Mental health

Emotional breakdown to spiritual awakening

Since my last post two weeks ago, I have been in the thick of what was first believed to be an emotional breakdown. Now I’m coming to understand that I’ve been experiencing a spiritual shift, an awakening and a rebirth of my spirit. The reiki sessions I had coupled with some introspective meditation has led me to this place of knowing that what has taken place has elevated me to a higher understanding and evolvement.

As an extra sensory person, an intuitive, emotional and physical empath I vibrate on a higher frequency which lends me to experience all these beautiful gifts our creator has bestowed upon me. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming and more like a curse or burden but lately due to the emotional flashbacks from trauma, moon phases, eclipses and shifting planets my world felt extra heavy. That’s when my shadow self appeared.

Over the years on my spiritual journey into healing and understanding of myself, I have learned that we possess both light and shadow selves. One cannot exist without the other. We tend to praise our light beings and have a more positive attitude and relationship with that part of ourselves. Meanwhile our dark or shadow self is cast aside, unaccepted and deemed wrong. It’s not ok to be depressed or sad. We deny it, resist it and try to abolish it altogether.

Lately I’ve been delving into research in holistic psychology and reading about this dark side that we may consciously or unconsciously be aware of within all of our egos. I’ve come to see the beauty and necessity of both sides. Again, one cannot exist without the other.

I have spent two weeks in a thick heavy mud feeling stuck. A roller coaster of emotions from sadness to anger and rage. All these feelings I stuffed, deemed as unacceptable or wrong even “bad” have come bursting out of me. My psyche has been attempting to block these uncomfortable feelings tied to my traumatic events for so many years.

Now I have this awesome opportunity to fully heal BOTH sides of myself. I sat in the mud, I told myself it’s ok to not be ok. I stopped resisting my depression and moved through it. Three nights ago I actually had a spiritual awakening. It was so powerful and left me with this overall feeling of peace and calm.

This is the best way I can describe it. It felt like an outer body expierience. All sounds became muffled and I felt outside of myself just observing the moment. Then there was a shifting feeling, like something propelling me forward. I was walking through the fog into a bright light. I immediately felt lighter, and I could breathe again! I haven’t been able to take deep relaxing breaths lately but now I could breathe a sigh of relief, finally! This sensation lasted for maybe thirty seconds.

Now I can get to work on the next step of my healing process. Eradicating the block I’m having while accessing those uncomfortable feelings during EMDR sessions. My traumatic event and the feelings that are tied to it must be properly reprocessed. I’ve done the soul searching and introspective work by accepting it now I can’t allow it to harm my emotions in a destructive way any longer.

It’s a balancing act really. Acknowledging both sides of myself and accepting both of them as they are. Appreciating the role both play in my personality and how I interact within my relationships with others. I’m moving forward and I’m on my way to feeling whole again.

Mental health

This is my watershed moment

I have spent the past month in the grips of an extremely disruptive and emotionally charged reckoning with severe trauma from my childhood. A flood of feelings and upsetting memories I thought stuffed down so long ago have come floating actually erupting to the surface of reality. I’m riding an emotional roller coaster from moments of sadness to rage and confusion. I also at times don’t feel anything but complete numbness. I haven’t felt like doing anything at all, this past week I have been especially depressed.

My mind is constantly vacillating from what I can control and that which I can not. In my past I would’ve made a rash, spontaneous and emotional decision to do something that was not in my best interest in the long term but that would’ve allowed me to escape my uncomfortable emotional state. This time however I can recognize and give myself some credit in choosing to ride out this emotional turmoil. Sitting in it, enduring every moment. Recognizing I only have control over my response to these uncomfortable feelings.

I was reminded recently about the concept of a watershed moment. Google’s definition is the following:
A watershed moment is a turning point, the exact moment that changes the direction of an activity or situation. A watershed moment is a dividing point, from which things will never be the same. It is considered momentous, though a watershed moment is often recognized in hindsight.

My life right now is in the midst of this exact shifting. In the first two weeks of attempting to get a handle on my intense emotions and memories I kept thinking about how content and perfect seeming my life was. Why did I need to remember and acknowledge this life changing traumatic event from my childhood now? My therapists reminded me again of the onion. Life unfolds in ways that allow us to learn even when we think we have dealt with all of our “issues”.

It’s within these times, moments of crisis and inner turmoil that we are presented with an opportunity to dive deeper, evolve more and yes learn some major life lessons. In this case, I am learning more about myself and why I have made the decisions I have throughout my life.

A few sentiments I have reflected on and which truly define my actions are as follows….

Courage is not the absence of fear-Courage is being afraid and anxious and showing up anyway.

80% of life is just showing up.

Don’t wait until you are perfectly recovered to be happy and enjoy life. It’s OK to be happily imperfect.

Finally this statement really rings true for me and something I have unfortunately let drive my decision making throughout my entire life….. When we make decisions out of fear-they are usually not in our own best interest.

