Embodied Heart

Blogger Recognition Award

Thanks to Riya at High Noon Journal for nominating me for my first blogging award! I love the energy of her blog and the honesty she brings to her life experiences. Her writings include reflections on being in her 20’s, spirituality, travel, personal growth and lots more! She’s also quite active as a blogger which inspires me to write more often.

award

This award is the most widely used and very popular among bloggers, both new and old. This award is all about fostering growth and recognition, community feeling and prosperity. It encourages new bloggers to showcase their blogs and to support and share fellow bloggers’ creations as well, to get valuable advice from experienced bloggers and share their own experiences. Thus everyone nominated are encouraged to participate in it, though the choice to participate or not lies solely with individuals. This is a lovely initiative to foster community feeling among fellow bloggers.

The Purpose of My Blog

I’ve shared my blog’s purpose previously. I haven’t shared as much about why I chose to start it when I did. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I’ve spent a lot of my life staying quiet about what happened to me. In the last few years, I’ve grown in my spiritual practice and found my home within Goddess Spirituality. This development created a desire within me to connect with others who have had traumatic experiences and who are interested in spirituality, psychology, personal growth, creativity and nature. I’ve been blogging for about 5 months and have found it to be a rich and rewarding experience.

Reflections on Blogging and Blogging Advice

My Goddessing from the Heart and my Sagewoman blogs are the first blogs I’ve ever written. I never anticipated the positive, encouraging community that I would find on WordPress. It has definitely motivated me to continue to write. Contributing to my blog here has motivated me to make personal changes in other areas of my life; I’ve laid plans to decrease how much overtime I am working in order to achieve a healthier balance.

In terms of advice to bloggers who are starting out, I would definitely recommend pacing yourself. I had a stretch where I was writing each day and I knew I couldn’t produce quality work if I kept up at that intensity. I also think that taking time to read other blogs and write feedback to fellow writers is key; the more my work on my blog feels like a conversation, the more motivated I become. Lastly, something you may relate to if you’ve been blogging for a while is that I’ve found blogging to be a therapeutic experience when negative events happen to me. I think I’ve had some personal growth because the nature of my blog is personal but not particularly specific; I don’t share where I went today or the specific people with whom I interacted. When I have a stressor and blog about it, it pushes me to move beyond complaining about what happened to get to the root of what is driving my thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Real life holds a lot of inspiration!

My Award Nominees

1. Bird Flight: I’ve enjoyed reading about updownflight’s mental health recovery and viewing her nature photography.

2. Toni-Ann La-Crette: I’ve learned a lot from Toni-Ann; she’s an intuitive Tarot reader with a great sense of humor.

3. Inner Journey Events Blog: Della has been an inspirational source of witchy wisdom for me.

4. My Pretty Sydney: Maadz has an awesome lifestyle blog with beautiful nature photography.

5. Amanda’s Diary Pages: I take virtual tours of Northern England with Amanda’s travel writing.

6. Penny Heiple, Transformational Healing Facilitator: Penny does a fabulous job integrating science and bodywork.

7. Priestess Spiritsong Dreamweaver: She has become one of my go-to sources of guidance on pagan practices.

8. Surviving Childhood Trauma: I’ve been inspired as I read Shanon’s work journaling her recovery from CSA.

9. Where Spirit Stops: She writes about trauma recovery, pagan practice and has lots of cute Esty shop creations.

10. The Purple Hermit: Nikita shares great poetry and personal reflections on solitude.

To all who have been nominated, you may accept the award and write a post about it if you wish to do so. To all my readers, thanks for your readership and I hope you’ll take a moment to check out these blogs!

Award Rules

  1. Write a thank you section for the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Write briefly on what this award is all about.
  3. Give a brief description and your thoughts on how you started your blog and what’s it all about.
  4. Share your experiences in your blogging journey for fellow bloggers both new and experienced, to give valuable insights about your blogging efforts.
  5. And finally, nominate 10 of your favorite bloggers for the same and let them know by commenting in each of their blogs about their getting nominated by you.

