Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
In light and in shadow, always with ❤
Just finished watching “The trial of Gabriel Fernandez” on Netflix which is a horrific account of child abuse, torture and murder at the hands of his own mother and her boyfriend. It got me thinking about how much I love people. Life is so precious and short so I want to tell you all, I love you❤ Let’s make an effort to show each other more love and kindness because it’s so needed in this world today!
In other news, I am really excited to be taking an adult tap class tonight! It’s been a good ten years, probably more since I have taken a proper tap class! It’s definitely honoring my inner child so little Maria is thrilled to get her tap shoes laced up again💃
I need to carve out some writing time so I can share with you my dear readers all about my son’s visit here. Spoiler alert** he wants to move here!!
My dear readers, have you ever woke up to a certain song stuck in your head? I did this morning and the way my mind works I’m always so curious as to where it came from. I grew up with my mother playing a lot of John Denver and American folk music in our house. The song that popped in and kept replaying was “Annie’s song”. That’s still one of my Mother’s favorites and I must admit mine too. Whenever I hear it I want to run through a brighly colored meadow or hike up a mountain. The whimsical visions that are sparked in my mind are so clearly an ode to love and nature. Lately, it’s a love affair with myself and my new found self love Imthat I’m so interested in exploring. I envision myself holding hands with my younger self running through that meadow and the look on the face of that little girl inside me.
Life has a way within its ebbs and flow to present me with what I need to consider more of and work on when it cones to either delving deeper into shadow work or exploring more and caring for my inner child. Lately, it’s the latter I have been being reminded of. I’m not sure if I have published my real name yet on this blog but it’s Maria. My full given birth name is Maria Teresa Pratico. Little Maria has been begging for my attention lately and wants to be nurtured. My legal last name is Swanson and I chose to not change that when I went through my divorce because I wanted my boys to see us as still being a family. Now i choose to use my maiden name because it resonates more within me. The Swanson in me was a robotic force and Pratico is more of my true identity.
After the realization I had in June of the abuse that I suffered it’s like a whole new part of me has been awakened and is demanding my attention. I must tell you my dear readers, my own years of therapy, the countless books and articles I have read on processing emotions has taught me that when our feelings are not properly realized and our emotional moods go unexpressed, over time it creates a real issue that just continues to hold us more and more captive. This is especially true when it comes to trauma, the more we stuff and repress the harder and heavier our bodies get holding onto that energy. That’s what having sessions of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy has helped me to release. However, there are other ways my inner child wants to be recognized and reparented in order to fully integrate her into my body. In his book, “The body keeps the score,” Bessel van der Kolk writes about unresolved trauma from a neuroscience perspective and explains why traumatized people experience incomprehensible anxiety, inexplicable numbing and intolerable rage, and how trauma impacts concentration, memory, and the ability to form trusting relationships. These are symptoms that our bodies display because it’s been holding onto that energy, trapped in our body.
For so much of my life, I operated in an auto-pilot unconscious state of being. Now it feels like I was almost two separate people. The me before and the me now. I wasn’t awake, I lacked self love, self confidence, I doubted myself in almost every situation and really I can admit I wasn’t really living! I held myself back so much by choosing to focus more on other people’s feelings and emotions, their problems in hopes that if I could fix them I would be loved. Now I know that the only person who can give me the full attention, fulfillment and happiness I crave is me. It’s not an external process and doesn’t come from material things. I feel like I’m really living and in doing so I am living out loud, unapologetically and on purpose. Speaking my mind and my truth in my loudest voice whether or not it makes some people uncomfortable and disagree with me…all of it! If you don’t like it, look away and step out of my way because nobody will become my next excuse for not taking care of myself or stopping me now. At 42 years old, I have stifled myself for far too long and it’s my time to shine!