I have attachment issues stemming from my upbringing. Attachment to anything positive or negative creates suffering. I am also someone who wants to run away from my emotional problems. Whether I self medicate, cover up or actually run away from my problems all of these choices have resulted in some very undesirable consequences for me and the ones I love.

Wallowing in my perfectionism, I have two modes. Trying to keep the outside looking pretty and good while on the inside I am shaking with fear and grappling with the rage aimed towards myself for the missteps I have made. Both are counterproductive and aren’t beneficial to my life in the long run.

I had another energy clearing session too. I was advised to manifest grounding by visualizing myself as a tree. Immediately my favorite tree and the one we had on the corner of my childhood home sprung to mind. I adore weeping willow trees. After my session I painted a picture of one I call, “Enchanted Willow” and I wrote this poem.

For now, I will do my best to stay grounded by actively working on recreating some inner peace so that I can let go and move on. Baby steps 👣

Mental health

Little Ms. Perfect

What is perfect? There are two separate definitions. Using it as an adjective means this, “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be“. When used as a verb, perfect means “make (something) completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible”. Either way it’s used I have suffered from perfectionism my entire life. In psychology, perfectionism is described as a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

My Mom has told me that when I was younger she used to find me obsessively organizing my room. I loved to neatly arrange my books, toys and knick knacks. Cleaning and straightening a room, tidying up things brings me a peacefulness and calm that’s hard to match by other activities. It’s also something that has made me feel strange and weird.

There was a period in my life when I literally couldn’t sit still or overlook a piece of lint on the carpet without having to immediately stop whatever I was doing to pick it up. After the birth of my first son, I found myself in a perpetual state of motion, always wiping a countertop or vacuuming a room that was already spic and span to everybody else’s eyes. I got caught up in routines that kept my in a “loop” for hours. So many routines and rituals had to be achieved compulsively and repetitively. Some days I got so stuck I didn’t even leave my house. Looking back those were dark days.

I’m a shift supervisor at a Starbucks and at 41 this is the first time I accepted a management position. In the past, I had been offered/recommended this role but I always turned it down due to my overwhelming fear of failure. Truth be told my perfectionist ways have plagued me throughout my life. Recently at work my manager challenged me to stop working like a superwoman. She asked me to examine my leadership skills by holding others on my team accountable for certain tasks. At first it felt awkward delegating the things I have been doing alone without help. Lately however I can feel an important shift taking place.

A favorite quote of mine by Maya Angelou is,”Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. Boy does this sentiment ring true in this regard!

I’ve always been an analytical thinker, wondering why things are the way they are and trying desperately to make sense of the world around me. I had this book as a kid called, “The book of why” and I loved it. I’ve especially been intrigued by my own emotions and the emotions of others. That intense curiosity has sometimes kept me up at night.

A former therapist once told me to disengage myself from the outcome of a certain problem I was having a difficult time finding a reasonable solution for. My perfectionist ways and drive to control a situation can leave me breathlessly spinning my wheels. Despite my efforts I end up feeling exhausted mentally with no end in sight.

When I start to feel my old ways creeping back into my daily choices, I try and recall his words. Letting go of the outcome and maintaining an open mind sounds logical enough but my heart stands stubbornly doubtful.

Establishing a connection within myself has been key to easing off my perfectionist attitude. Grounding myself really quiets my mind and eases my fears. Whether these fears are real or hypercritically blown out of proportion, I can often find myself overwhelmed and grasping for my idea of perfection. I’ve learned I’m only hurting myself when I put this kind of pressure on myself.

For there is no such thing as perfect my dear reader but perfect imperfections throughout life. Try shifting your perspective taking a closer look at yourself. Deepening your own connection within your soul. Becoming your own best friend, saving yourself from yourself. Like Shakespeare said, “to thine own self be true”.

Spirituality

For love of water

I was born on the East coast and have lived all my life near water. When I was younger it took an hour or so to drive down the New Jersey shore, depending on traffic. Then in my early 20s I met and got married to a man from Rhode Island. I lived in a few different cities there but my favorite house was a cottage I rented right on a private beach. In all of my adult life I have only felt at home in that cottage, it was my safe and happy space. One entire side of that cottage was windows looking out over Narragansett Bay. The smell of salt water and the sound of seagulls greeted me at my door every day. It was peaceful, serene and beautiful. I’m reminded of how much I cried the day I moved out. Thankfully I took pictures that I look at from time to time and reminisce.

I moved into that house with my family but moved out a divorced single mother. It was there that I found my independence and a renewed sense of self. In the 2 years I lived there, I discovered the confidence I needed to change my unhappy life. Everything about my life from move in to move out was drastically different. If those walls of that beach cottage could talk. Ultimately it’s those circumstances that helped propel me into more healing once I moved to Florida.

