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.

 

Self-Love Can Survive Any Drought

self-love can survive any drought

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time in quiet meditation creating. From that came the inspiration for a piece I painted this afternoon.

Cactus came up during my creating over the weekend and when I started thinking on what symbolism I see, this is what I came up with.

Cacti are like all other plants in that they need water to survive, that need looks different for them compared to many other species of plant however. Cacti are able to survive barren conditions and drought thanks to their ability to self-sustain by storing water inside. Cactus are not only able to survive these harsh conditions, they grow. They grow in conditions that would cause most plants to wither and die.

I related this back to inside love versus outside love. We have no control over the love we receive from others, much like plants cannot control the weather and when it will rain. In times of emotional drought/disconnection those who depend on that outside love and validation may struggle while those who can self-validate and experience love from within/self-love will not only survive these times of solitude, they will continue to grow and bloom because of the love they are able to show themselves.

In this way self-love is this self-sustaining property that allows us to operate with little fear of outside disconnection for we know all we need to thrive and grow lies within us.

For a long time I was much like Gerbera Daisy, finicky in every way imaginable and very dependent on my environment to provide me with everything I need to feel love and connection/survive and grow.

Now I know I am evolving into my own breed of cactus. I still enjoy being showered with love AND when drought comes my way I am able to self-sustain with my own inner supply of love stored up just for me, my own special gift from within.

My prickly spiny exterior is equivalent to my boundaries and assertive attitude, protecting me against all who would mean to harm me.
My root system underground is my way to connect with others who are willing to go deep rather stay merely on the surface.

At the end of the day what keeps me going is me. I am the love that keeps my heart beating, I am the love that will help me grow. If water is the source for life to grow and love is equivalent to water, I am the source from which my biggest growth takes place.

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

 

Love and Support

Yesterday morning my husband was laying on top of me as we talked before he left for work. This is a pretty common scene in our home in the morning, what was different yesterday was that I was laying on my stomach so he was laying on my back. This did not bode well for my back. When I attempted to get up a few hours later I had issues. My back was tweaked  and I was stuck in bed.

It took me 5 minutes to gently roll myself out of bed. I proceeded to apply Bengay to my lower back and pop Advil, then I laid on a heating pad for 30 minutes. At noon I had a business call that I attended to from my heating pad on the couch, by two o’clock I was medicated enough to be able to move somewhat normally and at least be able to stand and sit with moaning and wincing in pain.

After I was finished with clients for the day I applied more Bengay and went back to the heating pad. When my husband came home he massaged my back for a while before I decided Epsom salts and hot water sounded good.

Laying in the bath tub I practiced breathing into the pain and stretching while in the hot water. The whole time thinking about my truth around healing: we all have the answers to healing our wounds inside us already. I meditated on this for a while always coming back to the mantra of trusting my body, she knows how to take care of herself.

The fact of the matter is it is great that I am embody this philosophy of empowerment in healing AND I know a wound does not heal over night. Bengay, hot water, and meditation is not going to magically heal my back (I wish!). My muscle has been pulled and it will take a few days for it to get back to normal. The Bengay, hot water, and meditation are just ways for me to love my body well and support it as it does its job.

Our bodies are truly amazing organisms, capable of so much, AND they can always use a little support and love.

bath

Hostage

Yesterday I agreed to be part of a girls day with a few family members, it was the most exhausting experience I have had in months. It was a stark contrast to the rejuvenating experience I had with a different group of women Friday at Red Tent. In one scenario I left feeling grounded and inspired, in the other I left feeling completely drained and resentful.

There is definitely an AND present here, it was not a terrible experience on the whole.

I really enjoyed being with these women in my family AND it was too much. Too much stimulus, too much time, too much giving without enough receiving, too much of my mother, too many different energies clashing. Just too much.

There is a family wedding approaching and the bride wanted to attend a bridal show at a local hotel. This is not my scene. I went to one of these things when I was engaged and was overwhelmed. I have not seen the bride in  months though and she went with me when I went before so I agreed. I figured it would be a few hours of being over stimulated but that trade was worth the time I would get to spend with her and the other women in my family.

