Braving the Past & Telling Your Story

 

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I have a slight obsession with freedom. My tattoos speak for it. I have five tattoos all of which symbolize freedom.

 

One is a tattoo on my right wrist of the word Moksha in cursive with pink autumn leaves, the moon and stars around it.

 

I got this right before I moved to New York after I got out of the military.

I was a photojournalist for the Navy and while on deployment I took a class on religions.  In Hinduism they have many ideas and one is moksha; freedom from suffering.

 

This reminds me that I am immortal. That I can be free any moment from suffering, from the past and from the cycle of pain.

 

The other tattoo is of a heart with wings and a banner in the middle with the words Set Free.

 

I got this when I was seventeen right before I joined the Navy. I remember sitting on a small stool for hours for this tattoo.

 

It was so important to me to have this tattoo. It symbolized my journey forward from the past.

 

There was a man beside me that I looked up to and saw as a Father.

 

He was a born again Christian. With tattoo sleeves of Jesus Christ on his arms.

 

He was also a former drug addict. And biker gang member.

 

His name was Glenn. Glenn Johnson.

 

He was a father of two that he knew of. I lived with him and his family for two years until I joined the Navy.

 

They adopted me when I was sixteen.

 

I remember sitting at the dinner table doing my homework while he made dinner.

 

He paused from his meal-making and said, “Emily, what if I told you that I wish I had you years ago before my wife?”

 

I laughed.

He couldn’t be serious.

 

Could he?

 

How could this happen to me again?

 

Is there something wrong with me? Did I ask for this?

 

No thought really could make sense of his question. No thought could give me answer that made me feel better.

 

My Set Free tattoo was a symbol of freedom.  

 

A celebration of me finally being free from them.

 

From him. From the past. From memory.

 

The thing about freedom from the past is not that we never remember it.

 

Or that we forget.

 

I tried to forget what happened to me.

 

Even now I am still recollecting fragments of memories.

 

We can never be truly free from the past because it always is a part of us. But we can be free from the power it can carry in the present and in the future.

 

I have a sparrow tattoo on my left wrist. I love birds. They also symbolize freedom.

 

Down my left forearm are the words Fortitude; courage in the midst of adversity.

 

A reminder that even in my darkest moments, in remembering, in sadness I can still be courageous. I can still find the silver linings to every storm.

 

Get the picture?

 

Tattoos tell the story of memory. Of time.

 

Of what I have overcome. And also what I must remember.

 

Remembering gives us information.

 

Here we can go back in time like magicians and manipulate experiences.

 

Say what we always wanted to say. Visualize the conversation we always wanted to have.

 

Overcome the fears, heal the past, write a new story for the future.

 

Remembering also gives us the truth. There are no lies in facts.

 

It gives us grief, joy, happiness, laughter,  anger, rage.

 

It gives us moments of softness. Tenderness.

 

Forgiveness and acceptance.

 

When we remember we have the power to see life from a 360 degree view. That is how powerful the mind can be.

 

Remembering gives us insight into growth. Into who we were.

 

In my journey of healing from trauma there have been many times that I didn’t want to remember. My brain tried to keep my safe from seeing, feeling or experiencing memory again.

 

It is only now in the journey of being brave to face it again in a new light that I can sit with the memories that once were terrifying to feel again.

 

A tool that has been an anchor in my healing and writing process that I would love to share with you is from the book Wild Mind.

 

The author shares a writing prompt: “I remember. I don’t remember”.

 

I practiced writing my story using this writing prompt and uncovered so much more.

 

My invitation to you is to brave your story. To go where your mind may fear to go.

 

To ask for support in the process of remembering and to gather all the tools you need for this quest.

Creating Healthy Boundaries

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Creating healthy boundaries has been a struggle of mine for many years.

I have fallen into the rescuer, the people pleaser, the need for approval, seeking belonging, seeking validation roles too often.

As I have become more in touch with these parts of me I am taking time to check in with myself so that I do create a healthy boundary for myself in interpersonal relationships.

I am learning what works and doesn’t work for me in my romantic relationship, friendships and family relationships.

I have a tendency to sound mean when I assert myself so I am learning how to assert myself from a firm and honest place.

I think I have anger over the years of times that I didn’t get to voice my boundaries and they were disrespected such as in the case with the sexual abuse from my father.

Creating healthy boundaries is a process of trusting one’s self. Trusting to say no when something truly doesn’t work for you.