 

 

 

Embodied Heart

To Name the Loneliness

I wrote the reflection below during a time of feeling particularly in touch with aspects of isolation. I do not always experience myself in this way, which complicates the presentation. At the same time, I think giving voice to this side of who I am is valuable during times when the themes of family and celebration are ever-present, and so I decided to share it as an #EmbodiedHeart post today.

There’s an ache in my bones when I’m lonely. The fibers of my being seem to be stretched thin and taunt, pulling me along without offering full support to my frame. It’s physically painful, mirroring the emotional pain I feel inside. And, always, the snide little voice in my head reminding me that I “chose” this path by separating myself from my abusive family of origin.

Chronic loneliness and social isolation affect many trauma survivors. For those of us who have experienced incest, feelings of isolation can come in waves. The estrangement from family members who refuse to acknowledge the truth. The holidays endured, rather than celebrated, without a place to truly call home. The pervasive sense of being “different.” The awkward social interactions, stumbling to learn the rules of human communication without a guide-map from childhood. Romantic relationships which crash and burn the moment any semblance of betrayal surfaces.

I marvel that those who are able to wade through the deep waters of dark family secrets and make it to shelter and communion. Their hearts and hands seem mended. Tender moments and genuine healing seem to be the foundation on which they rebuild their lives.

I have brief instances where I surface and see the shoreline, but each mad dash towards it only seems to pull me further from land; more isolated, more guarded, more convinced I’m incapable of loving others. I tug myself onto a patch of sand, surrounded by water, and build castles of schemes and projects. I’ve retreated from seeking sails of potential connection on the horizon.

It is not without irony that I consider my greatest fear for my future. It is not dying alone, that I think I can brave as I’ve braved birthdays and graduations and other major life events bereft of acknowledgement and company. Instead, it is losing my independence. I envision myself one of those crotchety old-timers beating off the nursing home attendants with a cane. As much as my isolation can harm and does harm me, I wouldn’t trade it for subservience, compliance or enmeshment for a moment. Some things taste bitterer than the salty tears I shed on the seashores of my isolation.

Embodied Heart

#MeToo As an Incest Survivor

For today’s #EmbodiedHeart post, I want to share a personal reflection on recent events related to bombshell after bombshell of accusations of sexual impropriety. I rarely comment on things in the news but I’ve been hit hard by both the hope of a tidal wave of change in this arena as well as the lingering doubts about whether anything will change for those of us who suffer abuse at the hands of family members rather than famous people.

As I’ve read numerous stories of women standing in their truth and being taken seriously, as well as some of the accused realizing the gig is up and admitting to their behaviors, I find myself simultaneously triggered and grounded. Triggered in bearing witness to accounts of the myriad of men who chose to exploit their power, often at the expense of those who were vulnerable and young. Grounded in a growing chorus of righteously angry people who are no longer willing to demand we apply the stringent expectations of a court of law in proclaiming that the person is “innocent until proven guilty” but instead allows a well-corroborated story to stand on its own and recognizes the courage it takes for women to find their voice.

I am an incest survivor, one who experienced sexual abuse at the hands of biological relatives. Yet, decades on with so much suffering and difficulty in everyday life, I doubt my story constantly. My recollection of what transpired in my childhood was implicit until I reached adulthood. A series of events unfolded, including my estrangement from my family, after which all the horrific details began to make themselves known to me. My family denied everything.

I doubt myself not because I doubt myself, but because I have no confession. If my family members admitted to their actions, I would have a sense of closure. Without that, I feel perpetually in a “as if” state, knowing what I know but unable to move on. I feel accused rather than being the accuser. That’s it, I feel as though my family members, those who destroyed so much in my life, get to stand in judgment of me for being a “bad daughter.” As I’ve shared previously, my mother could look at me after crying for days and tell me she was always happy. How does one define reality with a person like that? Someone who cannot see despite having perfect vision. All this time and distance, and I still can’t fully shake their grip on what is absolute and what is right. A tiny part of me wants to pursue a court case simply for the verdict. If it went in my favor, perhaps I could hold on to that as truth.