With it being a new year and a brand new decade, I made a promise with myself to do the things that made me uncomfortable. Right now this includes getting more and more comfortable with uncomforbility. I started recording video confessionals on my social media that I call, Maria’s Musings. I’ve never been a fan of myself in pictures and video because I’m so critical of my looks and my voice. No more!! I even record myself without makeup, dressed in my pajamas or workout clothes. It’s me being me and loving myself every step of the way. You can find me on Instagram @emotionalmusings. I checked off a goal on my vision board too by doing my first poetry slam over the weekend. I performed my poem, “Glimpses” which is a tribute to my dear Nana who is now one of my spirit guides who appears to me as a butterfly🦋
The new me has confused some people in my world and one person in particular is my partner. He gets upset with my new and total focus on myself at times because he is so used to me putting others, like him first. This has created a lot of friction between us. In the last five months we have argued more than the last six and a half years of our entire relationship together! I have disclosed in previous posts that he is also someone living with severe mental illness stemming from traumatic brain injuries and the many concussions he sustained while playing professional football.
Another harsh reality he faces are the facts that have been well publicized about the connection between traumatic brain injuries and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)which is a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. The symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. These symptoms typically do not begin until years after the injuries. CTE often gets worse over time and can result in dementia.
It’s creates quite a challenge for him as he has watched many players die or commit suicide by shooting themselves in the heart so that their brains can be studied. Recently, he lost another player to suicide and when he told me, the look in his eyes rattled me to my core in a very deep way. Our connection and bond is so strong and to think of losing him in anyway but especially in that way terrifies me! Then I start examining everything he is doing and saying in a more critical way. The empath in me has had to learn how to actively block him so I don’t get caught up in his energy and thoughts.
Lately, it’s all been too much for me and my own regularly shifting fast moving energy collided and had in a way a head on collision with his energy and BAM! Making life decisions based in fear is never a good idea and results in undesirable outcomes. It’s my nature to love and accept others. That must include both myself currently and his reality too. All of that became entirely too much to handle last week. We had a bad blowout that resulted in both of us saying things we didn’t mean and I ended our relationship.
I also allowed this overly active fear and emotional state to spill over into my job as a manager for a dear friend of mine’s boutique. Without going into details, I did something that I shouldn’t have that could of put the business in jeopardy. My emotional state had me not thinking straight when I made this mistake. Then I went further into crash and burn mode by telling her I was quitting and gave my two weeks notice abruptly and without any warning which hurt my girlfriend’s feelings badly. I know now what I did could’ve had irreparable damage to their livelihood and our great friendship. Taking stock of the situation took some serious sole searching on my part. The will to listen and quiet my own fears so that I wasn’t acting so selfishly and considered all sides of the situation. I’m praying for a positive outcome to my apology.
Living in fear is like being backed into a corner, triggering me to feel scared, helplessness and confused just as I did during the abuse I suffered. As I continue to heal, these parts of me are lying dangerously close to the surface and my own current reality. They at times become twisted up and entangled in a way that clouds my decision making and has me wanting to escape. This is by no means an excuse, it’s my reality and I’m addressing it head on.
I want to share with you dear readers the importance of addressing what you need to in life because we only get one shot at living. Life is precious and short. I’m someone who wanted to pull the plug by cutting my own short because living was so painful and I felt the only way out was death. A permanent solution to a temporary problem. Learning to love myself and having the ability to love another person, despite terrifying circumstances shows strength, resilience and most of all courage. Summoning that courage took the abity for me to use pain as a motivator not as a roadblock. I admit, I don’t always make clearheaded decisions concerning my life. I have the tendency to want to blow up my life and throw the towel in and say FUCK IT ALL!
Not giving into these urges is hard for me because my natural tendency has been conditioned to not focus on my own uncomfortable or challenging feelings of fear, anger and sadness. I stuff, numb and dissociate from them just like I did in childhood during the abuse. It was easier to put my mind in another place and numb out. It’s our bodies defense, protecting our brains from the highest levels of anxiety and circuit overload. I now know this coping mechanism no longer serves me and I must change that maladaptive pattern before it continues to wreck havoc in my world today. Following inner compass suits my life and decision making much better!
