Category Archives: vulnerability

Personal violence is disruptive no matter how brief the exposure.

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Personal violence is disruptive no matter how brief the exposure.

As I tell my story of sexual trauma and exploitation, others often share with me that they have a story of abuse too, and then they hastily add, “It’s not as bad as yours. It was just one time. Or one perpetrator. Or a long time ago. Or, Or, Or…..

I always reply with this: Own your story. Your story matters too. Painful stories are not to be placed on a scale. Pain is pain. Assault, rape, abuse – it deserves its own space in your story. Personal violence is disruptive no matter how brief the exposure.

This journey has taught me there are just different traumas, however, each is painful and debilitating. Each requires courage to face. No doubt your trauma left a mark on you. Depression, trust, intimacy hang-ups, body issues, self-harm patterns, and the list goes on.

If someone tells me they have cancer, I have just as much empathy for them as I do the person with sexual assault. Cancer is no picnic! And, after walking the road with some dear friends, they tell me it feels like a betrayal from their own body. And, I have heard that from sexual trauma victims too. The emotions that arise from our painful stories are actually more similar than we realize. It’s just the roots that are different.

Another response is folks that say, “I can’t imagine what you’ve been through.” Well, there are a lot of other painful situations that I can’t imagine either. Again: pain is pain.

I’m giving you permission to carry your painful stories gently and reverently. Own them, become comfortable with them, and they will, eventually, ask less of you over time.

From another perspective, if you or I minimize our stories then we are minimizing someone else’s story that resembles ours. There are, unfortunately, thousands of stories of assault and abuse from priests, church leaders, teachers, coaches, Boy/Girl Scout leaders, trainers, medical professionals, and next door neighbors.

Each breach of boundary is important to acknowledge – it leads us define what a healthy boundary feels like.

I’ve been the first witness to long held secrets many times now. And what I can tell you is that keeping it locked up inside is a form of denial. It doesn’t mean you need to take a public stance and tell the world, it means you open up to those closest to you that love you. You become vulnerable with trusted people in your life.

Perhaps you just quietly say “Me Too” in the mirror to practice being honest with yourself. Open your journal and write it out – yes, this happened, this is part of my story. Send yourself an email with the subject line: Me Too and see how it feels to see it in black and white in your handwriting, and/or on your computer screen. Perhaps you decide to sit with a therapist or other trauma professional to unpack this old story that has layers of dust covering it up.

Then, when you feel you’ve gathered your strength around this event, you can open up to those closest to you.

I do believe it’s important to tell the story to folks that are safe. Reclaiming our voice after silence is an empowering action. Chances are that silence has cost you something.

The last consideration I will share is this: silence has allowed this rape culture to become epidemic. If I’d been able to find my words, it might have saved victims that came after me. I’ll never know because I didn’t find my words until my grandfather had been dead for 20 years.

Here are the hard stats: the average perpetrator has 117 victims in his/her lifetime – our silence has allowed them to continue harming. THIS is why the stats also tell us that 1 in 5 children have experienced sexual assault by the age of 18. THIS is criminal and epidemic. My friends with breast cancer have a 1 in 8 chance of having breast cancer by the time they are 88 years old – and breast cancer has been an epidemic for 20 years.

It’s time for sexual violence to be declared an epidemic too. We can change these statistics. Let’s do better for our children. Let’s do better for each other.

Angela
p.s. If you want to read about my story,you can dig around in this blog OR you can wait for my book! “The Other F Word, My Manual on Forgiveness.” Sign up for my email list here: http://www.thekiinside.com – it will be available on amazon for pre-order soon.

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Are you Happy this New Year? Now that the party is over,

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Are you Happy this New Year? Now that the party is over,

are you excited about your life and opportunities? Would you like to learn something new? Tell a new truth? Live a more creative life? What lights you up? Are you clear on your goals, ambitions, desires for the coming year? January is THE month to get clear and set solid intentions for 2018. It’s a wide open space ahead! Are you interested in co-creating this year instead of simply allowing things to unfold? Are you part of the #metoo movement and unsure of what is next to help you heal?

