Moving forward begins with a single step…

I’ve been yearning to return for a while now. For so many years I wrote uninhibited and yet over the last few I’ve felt that part of me closed and restricted.

I return with a small step forward. In a bid to process where I am in this healing journey. This year has presented me with so many opportunities to step into healing – awareness.

In my last post, I spoke about the iron core, and armor that has protected me for many years. And since then I’ve been trying, every day to take piece by piece off. To find a willingness to be open, to embrace my vulnerability and to acknowledge what I need in order to heal from my past. Some days the armor is fortified, and on others I feel naked and empowered by my inner resolve to face it all with grace and love.

All of which wouldn’t be possible without my support network. I am so deeply grateful for those who stand beside me.

I’ve been going through a restorative justice process to address the sexual abuse that occurred throughout my childhood. And in many ways, as much as I want to talk about it – sharing insights to reflect upon later. I find it difficult to muster the energy or focus to really write how I feel. This is a common trend, and I really hope to break it. It is part of acknowledging how difficult it is to sit with everything I feel and validate emotions that aren’t pretty. There is a part of me, so deeply conditioned to find the silver lining in every situation. To bypass feelings that I associate as negative and jump to acceptance or compassion instead of acknowledging when something is actually just shitty. I am not okay with not being okay. And I put immense pressure on myself to always rise above and hold things at bay – temporarily putting things on hold. Again and again, returning to these memories and feelings I didn’t/wasn’t able to process in the moment. Under the guise of, never enough time, or having to stay strong for others, or feeling like I will never return or survive the onslaught if I let down the dam walls.

And that’s okay too. I guess in some weird way, the awareness here is progress. And I have a willingness to create new pathways, as soon as I can. Step by step…

 

 

Honesty…

Well…

Late last night, this morning as dawn was approaching I kept mulling over the idea of processing emotion. Lately I’ve become aware of this iron core that sits within me, it is a source of iron strength, it props me up as if an iron rod runs right through my body my chest puffed out and solid, my face emotionless and stern.

I visioned myself while in meditation a few weeks ago, as a warrior. Burdened by armor and standing tall with sword in hand resting and gazing out into the distance with not an inch of softness in sight. Although the armor was both laden with blood and majestic in nature, underneath it I saw the wounds from previous battles. I stood and stand metaphorically as a warrior completely hardened by life. The battles fought , won and lost.

For most of my life I have conditioned and rewarded this warrior self for helping me to survive. The iron core is a product of living in survival and response to the experiences in my life and the environments that have housed me. What I am realising now, is that she is no longer needed. That actually, instead of wearing the armor, it is time to take it off and rest. To tend to the wounds. Sometimes when you wear something for so long, it molds to your skin, your body….. It is difficult to remove, and when eventually it does come off – you no longer can identify the body from which it came.

I am here.

Discovering my body. Discovering that I have reached a place in my life where I can finally remove each piece as I feel safe to do so. And in these moments inspect what is underneath.

For so long I have learnt to keep my mouth shut. I have conditioned myself and it is the most complex thing to explain. In my openness I have kept my mouth shut, and held in the truth because of how it makes me feel. My mind has blacked out the traumatic experiences in my life in order to protect me, but as I remove the armor and slump and curl up the memories and feelings begin to arise.

I am having trouble at the moment. Expressing emotion. I feel cold, numb and a little distant…… even though I know that there is stuff there. I desire to unpack it. I desire to meet it. I desire to let it go, but not by coming to acceptance but by feeling and by letting it pass through me, knowing I am safe. Knowing it is my right, to finally feel and think and allow that to be part of my process without shame. It is my right to be honest to myself. To be honest about feeling angry, to be honest about feeling shame. To be honest about feeling disappointed in how I was not protected as a child, and as a result of that having to deal with the consequences now. What I am trying my hardest with here, is feeling and acknowledging all of that and stopping myself from justifying.

I am noticing that I constantly…..justify why things happened. Instant acceptance in a way. Instead of validating myself, and feeling that being sexually abused was not OK, I look at it…. with the lens of “it happened, there is nothing I can do to change that” or move towards trying to find the silver lining. A strength of mine which I can appreciate. I do appreciate being able to see the good in even the most horrific experiences. My suffering has been a tremendous source of growth and strength for me. It has gifted me so much. And that is fine. But….. hardly ever have I just sat with the feelings…..and said…..that was not OK. I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel ashamed, I am enraged that I had to go through that….. without feeling that I need to look at the glass as half full.

