How Abuse Gifted Me Trust… In Myself: My PTSD Story

How Abuse Gifted Me Trust… In Myself: My PTSD Story

flower colors

“You say you’re too damaged, I still say you’ve got the goods.” – from a song I wrote many moons ago

Out of all the things that I have been through, one of the greatest complications to resolve has been the ramifications of abuse throughout my adolescence. I was physically abused and verbally assaulted by masculine rage on a concurrent and regular basis. My experience of the abuse at times felt like torture, was unrelenting, and my space never truly felt safe.

Trust has been profoundly challenging for me to invest in, that of which I have learned must first begin with myself.

Due to my crippled capacity to trust in others, and a sense of self oppressed by an abuser, over time my ability to develop trust in myself became stunted and plagued by static noise and doubt.

It is interesting though the complexities that have come about as a result, the product being the woman I am today. What I’ve become is a woman with a presence of impenetrable strength, which of course, in a society infiltrated by a masculinity crisis, hasn’t gone over so well.

I have attracted great opposition from those that struggle with their own masculinity, or another way of looking at it — one’s repressed/rejected, misunderstood, and/or unacknowledged femininity.

Throughout my twenties, I strived towards a path of healing. I was blessed enough by the grace of divine intervention and my own willingness to change that resources flowed regardless of my external means to begin this process.

Yoga and meditation were definite introductions that changed my life and in many ways saved my life. I discovered that I am not actually held hostage in my body, that I do have control and that my power is always there. I discovered that no one can take my power, but realized out of programmed habit I was throwing it out like expired produce.

It was through the crisis of many unhealthy relationships and my absolute plea to not suffer from the pain of power struggles that I began to see the signs. I didn’t want to hurt anymore so it became unavoidable that I had to dig in and do the work.

It was during a heartbreak from a very damaged Pisces lover, and coincidentally a potent Pisces full moon, that in my typical woo-woo fashion I sought out not a therapist, but my version of such — I wanted to see a healer that cleared chakras… yep. I was ready to wipe the slate clean, but unbeknownst to me, this man had a profound purpose. As agonizing as it was to dive in, he was a gift. He served as the beginning of an awakening. He was a Marine veteran struggling with PTSD; he was also my mirror.

The next day as I was walking down the street, there was a massive sign outside of a crystal shop nearby where I lived that was not usually there. In all its colorful glory stood the flag of chakras promoting sessions with a particular healer. I tend to be like The Fool of the Rider-Waite deck, springing forward, acting on leaps of faith when such moments present themselves. With a chart full of Aries, this generally rules in my favor.

My session with a self-proclaimed clairvoyant doused me in the cold hard reality that I had not so much been in denial about, but rather completely oblivious to. I knew I had been abused as I had shared it prior. I knew it was wrong and that I was in fact violated, but I had no idea the magnitude of wreckage it caused. As a little girl knowing nothing different, essentially it became the only normal I knew. And while living it, I was battered into believing I’d deserved it.

When I first entered into the backroom to proceed, a typical aroma of palo santo engulfed the space. The stillness of the room’s aura rested as rainbow lights (also known as color therapy) swirled above the bed, while a gorgeous array of gongs and singing bowls aligned it. I always look forward to these sessions. My total openness to them is how I’ve been fortunate enough to reap the wanders.

I have worked with countless western healers and now a couple of eastern ones; although, this was one of my earlier experiences. I was anticipating what she would pick up on. I felt sure the foremost would be mention of my brother’s death, or my absent father, or possibly the turbulent codependent relationship with my mother… never did I see coming the yet mentioned.

I will say that I am able and willing to share the account of my abuse; however, for deeply personal reasons I am not ready to share by whom.

“Did you have [****] that was very mean to you?” she delicately asked.

I sat there stunned. An instant surge of tears burst forth like an appropriate tidal wave. Out of all the shitty things in my still very privileged life, I couldn’t believe that’s what she pointed out. Her take on it was that we were bound together in this lifetime due to past life events, but I’ll spare you of that for now.

I went home feeling like the earth beneath me had been shaken. How could I not have seen this before? The light had not only gone off, but it was also about to blind my eyes. What ensued from there was an all-nighter of research on the unique relationship of abuse I experienced. Limited information was available on my specific circumstance, but nonetheless, a turning point of acknowledgment transpired — abuse is abuse. I was a ripe candidate to all the possibilities of aftermath as anyone else that’s survived it. Wait, so I am one of those people? It wasn’t until I accepted that I am that, a survivor of abuse, that I could begin to move towards a healthier future. It was through this discovery that I was able to understand I was also living with my own degree of PTSD. It had been the underlying factor to so many complications in my life. I didn’t know that my usual somatic experience was not normal. I thought the out of control sensations in my physical response to situations were my fault, that it was simply who I am and that I was doomed to be a prisoner to it.

