Tag Archives: saving myself

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/

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Day 6: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 6: The Yoga of Self-Care

Why am I writing about self-care? All I had learned and understood was how to live in survival mode which is chaos and mayhem. Very exhausting. Self-care was a vague and foreign concept – something I am still cultivating an understanding within myself. I believe listening to my body is the foundation for learning how best to take care of myself. It has taken me years to develop healthier habits. And I am still very much a work in progress. Consistency is my challenge. I find myself in a state of resistance or flat out self-sabotage regularly.

There are so many reasons why we, as a culture, resist premium self-care habits in the midst of our platinum and luxurious lives. In my opinion, the lives we are working so hard to maintain, are layers of distraction for avoiding ourselves. I am ready for something different.

I choose to give myself permission to take extraordinary and exquisite care of myself. I give you permission to do it too.

Why all this emphasis on yoga? It spoke to me. Attending weekly Trauma Sensitive Yoga classes taught me what consistency meant for my body. Anytime I see a mat, I feel my body hum. It longs to spend more time on the mat in various states of rest and stretching.

TRAUMA YOGA

Contrary. Oxymoron.
Like me.
Two halves that should not fit.
But must reside in the same body.
The wounded half. The healed half.
I wonder, “How is this yoga different?
My curiosity invites me.
My trauma qualifies me.
My trauma body shows up.
Longing to find my yoga body.

No Eastern ambiance.
Just a conference room.
Filled with a sense of safety.
Created just for me.
And the millions of eligible souls.
Small classes, by design.
No challenge for perfecting the pose.
No call for deepening the experience.
My eyelids shutter closed.

It is just me and the teacher’s calm voice.
My body responds with a small rocking motion.
My self-soothing visits each pose.
Resources on Suicide Prevention keep me company during tree pose.
I smirk at the irony.
Memories of my 15-year vigil with Suicide.
And now I am doing yoga with Suicide.

Several weeks go by uneventfully.
Then my whole being hears the word “choice.”
My body shudders in response.
My mind keeps repeating:
Choice, choices, choice, choices, choice, choices
This is my awakening
I can move a little
Or a lot
Or not at all
The past is not here

Today means
No violent authority
No need to resist
No one holding me down
No one demanding, expecting
It is just me

I immerse myself in the experience of safety and choice
Body memories spasm and sputter, ready to escape
Captive no more
A spinal twist wrings out ancient tears

Yoga connects me to my body
Helps me feel whole
Shows me the path of gentleness
I begin to see a wider landscape of the future
To feel more freedom than pain
To resemble healing more than trauma

Only a teacher than understands
Trauma is ready to witness the depth of my pain
Only a teacher that understands
Yoga will appreciate the stretch of my courage
Today
I practice
The Yoga of Courage
I practice
The Yoga of Choice
I practice
Freedom Yoga

Photo, of the author in tree pose, is by http://www.brittripleyphotography.com/

Previously published on http://givebackyoga.org/trauma-sensitive-yoga-for-rape-survivors-reflections-from-a-poet

This is part 6 of a 7 part series on self-care.

Day 5: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 5: The Yoga of Self-Care
1. Remember to notice your breath and how it changes with situations, emotions, triggers, people.
2. Add an intention that includes something that feels miraculous to you right now. Miracles happen.
3. Nothing ever gets resolved with out ACTION. Run, walk, dance, jig or two-step your way into movement.
4. Being willing to seek out the root of your shit-storm is HUGE. Give yourself a big hug and eat some ice cream. Call on a friend and professionals.
5. This self-help method can be used anywhere with any problem.
Massage therapists always say: The issues are in the tissues. I agree – our body holds much wisdom and has a memory far more powerful than we probably know. It is incredibly important to honor, honor, honor what the body has to say during any healing process. This is one method I use in my 1 on 1 healing sessions frequently. There are many methods – use what works for you. I do encourage folks to do this on their own and when receiving care from a chiropractor, acupuncturist, yoga class, meditation time, massage therapist, dancing, etc. There are a gazillion ways to heal and this can be used and adapted for just about any modality.
Sit quietly and note where in the body you feel pain, discomfort, soreness, tightness, etc.
Set intention to be able to hear the message(s) your body has for you and make a clear direct statement that you are seeking wisdom from your body and are willing to hear what it has to say. Do your best to empty your mind and create space for the message(s) to come in without judgement. Use your breath to clear and absorb several times throughout the process.
You can hold, tap, or massage the sensitive point you have identified. As you begin to do this, see what situations, people, relationships, thoughts come to mind.  Allow the tears, anger, frustration, jealousy, etc. anything that surfaces, to flow. Each emotion needs to be honored. Once you think you have the emotional root, thank your body for holding space for this to be honored. Reassure the body that you are committed to resolving the issue and ask if your body would like to have you check in again. If yes, ask when. Send a huge dose of love to this part of your body. Then imagine wrapping yourself in a beautiful soft blanket soaked in love. Give your body permission to absorb the healing of love.
Then do some art, writing or whatever process feels good to you to absorb the new information. Process with a friend or professional if needed.
I suggest ending with a positive mantra/statement (or several) to tap into whatever part of the body feels natural to be tapped on (or massaged or held) and do that until you feel peace in all ways. Mantra suggestions: I am grateful for my innate wisdom. I love my body and our memories. I am grateful for being open to discover a layer of myself that deserves healing. I am committed to healing this wound completely. I honor this wound as a part of who I am and I know that I am whole, even with wounds waiting to be healed. My body is a gift. This knowledge is a gift. I am a gift.
Yoga helps me appreciate my body. And it helps my body release old wounds that I do not want to carry around anymore. Regular yoga practice, in a class or by yourself, is a gift to yourself. Stretch gently into healing. Give yourself loving-kindness and freedom from the past. These women inspire me. I am grateful they gift themselves yoga. http://www.rebelcircus.com/blog/curvy-girls-nailed-yoga-poses/
This is part 5 of a 7 part series on self-care.