For many years that attitude and perspective got me through the most difficult situations and flashbacks. I have sat wanting to kill myself, I have been in the arms of death waiting to take my last breath, and somehow even in those moments…..I was thankful. And I sit here shaking my head in disbelief, at how I can ever forgive such atrocities. But I do.

I have no control or power over the past. But I do have the choice now. I have power over my healing process……as much as sometimes it feels it has power over me. It comes as surges…..and painful reminders….without warning sometimes. But I am here choosing to heal. To let go. I do not want to be a victim, but I DO want to reclaim myself. My power. I want to reclaim my voice and my body. So what is next ? in this moment….. it is remembering and acknowledging, and owning my experiences. Owning and talking with a strength that is vulnerable but without guilt, without shame, without feeling like I need to apologise for my difficult existence.

I lay in bed late this morning as dawn was rising, and I was realising what a miracle it is that I am alive and that I choose to be this kind of person. That I can come from a place of love , and do my best to understand. To inspire myself.

I was thinking, and I’m not trying to compare here……. comparison is not right. But I was thinking that, some people are raped or assaulted once and that is enough to ruin them. The scars and impact from that one particular experience is something that they will never forget, and may replay for years to come. As I type this I have guilt already for saying what I’m saying because their experience is no lesser than mine…… no human should ever have their bodies taken advantage of against their will. Her e I am justifying, to get my message across. MY point is….. that when I think of my own experiences, I am mystified and overwhelmed because I was sexually and emotionally abused for 11 years of my life….. in fact probably a lot longer than that but my memory is blacked out. And in those 11 years ….that I remember….almost every single fucking day had an event in it that affected me. How on earth am I to process that? Some memories are much stronger than others….. but even the most subtle of things…..are sometimes the most disturbing to me.

Then I remember, being asked to become aware and mindful of what is going on in my body when these thoughts come flooding through. My chest is beating, my stomach in knots….my head hurts, my palms are sweaty….when I become body aware of the discomfort I am in so much pain. And I understand why I have medicated myself so often over my lifetime thus far. The difference now is that aside from food and gaming/internet time I do not self medicate with drugs or alcohol. The occasional red wine. To celebrate the sanctity of life.

I am proud. Because I want to feel, I want to sit with these discomforts and acknowledge them. To give them a voice.

As I lay in bed early this morning, one of the first memories I had was when I caught my abuser spying on me. He had gone to great lengths to create a double sided/see through mirror in order to spy on me in my room. In fact he had built my bedroom, and in hindsight it has become an image of my own personal prison where I could be controlled and taken advantage of without even being aware. Anyway, this one day I caught him….. and he ran upstairs. I chased him into the kitchen, and I took out the biggest kitchen knife I could find and I yelled at him with so much rage he was startled. He wasn’t smiling. I think it was a moment of terror. In that moment I was waving this knife around threatening him and telling him what I think. My memory is patchy…. I felt so incredibly done. It was the very first and only time that I EVER  fought back after all the years of being in his predatory vice. Every single inch and moment of my so called private space and life had been violated. Every single aspect. And when I finally caught him using his spying methods I couldn’t believe, or understand why someone would go to such lengths…..

Sometimes people’s illnesses just make no sense. It doesn’t have to. It just is.

I guess I wanted to share this. In some ways I am really pleased that this is the memory surfacing. Taking my power back, and opening up to fighting back and using my voice to say “hey! what you are doing is not OK”. I will not tolerate this anymore.

I just want to be honest. With myself. I’ve held onto these secrets and memories my entire life. Almost no one knows details of my experiences. Because I cannot physically utter the words needed to describe them……. but I am learning to find my voice.

This is my story, and I want to be able to tell it without shame….or without guilt of how it may make others feel. I no longer want to feel as if I have some kind of responsibility over how others react to what I may have to share. My truth is my truth. I just want the strength and courage to tell it how it is……..to be honest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows and Sunshine….

Shadows among sunshine,  Sunshine laced with shadows that follow. Arm in arm these two phenomena are inseparable.