It’s been a little over six years since I moved away from the only real home I felt I had. Now I live in the land locked state of Texas. This area has a beauty all it’s own with some wonderful lakes and parks. Lately I have this longing for back home. The people, the food and most of all the ocean!!

I have caught myself feeling nostalgic and even melancholy about the place I call home. There is just something about sitting out on that sand, tasting the sea on your tongue and gazing at the waves. There are two places that give me the ultimate feeling of zen. One place is in the shower, the scent of clean body wash as the water cascades off my shoulders bringing me a sense of calm. The other is the beach.

I read an article recently that discussed one’s attraction and claim to a body of water calling it, my water. It’s that place where you feel most connected and alive gladly naming it as your own. I’m not sure if I have just one of “my water” spots yet more realistically I can claim a few. Nevertheless I feel them calling to me. I need a visit back home. I need to be refreshed and renewed by the ocean’s powerful force.

As an empath who is constantly being twirled around by other’s emotions and energies, the ocean is a place where my own energy can be restored. The ocean provides such a force, an immense energy that is so freeing for me.

I feel stuck in a rut lately. Not creative, bored and unamused. Two days ago I wrote this poem about my favorite thing to do in the ocean. Floating takes me outside and away from myself. It allows me to really clear my mind, release and let go. I feel amazing afterwards.

I set a goal for myself that this summer I must go for a visit back home, up North. To take in the ocean mind, body and spirit. I will leave all that weighs me down on its shore. I will be reborn.

Mental health, Spirituality

Learning to see the forest for the trees

I’m a highly detail oriented person who naturally takes everything in without a filter. Certain things come easy to me while others are more of a work in progress. Emotional intelligence is an area that I have worked hard to understand and master at a young age and I feel is crucially important to one’s well being. Seven years ago while I was in the thick of dealing with many complications from Complex PTSD, I took part in an outpatient therapy called DBT or dialectical behavioral therapy. This psychotherapy is the creation of psychologist Marsha M. Linehan. I enjoyed it so much and (needing reinforcement) I attended it four times! I fondly refer to it as emotional college. I was in a classroom of sorts in a separate wing of the psychiatric hospital I did many inpatient stays at for an entire week, 9AM until 5 PM with only a break for lunch. Our class was small, only 6 or 7 other ladies. We had reading assignments as well as homework. After completing that week I was invited to join an aftercare support group for an entire year.

In many ways those ladies saved my life, helped me learn some tough life lessons about myself and aided me in realigning my mindset, body and soul. Taking an introspective look at oneself is difficult and the desire to change one’s behavior takes lots of patience and practice. At first it was confusing and awkward but after my fourth time going over the educational materials, reading some self help workbooks focused on DBT and spending 2 hours every Wednesday evening with my support group I reemerged with a fresh outlook.

I learned that my intense emotions can sometimes drive me into certain behaviors that are self harming and self defeating. Continuing down that path creates more suffering. Learning and incorporating DBT principles into my life has changed the game!

Like everything in life, it only works if you work it! Over the past few years I like to open that workbook up and give myself a refresher. The main principle that I work the hardest at is definitely Radical Acceptance. DBT uses both behavioral science and Buddist concepts like acceptance and mindfulness to teach better coping methods for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. It has proven highly effective for many mental health disorders as well.

This is Google’s definition of dialetical behavioral therapy:

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy tries to identify and change negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive behavioral changes. DBT may be used to treat suicidal and other self-destructive behaviors.

In a nutshell it taught me that I can coexist between two mindsets, see both sides of an issue, be both comfortable and uncomfortable in any given situation. The definition of dialetic is this:

Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ; related to dialogue), also known as the dialectical method, is at base a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments.

For me the bottom line is that one principle I mentioned earlier, Radical Acceptance, is the key to ending my suffering. On most days I can clearly and easily achieve the understanding that even though I may not like something or think it to be ok, it still is. It is what it is. I have the choice to respond or react, always taking my emotions into account.

In this last week I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities. My fiance and I mingled with some A list former professional football player friends of his, had an overnight in a phenomenal luxurious lakehouse and on Sunday I met Mariel Hemingway at a small movie watching party and interview session.

I have admired her life and career for a long time. I even gave her my poetry book, “Emotional Musings” that she asked me to sign! A real “pinch me” moment that I will cherish forever. To be able to meet such a kindred and emotional spirit is so profoundly powerful.

Despite the years of psychotherapy, DBT classes, numerous sessions of EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) and reading shelves of self help books I still struggle with my core belief that I’m not good enough. I do however understand that I can chose to change that tape that plays relentlessly on repeat through my mind, unpack that emotion from that invisible backpack I wear daily along with the other intense emotions I cope with or I can suffer. Intellectually and logically I get it. Sometimes the disconnect is to my soul. The memories, the flashbacks and unfortunate nightmares that will plague me for life.

At the end of the day, I am growing and evolving everyday. I am blessed and humbled. I have people around me who love and understand me. I’m able to see the many miracles of humanity being an empath. Life is good ❤