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 ❤
I am so happy to say good bye to April and welcome in May😊 Last month was one of the hardest of my entire life. More details to come on that subject in future posts but for this post I would like to express my new found love for breathwork. You may be thinking my dear readers, what is breathwork? Here’s Google’s definition: Breathwork defines various breathing practices in which the conscious control of breathing is said to influence a person’s mental, emotional or physical state, with a claimed therapeutic effect. Last evening I participated in my second such course offered and facilitated by my dear friend Christina Tucciarone aka @comealivewithchrissymarie on Instagram.
Chrissy has an amazingly powerful presence as both a leader and a teacher. She and I have worked together a few times and I feel so blessed to call her my friend. I sincerely appreciate her devotion to what she teaches coupled with her insightful guidance during each session. Last night I really appreciated her steady reminders to push through the resistance that can be felt once the body is fully oxygenated. There were three rounds of active breathing for 7 minutes and then a minute each of holding the breath and releasing it at the bottom. During the first round I immediately felt pulled to the wounds from my inner child and an intense sense of fear and sadness. My entire body went completely numb. I knew instinctively that my body was attempting to dissociate. This coping mechanism is something I developed at a young age during the sexual abuse I endured. It served as a survival technique then and I must admit for most of my life over the past 35 years.
In the past year, since acknowledging and healing from this dark secret I have experienced a spiritual awakening that has transformed my life in such a way I view it has the Maria I was before June of 2019 and the Maria I am now. Going in and out of dissociative episodes when I found myself involved in intense emotional situations has been both a subconscious and conscious way for me to escape from reality. Over the years I had become very keenly aware of what was triggering me yet at the height of those experiences I was dumbfounded as to how to stop them from occurring. It felt humiliating afterwards when I would “wake up” and realize how much time I had lost. During the recent Divine Intervention session I had, Mr. Adifon confirmed that I regularly lose hours and still days of myself. Maria feeling Maria 100% of the time is very new still. Last night was a reminder of how going to that detached place no longer serves me.
I began to explore what little Maria was telling me. I listened and began a running dialogue in my mind with her, soothing her fears and reestablishing trust by vowing to not abandon her again. The human brain fascinates me. How such an intense level of fear and panic can create a whole new space for our psyche’s to travel to if just for a visit! My mind created this safe space, like a holding pattern for little Maria to still exist in yet not feel what was happening. Violation of a child is so seriously shameful.
However damaging that experience has been to my life I don’t regret it. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me from every single experience, everyday and in each moment over the past 42 years. Putting all judgements aside, good, bad, ugly and beautiful what I have learned is how vital all of it is to living a full life.
Here are some of the main things I have learned about myself over this past year……but most assuredly had them solidified last month. These were the messages I told little Maria I was proud of her for. Experiencing the pain of long held fear is absolutely terrifying when first felt yet in moment last night I knew I had to take control of my healing and be my own hero.
You are not afraid of change, you welcome it with an open mind and heart.
You have an intense love and trust for others, humanity fascinates you and you never meet a stranger.
Keep wearing your heart on your sleeve and remain proud of your free spiritedness.
You allow your big heart to lead in and through life’s ups and downs. Don’t ever change that Maria.
Empathy and intuition are your superpowers.
You my dear little Maria are extremely resilent.
Keep the people you love whether family or friends close to your heart creating friends for life!
It was an awesomely amazing hour. I cried a lot with becoming so flushed with emotion, sweat and gratitude seeped out of every pore in my body as we finished and wrapped up the session. I quickly composed myself and tucked myself under my trusty weighted blanket. Then I grabbed my journal to document the experience. I then took a separate sheet of paper out and wrote down the things I knew were time to release and let go of. My convictions growing deeper with every step towards the backyard, I read my own words aloud then lit the paper on fire. I closed the ritual with a personal prayer.
I wrote the poem below on Friday, before the breathwork course last evening. I’m so grateful for understanding and accessing my intuition and continuing to heal my inner child wounds. Life never ceases to surprise and amaze me. As always, with an open mind and heart I humbly bow my head and give thanks to God🙏
Ahhhhhh dear reader’s I can tell I’m neck deep in my own “stuff” when I wake up and immediately feel left over anxiety and frustration from the night before. Any little irritation sets me spinning off and yes I have been feeling quite heavy for the past 2 days as I reminisce about the good ol days of my youth. Since my last post I have been stuck on memory lane💭
Sadly, on Sunday my Mom called me to tell me that my step sister Liz’s husband passed away. My parents are both not well enough to travel from Florida to New Jersey for the service. I immediately thought of my nephews and niece who are now without their Dad. He was a great father and he and my sister were married for over thirty years. There are six of us siblings all together and I fall second to the last in age order. Here is a picture of all of us at their wedding sometime in the early 80’s…..
That’s me on the left😊 I was probably 7 or 8 years old.
My parents came into their marriage together with two children each. Back in the late 70s they did the best they could to create a blended family, which was extremely difficult because of our wide age gaps. My step brother Jay is twenty years older than me, my step sister Liz is eighteen, then comes my sister Tami (my Mom’s oldest daughter) who is twelve years older, then my brother Billy is ten years my senior. My parents had me in 1977 and lastly the baby of our family, my sister Gina was born in 1979. Thinking back I remember us all always spending holidays together.