My first mistake was not getting all the information. I agreed to something without understanding what I was agreeing to. What I thought would be a few hours was over 7. My entire day was consumed by this and I had no out. I was at the mercy of the group.

That is really what made this day hard, the length of time.

I can handle my mother complaining about her life and only talking about my brother and his family without ever asking about me and mine in small dosages, not for 7 hours.
I can handle being in an over stimulating situation in small dosages, not for 7 hours.
I can handle superficial conversation in small dosages, not for 7 hours.
I can make allowances for boundary violations, especially during special occasions, not for 7 hours.
I can handle postponing a meal, not for 12 hours.

I ate breakfast at 8am and then did not eat a meal again until 7:30pm. During that 12 hour window I ate one bite of wedding cake, a mint, a handful of goldfish, and edamame.

When we finally left the bridal show everyone was starving. The group decided on a Chinese restaurant, I immediately spoke up and reminded my family that I cannot eat Chinese food due to a food allergy I have. I was told the same thing I am always told when it comes to eating out with my family: you can order a salad.

This right here is one of the main reasons I no longer go to restaurants with my family.

What if I don’t want to eat a fucking salad? What if I am starving just like you and want to eat something more substantial? I don’t see anyone else ordering a fucking salad, yeah it is because you are fucking hungry and lettuce just won’t do it!

When we got to the restaurant I discovered that my allergen is used in the salad dressings and the marinades for the meat. If I ordered a salad I would have to order raw vegetables with unseasoned meat in order for it not to make me sick. And you know, there are times when I do eat that way and it is okay but I had not eaten all day and that was not going to cut it. I ended up ordering edamame to hold me over and decided I would eat dinner at home with my husband in a few hours when I was finally released.

Everyone around me ate rice and chicken and vegetables while I sat there with my edamame and hot tea. My mom kept trying to feed me her fried rice and I kept having to tell her, No it will make me sick. I was supremely frustrated. Please stop waving your delicious food in front of me, yes I would love to eat it but I don’t feel like shitting my pants today.

I did finally have an opportunity to share some things in my life I am excited about right now but soon after I was given the floor it was taken away again. Interruption after interruption. Me trying to tell my story quickly became someone else telling theirs. I did get to finish but only because I redirected multiple times.

I love my family AND they are not my people. That is my truth.

I live a life they do not understand. The way I live, the way I communicate, the things that I am passionate about, are not valued in my family, even among the women, so I am silenced.

I have nothing to contribute in the way of gossip, or complaining, or what I like to eat at the newest chain restaurant. And they have nothing to contribute when I talk about the sacredness of a space like Red Tent other than side ways glances at one another and concerned questions.

I love my family AND they are not my people. That is my truth. A truth that once made me feel isolated and lost. A truth that now makes me feel liberated. I can love them AND live a life outside of them that is not for them. I do not have to belong to my family in order to belong. Family is not the most important thing, connection is. That is my truth.

On Friday I spent time with strangers, sharing a meal I could eat, talking about things that excited me and made me feel heard and understood. I left that gathering of women feeling completely connected to myself and these women. I knew who I was.
Yesterday I spent time with women I have known my entire life, watching them share a meal I could not eat, listening to them talk about things that frustrated me and made me feel invisible and outcast. I left that gathering of women feeling completely disconnected from myself and these women. I felt sick with the over exposure to this energy field.

When I finally got home my husband came outside with my sage already lit and brought in some groceries I picked up for our dinner while I cleansed myself in the driveway before entering my home. We ate together and talked about things that mattered to us and I felt connected again.

I love my family AND they are not my people. That is my truth. I have so much gratitude to be able to stand in that truth with love rather than fear. I have so much gratitude for the places I do belong. I have so much gratitude for the inside connection I have built that allows me to stand in my truth and be free.

ecstacy maxfield parish