As I continue to grow and heal I am learning who I want in my life, how close and what boundaries I need to put up around those people who are unhealthy, energy suckers and or toxic.

It is so important to take a step back and see what you really need in any situation.

What I have learned about boundaries:

  1. Listen to your body. If you are getting a gut response in your body of resistance or NO, LISTEN. Your mind may trick you for different reasons but the body knows. Go with what your body is telling you.
  2. Give it time. Some boundaries are set up over time. You have a boundary with a family member and then it gets broken the first time. Depending on the nature of the boundary the relationship may be immediately done or you may give it time to see if any healing can take place.
  3. Take space. Some situations require space. You may choose to have certain relationships but put those relationships in a place that doesn’t require your time and effort. You may see these people occasionally on your time in a certain fashion that feels healthy to you.
  4. Write about it. When in doubt about a boundary, write about it. Notice what you feel most drawn to after. What is the boundary and what do you need? Honor where your intuition and body are taking you.

At the end of the day if it isn’t working for you then you know the answer. This goes along with anything. From our diets to our thinking to our relationships.

Getting clear on our boundaries and what kind of lives we want to live with the people will impact our growth ten-fold. Surround yourself with a community and people who value what you value.

The Tale & Healing from Sexual Abuse

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Last night I watched The Tale, a new movie on HBO based on true events of the director Jennifer Fox’s life. She was sexually abused by her running coach at thirteen.

Usually I opt out of watching these movies because they do trigger me. For anyone reading if you watch the movie, know that you might be triggered.

There are some graphic scenes that made me sick to my stomach.

I saw myself in the main character. She resonated with me in her journey of discovering that she was sexually abused and accepting it.

I don’t know about every woman but I do know that for years I couldn’t accept the truth. It was a slow agonizing process to realize that my father wanted to have sex with me.

Even as I type these words I feel sick to my stomach.

Watching The Tale last night only magnified my feelings around sexual trauma.

I was very promiscuous in my twenties. I experimented with women. I experimented with polyamory relationships. I have wondered if my experimenting had anything to do with the trauma around intimacy.

In the film, the perpetrator tells the victim it was her. He was in his forties and she was a thirteen year old girl. It was her fault that it happened.

I remember many times my father saying the exact same words.

It was my fault. I wanted it. 

The journey of sharing my story has been a slow process.

I have held shame around it as if I was the cause of all the abuse.

I know now that it isn’t the case.

I felt an obligation to protect my parents. I shouldn’t talk badly about them. 

Or talk about what happened.

If you ever find yourself saying shouldn’t remove it from the sentence immediately.

It only brings guilt.

I lived with another family at sixteen.

In the film the main character idolizes two adults who become like her family.

I remember idolizing this family as well.

They adopted me and I moved in with them.

As the adopted father and I grew closer I remember several conversations of him sharing that if he had met me years before his wife we would be together.

I was sitting at the kitchen table doing my homework.

I remember thinking, “Oh no. This can’t be happening again.”.

It was a scary life for me as a budding teenager.

I know that many times I thought I should try dating women because then I’d be safe.

I wasn’t particularly sexually attracted to them as I was emotionally.

I wanted to feel safe.

They made me feel safe.

The Tale shows that a young girl wants to feel special especially by her family.

To feel safe. And loved.

We all do.

The main character freed herself in her own way by speaking her truth.

But remember this is based on the director’s life.

I admire Jennifer Fox for taking her pain and creating a powerful message with it.

I am just starting to really talk about the years of trauma I experienced.

Thank you Jennifer for being a voice for us. For giving us perspective into your journey.

I look forward to taking my story and impacting millions of women with it.

 

Manifesting What I Wanted Flat Broke and Confused

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My manifestation journey has been one of trust, intuition and conversation.

It can be hard to stay connected to your vision when in the process of moving.

I have had a powerful journey of manifesting what I wanted when I had very little to no money and just a vision in my mind and heart.

I had this nudge to move from New York City to Los Angeles a year and a half ago.

Based on my inner voice telling me that I was going to move here.

At the time it sounded absurd especially because I created a whole life in New York.

I gave up my tiny studio apartment in the Bronx and couch surfed with a friend in Brooklyn for three months.

It was a process to accept that I was at a turning point in my life.

I felt depressed and confused.

I knew that I couldn’t stay in New York much longer. It was becoming so hard to be there from the cold to the busy madness of the city. I was leaving a subculture behind. I was leaving a relationship of two years.