June 2014 shortly after my 26th birthday I had ink etched into my skin. Marking as usual a momentous shift within. Inside and Outside. It reads, “Oh, what a life I’ve been given”

A statement I wear on my forearm – loud but not always proud. Many many times since then i’ve doubted my choice to etch such a prominent and visible reminder to myself and the world of the life I’ve been given. There is no regret….only curiosity as I ponder why….why this statement, what does it truly mean, and how do I wear it with pride?

A gift I’ve been given. A gift both received with open hands and smiles, but also likened to the gift you force a smile receiving. Saying thank you through gritted teeth and thinking, no, this isn’t what I wanted but being grateful anyway.

One day I sat on the bus heading to see my therapist. I sat with the realisations that I have a story to write, and that I desire for it to be in book form. I feel the sense of having to write, because i HAVE to, it seeps from me like a puncture you cannot find….and also because I have a willingness to share….

I want to share the wisdom I’ve learnt along the many paths I’ve traveled. You might not be ready and that’s OK too. The seeds I plant will grow in time. I am confident in this.

So what a life I’ve been given. Is the theme….a returning focal point. MY anchor. Deeply grounded in the seabed of gratitude. A culture of hating and embracing simultaneously the cards we are dealt along the journey of life.

People often ask me when I am in the public eye…..usually out of the blue “what does your tattoo say?” It is a cursive font and not easily read. I like it that way, although it prompts people to ask…..I guess that was one of my intentions. To engrave a conversation piece into my skin, for those rainy days…..a direct line into authenticity.

And when people ask me…..I usually spend many moments flustered and in panic, squirming in my skin trying to avoid answering, or getting clarity on whether I share truthfully or not. Do I have that right? To share deeply or to politely decline. Most people in my reflection will not expect what is about to arrive on their doorstep. Is it fair to deliver that without making sure they are ready?

One woman as I sat waiting for my therapist, coincidentally as I’d just finished writing this….these reflections….asked me within 30 seconds of my sitting down. “what does your tattoo say?” and as I squirmed in my chair, my uncertainty clearly visible she responded “”Oh, you don’t want to share?”

I had just written the opening piece to this story, what you have just read. I was still sitting with the question of whether this was something I want to share and how do I wear what I’ve etched into my skin with pride and strength, free from the silence of shame?

As I write this, I still don’t know the answer. Nor have I mastered this placement. I wonder if I ever will. We are always assessing what we are comfortable sharing in the public arena. I guess it stands. We don’t always have to share when we are asked. We should never feel pressured to divulge details with those who ask…..in fact the next lesson I am learning deeply from this is the act of discernment.

The desire to capture the wisdom absorbed from my journey is strong.

Funny that the desire rises when I am in the middle of the city. The public aura. Participating and feeding upon the hustle and bustle of peopel and movement. Rather than sitting alone at my desk, swayed and influenced by emotions and thoughts that crash upon my soul like tidal waves.

I have to honor my mentors and guides. The wisdom already paved that has served me well, and continues to do so. Torches in the night that illuminate what needs to be seen in order to navigate forward.

Life is not linear. Nor are any of our stories. Our minds replicate the spiral and we must learn to swing from it and upon it, with it alongside gratitude. Trust, faith, graititude, love, self reflection, responsibility, grief and loss, growth and accumulation.

I am far from perfect. Yet perfect in my imperfections.I take comfort in the shadows that follow me, attached and ever present but always changing. Morphing with perspective.  Shadows that have kept me warm, even the shadows which have gifted me coldness taught and strengthened me.

MY story is about finding passion. Speaking dearly of purpose and mission in ones life. The importance of finding this gem and polishing it like never before.

Holding tight to your dreams and visioning for a future you truly want. Our rational and controlling minds will always sweep those under the carpet at any chance it is given! Influenced by a society in need of healing and struggling to make ends meet. Taught to stay inside the box and punished for trying to climb out. The Matrix….unplug and reconnect with our true selves and divine power.

What am I learning from shame? How do I truly embody gratitude for abuse, trauma and suffering gifted to me in this lifetime?

I must not neglect the healing and happiness within my life either. Although my focus tends to naturally draw towards tough and challenging life experiences, it is because I allow these to fill me with a joy and appreciation. It is all about perspective and how we embrace our experiences that matter in the end.