For many years, I attracted lovers that did not physically abuse me, but I was in heavy, emotionally tormented relationships. The real moral is PTSD often controlled my life.

After the eventual breakdown of these relationships and my own chaos looming overhead, I strived to transcend my experiences. I couldn’t control what happened to me, but I could begin to heal the consequences. I chose to kill the script and say, fuck that. I chose to shift from victim to survivor. I began my transition from bondage and everything happening to me, to being wide awake staring into the mirror — recognizing the patterns and the common denominator. This was not an overnight fix, of course. It was an incredibly painful process that took years and years of resolving. Still, till this day there are remnants I have to work through. Scenes, lines, and characters from the old script all like to come out to play every now and again, and it is my work to not get disheartened by this reality. In the past, the discouragement of its existence would send me down a spiral of self-loathing.

I spent years unable to communicate how I actually felt. I had zero sophistication as far as emotional intimacy was concerned. I would panic, cognitively disassociate and shut down. And, I would hate myself for every bit of it.

Almost a decade later, it is bizarre to even recount those memories — from total physical overwhelm to perpetual fears of the rug always being pulled out from under me. By always assuming the worst, I attracted it only to prove itself true.

Now, it’s almost as if I don’t even know that girl anymore. Yet, again, there are still those tiny remainders of the script wanting to come to life on stage once more. But, I harnessed new tools and coping mechanisms that overtime have integrated.

Most of all, my journey was to silence the noise and experience a life of learning to trust myself. Despite being figuratively pummeled into believing all the things that had derailed me before, I began the journey of discovering my light, my power.

Of course, none of this would be possible without also learning to forgive my abuser, and to forgive the masculine rage that permeates throughout my culture and our world. I have had to send love and light to the beautiful, divine feminine energy yearning for reciprocation from us all.

I guess when you think about it, we can be so cruel to our dear Mother Earth. If we can’t respect our own mother, then I guess in a way that sums it up, doesn’t it?

It’s a shame, this reality. We have so far to go on a collective scale. I can only hope my story of forgiveness, resilience, and journey of self-love is emblematic of the new script we can write together.

 

 

Story originally published on:

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Be Yourself

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What Angels Want Us to Know: Life After Guilt

What Angels Want Us to Know: Life After Guilt

Even when things seem so grim & a realization of so much loss pierces deep within, it is these moments that my angels are there to rescue more than ever. Without fail, the dragonflies come out to swirl around, reminding me I’m not alone.

When I think of the confusing and complicated guilt I experience for being the last one left to stand, I take my evening strolls out to the azul water that is my backyard, siempre in search of peace. The other day while in a dark head space, I thought, maybe my angels actually got the better end of the deal. This world, as beautiful as it is, can be so very painful… at least they are together, in peace. But, just as I was beginning to slip down the rabbit hole, the dragonflies began to dance against the masterpiece of a backdrop, a pink lit sky and blistering ball of solar energy beaming over the water.

As I returned back from my evening with the divine, my best friend that channels had reached out to me. She said my brother, unclear which one, had softly contacted her to send me a message. Just some days before, I had been suffering then as well from a plummeting feeling of feeling lost. I was seriously questioning my own existence in the very scary kinda way. My friend shared with me the message of simple and touching relevancy, that I am ‘right’ and to keep doing what I’m doing. So just when I was feeling the crash that is life with a mood disorder, and or just life… I realized what a blessing it is to have angels intervene when I’m pleading to know if I’m going to be okay. And, how miraculous it is to have that sort of love surrounding me at all times, protecting me, and sending me clarity when the fog moves in. To let me know I am still here for a reason. To let me know that I am indeed shielded by love.

I do have to say, I’m pretty fucking ready to leave this experience behind… that is, the first one-year anniversary of my brother’s death… and basically, all the terrible memories that coexisted with this time last year. As much as my guilt may want to hang onto them, I know to move beyond surviving to thriving is to release the guilt. The present does include pain that has yet to fully heal, so the reality is the past, unfortunately, exists within the present. However, I can stay there, or choose to try to move forward one more step of the way, as the pain stays one step further behind.

What I’ve discovered is the guilt keeps me “safe.” The guilt, the pain, the story… it is all a toxic high that of course is superseded by a crashing low. It’s moving out into the unknown space of joy that is the real work. It has been easier for me to be afraid of more pain so that I stay in my excuse of pain.