Choosing to love and remain in love is hard during these fearful moments but if I want to live, I must love. I have also been programmed to find pleasure in pain. I have been noticing that when typing a lot I tend to type live instead of love. That’s what sparked me to start investigating this vital connection between loving and living. In order for me to consistently maintain my happiness, I must choose to love in order to keep living. The abuse is over. The little girl who experienced that rauma is grown. I have learned a better way to live. I can make better choices. When I fall down and make the same mistakes my from past, I can now recognize them and correct them by taking responsibility for my words and actions by choosing to not blow up my life. If it’s one thing I have learned it’s that the grass is never greener.
I choose to accept my partner’s prognosis and conditions because when taking stock of the pros and cons of our relationship, the pros undoubtedly outweigh the cons. More on that in upcoming posts my dear readers. Once I can snap myself back into my body, I can easily recognize this. When I was high in emotion mind, I wrote this poem. Thankfully for me writing is such a great outlet. One I need to rely upon more so I don’t actively allow fear into the driver’s seat unnecessarily.
When I first started this spiritual journey into healing my mental health and searching for just who I am there were two concepts that honestly terrified me. Those two things were the idea of healing my inner child and meeting my shadow self. The latter being the most intriguing yet completely unacceptable to me way back then. November of 2011 was an extremely dark period of my life yet it also marks an important time in my life because I was given the gift of desperation. Once I hit my bottom the only way to go was up and through. Understand that clearly dear readers, the only way to healing is walking through the pain. There are no quick fixes, magic pills that numb your feelings forever because those feelings are sensations in your body that send your brain important messages of what your body needs.
Our society wants to ignore feelings, seeing them as a weakness not a strength. Swallow or stuff them in order to be strong when in essence it is completely the opposite that grows one’s mental strength and fuels the soul. This past weekend’s full moon was a very powerful reminder for me to actively release all that no longer serves me. It also brought up some more darker truths, that being the existence of my shadow self. But what is shadow self?
When we are born we don’t know anything about how our body works and what it needs. As our knowledge about the world around us grows our personality is forming. Based upon what is socially acceptable, some aspects of ourselves are repressed and denied because they are seen as negative. It is the subconscious part that our egos don’t want to identify with, everything of which is unconscious. Basically the unknown. In order to truly become enlightened one must explore, accept and integrate this side of ourselves to achieve true balance and a sense of wholeness. Again, there is no way around this, one must walk through. There are many ways that we can learn more about this mysterious side of ourselves but my favorite is journaling. The kind of writing that is free flowing, not thought out, in order to access those feelings we deem as ugly, the ones we don’t want to admit to having. We all have parts of ourselves that we deny because we naturally seek love and acceptance. Our egos tell us loads of lies to protect ourselves from rejection, abandonment and pain. What’s amazing is that this other side of ourselves is actually incredibly powerful and necessary to our evolvement, by becoming more self aware we grow to accept others too. We can identify and show empathy toward others when we see these sides of their personalities emerge. We become less judgemental of first ourselves, then of others. We can forgive more easily and practice humility. When I consciously made the decision to meet my shadow self, my ego was screaming at me to stop, close that door and bolt it forever. Throw away the imaginary key that I had created in childhood. The energy that I have now restored within myself by ceasing to repress this side is so empowering. All that exhaustively wasted energy was my egos attempt to keep my true spirit covered. I thought I was protecting myself and staying safe. The exact opposite is true as I was a prisoner of my own mind. Stuck really, feeling as though I was fighting my own brain. I repeated this pattern for a couple years. Put my own self healing on a shelf, not ready to deal with it.
The same patterns emerged around facing my inner child. That wounded little girl that was conditoned to betray herself and her needs in order to be accepted by others. Over time that progamming made me feel unworthy of love and attention cementing within me that I was unimportant. That is where real suffering begins and lies start to multiply. I had ignored my childhood pain for long enough because these mixed up messages were creating chaos within my relationships. I was constantly being triggered into a trauma response morphing me into this extremely hypervigilant, nervous and fearful individual who had an over abundance of anxiety.