When someone passes it always makes me think of the past and how fast time has gone by. I remember the little girl I was so wide eyed with wonder, curious about everything and super shy. I really didn’t break out of that phase until I started dancing competitively at around age 10. With all I have unearthed surrounding my sexual abuse at age 5 and 6, I have been slowly going back in my memory bank. That expierience taught me how to dissociate and being numb to my own feelings began there. Eventually I developed Complex PTSD, but that diagnosis took many years to come about.
For this post however I’m choosing to focus on how my youngest sister Gina and I had the best of everything provided to us. She and I are just twenty-two months apart. I call her G, she was my first best friend, we did absolutely everything together and my Mom dressed us alike for too many years I think🤣 Looking back at these pictures however, I must admit how darn cute the two of us were (are)❤
We grew up in a very idyllic neighborhood, nowadays I would compare it to Mr. Rogers’s. Our small town, Wyckoff, NJ is located just 15 minutes from NYC. Everybody knew everyone, all the kids in the neighborhood rode our bikes together, played on each other’s front lawns and swan in each other’s pools in the summer. Our neighbor directly across the street became my first friend outside of family because our mother’s were pregnant with us at the same time and I like to say we were bonded in the womb 😄 Around Christmas time, we would dress up and go caroling. Even my grandparents joined us and the neighbors would invite us in for hot chocolate and cookies. You could run to any neighbor’s house at anytime and feel welcomed. My sister and I went to summer camps, took all kinds of lessons including tennis, swimming, dance, piano, art, and sewing just to name a few, played sports and went on at least one family vacation yearly. We were extremely blessed to have been exposed to so much from an early age.
My sister Gina and I both started dancing soon after we could walk. I know I was around 2 years old. We were always paired in duos once we started dancing in competitions and we were always next to each other in the same line (our director said it made it easier for our Mom to take pictures!) usually front row, in all of our dance numbers. Thinking back, dancing was the highlight of my childhood and into my teenage years, creating my passion for dance and movement today 💃❤
Since G lives in Florida and I live in Texas, we are far away from each other. I can’t just get in my car and meet her to get our nails done or grab some coffee. When I was married and lived in Rhode Island while she was living in New Jersey, we used to meet at a half way point on I95 a lot so our children could see each other. Many times I would take her daughter and son back up with me to RI so the cousins could spend quality time together. I also used to drive down to NJ at least once a month to stay at my parent’s house for the weekend so everybody could visit together. Lately I have been thinking about her and missing those times we spent together a lot! So much time has passed since the sweet days of our youth and early adulthood. I’ve been experiencing a lot of inner child wounds that keep bubbling up to the surface. That’s what happens after you stuff a dark secret away for thirty-five years. It’s like holding a balloon under water, eventually it will find it’s way to the surface.
So I have spent much of the past two days in my head and in my shadow. All of the old beliefs about myself, old thinking patterns, nightmares and memories are back in full force. It feels sticky and honestly very awful. I must console myself by myself because that is the job of reparenting. It’s bittersweet because as much as I love these pictures, I can’t really remember any of the specific details that go along with them. My memories are really hazy and clouded by fear, anxiety, stress and an overwhelming sense of panic. I have often said my body felt like it ran on a motor of all of these fore mentioned feelings. Healing comes in waves. I’m weary and I feel weak. Time to retire this heavy head and ❤ of mine.
I wrote this poem before I fell asleep last night…
A fellow blogger friend of mine, Trina at https://itsgoodtobecrazysometimes.wordpress.com/about/ posted a question the other day and asked “what is the most ridiculous thing you have ever bought?” I thought about it while staring at my alter. A small table where I keep the knick knacks and stuff I cherish, hold a deeper meaning for me and relax me. Immediately, the little statue of a magenta ballon animal shaped as a dog silently barked! I purchased it last year in an art gallery in Miami when my son, Tyler and I were there on vacation. It was a very memorable time because my son and I hadn’t seen each other in over 2 1/2 years! Yes, divorce sucks! That particular day, we rented a car and drove from my parents home 45 minutes to Miami for the day. I had the best time just talking with him, sitting on the beach together and showing him my favorite spots to hang out, eat and shop. Ty is my oldest, my first born and the light of my life. We have so much in common. I was a stay at home Mom in the first part of my adulthood.
This will be another short post. I want to share with you my dear readers what a blessing it is to write and have the ability to channel my energy into my poems. At times, when emotions are running hot…that’s when my creativity comes alive. I write this one just last night.
This poem below is a message from my inner child, my little Maria to my adult self. Healing is a process that has taken a deeper dive into all the facets of self. Some people name their alter ego, I have not but lately have been considering it. Just to keep them straight. I know my partner likes to refer to me by a different name when I’m displaying characteristics that are unsavory. I keep pushing myself to uncover, untangle and help my true authentic self emerge more and more often😁💜
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.