I started dating again a few months ago after moving literally and figuratively into new space. I have vaguely shared already that I went through a pretty bad breakup as well this time last year, which naturally was what exacerbated the already gut-wrenching period of mourning. It was the core-shaking, yet illusive experience of love-at-first-sight, in which crashed & crumbled during the time one would presumably need support the most. The truth is though, I had everything I needed & still do. But, those lessons were to be learned in the most hardcore of hours. When you’ve lost that much, it’s kinda like, fuck it… I guess I’m sorta liberated now. Or, so I thought…

As I found myself back on the dating scene and after meeting someone I was actually interested in, I was overwhelmed with vulnerability. Bombarded by a surplus of “what-if’s,” I didn’t know if I was capable of enduring more pain, so instead I would not let myself leave the pain behind. I was bound to it out of survival, without realizing it was keeping me from living my life… it was keeping me from joy. Even as I proclaimed that I wanted otherwise, I was actually avoiding joy by avoiding imagined pain.

I was self-sabotaging because of survivor’s guilt. It’s a difficult thing to articulate, but perhaps it’s as simple as this… I have felt guilty for wanting joy. I felt guilty for believing there could be joy without my brothers in the world. Or, that I owe it to them to stay in the misery of their loss. Which of course, though, this I know… a life full of joy is exactly what my brothers want for me.

To live the life I have left. And if anything, for them, that is the way to truly honor their loss —to live so fiercely & courageously on their behalf.

So today on August 1, it is my brother Patrick’s birthday. This time last year I was thousands of miles away saying my last I love you over the phone, as he was bedridden in the hospital, struggling to speak. A week later after his 33rd birthday, he was gone.

The months that followed thereafter were a nightmare, yes. Those days and nights where I felt like a walking zombie, unsure if I was going to come back to life or not… I really didn’t know if I was gonna make it through. But it is these memories that I must no longer attach to so that I can grow with my brothers in a new way. By putting my hand out to accept a dance with the divine is how I get to experience… the magic of the dragonflies.

And you know, it’s really fucking hard sometimes. It really is, but I have to believe I am still here for a reason and they are not… AND THIS IS OKAY. I have to trust the cards were supposed to be dealt this way, and that yes, at least they are together in peace. A life left full of guilt will never bring them back to physical life…

But the magic that is pure love… will always keep them alive.

A Happy Birthday to my late brother, Chef Patrick

Right Where He Belonged, RIP Chef Patrick & Chef Bourdain

Heroes Oaxaqueños: A Message from the Dog Man

Heroes Oaxaqueños: A Message from the Dog Man

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” – Cesar Chavez

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The name Alejandro had come up many times before meeting him since I first moved to Pto. It is a small place, yes, but Alejandro I discovered is actually a low key local hero. In the cliche sense, we could say he’s the dog man here in town, but this guy has dedicated his life to his passion for helping animals. And, even cooler, he has understood on a broad level that the way to do this with efficacy is by educating people.

So, amongst my time spent here in one of México’s gems, I’ve connected with the tatted up Oaxacan dog man, also a generational coffee rancher. We are off the Pacific coast in a small town, Puerto Escondido, meaning Hidden Port. It feels ironic, teetering on taboo, to write about a place with hidden as part of its name, but I’d like to think Alejandro is one in which to pay homage. He is the true epitome of nonprofit service. So often we hear or say terms like “nonprofit” that we almost become auto-piloted and numb to the meaning of what we are even saying. Let’s put it this way, this man is a coffee rancher by day and a man of community social work 24/7. This is not his business; this is his blood, his heart, his life. He helped me during a crisis with my own dog, and I soon learned that for so many here, he is all they have. I was able to sit down with Alejandro over a cup of coffee, claro, as a muffled Rolling Stones jammed in the distance. I listened as he shared his story, his message, his dream.

His Puerto journey began eleven years ago, a move well-made for the heat and warm water to heal some of his ill perros. His attention quickly took to the surplus in ubiquitous grim conditions of the local animals. After attempts to create an organization to help the animals — but with interference from differing views on how to actually do so — his experience has instilled strong belief in prevention. He believes the only realistic way to stop the overpopulation of neglected, malnourished animals that run rampant is by educating people about sterilization. But, also providing healthcare for a multitude of reasons and needs, such as for animals of people that care, yet the so many that can not afford it. So, around five years ago was the birth of his clinic, Esteriliza y Educa, a nonprofit organization centered around donation-based campaigns with its message of prevention & accessibility.

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The planning and logistics of the campaigns are arduous. The volunteer’s time, knowledge, and space are all available to the community. Donations from the community, and from the pockets of the volunteers themselves, are the only way this clinic stays alive. Alejandro affirmed, “People think because it’s free that we have everything, but we need to buy everything. So, it’s not that easy. We are not rich people.”

As he also insisted several times, none of this would exist without the help of a divinely ordered team. He said, “You can’t do this work alone, and that’s something very important to say… It is very difficult to find the right people to work with… It takes time, but animals are very smart. Somehow they introduce you to the right people.”

