Spirituality

Stuck on memory lane

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.

Little Maria age 3
Silly Maria age 5

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)❤

Sisters in the summertime
We ❤ this hammock

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 💃❤

Jazz sisters
“Dreamgirls” opening recital dance

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…

Mental health

Celebrating the small steps

In the last few days an undeniable and solid peace has washed over and is comforting me. My analytical mind wants to call out all of the reasons why I think this is so. Again, even while writing this and essentially downloading my thoughts on the subject of furthering this self healing journey I am on, I can’t help but see how both parts of my brain are working together. Not just the logic seeking, results driven analytical part but also the communicative, creative and empathetic part too working in a kind of see saw effect. I once dwelled so intensely in just the analytical part of my mind. So much so that I would get lost in the whys and feel terribly stuck. Sound familiar to anyone?

In the past as I just mentioned, I felt cut off and deprived at times from my creativeness. I believe that to be the lighter, more carefree and fearless part of me that can show myself compassion and grace. These two sides are no longer at war with each other. They have founded a new partnership and by doing so I am feeling a real sense of freedom.

I spend a lot of time these days reading about and exploring levels of consciousness. I believe that I am in the process of teasing out two concepts. One being observing how my ego mediates between superego and the id aspects of my personality. The stories each can spin in order to protect myself and impede the incredible shift that I’m undergoing are challenging my entire thought process while I expand my consciousness. Uncovering my true self, rewriting old and unfounded beliefs, lies really that don’t match my reality is for me just a higher level of awareness.

The second concept is integration of my shadow self and how much awareness I now have whenever I feel myself getting uncomfortable with parts of myself that feel at first shameful and threatening to my sanity. By digging a bit deeper and unconconditionally loving those parts of myself, I have created space for more acceptance of myself.

For example, the beliefs I have surrounding my own sexuality used to feel dirty and wrong. Instinctively I have been both dissoactive and dialectical when it comes to sex in general seeing it as both beautifully pleasurable, necessary as a bodily function while also feeling negatively full of shame. Yes, that is due to the sexual abuse and trauma I have experienced but it’s amazing how many other stories my ego would silently scream at me surrounding other aspects of my personality that aren’t part of my sexual identity as a woman.

I am continuing to tap into my self care rituals and reestablishing my yoga practice, breathwork and meditation has been hugely effective in gaining more mindfulness of both my thoughts and my physical awareness. How my feelings feel in my body. The most recent being a redefined focus of how anger feels. I know anger is born out of fear and while most of my life has been run by fear and anxiety, it makes sense to me that I am now paying closer attention to how anger feels.

I had blocked, stuffed and dissociated myself from these two most uncomfortable and troubling feelings. It sounds silly now to me but fear played a role in my drive that in the past I felt necessary to propel me on in life. Anger was something I completely denied and wouldn’t allow myself to truly feel. When I’m angry I have felt ugly, wrong and unworthy. These were the mixed messages my brain was being sent that only drove me further down sufferings path.

Now integrating these different yet vital pieces of my psyche I can clearly see how each one serves me and allows my resilience to grow. I’m having to have patience with myself which is extremely hard for me. I’m great at holding this space for others but when the focus is on me I immediately become impatient with myself. Meditation allows for and creates space between these conflicting thoughts. Once messages are challenged and the universe sends me signs that tell me to accept, love and care for myself in spite of my shortcomings, peace and contentment can grow and take root in my soul.

It’s so richly rewarding to be taking care of myself in these ways. Reparenting my wounded inner child, loving and accepting the small accomplishments will lead me to succeed. I have always held space for others, putting them before myself being and being the ultimate people pleaser. These days I am reevaluating how I feel in each of my relationships and establishing stronger boundaries. I’m deciding what is and isn’t my responsibility and what I will or won’t allow from others. It’s the ultimate in self love dear readers.

I’m really seeing how much these last 6 months of deep diving into integration of my shadow and reexamining my self acceptance, holding space for grace towards myself has given to my entire outlook on life. I know success is in my near future now. Doing this work has allowed me to open up my ability to tap into my flow state more. Operating from a much more conscious place. Focusing on really learning to love me.

Untangling shame is so empowering and is helping me alter my perceptions which give my creative mind even more to explore. Dwelling in the sticky uncomforbility of it all, challenging difficult emotions and moods is becoming a new superpower. I have accepted that only Maria can take the best care for Maria. This conversation I’m having with myself represents true inner beauty and acceptance because both light and dark must meet in order to be completely authentic ❤️

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 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💪🙏✌💖