Coaching is a fantastic way to gain clarity and momentum – are you curious or ready?

I spent many years in a simply allowing space and once I realized the power of clearly and directly stating my desires for my life, I was hooked. My life radically changed. For years I had listened to teachers and coaches that didn’t encourage me to be BOLD in my requests and vision. More and more the message I share is, “Do you love what you do? If not, let’s get you there!”

I love my job as a life coach. I get to talk about Emotional Freedom, Brain Training, Neuroplasticity, Self-Compassion, Self-Care, Love & Acceptance of Self, Listening to the Inner Voice, Owning Our Truth, Vision Boards, and how to navigate the world in a safe and nurturing way. How to be sure your voice is heard, your needs are met, and your creativity thrives. I also get to talk about marketing and fun business ideas for entrepreneurs.

Life is a puzzle – finding the right piece to fit in the right spot that gives us a landscape that we enjoy. We often have to expand our horizons, think outside the box, and learn something new for a better fit in our lives.

I get excited listening to someone that is looking for a new way to do an old thing. My brain starts looking for solutions while clients talk.

I’ve got lots new experiences for me in 2018: First up is a TEDx Talk titled, “What To Do After #metoo”, several podcast interviews, magazine articles, guest blog posts, and I’m publishing a book, “The Other F Word, My Manual on Forgiveness” – I’ve got momentum!

I’m excited about life and opportunities to do what brings me joy and lights me up.

It would be an honor to be part of your sacred journey. I really do love supporting people to find joy, love, and acceptance in periods of upheaval or change or just adding some momentum to a business goal.

I can help you be bold, be courageous to live the life you have dreamed of. Email me if you want to know more about how to coach with me. I have a couple of openings available right now.

Cheers to a Radically Blessed 2018!

angela

There’s A New Guest at the Holiday Table: #metoo

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There’s A New Guest at the Holiday Table: #metoo

Me Too sits awkwardly silent, afraid to cause a ripple in the traditions of cheer and joy. Me Too feels like a single word will bring the party down. Suddenly, that confident voice that finally said, “Me Too” is self-conscious and already choosing to stay home next year. Me Too is afraid this time of year will never be the same.

An entire day goes by with everyone else carefully avoiding getting too close. Me Too feels ashamed, unwanted, unseen, ignored, and most of all, isolated.

For many of the new voices in the Me Too movement, a holiday season is anything but joyful. I know, I’ve been there. I was living in my trauma day in and day out – trauma pain doesn’t take a holiday. It felt as though I’d brought home a new pet elephant for everyone to meet. But my family didn’t know how to even say hello to the elephant. I left those experiences wishing I knew how to interrupt their discomfort and avoidance. And I felt like the burden wasn’t really mine – I needed my family to choose differently. Often my choice is to not attend. It’s just easier than bringing along my elephant.

This is how rape culture has grown into the crisis it is, by us not knowing how to talk about things that matter with those we spend the holidays with. Even the best therapists are going to say this isn’t easy. It’s not easy because we haven’t been practicing it. It’s not easy because we are afraid to say the “wrong” thing.

Take a deep breath, say things out loud to yourself in the mirror and it will be easier – especially because the rewards are so immense. As family systems start to choose differently, the rewards are in the strength and intimacy that comes from walking through difficult times together.

Here are some variations of what I’ve imagined my family saying to me:
I can’t imagine what you are going through right now. I’m glad you chose to come and spend time with us. If you want to talk for a few minutes at any time today, let’s find a quiet spot so I can listen.

I’m glad you are here and that I love you. Because of all the activity and kids running around, it might be difficult to actually talk without interruption today. Let’s schedule time this week, I want to give you undivided attention. I know your self-care is strong and I’m proud of you for breaking the silence.