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This small team of heroes opens up shop to sterilize and treat animals in need on Sundays, as long as supplies allow it. We’re talkin’ 25–40 surgeries in a day. I spent one afternoon observing the surgeries at Alejandro’s house. There was a line of people outside with an array of dogs and cats needing various attention. There were scheduled surgeries for sterilization, and walk-ins such as a street dog whose tail had been run over, amid others. A prevalent issue is often poisoning. Rescuing a small, helpless dog as it stumbled cross-eyed in the street one day was a hard memory to knock. Alejandro and I had also discussed unethical campaigns by the government. Unfortunately, a cat came in need of treatment for this reason. It was suffering from an infection from the use of cheap supplies and botched internal work. This is a large reason why trust has been crucial to establish within the community. These government campaigns have battered the locals’ trust. Through word of mouth, awareness about the clinic and its accessibility has spread, in turn providing opportunity and movement for their underlying message of prevention.

Alejandro pointed out, “It’s not only the street dogs that need help. We need to educate the people to stop this problem. So, for me, it’s always been in the prevention area. The main goal is to stop the overpopulation. We do this by educating people to be sensitive, to respect, to love and care for the animals.

We have to make them understand [sterilization] doesn’t change the character of the animal… some understand, some don’t. But more male dogs are coming than before, so it is changing. But, this is with ten years of work.”

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It did not take long to realize that this man’s daily life has been completely bombarded by his sacrificial service. Sundays are for surgery, but it never stops there. The Rolling Stones and our conversation were interrupted three times in an hour by unannounced visitors asking for his help. So I, of course, had to inquire, “How do you sustain? Where do you draw the line? Or, do you ever say no? (We both laughed).”

Alejandro cool and calmly declared, “It’s hard to say no. I mean, I have a life… I use to have a sign, ‘from this time to this time’, but people show up anytime. People don’t read. If I put up a sign that says no service, they still come. But, it’s really hard to say no… I need to get out of my house; that’s the only way.”

“So, where did this begin for you? What’s the early memory?”

“I just love the animals. I don’t like them suffering… if I have the ability, the knowledge, the heart, and if I don’t do it… I would not go to sleep in peace… the payment is the satisfaction of doing something good for an animal who can’t talk, can’t express, who can’t ask…”

“And the balance is…?”

“I don’t have the economy, the tools to help them all… I have to be clear about this,” he said, “I have to keep focused on what I can actually do to help. And, it’s hard because you always want to help all of them. But there has to be a balance… so, I love the Stones (as they play in the background and we laugh again), that’s why I listen to the Stones everyday… and I like coffee.”

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During my short time spent with Alejandro, it seems he relates to animals because he relates to the art of energy, or to nature rather. As hectic as it seemed from my perspective for a day in the life of the dog man, Alejandro seemed right in his element. On his off days, he drives through the winding roads of Oaxaca, always ready with a bag of food and water which, by the way, likely means several stops. If that’s all he can do for the day, then so be it… until tomorrow, claro.

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  • You can help by donating to fund supplies for sterilization & an array of treatments for street animals & families of animals in need.

 

  • A year’s worth of supplies is typically arranged into four campaigns a year with a goal of 75,000 MXN Pesos per campaign (= around $3,600 USD).

 

  • That is less than $15,000 USD to cover a year’s worth of supplies.

 

  • $12 USD = sterilization for an animal 

>>>>> DONATE <<<<<

ESTERILIZA Y EDUCA FACEBOOK

esterilizayeduca.com/

Muchas gracias por tus ojos, tus oídos, tu corazón ❤

 

 

*Shout out to Ashlea at BreakLooseJournal for my initial introduction to The Dog Man, big ups chica

To Those I Have Judged, for This I Apologize

To Those I Have Judged, for This I Apologize
aaron &lt;3
Aaron

“Forgiveness inevitably leads to acceptance. It is a demonstration of your willingness to move on. Acceptance does not mean you agree with, condone, appreciate, or even like what has happened. Acceptance means that you know, regardless of what happened, that there is something bigger than you at work.” – Iyanla Vanzant

aug 2012
Patrick

I guess it may seem inevitable after this last year - enduring the death of my brother - the end of my romantic relationship amid my brother’s funeral - then to take on full-time Gringa life outside of the USA - I am very much on a spiritual journey. Life is always a spiritual journey whether we see it or not, I suppose. And, this time I choose to be the hero.


Holding my brother as he was left to lay brain dead humbled me to the core. The brother who once held me as we both cried and struggled to process what was our oldest brother’s funeral. We became bonded to a whole new level as siblings since that experience. So, to now lose him and hold his physical body that no longer had life left… it’s changed me forever.


My relationship to the man I was in love with crumbling at the most difficult time in my life added more confounding whip-lash. Yet, it set me on a path to uncover what was underneath the black molten rock that engulfed my heart - my strength.


The last two years have basically been the on-going funeral of my ego. Leaving Los Angeles and the world of music already humbled me as I walked away from the only identity I’ve known: my identity as a musician/performer. This departure exposed a masochistic nature to expectations and attachments to outcomes. By letting go of the way I insisted it ought to be, I began finding my way back home unto myself.