By following me and reading this blog of mine, you should be able to tell by now that I have made a lot of progress in investigating, facing and accepting both my shadow self and healing my inner child. I believe it is a lifelong conscious decision and isn’t something that happens overnight. I am actively reparenting myself by tending to that part of my wounded self. It demands my patience, requires self compassion and asks for me to allow space for showing myself grace. This concept is especially challenging for me because I want to deny myself, blame myself and hurt myself when I feel certain of my needs aren’t being met. Repeating the past and the way my caregivers ignored my needs. Today it’s up to me and only me to fulfill these needs and tell myself new stories, creating a new tape to play in my mind when I am triggered.
Monday morning I awoke feeling so powerful and confident but by that evening I found myself triggered, acting out and all those parts of my shadow self were alive and acting out in my behavior. I created chaos within the partnership with my fiance because I was relying too heavily on him to mke everything better. He was so confused and alarmed by my words and actions. In hindsight he had every right to question the woman in front of him. In the past I would deny any of this was even happening because I wasn’t ready to acknowledge the darkness within me and the pain inside me that had been laying dormant for years. That is the old Maria, now I am choosing to heal by accepting this new path. I spent yesterday giving myself permission to show myself some love. I practiced self care, rested my overworked body and mind by spending some extra time practicing meditation. Inner peace is only achieved when I can slow down my thoughts, observe them without judgement and become mindful of my breath. This is where the power of choice comes in. Making the conscious decision to understand mysef more fully AND accept whatever comes up is like a new superpower.
Making friends with the darkest of my emotions has sparked a tremendous surge in my creativity. Realizing my shadow self is a reflection of my power, honesty and passion. I can laugh at myself with ease and relinquish the perfectionist in me that tells me to hate myself when I make a mistake. I can take myself less seriously. I use my meditation practice to focus on self compassion when I feel like I want to start beating myself up again. Squashing old patterns and forming new pathways takes mental, emotional and spiritual awareness. The mental strength and courage to be my best and most whole self. It’s like meeting myself for the 1st time. It’s the most gratifying and profoundly powerful experience to date on my self healing journey.
Sending love, compassion and understanding to al the other self healers out there, we got this💪🙏✌💖
This summer has been chock full of unexpected realizations, observations and shifts in my perception relating to my past traumas. As I continue to heal and incorporate new skills for coping, my therapist lent me a book entitled, “Unf*ck your brain”. It’s an easy read and I was able to read most of it on the plane during the recent visit with my family. Today I finished the last ten pages.
I’ve read many self help books but haven’t read anything in that category in years. Now that I’m solely focused on my own healing, I took this opportunity to really soak up the information this book presents. It’s a very common sense approach to understanding how your brain operates, reacts and handles trauma, the potential and possibilities for real change. Neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. Each chapter is a break down of brain functions and the chemical responses to our emotions.
Awareness is more than 90% of the battle. Learning about and becoming aware of my triggers can help me slow the process of my reactors and responses to my emotions and behaviors. I’m not new at this but given my current circumstances this book was a good refresher. This is a long repetitive process because our brains love recognizing patterns and we become creatures of habit. Disrupting and challenging my thoughts can help rewire my brain’s ability to cope in a more productive way. I learned that emotions only last 90 seconds. They are meant to be temporary and when they persist longer than that, we have entered mood territory.
The best tool for rewiring the brain is meditation. The ability for my brain to recall a state of mindfulness and calm is extremely beneficial once I become triggered. It takes practice but it’s the best thing I have learned in self healing.
I expierienced many ah-ha moments reading this book. I made an important connection between my trauma and what is called “traumatic grief”. My brain displaced and delayed the grieving process in order for my survival at the time of my trauma. Our brains are hard wired for survival. Any feeling you don’t allow yourself to process, will keep reappearing until it is healed. If you feel it, you can heal it! I believe the disconnection I carried for so long of not feeling worthy enough to heal, not trusting or believing in myself created enormous amounts of guilt and shame. Then I was stuck in a pattern of feel, hurt, push aside and suffer. Over and over again throughout the years.
