Mental health, Spirituality

Further understanding and integration of my shadow self, getting comfortable with discomfort

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. 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 theworld 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 evolement, 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 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 oorder to have the acceptance of 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. 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. It is 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 well 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 rerelinquish 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💪🙏✌💖

Mental health

Feelin shook up

Life is full of ups and downs, ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys. Living with Complex PTSD and experiencing dissociative episodes these last eight years as a result of the severe trauma I have endured has presented many difficult challenges to my stability and daily functioning. Lately I have expierienced a shift that feels like the rug has been pulled out from under me. I’m stumbling and struggling while riding these waves of intense emotions. A place I haven’t been to in quite some time.

When I was with my family this past February, my son got to witness up close and personal how my empathetic abilities draw strangers to me for healing. These are the walking wounded, people who are looking to release their life’s burdens. He quietly observed as this woman approached me on the street to share with me her life story of heartache and pain. She needed to vent to someone who would listen with compassion and understanding. I’m humbled and blessed to be that outlet for others!

This past weekend I had my own unique experience with a fellow stranger who I later came to find out is an empath. She and I knew each other a very short time before she held my hand and confirmed to me some events in my life I haven’t admitted to myself or even uttered out loud. I have been walking around with this deep dark secret since a young child. This is the repressed memory and acknowledgement of being molested when I was five and six years old.

Four years ago I started the journey into healing my inner child. The main healing tool that has worked wonders for me is EMDR, the reprocessing of emotions pulling that “charge” of the trauma away lessening its severity from my mind, body and soul. Trauma is held in the body and can be reactivated and triggered long after the actual physical damage has occurred. Even though these events took place some thirty-five years ago, my cells have been “refired” and thoughts, feelings and flashbacks have come flooding back with a vengeance.

To add to this complex situation, I work in a fast paced, highly stressful work environment. Two days ago I had an emotional breakdown before work. In an instant I was struggling to breathe, heart racing, uncontrollable crying…..the whole thing. My current emotional mindset is NOT conducive to helping and serving others. I need to repack my trauma baggage, rediscover who I am while continuing to peel the layers back of my life’s onion.

I have been riding an intense wave of high emotions, enduring intrusive thoughts and nagging feelings of shame. Anybody who has gone through sexual abuse knows the debilitating feelings of shame. For me they have crippled my life for years at a time. My fear and panic gets triggered as I worry that I’m backsliding into the depths of overly intense emotions all over again. Something I thought I had neatly packed away and compartmentalized in my psyche.

The two questions that first stopped me in my tracks were, why me and why now? Everything was going great and I was feeling so confident. Now I feel angry, ashamed and sad. A kind of mourning is going on. I’m in the process of patiently accepting and observing these emotions without judging myself or wanting to harm myself. Que the intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation. Here comes that heaviness in my heart and overall exhaustion telling me to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head. I’m grieving my childhood and loss of innocence all over again.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far. This is all part of the healing process. We must continually throughout our lives revisit the pain and trauma from our past in order to learn, grow and accept it ultimately freeing ourselves. I refuse to become “stuck” again. I know I must carry on and this too shall pass. I’m taking a break to be kind and gentle to myself. I’m not ok right now and that’s ok.

Consciousness, Spirituality

A peek into my inner child

I have been involved in some type of therapy since age 7. This year I will turn 41 years old, needless to say, I’m well versed in all things psychology related. A few of my therapists have even admitted to me that they felt I was more qualified and knowledgeable than they were on certain topics. My major in college started out in psychology but I switched to humanities and later sociology. My main focus and curiosity in life has always been very analytical in regards to myself and the human condition in general. What makes us tick? What is the root cause for an emotion or behavior? I have been fascinated by others around me for as long as I can remember. Sometimes my curiosity and burning desire for the truth has led me down some unpleasant paths. Mostly I am in awe of the human brain, our psyche’ s and interaction with one another.

If you have been reading my two blogs thus far, you can probably draw conclusions has to why I am so preoccupied by humanity. For my new readers, I will tell you the two major influences are first and foremost my family of origin’s pathology, my dysfunctional and traumatic upbringing. Second is my own life as a physical and intuitive empath. These two aspects of who I am have been my ruling forces and have always guided my way. My journey into self awareness started very young because I was constantly being bombarded with thoughts and feelings I instinctively knew were not always my own. I devoured books on subjects including psychology, new age metaphysics, different world religions, different social sciences and even neuroplasticity. Discovering the answers and uncovering the truth were my goals. Three years ago I embarked upon a path on my journey that would lead me inside all of it and most importantly reconnect me to myself; inner child work.

Just another layer of the onion my therapist at the time reassured me. We had been having some very intense sessions of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) when he asked me if I had ever done inner child work. Damn, I whispered to myself, it’s THAT time. I have brushed off and avoided that topic for too long and now was the time to dive in head first. I understand that our society forces us to repress our inner child and “grow up”. The truth is while most adults physically “grow up” they never quite reach emotional or psychological adulthood. This leaves us in a state of childish fears, angers and traumas that fester away in the unconscious mind for decades. Inner child work is the process of contacting, understanding, embracing and healing that original self who we represented when we first entered this world. It is our capacity to experience wonder, joy, innocence, sensitivity and playfulness. At that time my 37 year old self was completely disconnected from that original girl locked away inside.

My therapist guided me in a few exercises to start. First I was to have a chat with my little girl. Now was my opportunity to protect her and care for her like I never felt I had been. Telling myself, I love you, I hear you, I’m sorry and thank you felt silly at first. In time and with the aid of visualizations it became second nature and felt really rewarding. Many of my most intense emotional break throughs have happened as a result of this one exercise, absolute healing. Then I was to search for picrures of myself as a child to remind myself of what I looked like then, not only my appearance but my expressions representing that presence of innocense. Luckily for me, my mother took tons of photographs and I had many albums to remind me of that little girl. I was truly enthralled by the sight of myself and the feelings these pictures evoked in me. My therapist advised me to recreate what I loved to do when I was younger as another way to reconnect. I remember I loved splashing in puddles. The next rainy day I set out and did just that for hours! I also rediscovered MadLibs, as a child I loved creative writing. To my surprise, I really enjoyed creating those silly stories again! Another component for healing my inner child was to go through different visualization and meditation sequences that really helped me focus in on and reflect on what I was feeling at age 7 and 8. That was the age we targeted because that was when a lot around me became too overwhelming to process properly.

Further along down the path of healing, I was asked to write a letter to myself in the perspective of myself at the age I feel emotionally inside (which for me is 17) from the adult (present time) me with my other hand. I’m a right handed person so this would be done using my left hand. I can not express how much this letter helped me. It sounds so simple yet this one exercise left quite a profound impact on me. In that moment I was again bonded with my teenage self and my adult self was my hero. I’m getting emotional thinking about it and writing this.

In the years since putting myself on this path of healing my inner child, I write poems. This poem is an ode to that little girl inside me and how she reckons herself with the world today.