And a relationship of ten years with New York.

When I really decided I would move to Los Angeles it was a process.

I flew out to LA several times. I didn’t find a place to live until about a year after deciding to move.

I didn’t want to just settle for anything. I had a vision in my mind.

I was going to live in a house close to the beach. I would be close enough to get to the mountains for hiking. I wouldn’t pay more than $1500 a month for rent. I didn’t want to buy furniture.

I just wanted to show up and start my life.

Within a year I told anyone I was in conversation with that I was moving to Los Angeles.

And in that year synchronistically I found a place via word of mouth in a conversation in New York City. A friend shared her friends were moving back to NYC and they were living in a house.

And there it was. I flew out shortly after, met my future roommate who now has become a great friend and put my deposit down.

It was a house near the beach. The rent was exactly $1500. It was furnished.

It was everything I envisioned!

And it was seamless to move in.

I didn’t have much money saved. And I just knew I would make it work.

From that day forward my life has completely changed.

I have invested in two years of self-development training from emotional intelligence to yoga teacher training.

It has helped me grow into the woman I want to be and also helped me leave behind so much of my identity that was unhealthy.

Not just that but I have manifested some beautiful surprises.

I am now in a committed partnership with a man I met one month after moving here.

We are going to be having a child soon due in December.

I am entering the next chapter of my life of Motherhood and loving a human that I haven’t even met yet.

I am still finding my footing financially after so much in self-investment. But I remember my vision. To a well-known author and teacher.

Who makes enough to support her family and more. Who makes a social impact in education and food injustice.

I don’t have much money right now.

And that’s okay.

I have my well-being. My health.

My partner. My support system.

And a whole lot of LOVE. More than love than I ever had as a kid.

And the best part is that I get to channel all of that to my kid.

We think we need so much money to manifest what we want in life.

But the truth is you don’t. You need a good head on your shoulders, a vision and good people.

Share what you most want to manifest. Envision it in your mind.

Trust your feelings. Act on them. Some processes take a little time but the rewards come in plenty.

These are the tools I have learned in my manifestation process that will continue to get me to where I want to be:

  1. Trust the nudge. Your inner gut. The persistent voice in your head to make a move.
  2. Talk about it. Write about it.
  3. Envision it and see how it feels in the future. Imagine yourself there. What are you doing? Who is around you? What are you creating?
  4. Go where your vision is. For me it was moving to LA. So I flew out here many times. I made friends every time. I explored the community. I talked to people. I networked. When I felt a partner coming in my life I meditated. I joined an app and decided to give it a shot. I followed some love experts advice on dating. I did something new that I wouldn’t do in my dating process normally.
  5. Do what you never do. Don’t go where you feel comfortable. Go where you are uncomfortable.
  6. Get support. Surround yourself with good people in your life. Who are on the same path. Vision oriented people. Of integrity that you can trust.

The rest will fall into place. It is isn’t a matter of how but WHO.

 

 

 

 

For the Sexually Abused Woman

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My father reached out to me to congratulate me on my pregnancy. He also mentioned a message of now I will never be alone.

I couldn’t help but to reply that yes, I will never be alone because I don’t abuse people.

We don’t speak.

He knows I don’t want to have a relationship with him yet he oversteps my boundaries.

He has never taken responsibility for his acts of sexual abuse to me.

He has never changed, grown, gotten help or acknowledged the damage he has inflicted on his family.

And even if he did, it wouldn’t change anything.

I could never trust him.

For years he made me feel that it was my fault for his sexual advances. That I asked for it.

As I embrace motherhood I can’t imagine my child ever experiencing what I went through.

The inhumane treatment I experienced.

There was a moment that I thought my parents would kill me.

A memory of my Mother stuffing a towel in my mouth so that the neighbors wouldn’t hear my screams while my Father beat me on the floor.

This is only one of the many violent memories I have been healing from in therapy.

There was a time that I felt guilty for not wanting a relationship with him. He drilled this belief in us that no matter what happened we were family always.

So he could treat us any way and we still had to love him in the end.

I wonder why life still gives him and people like him a chance to live.

For the women who have been sexually abused and abused… you have every right to speak up. To say something. To feel angry. To feel complete utter rage.

I got to say what I wanted to always say to him today.
That he is a sick man.

And one that will never get my pardons.

I refuse to play in a relationship that is built on the past is the past and let’s move on. On an idea of false happiness.