Day 1: Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 1: Yoga of Self-Care

Ok, so the shit has hit the fan and you are in a mess – emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, and/or mentally. The only thinking happening is panic induced:
“Help. I need help.”
“What the Fuck – really? Now?”
“I don’t even know where to begin.”
“I am so tired of feeling attacked.”

 

Hit the pause button of your thoughts. Take an extra   s l o w   and   d e e p   breath – hold it for a moment – then release it slowly and completely. Make noise, or not. Do it again and allow a mantra to enter your mental space, such as peace and calm. Use it on the inhale and let the exhale take away as much stuckness as you are able to muster. Do it again for as long as you want, knowing that your breath, is your life force. Intentional breathing can help you co-create your homeostasis, your balance. Your body wants, and needs, you to pitch in and help out here.

Use this space you have given yourself, tiny as it may seem, to keep moving forward; to co-create a mental space that will provide a foundation for healing the shit-space you feel taking over right now. This is a critical mass moment – consider yourself in the ICU – cancel any non-urgent appointments and obligations to invest time in yourself. Now it is Your Turn as Guru Seth Godin, would say.

Too often we fail to do this – I know, I used to be the master of busy. It was far easier to show up for someone else than it was to show up for myself. I let life happen to me rather than taking charge. I deferred and procrastinated the ICU matters of my life until someone else made the choices for me or until the situation had deteriorated to such an extent that my options were severely limited. This is not Self-care. This is not, as a recent guru put it, Devotion to Self.

Have you ever been in a hard yoga pose? It takes an enormous amount of attention to hold that position. There is no choice but to be fully present in your body – the vehicle for movement, momentum, changing directions. This latest shit storm? It is your hard yoga pose. I know, it stinks and is terribly uncomfortable in all ways, but I am suggesting you “sit with your shit.” Being grounded and present and in your body is the first step to creating the life you desire.

I know you will find fertilizer for new growth and potential far beyond your imagined limitations of today.

Last, but not least, head for the nearest yoga class, immerse yourself in yourself, and find seeds of faith, hope, strength, courage, resiliency, wisdom, and love for your Self.

This is part 1 of a 7 part series on Self-Care.

Leaving the Known and Finding a Silo

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Leaving the Known and Finding a Silo

In the last year, I have had several friends tell me that I inspired them to make changes in their lives. They left jobs, sold homes, moved, left unhealthy relationships, took chances on new relationships and more. It is not easy to leave our known places that are comfortable. I am humbled, and inspired, by these stories.

I did leave a great home of 25 years called Des Moines, IA. I loved my friends, the local scene, the work that I did over the years, but I felt stuck in roles that I had created but could no longer support. I moved to save my Self. To find which pieces of me were worth keeping and to let go of other pieces. For some people, I jumped off a cliff into the unknown. It is true that I did not know a whole lot about my future. I had a temporary place to live, a few family members living near-by, a little bit of money, and no job.

I have heard over and over how courageous I am and I want to argue that many days, in fact, I feel terrified. Most of my fear comes from thinking I don’t have any choices.

In the end, I am reminded that more choices are out there than I can imagine. Most recently, I listened to a voice that said “Put it out there – your desire to live rent free and closer to work for the winter” and just a couple of weeks later, I found myself living in a silo 6 miles from work. I love this silo. It has shown me that I love a small, round living space, and that my needs are quite simple. However, as I packed up my things I wondered why I was leaving such a beautiful and comfortable home that I shared with a very kind and like-minded woman. Is moving somewhere for 2 months crazy? What happens in 2 months? I created a choice and in that choice there is discomfort of the unknown.

How do I discover my choices? I pray. A lot. The prayers have covered lots of territory in the last year: “What is next? Where is my next job, home, meal, tank of gas? What is the next strategy for healing this wound? And God? I am so relieved that it isn’t all up to me.” Then I listen and take the appropriate steps to find the next right thing.

I just want to point out that to live courageously often invites a relationship with fear. To step out into the unknown tells fear that I am accepting the lessons that fear has for me. This does not mean that I am not afraid, it means that I am signing up to practice being familiar with the unknown, uncomfortable, and the awkward. I honor the presence that fear has in my life and give myself permission to move ahead anyway.

It is in these places that I find some things resembling courage, resilience, healing, joy, and freedom.