My patterns for a long time were centered around blocking and resisting painful and uncomfortable feelings. As a result of the traumatic grief I have been carrying, I believe much of it in my subconscious, has led my brain to establish this chronic cycle of depression and anxiety. A quote in the book that resonates with me is, ” no one ever told me that grief is so much like fear”. Our cultural expectation is to possess rather than release. We are conditioned to hold on to something rather than letting it go.
The expierience of traumatic grief is created when we don’t allow or aren’t allowed the necessary grieving process. My sexual abuse has a child was something so painful, uncomfortable, confusing and scary that I simply didn’t allow myself to feel it. It created this inside motor of fear that literally drove me. For so long I have thought my spirit animal is a rabbit. Always hypervigilant and nervous.
I’m reexamining the relationships within myself. That is the area I must attend to because it’s the foundation for everything. My ego, attachments, feelings of chronic abandonment and displaced emotions have created a disproportionate reaction in other situations. All of this has played a role in developing a constant trauma response to life. For example, keeping myself busy and always moving soothed my anxiety but further delayed my grieving process and once the memories came rushing back, I was thrown sideways.
This book explained the biochemical roots of my brain’s reactions to stress. Most of this is the perfect storm combination of genetics and triggers. It’s more validation that I’m not crazy. I’m giving myself permission to honor my grief and by accepting it I’m showing myself grace. I will have to develop a new spirit animal now!
Self compassion is something I never really thought about until recently. It’s the opposite of self esteem. Focusing on my insides rather than my outside successes and failures. It means forgiving myself. That which I wasn’t aware of, I didn’t have the opportunity to heal. Now that I’m so much more conscious of it, it helps me make sense of what happened in my past, how the fight/flight/freeze patterns developed in my brain.
My relationship with radically accepting not only myself at this moment but what has happened in my past to bring me to this point is now my main focus. I’m using this time wisely so that I can fully heal and let go. My trauma recovery timeline has been disrupted many times over the years. I will not do myself the disservice of over analyzing why but I now see that much of what happened to me was not given the proper amount of time and focus to heal. Researchers have found that ninety days is the basic timeline for reestablishing equilibrium after a trauma. Each trauma is unique to that individual. There is no cookie cutter, one size fits all for healing mental and emotional trauma.
Another variable that I must recognize is my experience as an empath. We sensitives are the people that notice early on what is dark, broken and hidden in our society. For much of my journey I was an unrealized empath, meaning that I immediately took on the discomfort around me like it was my responsibility to feel all the dark brokenness around me. My vibration was lowered to match my environment. I didn’t acknowledge this or know how to talk about it. Now I’m shifting to allowing for a higher vibration by first aligning myself so that I may raise the vibration and offer solutions. Seeing the situation from my inner being. Pretty deep stuff.
This is hard work. I follow a couple of awesome profiles on Instagram that help by providing me daily reminders. Positive affirmations and guidance so that I can do the work. I’m challenging myself to allow and make room for change. It’s all part of the ever changing process of healing and growth. Becoming more aware and adjusting as is necessary. Following my inner guides so that my spirit can shine through unfiltered.
The definition of radical acceptance is this, “Radical acceptance“meanscompletely and totallyacceptingsomething from the depths of your soul, with your heart and mind. I’m determined to keep moving forward by intensifying my ongoing relationship with acceptance which will allow myself continued healing. Namaste y’all🧘♀️
Understanding who I am and making sense of the world around me has always been something I have focused on. From an early age, especially because of my intuitive gifts, I have been on a quest for “why”. I’ve had major breakthroughs and then some serious setbacks. What I’m understanding now is that life has a purposeful way of unfolding so that we can uncover our own truths.
I have regained focus on my journey to self discovery and made a renewed commitment to my own spirituality. Keeping my energy clear from toxic people and their emotional turmoil is a boundary I will not have crossed. It has become crucially vital that I must continue to cleanse, ground and balance myself in order to not only heal myself but to be present for those around me that I love and cherish.
