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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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

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

 

Creating My Web

All of the dysfunction with my family of origin, my experiences so far as momma, and the dreams I keep having, have led to a pretty incredible vision board this year.

I vision board every year. It helps me to have a visual of the path I am on, even when the path is not clear. Vision boarding is an intuitive process, I do not always understand everything that comes out when I am creating but by the year’s end all becomes clear.

Because I am done playing small this year I knew I needed to go big with my board. If I am saying that I am BIG I need to see that truth visually represented. Not to mention being BIG is hard work, there is a lot that goes into it, I needed plenty of space for all the hard that I am mastering.

When I finished the board, to the degree that it is finished, I saw so much symbolism in the shape I created.

I see a flower, its petals occupying the negative space on the board. To me this represents growth. I was once a seed planted in the dark in the mud, now with all the healing I have been experiencing I am finally breaking the surface.

I also see a spider web. This symbolism came about after discussing with my therapist that I had been seeing spiders everywhere. She said that she had been seeming them as well and when we looked up the symbolism behind the spider it had to do with creating your dreams, making them realities. She also felt that the web was significant because in my board I have a very clear center, that is me. Without that dedicated center the web does not hold up. Essentially, in order for me to do all this BIG work I have to be firmly connected to myself or it does not hold up.

In two short months I have accomplished things in my relationship with myself and in relationships with others that for years has seemed impossible.

I know now that impossible was just another lie I used to tell myself when I was small.

On my vision board there is a section left incomplete. That section comes later this year after I attend a healing retreat that I know is going to knock down and shatter my final wall. On the other side of that wall is EVERYTHING. On the other side of that wall is my life’s purpose and my work going forward. I will complete the last section later this year and it will lead to bigger intentions going forward.

I am grateful for connection.
I am grateful for a visual reminder that helps me to feel supported and purposeful in this work.
I am grateful for my path and even more grateful that I am finally walking it.

vision board 2019

Getting Creative: Creative Communication

Another space where my husband and I have been embracing the creative energy coursing through our home since the birth of little bubby is in how we communicate.

First we introduced the conversation cup. The conversation cup is our vessel for holding conversations we need to circle back to in order to honor what needs to be addressed with the appropriate space and time. Sometimes we use the conversation cup because we are in the middle of a conversation that is going south and we need to step back and gain perspective in order to continue towards connection. Sometimes we use the conversation cup to hold a topic we know needs more time than the thirty minutes we have together in the morning, it lets us jot down our key points and come back to it when there is enough time to honor everything that needs to be expressed.

The conversation cup holds hurt feelings, misunderstandings, truths not yet spoken, dreams, ideas, love.. Above all the conversation cup is about connection because our communication is about connection. We strive to always stay on each other’s team, when it starts to feel like we are not on the same team we know it is time for a break, to call in the conversation cup, and come back to whatever it is when we know we are both in a better place to hold whatever it is together.

This is us getting creative in our communication and for us it works.

Another area where we have recently gotten creative in how we communicate is related to expressions of gratitude.

We were already practicing gratitude with one another but not regularly enough to consistently keep scarcity at bay. We were experiencing scarcity in different ways; I was experiencing scarcity related to support with little bubby and my husband was experiencing scarcity related to time.

Here’s the thing, scarcity is a liar. It is an illusion. That is my truth at least. Scarcity shows up to tell tales of not-enough and it is important when I hear those whispers creeping up from dark places that I remember my truth: Who I am is enough. What I have is enough. What I do is enough. I am grateful. I am love.

What we have started doing to enhance our connection even further and really lean into the abundance of our love is writing down our daily gratitude for one another.

We have a dry erase board on the refrigerator that we mainly use to jot down items we need at the grocery and track little bubby’s feeding/napping schedule; last week I drew a heart on the board and underneath it I wrote folding your blanket and putting it away. 

In our home everyone has their own snuggle blanket for movies etc and my husband sometimes forgets to fold his and put it away. That day he didn’t and I appreciated it. I was afraid I would forget to tell him by the end of the day so I left him the note on the board. What started as a way for me to make sure my Mom-Brain remembered to thank my husband for a small thing I appreciated him doing has turned into a daily practice now.

