Boundaries

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(trigger warning. childhood abuse, sexual violation.)
 
People without boundaries get angry when you start setting them.
 
When I was a child, my boundaries were crossed all too often and because I was dependent on the boundary-crossers for survival, I had no choice but to allow it. As an adult, I didn’t know I had a choice–until recently. The last decade has been a journey to Self by laying down the shit that’s not mine to carry…like generation after generation of abusive behaviors and actions.
 
It stops here.
 
People are angry with me for stepping out, for saying “This doesn’t feel healthy to me” and for not engaging in those situations. They try to make me feel guilty with some false sense of nobility–“This is family, you should (insert guilt inducing activity.)”
 
Family. Those are the people who trampled my boundaries in my toddler years and continued to do so (and still do, to this day.) These are the people that believe they get a pass on their bad behavior because they’re related. They believe things passed down to them (just like I did.)
 
The truth is that boundaries are healthy for families.
 
People are uncomfortable when I speak my truth. It makes them squirm when they hear me talk about the abuse I endured. Maybe they didn’t know my abusers as abusers. They don’t want to believe it. They don’t want to hear it. They want me to shut up.
 
They want to shut me up.
 
That’s their road.
 
It’s not up to me to change their minds or prove to them I’m telling the truth. It’s not my responsibility to help people accept that I was abused. Maybe they were abused as well, it’s quite likely given that we shared space with the same people. Maybe they like to keep their problems hidden under the rug or maybe they feel more comfortable being the victim.
 
I get it. I was there, too.
 
I hid things, like I was supposed to. Like I was taught to. I hid in my toy box. I hid under the stairs with the spiders. In our house there was a 1970’s empty brick planter in the entryway that was normally piled high with coats that I hid in, There was a space in the wall across from “the bricks” that was meant to be a fireplace, but it was just an empty hole in the wall that I hid in. I hid in the doghouse with my favorite dog. I hid in the woods by our house, I hid at the playground at school. As I got older, I played hiding games. We played “Ditch” around the neighborhood–a pre-teen version of hide and seek. When I got my license I played “Fox” a teen version of hide and seek with CB radios. I hid at the beach, I hid at my friend’s houses.
 
I started hiding with alcohol when I was 12. I drank to lose control but I couldn’t lose control. No matter how drunk I was, I was still in control. There was no hiding. And then I wanted to die. I read books like Carrie and Thirteen is Too Young to Die. I wanted Lupus so I would have a reason to die. I fantasied about how amazing life would be if I was dead. I tried to take my life, but something always stopped me. Like I wasn’t allowed to die. Like I had to keep facing these abusers and keep kissing their dead bodies in their coffins because “this will be the last time you ever see them.”
 
No. Because I see them in my mind and in my dreams and in my distorted and warped life. I see them every day. I see them in the foods I eat and won’t eat. I seem them in the clothes I choose to wear because pants and tight jeans make it super hard for sexual predators to put things down there that don’t belong. Dresses are a wide open invitation for violation. But dresses are for girls and it’s not ladylike to wear jeans and have short hair and like sports. Then I don’t want to be a lady, because the ladybits are what is attracting this unwanted, uncomfortable behavior from adult men who aren’t supposed to do this sort of thing and I don’t want to be lady.
 
Then I was the victim. When my first abuser died, I watched the whole family cry and grieve and mourn…and I was relieved. Even the ones who saw the repeated behavior and knew it was constantly happening were sad and upset and hurt. I was not. That was the beginning of the separation. I was still very young, though, and without guidance, so I did the best I could. I pretended that I was sad for them because when I wasn’t, they were uncomfortable. I started keeping a journal and blaming everyone. All of those who knew what was happening, all of the people who should’ve helped me and didn’t. I blamed them and then I blamed God and then I blamed myself. That brought the anger. The rage. The fury.
 
And doctors wanted to send me to mental facilities and drug me.
 
ME.
 
Because something was wrong with MY behavior because my boundaries were destroyed and people used my body like a sex toy. Because everyone put the blame on me with their actions, in-actions, and unwritten rules of conduct.
 
Every time I tried to escape it and get away from it, someone from the family would bring the guilt to my table. So and so is dying, you *have* to visit. So and so is getting married, you cannot miss the wedding, they’re family. So and so is having a baby shower, you *have* to go, they’re family. You can’t stop talking to so and so, they’re family. You don’t do that. It’s not right. They’re family.
 
Let me just say this once and for all. Fuck family. (and for those who need direction, this is not my angry voice. This is my calm, it’s time to stand in my truth voice.) Fuck this idea that because we are related I have some obligation to continue with the fuckery that goes on within the dysfunctional walls of someone else’s definition of family.
 
This is me, no longer hiding, no longer being a victim, and no longer blaming.
 
This is me saying I take responsibility for my health. My mental, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual health. This is me saying if you don’t like my life-choices, my boundaries, and my decisions to enter into healing, it’s ok. You’re allowed to not like me, or not like what I say, or not like what I do. You’re allowed to feel everything that you feel. As a matter of fact, I recommend it. And maybe it’s good that I hold a mirror up to the illusions. Maybe you’ll recognize that the things we’ve been taught are untrue.
 