The larger controversy about delayed memory also weighs heavily on me. I was once on an interview only to have the individuals conducting it mock people like me because of this issue. My paranoia said one of my references had tipped them off as to my struggles while my spiritual being was washing with waves of gratitude for being granted the foreknowledge that allowed me to dodge the bullet of working with such heartless people. Needless to say, I declined the job offer.

I find it highly ironic that people with limited connection to their abusers are finding acceptance and are being believed, while those of us who have been betrayed in the most intimate of relationships are still by and large questioned on every front. My hope is that this is truly a tsunami, not a tidal wave. That what has started with the famous and the infamous, the wealthy and privileged, can grow to such heights and carry such intensity that all the walls of denial and basements of buried secrets are flooded and thrown asunder. That the resulting disorder and disarray can serve as a catalyst to finally hear and see the truth of the terror that strikes not only the choir boy and the swim team member and the actress, but also child after child in the privacy of their own homes.

Embodied Heart

When Even Silence Buzzes

I’m not a music lover. The pulsating rhythm of most concerts leaves my ears feeling like they are bleeding, not an experience I desire or seek. In general, I hate sound much more than I find it pleasurable or interesting. I remind myself frequently that I should be grateful for the fact that I can hear unaided, and should find joy in the beautiful noises in my life such as birds chirping or squirrels chattering. But more moments than not, “be quiet” is on my mind. In today’s #EmbodiedHeart post, I will be exploring my experience with sound in the context of struggling with PTSD.

I do not recall a time where I used my ability to hear in a way that enhanced my life. I grew up with many siblings in an old house with poor insulation. Every noise made by a family member echoed and reverberated through the wooden structure. After puberty, a sudden shift took hold, mainly around the dinner table and while driving in a crowded van. The sounds of others eating or my siblings inventing little melodies absolutely enraged me. Researchers still puzzle about the scientific validity, but having lived for decades with it, I am convinced misophonia, which is the hatred of certain sounds such as “mouth noises,” is a real condition. Noise that cannot be blocked because it causes physical vibrations as well as sound waves (such as bass music) sends me into a full-blown hysteria every time.

Difficulties with sound processing have been linked to conditions such as PTSD. In addition to misophonia, some individuals suffer from hyperacusis, which means they experience certain noises to be louder than they actually are. Phonophobia involves anxiety in reaction to loud noises and may be related to misophonia. A central feature of most of these problems is that certain sounds become connected to negative emotional events; the noise itself can then provoke the emotion.

When I am finally in an extremely quiet environment, the buzzing starts. I have tinnitus in both ears. It is as if my brain is never satisfied with quiet, and the expectation of disrupted peace evokes the appearance of it. I did have an ill-fated attempt several years ago at wearing earplugs overnight after showering, resulting in severe outer ear infections, so I did myself no favors there.

As I write this, I realize how little effort I’ve put into seeking professional assistance in combating my hearing problems. When I have gone to audiologists, they’ve offered no help beyond testing my hearing; they have generally disregarded my experience of difficulties with sound processing. After my latest visit, I was diagnosed with abnormal auditory perception, which means, in addition to my intense reactions to normal sounds, my brain also has difficulty putting together the sounds it is receiving. This explains the problems I have at times understanding others when they are speaking to me, and why I frequently ask them to repeat what they’ve said.

I’ve spent many hours online alternating between researching cabins on 10 acres in the woods and camper RVs so that I can escape at a moment’s notice. I know that neither of these possibilities offers any guarantee of silence. As I sit with my experience, I find it odd that silence represents something different from “peace” and “relaxation” to me, instead, it signifies the absence of suffering. I equate being able to hear other humans and the noises they generate with suffering and with pain. Certainly anyone who’s been trapped in at a child’s birthday party for too long can attest to the realness of desiring some time without shrieks to think, but my experience is such that I spend a good part of my time every day dreading potential sounds as well as clinging by a thread to my sanity when the music gets going or the gum chewing begins. This awareness is leading me to see that I need to more fully pursue interventions to reduce my suffering that allow me to live in greater, rather than less, peace with noise.