After my world ripped out from beneath me, pressure boiled to understand it, igniting yet another confrontation with God. The insistence of freedom from attachments I could not escape, as nothing is truly ours. God has reminded me many times of my lack of control, teaching me to trust that life is as it should be. And, to have faith that no matter what has happened to me, as messed up as it may seem, is somehow in my highest interest. It’s begged me to reckon with my capacity, that I am capable of facing it all. And, to realize that I have the strength to survive life as it unfolds, because we know, life is going to do just that.

“Regardless of how hard, challenging, frightening, or difficult an experience may seem, everything is just as it needs to be in order for us to heal, grow, and learn.” - Iyanla Vanzant

To do so, my spiritual journey of seeking peace commenced, as did my faith in the possibility of joy. I learned its roots begin with a life lived not from the ego, but instead the heart. My ego was annihilated the day my last brother died. A greater understanding of life summoned me to appreciate each moment with more profound meaning. For so many years, I was driven to prove my importance to others, to myself. I wanted to be something… you know, all the things. What’s proven itself now is that while staring death (or life) in the face, not once did those things matter. Accolades will never bring my brothers back or fill the volcanic crater of a void. The only way I accessed the strength buried somewhere within me is by embracing a life of higher vibration. I discovered this is possible through forgiveness and acceptance of what is. I can choose to deny or fight reality, or I can choose to trust.


I take responsibility for the people that have come into my life in which triggered me. I own projecting onto them the things I may not have seen or wanted to see within myself. I realize that every interaction and relationship is a reflection of the one I have with myself. I ask for forgiveness for times I held beliefs about others, when they may have been judgments I held against myself.


To open myself to the liberty of trust, I trust in a plan beyond me. I free myself from attachments to people, places, things, and from beliefs about these people, places, things. I stand in my power because of all the hard work I’ve put in to honor myself thus far. I strive to act with self-respect and therefore to respect others. I solidify a life lived trusting in myself and in God because, without this, it is a life of suffering. For I know that if I can be the last one standing amongst my siblings, then I will keep going. No matter what, I will be okay. With forgiveness, the actions and or beliefs I formed around others fade into the distance. I pick myself up off the ground to sit up in my seat once more. I put my hands on the wheel, and only for a moment, I glance back to remember how far I’ve come. But, that mirror is small. I choose to look out the big window ahead of me, because through forgiveness, I found the road to joy.

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Fré Sonneveld

 

*I would like to note that after all the chatter about Eat Pray Love, I finally read it about eight months after I returned from Bali when I moved to México. I happened to resonate and agree with Elizabeth Gilbert’s interpretation and analysis on her choice in the use of “God.” Whatever your God is is cool with me.✌️

The Enigma

nov 2015I recently left the United States to fulfill my newfound dream of learning another language and well, to live outside of the United States. This grand plan initiated while traveling through Bali, Indonesia last year around my thirtieth birthday. That’s right kids, the self-proclaimed enigma has revealed her age. What was a mere desire has now become a big reality, as I am currently coasting off of Oaxaca, México, studying Español & de-plugging from first world existence.

My U.S. roots stem from the deep south, while 90% of the last decade I was all big city biz in Los Angeles, California. My unwavering dedication and deep affinity for the City of Angels would render me loca had I been told this is where my life would be just some years later. Yet, here I am on an entirely new plane within this thing we call life. It’s baffling at times to make sense of the changes, but with imposed humility and hopefully what is now earned wisdom, I can peacefully say I am as open-hearted and open-minded about where life is taking me than I have ever been.

After a year of complete destruction, I am rebuilding my life as I know it. And, as I face and deal with profound grief and loss over the course of some unfortunate events this last year, I can still also peacefully declare it as an incredibly exciting time. Just as I had once set out those years ago to live my California dreams, I have found myself on the newest wild adventure of my life.

It has seemed as though my path has been an ongoing lesson to cope, accept, and integrate the dark that exists with the light. Paradoxical idiosyncrasies were undeniably written in my stars, so on a personal level this has been tremendously applicable. This blog is my experiment I suppose, as I reinvent and re-relate to myself once again. For I know now that it is okay my old self has evolved and is shedding away into the past. I shall strive to hang up the enigmatic mask I have long worn; it will always be a part of who I am. But, perhaps it is time to come out of the shadows… and step into the light.

See me, in all my grief and glory.