I can only imagine how hard it is to come to a “party” environment when you are facing such pain. I’m glad you are here. Let’s keep taking a deep breath together and enjoy being with each other today. If you need a few moments to yourself at any time, this room would be a quiet place. Come and ask me to join you if you want to talk or just need my presence.

Using your words, reach out to that loved one and say, “I believe you.” “I see you.” “I hear you.” “I honor you.” “I love you.”

Above all, remember that Me Too is still a daughter/son, brother/sister, aunt/uncle, nephew/niece, cousin, mother/father, grandparent, and friend. And they need you now more than ever.

It’s time to be vulnerable and loving, even during the holidays.

Are We Broken?

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Are We Broken?

Remember that time when you thought your cancer would break you? Your divorce? Your child’s crisis? The death of a loved one? That rape? That abusive relationship? What if this presidential outcome is America’s cancer? What if it is an opportunity to go through chemo and radiation and hair loss and find ourselves again – individually and collectively?

Do you remember the day when you realized you had survived? And then the day that you could finally say you were thriving? Perhaps even finding appreciation for the lessons learned in the space of pain?

To move to a place of surviving and thriving, you had to find a source of strength that you didn’t even know you owned. You had to rely on the love and support of friends and family. You had to own the feeling of broken to find whole again.

Somewhere in that process you gave yourself permission to be different than you were before. More of YOU emerged. You were more honest, more forthright, more authentic, more empowered, more mindful, and more compassionate. You chose to take more risks, more adventures, and have more fun.

Those around you have said things like, “She is different now. Ever since the ______, she is living life more fully. Sometimes I think she is crazy, but she is incredibly happy.”

I know. I have done this many times in my life, just like you.

This time is no different. Dig deep, find the strength that you know is there for these times. I find a simple strength in the rising of the sun. No matter what has happened, she rises, gloriously to face another day. Her consistency reminds me that I can rise each day and be fierce and resilient while shining brightly. Remind yourself of what feeds your determination.

Give yourself permission to volunteer with any population that may feel unsupported today. Give yourself permission to start up a non-profit helping to meet the needs of an underserved population in your area.

Find YOUR fierceness that will keep your fires burning for the changes that must happen in America. Be part of the solution and don’t give up hope. Press forward with determination that LOVE MATTERS and will prevail.

Attacking the institution, the process, the President elect really does not serve the greater good. Have your temper tantrum and MOVE ON to being your best self. Ghandi said it so well, of course, “Be the change you wish to see.”

Rise Up and Be Love. Step Into Kindness with Each Step. Bring In Strength and Purpose with Every Breath.

Yes, Samantha, You Are In The Flow

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Yes, Samantha, You Are In The Flow

I hope you get on this site soon Samantha. We met last night in a serendipitous turn of events and had a lengthy conversation covering so many topics. I want you to know that you are in the flow of life and more importantly, you are the flow. And, you inspired my flow here on my blog.

I have been where you are and when so many doors close then it is easy to reach out and close more of them – making the assumption that this is the outcome that will happen anyway, so let’s just get it over with. It becomes an instinct to hesitate walking through another door, fearful that it will close on our nose too.

You are resilient and strong. Just from a 2 hour conversation, I know this about you. Be bold. Put yourself out there again with your voice and your musical gifts and say Yes when doors begin to open.

We talked about Efforting vs. Being. Efforting is when we struggle to make things happen, exhausting ourselves, and sometimes others, in the process. Being is allowing action steps to be inspired and intentional that feel good rather than heavy and burdensome. Our to-do list comes from our mental mind more than our heart when we are full of efforting – and we feel weary when we think about doing these things. When we shift into having our heart engaged, we shift into inspired actions that leave us feeling excited and hopeful.

You are a beautiful being that I am happy to have met you in the alley behind Goodwill on a lovely Friday night in Boulder, CO. Start asking yourself, what if I am doing everything right? What if I am right where I am supposed to be all the time? What if this experience is to help me learn more about me and about the world around me? What if this is to help me grow and stretch myself in ways that I cannot imagine?