My husband and I both have hearts on the board in different colors; he writes my notes in purple, I write his in green, and everyday we express our love and gratitude for what the other person is doing.

It helps us both feel seen, appreciated, connected to our intention as a family and in our marriage. There is no room for scarcity when love and gratitude occupy such a large space in our home.

We are both doing things we have never done in any previous relationship, romantic or otherwise. We are allowing our love for one another and our intuition guide us and amazing things are taking place.

My husband and I are not small. We are big, we have wings. Our babies will know how to fly, they will know how to love, they will know they are lovable – we are showing them.

I am grateful for this man whom I get to call my partner. I am grateful for the little soul who chose us and breathed new life into a love that already felt big. I am grateful to have found my wings, I am grateful to be using them. I was never meant to stay small on an unstable branch, I was always meant to fly.

conversation cup

I AM an Artist

Another way I am stepping into my truth and allowing myself to be seen as an artist is by gifting my art to those I love.

I decided that is how I am celebrating love this year, with my art. My art is sacred to me, how better to celebrate my love of others than with something I hold personally sacred?

With that said, this is extra scary. I felt big by putting a permanent hole in a wall at home and hanging my art for anyone who enters my home to see.. Here is the thing about that though, my husband and I are major introverts, we don’t have many people enter our home. Our home is our haven, we rarely have guests; so the truth is even while practicing being big, it was still a rather small step because I knew no one would be seeing it. I won’t diminish this growth though, it was an important small step because it took my art out of the closet to be displayed proudly in the open, in the light.

Gifting my art feels excruciating vulnerable. The not-good-enoughs want to fly up inside me and scream at me for being so bold to think my art is good enough to give away. They want to tell me I am acting like a five year old trying to wrap up my scribble scrabble drawing like a Christmas present when the truth is no one wants that gift.

That is not my truth. I love my art. No one else has to. They can keep it or not, display it or not. While I make each piece with intention and love for the person receiving it, it is still their gift to do with what they want. I love the art I am creating though and that not only counts for something, it counts for everything.

In the near future I have two opportunities to celebrate people I love and I have already created art for both of these people. I thought this would be harder but the truth is, it came so easy. Both pieces flowed out of me and are absolutely magnificent.

I am not ashamed to share this piece of myself. I am not afraid to be seen. I am not small.

I AM an Artist.

i am an artist

I AM (an artist)

One of the ways I am done playing small is related to my identity as an artist. I have my husband to thank for this. As mentioned in Getting Creative: Creating Together. my husband and I are writing and illustrating a children’s book together. With this decision came an enormous invitation, courtesy of my husband who originally suggested the book idea, to fully step into the light and truth of who I am – I am an artist.

This is BIG and horrifically terrifying.

My relationship with this identity is held close to my heart, like my identity as a writer – I know that I am, but I don’t allow others to know that I am. Until now.

That all changes now because I will love all myself in the open, in the light, no more hiding.

I am starting small because unraveling takes time. One way I am practicing being seen in my identity as an artist is at home.

We have transformed our sun room into the playroom/creative space of our home. It used to be a sitting area/dining room; but let’s be real, we aren’t doing a lot of sitting these days and we next to never used the dining room. This space is much more functional and tons more fun!

As another way to physically and energetically transform the space my husband made a gallery wall of my art, as well as art that has been gifted to us from friends and family.

I love him for doing this. My art is so special to me, each piece a baby that I love dearly. Now I walk into this room and see my creations displayed and feel so much joy and love and positive energy. And right there along side my babies is art made by my sweet niece as well as a local artist who has passed on whose legacy we are now part of by displaying her work in our home. I love knowing that little bubby is surrounded by all of this creativity when he plays and one day we will hang his creations proudly on the wall as well. I don’t have words big enough to express my joy.

I am an artist and each one of those canvases looking down on me validates this truth. Art is not about how many people love what you create, it is about if you love what you create – and I do.

gallery wall