He still treats my Mother will little to no respect. He preys on young women. He is abusive towards everyone. And this year he spent his birthday alone. With no one by his side.

Karma = action = consequence.

We have no obligation to the people who violate us regardless of the title “family”.

I have grown immensely over the years into a pretty phenomenal and healthy woman. I had to save myself during moments when I wanted to end my own life.

I am still decompressing the years of violence and abuse in therapy. I still have moments of PTSD and triggers. My therapist and I have done serious work to get me to where I am now. And I am super proud of myself.

My friends who suffer from trauma, you can’t change what happened to you.

But you can change how you live with it and how those people live inside of you.

They don’t get to have your power.

They get to hear your voice.

You get to be here.

You belong.

Speak Your Voice even if it F*cking Shakes

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The process of sharing my voice has been an uphill battle.

As a child and young adult I never truly felt safe in sharing my voice.

I didn’t know the rage it could carry when angry.

I didn’t know the gentle grace it has when soft.

I didn’t know how powerful it was to move crowds.

It has been in the last few years that I have given my voice a chance to be FREE. To say what it has never said. To feel the tremble of anxiety in front of crowds.

To be on Facebook live and teach webinars, do mediumship messages in front of strangers and liberate myself from the fears of judgment, rejection and disapproval.

Or worse.

My little girl is slowly leaving and my woman voice is rising.

She is firm. Stern. Soft. gentle. nurturing. compassionate, resilient as fuck.

She loves unconditionally.

She holds space with sacredness.

She gives because she just fucking wants to.

And… she curses. Because it feels good.

And these days I am all about doing whatever I can to feel better.

The goal isn’t 100% going to be to feel good. But I can make it a goal to feel better.

So I am giving myself permission to be FREE as fuck. In my communication.

In my message. In my loudness. In my softness.

I still am learning boundaries. To give and to receive.

TO SAY NO.

NO is still hard. It is safe for me to say no now with grace and ease.

For those who are not sure what their voice is or are stepping into the power of the voice here are some tools that have helped me:

  1. Scream. Find a mountain. Find a room. Your car. And scream as loud as you want to. Scream all the things that your heart hurts from! Scream all the things you want! Shout it into the universe! What are you deserving of? What are you healing from? Who do you want to curse out? DO IT! And don’t hold back.
  2. Sing. Sing in the shower. Sing strange sounds. Make up new words. Play with sound.
  3. Speak up. Be the first to speak up in a crowd of people. Raise your hand. Everyone else is probably too scared to speak their truth. Do it and be the source of change.

These are a few tools I practice to help me release, transform and hear what I want to say, what I need to say, and what I MUST say.

It doesn’t always have to make sense. It is an experiment with you finding, hearing, soothing your voice.

Be free voice, be free.

How to Come Out of the Spiritual Closet

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“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”. – Anais Nin

Coming out the spiritual closet can be terrifying. I know.

My journey to owning my gifts has been an ongoing relationship of love, acceptance and surrender.

I feel that most days I am uncomfortable but in my practice of being human I remember that I am not separate from others.

If anything my gifts brings me closer to connection, trust and vulnerability.

Talking dreams, spirit, intuition and all the things that are still becoming mainstream can be scary but yet invigorating.

I find liberation in my practice through yoga, pranayama, journaling and meditation. I find answers that I otherwise don’t get it in my waking life.

The process to discovering, owning and then sharing our gifts with the world is a delicate journey.

Some people leap right in and for some of us it takes time.

I like to remind myself that on the other side of fear is freedom.

It is a constant practice of sharing my gifts with the world.

This is true for anyone passionate about anything. Artists, writers, creatives, chefs, craftsmanship. It all requires a sense of mastery and surrender.

Letting go of the effect but trusting in the process.

Coming out of the spiritual closet requires:

  1. Remembering “WHY” we fell in love with the art of spirituality
  2. Having a vision that we are committed to, i.e. I teach people life-changing spiritual tools so they can live free, transformed and intuitively guided lives supported by the universe.
  3. Surrender, i.e. surrendering to being present with every moment being a gift to share something beautiful about ourselves in hopes of helping another
  4. Trust; trusting that there is a reason and purpose for what we feel to be true in our nature and relationship to self and the universe.

Start big, start small. Mainly just start.

The first step begins now.

On the other side of every doubt, fear, insecurity is a new gift waiting to be received.