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A Perch, Not a Cage

A Perch, Not a Cage
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Saying Goodbye to California, Venice Pier, October 2016

As my presumably fabulous L.A. life was crumbling around me, my ego & spirit went head to heart. The reeking suspicion was setting in that the greatest love affair I’d come to know, my marriage to the City of Angels, was nearing its end. Like any great love there’s simply no way to predict the story’s evolution. And, like many great narratives, what seemed to be a grueling devastation was actually an ignition of rebirth. California was a hell of a ride, but one that was starting to feel like the gas tank was teetering on empty. I trekked there at twenty years old from sweet home Alabama with so much pride, I was sure I’d never run out of fuel. As my resistance began to subside, the idea of an adventure was taking reign. Suffice it to say, there was no cushion lying around, but I was slowly readying myself to toss over the keys.

Where is my life headed? Who am I without this identity? It was a bleak road with no glimmering light in sight, aside from my one compelling instinct to flee for southeast Asia. How am I going to manage that? As I watched my home, Venice Beach, turn over & succumb to the gentrification that was part of a greater change within the city, I watched my wallet fall prey to these changes as well. I could no longer upkeep with the ever demanding market, unless I wanted to live to work, and that I did not. The burning smell of Balinese incense kept lurking over my way.

Travel goals actually became a great crutch during my California demise, an easy talking point of reasoning to others. Naturally, as change was setting in, these “others” were in sheer opposition. “If you leave, that’s it.” Of course there were lurking fears. Have I failed? Am I going backward? But, really such a declaration rings as music to my rebellious ears. I typically reject being bound to anything. As an astrology mentor once acutely proclaimed, “You’re a bird with a perch, not a cage.”

True that.

After all, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of expectations. I was sinking in the vast, vapid pool of proving one’s self. The identity that once was a glowing torch of inspiration & purpose had become a shackle. If I was going to “prove” anything, it was that I didn’t have to stay to prove anything. But, my intention was not to prove. My intention was to let go. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to Bali, but about six months later on my thirtieth birthday, I stepped onto that plane and over to the other side of the world. Suffice it to say, it was a hell of a flight.

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s Hello.  

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s Hello.  

A few months ago when my brother Patrick died, somewhere in the midst of the funeral haze, I drifted off by myself to collapse on a bed and sob. My eyelids lifted to watch my consoling cousin pull back the tear-drenched hair off of my face. I recall my faint, yet bitter voice emphatically saying to her, “You know, I could be standing in the most exotic, stunning place in the world right now and I’d see no beauty. I’d feel nothing.”

I meant that. Much of the declaration was because world travel has become an invigorating passion of mine. But, sadly, it’s because this is not my first rodeo of tragic death. I lost my oldest brother Aaron when I was a teenager. After a decade of soul-searching and finally feeling at a pinnacle, losing both of my brothers has been a bizarre actuality to wrap my head around.

To say this year was one of the most formative years of my life would be an understatement. Then again, it has been so transitional that I am not sure taking form is even the right description. As per usual with the ever-flowing tide of life, it has been accompanied by soaring highs, followed by one of the greatest lows. It was a year in which I left behind my California identity of the last decade to embark on a new story. I confronted changes occurring within me while adapting to those outside of me. It was a year where I went to the other side of the world to feel back in the world. An excursion to the magical island of Bah-lee completely changed and redirected my life. I had never felt more alive than traveling solo in such a foreign land, and I had never felt more dead shortly thereafter.

As days have gone by, each one feeling as though there’s a little more life inside of me, I reminisce back to what I said to my cousin that day. I recognize it as a reflection of my internal experience at that moment in time. My apathy towards the aesthetics of the external solely mirrored that I felt dead inside. My reality was a belief I created based off of the numb feeling that nothing could make me feel alive again. Of course with good ole time, this experience has shifted. Since the loss of Patrick, I’ve returned once again from traveling. My thoughts have centered around a prevalent theme that emerged — an embrace of transitions.

In retrospect, there are so many chapters in my life that were remarkable periods of transition. Yet, if each changing moment is one transition to the next, then isn’t everything a transition? Reminded by all chapters left to the past, one final page after another, it got me thinking about my perception of goodbye. As someone who has long struggled with goodbyes, I’ve come to discover why traveling has been healing for me. The temporal experiences that unfold, only to fade, have been a powerful teacher. It fascinates me, really, the incredible forces at work when I step into the unknown to allow the divine to intervene. In my experience it has been one of the greatest agents of change, accelerating rapid growth and bringing forth much clarity. The big picture, so to speak, becomes a lot clearer.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is always the people I meet and connect to along the way. It’s interesting, being the person that’s never liked goodbyes. There’s an inherent understanding when traveling that while I may meet others on the journey, there’s no guarantee for anything further. In fact, there’s more the likeliness we won’t see each other again than there is otherwise. The respect of the present moment and allowing it to be is the lesson. It is recognition of a willingness to embrace the new moment and the ability to gracefully let go of the last. The beautiful temporal qualities of life teach us that there’s no way to foresee that which is to stay or go. It’s a hard thing to master, letting go, especially when shocked or traumatized. The go-to of fight-or-flight is to clench with all one’s power. Yet, we fail to realize the giveaway of power when struggling to make something stay that is to end. Things forever continue to strip away in life. The more I’ve grown and the more goodbyes I’ve had to say — I’m learning to consider a new perspective. I’m learning that maybe it’s not goodbye, it’s hello.

