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The summer of my 16th year was a blackout that only in recent years has begun to resurface for me.

Three things happened that summer:

I lost my virginity and became pregnant
I was confirmed into the Catholic Church
I had my first abortion

In that order.

These things did not belong together. I cannot be Catholic AND be a teen mom. I cannot be Catholic AND be a girl who had an abortion.

I do not get to be both, and I HAD to be Catholic to belong to my family, and I HAD to belong to my family.

There was no other way, so half of me was left behind. 16 and pregnant. 16 and a childless mother.

I disconnected from myself so hard that I lost my memories. This is a skill I learned in childhood. I have talked before about our magnificent minds and the lengths they will go to in order to protect us from painful, frightening, devastating realities.

I told myself; This is not part of my story. This never happened. The level of disconnection I experienced was severe, complete-loss-of-self severe. I was lost for a long time, and I only became more lost in my twenties.

I remember sitting in the gymnasium of my church the summer of my 16th year, unaware of the change likely already taking place in my body. I was sitting on a metal folding chair between two girlfriends from my CCD class, we were listening to a guest speaker. This speaker was warning us of the danger of premarital sex. This speaker was impressing upon us the importance of abstinence.

This speaker was not telling us about consent, or affirming our rights to our bodies, or empowering us to make choices with our bodies from a place of being informed and connected. Our bodies did not belong to us, they belonged to God or the Church or our parents or our future husband’s or something?

It was clear that sex was dangerous. I remember the speaker recited a statistic meant to scare us, something about 1 in 3 of you girls will end up pregnant out of wedlock or something. The statistic is not what stands out, what I really remember was looking to my right at my friend Megan, then to my left at my friend LeeAnn, and thinking Well I know it won’t be me.

It already was.

My patron saint was Mary Magdalene. It was my way of thumbing my nose at the church. I had always felt other-than, their rules had always chafed me, felt like nonsense. I had questions that could not be answered. I had questions no one appreciated me asking. I always felt wrong.

I chose Mary Magdalene because my Catholic brain saw her as the persecuted whore, I felt sisterhood with her. I was struggling with the fact that only weeks before I had lost my virginity, I needed someone in my corner and she seemed like a good someone to me. I liked that no matter what society said about Mary Magdalene, she and Jesus knew she was inherently worthy; that she was part of the divine, that we all are. On some level, even in my darkest corners, I have always known too.

This truth is why I did not stay lost. In my Found place I know I am worthy, I am whole, I am enough. I know this because of my connection to the divine.

This part of my long walk home is not just about picking up that mother and her babies and welcoming them all back in love; it is about the repair of my connection with my own sacred holiness.

I have to unravel from the untruths I learned about belonging and worthiness. The Church does not get to define these things for me just as they do not get to withhold them.

 

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Cry Cycle

Every 28 days or so, with the shift of my body’s tide, I have a major cry.

Before birthing little bubby I experienced the intense emotional upheaval that comes with shifting hormones most women experience during their body’s monthly cycle. Back then, I did so with complete disconnection from myself.

For most of my life this experience, that is actually very natural, has felt anything but to me. It has felt scary, unnatural, and wrong. As a result,  I have spent most of my life either in a wild spiral or fighting against being sucked into that spiral. Either way I have not allowed myself to experience the healing release that my body and female spirit need.

Last month my moon cycle started flowing again for the first time since becoming pregnant November 2017. Once again my emotions swelled, and once again I fought against the wave. I was reluctant to give in and allow myself to experience the ecstasy and relief of the release.

I cried and fought and resisted one whole night until the wee hours of the morning at which point my husband, unsure how else to support me, encouraged me to show up for myself however I needed to and then rest. He agreed to take care of little bubby and go into work late the next morning so I could sleep to recover.

I stopped fighting and allowed myself to cry. I allowed myself to flow through my emotional state freely, without fear or judgement. The next morning I slept and that day, after waking slowly and quietly, I was gentle with myself.

This was a different experience, and it felt better.

I had allowed myself to surrender to the release and much like menstruation itself, I was able to shed all the emotional debris that I had collected over the course of that month (and truthfully the 16 months prior).

Last week I felt the familiar build up as the wave of emotions started to peak. I knew I was scheduled to begin my next moon cycle and all of me was crying out for release.

Last month’s cry cycle was dedicated to my mother. This month’s cry is dedicated to my body and everything she has held; life, pain, lies, physical and sexual abuse, joy, love, all of it.

I have decided I am done fighting against my divine feminine nature. Each moon cycle I will allow myself to flow with the changing tide. As I begin to flow so will as many tears as are needed to release what my body, heart, mind, and soul have been holding from that cycle that are ready to be released. I will not fear this flow, I will not fight it. I will allow myself to be held, I will float. I will not sink, I will not drown. This is natural, this is sacred, and I am safe.

Each month I will be gentle with myself. I will rest. I will honor this sacred time and hold myself sacred and worthy.

Love is so different on the other side of healing. Love is so expansive when everything is allowed to exist as it is meant to; together, in connection and love.

When You are Ready I am Here to Hold You

I have been sitting with myself following my last post.

A lot came up for me after sharing my abortion story.

One of the first things that came up for me is the fact that I did not use the word abortion.

My pain related to my abortions is ever present. I love the part of me that experienced this trauma AND my unraveling is a work in progress. What I have learned is that I cannot unravel and come home to my truth without holding myself in love as I do it.There is something I want to unravel once and for all and now that I am loving myself openly, freely, publicly, TRUTHFULLY, I feel BIG enough to step through my fear and start this work.

Two years ago I attended a healing retreat with my soul family. It was powerful.

The healing work I did had to do with words and how they have been used in my life as weapons, as a way to keep me small, as a way to keep me disconnected and standing ever on the outside of love.

I shared specific words with the group that have caused harm, things that have been said to me or messages I have energetically received. There is one word I left out.

It is a word I have tortured myself with for two decades. Anytime I have ever thought I could love my darkness, stand fully in my color, be BIG – this is the word that knocks me back down.

I still was not ready to say this word out loud.

After the exercise I shared with one person, my soul friend who participated in the exercise with me, my truth that I was still holding on to one word that causes deep shame, disconnection, and smallness. She asked what the word was..

Killer.

This word has always been the door slammed in my face.

Me on one side, love and all the goodness of life on the other. There is no AND big enough to create connection. I am here in the dark, a killer, I do not get to experience light, love, sacredness, my true essence, holiness, color.

I want to unravel.

First I need to start with the function of the word, what is it being used for?

To keep me small.
To create and maintain disconnection.
To keep me enveloped in shame, in fear.
To keep me empty.
To keep me separated from love. Love of myself and love of my babies.

None of this is my truth any longer. So it would seem Killer is not doing its job.

I am NOT small. I am NOT disconnected. I am NOT enveloped in shame and fear, and when they come to visit I now welcome them into my lap to be heard and loved. I am NOT empty. And I am absolutely NOT separated from love. I AM love.

So my question is, if all of this is true, why does Killer still hurt?

Is there a place I am not being honest with myself?

Why does the word abortion hurt?

I am missing something, a piece, a part. Something or some part of me is hiding behind a curtain afraid to stand in the light. I am not here to force anyone or anything forward, just to send the message that my lap is open when you are ready to be held.

I want to feel my pain. I want to feel openly, freely, publicly, truthfully. I want to release my fear of my story. I want to be BIG.

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.