Goddess spirituality and Pagan practice are filled with sounds. Dancing, chanting, drumming and the like send up bursts of energy to Goddess in worship and adoration. I vacillate in my ability to access the well of spiritual blessings these noises contain depending upon my emotional state and general level of hyper-vigilance. Given the power and potency of sounds to ward off and call in and name and release, I now desire to have a greater ability to both disregard noises that are irrelevant to my experience and to tune in to and celebrate those that enrich my life. In doing so, I hope to learn from others about what has worked and not worked for them. What is your experience with sound? How does it affect you both positively and negatively? If there are noises that you dislike, what have you found helps you to ignore them? What allows you to enjoy the sounds you prefer?

Embodied Heart

Small Treasures, Discarded

I’ve decided to call the posts I share that relate more to my personal experiences #EmbodiedHeart to represent the goal I have in processing and relating them to others. These posts will contain aspects of my trauma story and could perhaps be triggering, although I do not intend to share a lot of specific abuse memories. I hope to hear from you if what I’ve written connects for you.

I had one special box as a child. It had held a honeycomb a relative had harvested from his beehive. The lid was clear plastic but the box was study. It contained all of my miniature treasures. I was fascinated with dollhouses when I was younger, and always longed for a grand Victorian model made of real wood. That didn’t happen, but I went about gathering tiny items, some of which would have fit right into a dollhouse. A blue and white ceramic pot. A clay bead my father told me may have come from a Native American settlement. Fragments of a pocket-watch into which rubies were embedded. No one ever showed any curiosity or interest in my collection, but it meant enough to me I’d originally settle on becoming an archeologist when I was grown. I loved the idea of digging in the dirt and finding buried treasure.

I left my family abruptly in my 20’s. The memories of abuse fully surfaced weeks after I made my final visit and cut off communication. All my childhood mementoes, including most of my photos, yearbooks and journals, were suddenly inaccessible. It’s hard to remember yourself without anything from your childhood.

Yesterday I was walking my dog. A few young neighbor girls love him, and came running up to greet us. One of them announced she had some drawings for him. My heart ached when she handed them over to me. It ached because it’s rare for me to receive gifts like this. It ached because of her lack of shame. I would never had dared to think someone else would have wanted my drawings as a child; my mother schooled me early and often in the burden I inevitability caused to everyone around me. It ached because, without my history of abuse, I’m certain I would have become a mother, one who would have delighted in having her children create all sorts of art for her.

The box I’d had when I was younger kept arising and arising in my mind after this. I couldn’t understand why, other than that it had something to do with childhood curiosity. Then the memory snapped into focus. The box was missing before I cut off contact. I’d last stayed with my family earlier in the year before I left, and had searched high and low for it. It was nowhere to be found. Out of all my possessions, in my mother’s “organization” efforts, that one item had disappeared. I starting remembering objects that mysteriously vanished as a child, such as a drawing a friend had made for me. How she somehow found a hate note I’d written her, folded up, and hidden in a cupboard in my bedroom. All the small treasures, discarded.

I will be spending some money and time to make myself decorated tins for each full moon, 13 in total. I will include tiny mementoes I collect during the month in each of them, and will use each for a ritual. A part of me feels utterly pathetic for doing so, and my mind rings with taunts of pretending. Pretending to have happy times filled with little surprises. But, a stronger and perhaps wiser part of me says “fuck it.” I’ve lost my childhood; my childhood was loss, but something in me needs a tangible symbol I’m reclaiming every moment and every piece of experience and existence I can (and miniaturizing it if at all possible!).