Stay tuned, Samantha for posts about other things that we spoke of that I feel compelled to share here –  neoroplasticity, pain and letting go, movement and stillness, there are no guarantees, why did this happen to me?, travel and serendipity of events, and more. Thank YOU for showing up and getting my voice rolling again – YOU inspired me to publish some shit!

You are having a Great Life Samantha. Enjoy.

Love, Angela

 

What Forgiveness Meant to Me – Literally

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What Forgiveness Meant to Me – Literally

I wrote about the 3 day retreat that ended with an unforgettable experience here. And I wrote a poem expressing my pain here. Now it is time to share exactly what freedom meant to me after the exercise of forgiveness. I had no idea what to expect – the possibilities were endless.

In the days following the retreat, I felt that my heart space had doubled in size. In my daily prayers I asked God to bring things up so I could let go of even more. I would think of old painful experiences and I forgave myself and others easily. Since I had tackled the biggie in my life, all these other wounds were senseless to hold on to. Sometimes tears accompanied my prayers of forgiveness, but overall, each time I practiced forgiveness, it just got easier and easier.

It seemed pointless to hang on to anything that weighed me down – forgiveness was my new happy pill and I dosed myself frequently.

The second miracle is that the SHAME that clouded my whole life, simply evaporated. I had not understood the roots of my shame until now. I had worked on it from so many angles, and now with the choice of forgiveness, it was gone.

An old journal entry describes my feelings:
“I feel like I am drowning in shame. I take more of it in with each breath. It stinks like rotting flesh. Its voice is eerily comforting as it fills my ear with lies. Sometimes I play hide and seek with shame trying to escape its grip. But I end up feeling naked and exposed and put out the SOS – Shame Oh Shame, please return. Wrap yourself around me like a cloak and help me feel safe again.

My head knows that being raped was never my fault, but I cannot release the grip of shame in my being. Ok, God, let’s heal this shit. Enough already. I am 46 and I have proven I can do shame – with gusto, flair, and grit. It is time to make a change.”

I don’t know if I can adequately express how much shame was woven into my being. I always had shameful thoughts about myself running my brain and body ragged. I used so many tools to neutralize this shame, but they only helped me keep my head above the drowning level.

Obviously this shame took root in my being just from the nature of the violence I endured. I think it was easy to allow shame to grow and perpetuate because so much of the world mirrored that I was not enough as a girl, as a woman, as a human.

I do still have moments when I feel vulnerable without that cloak of shame. I feel exposed and yet I realize that I was always the first one to attack myself. Being and sitting with vulnerability is a worth while practice.

There are many layers of vulnerability and just when one gets comfortable, another emerges, inviting us to expose more of our heart.

Freedom from shame and old wounds of unforgiveness would not have happened if the seed of wanting forgiveness to happen had never been planted. Even if it seems impossible for you to experience forgiving someone that harmed you, I encourage you to say, “Someday, I would like to be free from the weight of unforgiveness. Prepare my heart so when the moment arrives I step into the miracle of unfolding.”

The last little miracle to happen from this is that for 3 days after the retreat ended, I heard my grandpa saying “Angie” in quiet moments. Just before bed on the 3rd day, I said, “Ok, grandpa, I am listening.” He appeared in my mind’s eye sobbing and repeating “I’m sorry.” I thanked him for his apology and released him to continue his own journey. While it was completely unexpected to hear from him (he died 25 years ago) it was beautiful to feel his sincerity and hear his apology. I certainly was not anticipating this experience.

So, if his soul found a new level of peace, that was previously beyond imagination, I am a-ok with that.

Won’t you plant some heart seeds today?

In case you missed it, here is Part 1: Forgiving the Unforgivable

My Poem Related to this post: Feisty for $25

Read more about who the heck I am: https://iamangela.org/about/