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.

When Your Grief Takes Over

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Grief is such a personal process.

For me I know that I can take my grief out on others.

I retreat, isolate, get irritable and want to be alone.

I lose interest in the things that once made me happy and start to see life as the glass is half-empty rather than half-full.

We all have different coping strategies for grieving.

In my work as a spiritual teacher and medium working with people who have lost their loved ones grief comes up a lot. They all have different ways to cope.

And the one thing that stays the same is that is is hard.

If you are grieving or know someone who is grieving sometimes the best thing you can offer yourself or another is time.

What do you need? What does this person need?

I am learning in moments of grief to ask for support and to not go about it alone.

To be visible and transparent. To let others in and to also get support and resources from expert when I am struggling.

When your grief takes over, pause.

Breathe.

Ask yourself what do you need right now?

The goal isn’t to avoid the pain but to find ways to cope in a healthy way.

To feel better than 5 seconds ago. 5 minutes ago.

Gentle acts of self-love can be big stepping stones for yourself and others.

The road to recovery in grief is your journey.

Look within for the right tools to get you there in a healthy way.

You are not alone.

Telling Your Deepest Dark Secret

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Secrets in the Night (shh, don’t tell anyone)

I have a strange relationship to the night.

If I were to personify it, I imagine the night would be a man.

The night was a man.

An older man with a bald head and black mustache shaped like Hitler’s.

A man old enough to be my father.

Hint: What if he was my father? 

The night had no respect for me.

He would come to me half-naked waking me.

In thirst. Wanting me.

Desiring to put his dick inside of my thirteen year old vagina.

At 2 a.m. relentlessly he came to lie next to me.

[Are you awake?

I want to talk.]

Poking me with his long finger shaped like a penis.

The night would be a fear that would haunt me for years.

I would wake up in the midnight hour kicking and screaming like clockwork.

“GET AWAY FROM ME!”

This time the night wasn’t there by my bedside.

Sleeping next to me. Whispering in my ear how he wanted to fuck me.

This time the night was my partner.

A friend. A stranger.

And sometimes…

No one.

But the shadows.

I hated the night for years.

I had dreams of killing the night.

Murdering him slowly. Torturing him until he was sorry.

[It was your fault.

You wanted it.]

The night never lies.

It shows us the truth of who we are of the darkness that lives inside all of us.

He lived like a disease inside of me until I too was slowly dying.

From the memory of his hands on me. Of his words that haunted me.

That’s why I tell this story.

The night comes to show us the secrets that we are hiding from.

Something I have learned about the secrets we keep is that some of them do slowly kill us.

Which is why I tell this story.

Sharing a secret is like giving away an all-access pass to a room in your house.

It gives us a moment to remember what happened.

It gives us the truth.

And the truth shall set you free, right?

From Confused to Clear: Letting Go of the Relationships that Bind You

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After a week of processing some pretty grey areas of my life with my relationships to my parents and family, I finally feel clear.

I went to therapy and shared how my week went. From the heavy discussion with my mother and intense banter with my father I knew what the path was for me.

To simply not have relationships with these people. Not because I don’t care for them. But because I care more for myself and my own well-being.

I had a discussion with my mother a few days ago about our past. I asked her a question.

“Have you ever thought about why Dad did what he did to me?” or “Why did you team up with him to hurt me? Why did you put a towel in my mouth?”

I paused after I asked her that.

My mind questioned me in the same way.

Why did she put a towel in my mouth? And matter of fact, why am I even talking to her? 

If it weren’t for the label “family” I wouldn’t have a relationship with this woman.

Or anyone who hurt me in such a destructive way.

But because of our biological tie and emotional connection a part of me was confused and hopeful.

That she and I would grow together in a healthy way.

She never gave me any answers which only showed me that she really hasn’t put much thought into her actions as a mother.

In my pregnancy my past has become VERY CLEAR. There is no hiding the truth. No living in the shadows or in false ideas of hope, happiness or healing.

I think there is a sadness to the loss of them. That I really don’t have a close relationship with my parents and I never will in a healthy way.

That they lose the chance to be a part of my life. And of their grandkid’s life.

Pregnancy has shown me how I could never imagine my own child experiencing horrific acts of treatment.

In therapy today I shared all of this.

I realized how much more clear the path with them has become.

And how much more clear I feel about my choices.

Who gets to go in my tribe and who doesn’t.

I am so impressed with how much I have grown as a woman.

From a dark place of once suicide to a thriving woman making healthy choices, creating healthy relationships and most importantly one with myself.

Cheers to resiliency. May it show us the truth.

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.

Dear Emily, Sunday Advice Column #1: Keep Fighting the Good Fight

Soul Sunday Advice Column #1 with Emily: 

Dear Emily,

I’m swimming in waters that are taking me down. There are so many urgent issues that it seems as though I can’t even prioritize them.

One thing that seems to hold things is that after 12 years with my dogs, I cannot make a decision about moving without considering that no one will take my “vicious” dog.

Talk about Sophia’s choice!

Then how quickly can I move forward & mine & my family (spirit knows who) that need me probably more in a spiritual way than anything else has to be dealt with.

Em, I’m flummoxed. 😉

I’m going under because I don’t think I have the strength to keep fighting the good fight. When I can, I want to book a session, but who knows when that will be (actually, I guess YOU do, lol). HELP.

– R.A.Ch.

Dear Fighting the Good Fight,
I read your letter several times listening and feeling the struggles you are facing. As you share your story with me I know that moving forward and great change is one that is eluding you. It is getting uncomfortable in the comfort.

When faced with the choice of what to do next about your dog, listen to where your heart is guiding you with it. My dog is my best friend and I know that if it came down to her being “vicious” or harmful to others or myself that I’d be faced with some tough decisions on what is best for the health of all including hers.

Put it out into the universe, pray on it, talk to your Spirit family. Relentlessly look for options here. The key word is “relentless”.

When nothing is left in you to fight this is the most imperative time to call on the universe and the people around you for moral support. Reach out to organizations and foster homes for your dog.

But remember your well-being is of the MOST important. We can’t be any good for anyone else if we aren’t first taking care of ourselves.

Ask Spirit to show you what is the best choice for you in this matter, especially at a crossroads with an animal you most love and adore.

What is holding you truly back from putting your needs first?

And can you be willing to compromise and find peace with what you CAN give right and CAN’T give right now?

I know what it feels like to feel as if you are swimming in deep waters without land in sight.

Keep praying, asking and don’t give up. Be relentless and when you aren’t able to anymore angels will guide you.

Perhaps in this message something will land and get you to the next step.

With love,
From Emily