me many things about myself and one of the things I recently discovered is that I am a leader.

While on so many levels I have always known this, it is also a truth I have run from.

Being a leader is something for BIG people and when I was playing small this label terrified me. As a child I was a leader, I refused to follow, refused to give in, refused to be shoved into a box of someone else’s making. I refused until the pressure became too much. My inside resolve temporarily crushed by the outside force.

Now, coming home to myself and rescuing that bad-ass little girl, I call her Scout, I am able to speak my truth: I am a leader.

I know this is true because;

I bristle at the idea of self-help books, I will not be saved by someone else’s truth. Even if my truth ends up mirroring the truth of others, and I know it will because I am not the only person experiencing my awakening, I still have to come to it on my own.

I do not belong in religion. Religion to me = Rules. My relationship with my creator has no rules. Love and connection are the language of the Universe, as long as I stay in tune with that Sacred Truth I experience spiritual alignment.

I do not belong under my mother’s control. Or anyone’s for that matter. I will not play small to fit in to boxes that would serve to suffocate. I will not willingly put on shackles and restraints to comply with familial expectations/social norms.

I do not belong in a box of anyone’s creation, I do not belong in restraints.

I release all the lies that I believed about myself.

I reclaim my truth: I AM strong-willed. I AM tenacious. I AM a leader. I AM strong willed. I AM stubborn when it counts. I AM the BOSS of me. I AM my own.

These are my truths now and I embrace them in love, not shame.

I am not small.

I am BIG. I am POWERFUL. I am a LEADER.

I am the hero of this story.

I am a leader

 

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.