It’s been a year of many goodbyes and many hellos. As my various grief becomes interwoven, all I can do is stand in it. Feel it. Face it. Loosen my grip, and let go.

Endings are hard, but as it is often practiced in yoga — the transition between each pose can be the most enlightening of all. It is the power in awareness of each transition. How do I respond to the changing moment? Am I present? Is my ego holding onto something that happened in the last that no longer serves me? Am I moving forward into the next with total embrace of the new? Can I trust that what is gone is as it should be? Can I be content with the plan that is out of my control? Can I trust myself to be okay? Can I have compassion for my grief along the way?

So, life is one transition after another. It is a transition from one moment into the next, a city or career to the next, a profound love, or from one dimension into the next.

It is challenging to accept both of my brothers’ fate and their transitions from birth to death in this lifetime. Still, I ponder my own transitions of grief and have learned something. In one moment I thought I could see no beauty in the world, that I was dead inside. A few months later I was on a gorgeous beach in Mexico, and I was feeling things; I was feeling a lot. As the lucid, turquoise water slipped between my ankles, and the warm wind danced on my skin, there I stood in my grief. And, even as much ache as I may still feel in my heart, I was able to look around and feel some peace that day. I could acknowledge gratitude for the new because I could see my progression. So, I was able to accept goodbye a tiny bit more, and this time I could say, hello.

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Tulum, Quintana Roo, México

#Grief&Glory

Amor Fati.

Amor Fati.

The other day was the anniversary of my brother’s death. We lost him over 10 years ago… and the only thing constant about the evolution of grief is that it’s never constant … making it one of my favorite things: interesting. It so happens that I had a lot on my mind that day, and virtual shout outs to those no longer existing in the physical wasn’t the first thing on it, but I felt pretty peaceful considering… so I thought I’d offer this …

(I shall strive to speak to my imagined audience as ego-less as possible…)

It’s different every time, but this year was the first year I felt pure gratitude  &*   clarity.

Grateful for the death of my brother.

Grateful for his life… and grateful for his death… & resooooounding clarity.

My big brother and my relationship with him shaped the entire course of my life. His death impacted me so profoundly, as it did for so many, that my hero’s journey became a map of fog. It may have initially been a state of disorientation, but the path of healing has been incredible & incredibly worth it. We were all impacted by his life and his death, one in the same … and the acceptance of the past as it is & the forgiveness it has led me to has left me feeling totally .. fucking. liberated.

I miss my brother. So much. Of course. But, missing who he was in the physical means missing out on who he has reemerged as in the non-physical… Because reaching for him back there.. in the past.. disconnects me from him here in the present. He’s still here… always, infinitely, forever.

I accept that this was the fate of his life within my life; our relationship is now transcendental. The liberty of acceptance has bred new life, and it’s not denial, nor passive observance. Instead, it’s complete acceptance that I control nothing outside of myself, only to align in real time, giving me greater access to my most elevated version. & sure, what is truth anyway? Well, my truth is my truth, and so on. It’s not being afraid of what we may have placed behind a veil. As Satori once said, “It’s faith, not fog.” It’s accepting what’s behind the veil for being true and real. To become conscious of the unconscious, we must first accept that which is real for what it is unto it’s entirety. Not the version we wish to see or don’t wish to see, not the version we project, but the truth emerged just as it is, and firstly accepting it just as that… then, faith that all is as it should be.

So, I accept every thing as it was, is, and is to be. My gratitude is for every person that has walked through my life… the good teachers and the bad teachers (still teachers). Or those that could still see me in the dark… once deep in pain (aka a fucking mess). For those that left me in pain, exposing where I was weak in boundary. Thank you for enemies, open or hidden, cultivating my inner voice and illuminating to me so brightly when I didn’t use it, inwardly or outwardly. For those that gave me life and those that drained it. Those that stayed and those that didn’t. For all that hit or reactivated wounds and vulnerabilities, aka divine opportunities to grow, to heal. I have faith that there’s something for me in every moment, even at it’s darkest, as being part of the package of life. I accept that sometimes it’s not always what we think it’s going to be, so the more I accept that, the more in the moment I become & the more ‘subtle joy,’ as Erich Schiffmann puts it, can begin to move in. And as much as it would be nice to have a story with my brother still in it… it’s still my story left to live, and the way he’s in it now is actually way fucking cooler. He gave me the mojo, the torch, and his power radiates stronger than ever.