On a larger scale, my goal and purpose in life is to help heal others by sharing my experiences. I must continue to heal my inner child, reframe my thoughts and challenge conditioned beliefs that no longer serve me in order to find meaning in my life.
Life has an uncanny way of unfolding just as it’s meant to be. I do the work, put in the blood, sweat and tears. Sometimes metaphorically and at times physically. I allow myself to feel the emotions I tried to cut off because they were unacceptable. Showing up for me and rescuing myself from drowning on a daily sometimes hourly basis from the emotional world I live in energetically can be daunting. It’s painful, not sexy and down right annoying at times. It’s also absolutely worth it.
Once again in my life I am reinforcing the desire of choosing me and I have no guilt about that choice. As an empath, I can easily get lost in other people’s stories and emotional lives while fighting the urge to “fix” and rescue those around me from themselves. As a woman and mother in our Western society, I believe we are falsely conditioned to deny ourselves our inner desires. We are taught to be people pleasers, to play nice and that leads to putting others needs before our own. Fear of being judged and cast off as “that girl” or being called a “bitch” because I said no to someone’s demands played an unhealthy role in my life.
Today I say, no more. I have drawn my invisible line in the sand. I have rediscovered inner peace and I’m not willing to let it go again for anybody or anything. My two greatest challenges in life are boundaries and balance. Recently so much has “clicked” and I finally can see that my emotional boundaries with others are vital to my sanity and survival. Maintaining them is crucially important to my wellbeing and are a non negotiable part of whom I choose to be in my life these days.
A supreme awareness and understanding of how as children we are all conditioned and taught to give up our authentic selves to appease others, fit into other’s perceptions of how things should be and conform is now so abundantly clear to me. Few humans become self actualized. Therefore we continue wounded cycles into adulthood because certain necessary needs were not met.
I’ve written before about my love for Maya Angelou’s quote, “do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. It has always spoken to me because it allows for self acceptance, growth and the belief that change is possible. Now that I am consciously aware I can change. I have all the power. It is a choice that is within me. I’m continuing to awaken, become enlightened and evolve. I have reclaimed my power.
It takes practice and humility. Denying my ego to completely take over so that self may emerge unfiltered. I was emotionally stunted because I allowed my conditioning and the confusion of feeling other’s emotions so intensely that it derailed me and my ability to be successful in other areas of life. I became paralyzed by over analysis of myself. I can honestly say that I am proud of myself that I can recognize my progress. As with everything it is a work in process as I choose how much or how little to show up for myself by making myself a priority.
My fellow INFJ’s and empaths understand what I’m saying here I’m sure of it. I’ve not chosen a major career and financial security has always eluded me up to this point. Those two things used to make me feel less than because I was comparing myself to others. That tactic has proven self defeating because what I have chosen to chase down in this life is a deeper understanding of me and who I really am.
It’s the path less traveled by most. The majority of us go through life with blinders on, half dead to who we really are on the inside and just going through the motions. I tried that throughout my 20s and even into my early 30s. Now I’m 41 and I’m finally seeing clearly for the first time. My behaviors and maladaptive coping mechanisms no longer make sense. I want to live my life more inline with my spirit. Shedding the past and embracing the now.
It’s taken a village! Over the years establishing a support system, putting some tools into daily practice and discovering what works and what doesn’t for me. Taking time for me and making myself a priority sounds simple but I did anything I could to not focus on me. Me was too fucked up and uncomfortable. I used to sometimes say that it felt like my brain was at war with itself. It left me in a cycle of pain dissociated from myself and the world around me ultimately feeling so lost.
Lately I feel so alive, renewed, refreshed and reborn. I have read about my astrological trajectory often through the years and it always stated I would be a late bloomer and come into my own later in life. Boy is that ever the damn truth. I have regained trust in myself, belief in myself and most importantly I have maintained my hope and faith. Now I am free to set my intentions and manifest my own dreams into becoming a reality and that not only feels possible but truly amazing🙏