& maybe it’s all the yoga, or that I’m blissed out on those Cali sunsets, or that this year has just been the best…. but really, it’s that the conditions of the physical world dictated so much of my life for so long, that I strive to choose: beyond. I choose to be empowered by a day that I once called the worst of my life.. instead I choose to embrace his highest version… now. Who he was is still great, but his soul remains nonetheless… and it’s the greatest.

I offer that to any one that has lost someone… which we all have in some way. But, consider it an alternate, reframed perspective.

& as it lies on my skin in ink,

Amor Fati.

#PostModernismAtItsFinest

Inked Oct 2013 - 6th yr Anniversary with the City of Angels
Inked Oct 2013 –
6th yr Anniversary with the City of Angels

No Door? Make the F**king Door

Or on a more socially pleasant note, a favorite quote of mine:

“…make windows where there were once walls.” (Michel Foucault)

In the age of Global Network Society, some potent middle-finger action is available to us against the ‘ole “top-down” way of doing things. Space is collapsed thanks in part to communication technologies, and in my case, an invitation is made available to those that may or may not care to read what I have to say.

It has been a torn decision for someone like myself when considering the pursuit of certain endeavors such as this. I’m a real rebel at heart and a stubborn bitch. I simply don’t want to do things I don’t want to do. So for someone that wants to write, herein lies an opportunity to take advantage of doing what I want/saying what I want; however, I do have drastic tendencies towards privacy.

Is it worth trying to see if kindreds are out there and can dig what I have to say while I struggle to unveil myself? How much do I give to connect?

They say knowledge is power. Well, I’m obsessed with the concept of power. Or, maybe I’m obsessed with power. Either way, nowadays information is less controlled by industrial organizations and we are figuratively spoon-fed opportunities. So again, there’s the potential for the self-made entrepreneurs, the artist, or the whatever.

But the flip side with the e-lance world or jobs online is that you can become infinite, lost in the sea of competitors; more fish means less pay.
It’s all risk, baby.

I went to school to expand my brain. My intention was not to learn for some designated position. I went to realize my own potential intellectually & creatively. So now I’ve got the knowledge for those idea jobs, bae-b. All in all, it’s up to me to figure this out if I’m not going to yield. I will have to take the dive.

With risk also comes sacrifice. But what am I really sacrificing? Security? That also depends on what you consider security. If I learned anything, it’s words are arbitrary. It’s really about values. So what do I value then? Integrity for one. Courage. I value doing what I really want to do even if that goes against the norm. I ain’t scurred. Or maybe sometimes I am…

For the most part though, I try to tap into Joseph Campbell’s follow your bliss notion, believing in your internal voice. It is the compass that will guide your life. I remember reading him discussing that so many people work relentlessly to climb a ladder that they later discover is against the wrong wall. The thought makes me cringe, but there’s no need to fear if you follow your bliss. I already know what I want to do, so now it’s about taking the dive.

Making the sacrifice to live the life you want to live. How literal is this concept anyway? How do you even take the jump? I mean, where’s the plank? Supposedly, you have to start somewhere. So if I’m an artist, does that mean take it to the streets? Quit everything? Screw money!?

Where the hell do I start? Well, with the commitment. The commitment to myself that I’m only going to  do what I really want to do while authentically living out my values.

I want to take care of my family. I want to be great. I want to believe I can do what I want just as those that have done it as well. I know I’m a little nuts, but it isn’t idealism that holds me back. It’s fear of the unknown and this idea of security. My friend said to me, “I feel like if you just decide to go all the way with it, it will happen for you.” Besides, Campbell also made a great point that I’ve experienced time & time again-

On the floor is where you are most likely to find your treasure.  So, if you’re falling, dive. And yes, I realize this is some abstract shit I’m talkin’, but there are stars and a moon out there people– life is crazy shit!

Instinct has always worked for me before and what marvelous adventures have occurred. I am still young but I am certainly not getting younger. I’ve seen others encounter these questions throughout various stages in their lives. So, there’s the beauty I guess. Life is always evolving and you may meet similar questions again at some point later in life. You may have left an entire chapter behind to start anew & feel incredibly lost. The unknown can be frightening, but the internal voice remains if you listen to it. Never underestimate your ability to tap back in and transform your life. No matter where you’re coming from, you can go where you hope to.

So when you hit that wall & there’s no door, don’t think that you can’t make that fucking door!

If you’re in alliance with your values, it’s guaranteed you will prosper. It’s kind of like taking the high road, it’s always going to be in your best interest. So, if you stay true to yourself, you’ll always come out on top.

I realize that metaphorically looking at a blank canvas can be a bit, um, scary. I also realize that if I can’t see in the dark either, then perhaps I really don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but…

I say it’s still time to paint, ya know? You’re responsible for your life. Who else is going to paint for you?

Besides, if I only get one brush, then you best believe this will be me — Shit, don’t touch my brush!