Because it’s not that I want things to be this way. Believe me, I’ve been trying to change this since I was a little tiny girl. I’ve been trying to fix the family since the moment I was born–and that’s no exaggeration. I was born into people wanting to kill themselves and was heralded as the “one who saved me.”
 
How many times did I try to save those who wanted to be dead?
 
How many times did I rush to their sides?
 
How many nights did I sleep in hospitals?
 
How many empty bottles of alcohol did I secretly dispose of?
 
How many secrets did I keep?
 
How many affairs did I witness with my own young eyes?
 
How many letters did I hide in my top dresser drawer?
 
How many empty pill bottles did throw away?
 
How many deviant sexual acts did I endure?
 
How many punches did I take to save someone else the pain?
 
How many drug dogs did I turn loose in houses so there would be no surprises for the rest of you?
 
How much sick porn did I throw away so you wouldn’t see it?
 
How many lies did I keep for you?
 
To make you comfortable so that you wouldn’t have to deal with this mess?
 
How many nights did I soothe those with unspeakable nightmares?
 
How many times did I stare down the business end of a weapon not knowing if I would live another moment?
 
I get it. I get that my stepping out and away makes you uncomfortable. It’s not been easy for me. I own that I have caused you pain. But like childbirth, some pain is necessary. I’m choosing the pain that brings joy, just like labor pains are the prelude to the purest love a person here can feel. Rather than choose the constant pain and agony of the past, I choose the present life-giving pain of separation. As a baby separates from the mother’s womb, it’s a painful, traumatic ordeal. But in the end, it’s all worth it.
 
I hope peace and love are found for those on the other side of my boundaries and separation.
 
It’s time for me to step into the light.
 
Whether or not others are ready or accepting of that is none of my concern.
 
I wish no one harm or malice. There are just some situations here on earth that require physical separation. Like a baby can’t live in the womb forever, I can’t stay in the darkness I’ve been in.

{Listen}

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Simplify. {2008}
Simplify. {2009}
Simplify. {2010}
Believe. {2011}
Grace. {2012}
Restore {2013}
Listen (Silent) {2014}

I am definitely not the same girl. I am less of her and more of her.

I listened. I did. More than ever. I was silent when I wanted to speak and I sat in silence and listened to messages meant for my soul.

I fought inwardly and outwardly–wanting to shed the negative, but finding the comfort of negativity a strange bedfellow. I think in the end, though, I have risen up and become a more loving person.

A lifetime of healing happened this year. I’ve revisited previous posts where I’ve said that I’m not sure complete healing can happen for me.

It has happened.

It was excruciatingly hard at times. I lost some friends along the way and accidentally drove others away with my cumbersome plodding through this new territory. I suppose it all works out as it should and I’m done forcing things.

2014 feels so far away.

For once, I’m entering into a new year with no trepidation–only excitement! (and I can’t wait for my 2015 word to find me!!)

Build Your Immunity

Your immune system is your best defense. You can exert positive energy and avoid the fear-porn being pumped into your system. I’m not a doctor, but I am my best health advocate and it’d be in your best interest to take control of your choices and your body to minimize risk of getting sick.

1. Make your food at home from real food ingredients. Stop eating processed foods, fast foods, and pre-made foods. I’ll even help you! I’m offering my ecookbook free this weekend.

2. Read up and take supplements for your immune system. D3, C, Selenium, A, B’s, E, Zinc.

3. Read up and take some herbs and spices to boost your immune system: echinacea, ginseng, turmeric, garlic, cayenne. (Our favorite is a shot of apple cider vinegar with a couple cloves of minced organic garlic, cayenne, turmeric, and local honey.)

4. Get regular sleep and sleep well. Magnesium oil can help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.

5. Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated.

6. Switch from table salt to Himalayan pink salt.

7. Wash your hands often and stop sticking your hands in your mouth and eyes.

8. Get your gut health in order. Brew and drink water kefir–it’s full of probiotics that help your body and your immune system.

9. Open your windows.

10. Take daily walks.

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Saturday-Monday my cookbook is free for you if you’d like to make that change first. If you contact me, I will even give you two weeks of menu plans with grocery lists.

Drumming and Healing

It started when a friend told me about EFT (emotional freedom technique or tapping.) The skeptic inside me said it was BS, but the other side of me said if it works, let’s try it. I read about it and watched this video and started tapping. And it works.

That led to research about drumming and healing. I downloaded some Native American drumming music and I’d lay on my bed with my earbuds in, and words fail to describe the peace and rejuvenation I felt.

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Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a live drumming circle at Prairiewoods. Our facilitator  was Hawkwoman. She brought some of her own drums, but Prairiewoods also has a wide variety of drums in their library. She took me to the library and the tops of all of the shelves were lined with drums of all colors and sizes.  Three others were in the room picking theirs. Hawkwoman told me to let the drum choose me. I looked at all of them not knowing how to do that, but I was drawn to a blue ceramic based drum in the left corner of the room. The others chose their drums and a gentleman named Luke asked if I wanted him to get one down for me. I nodded yes. He asked which and I said, “I don’t know.” He went straight for that blue one, grabbed it, drummed on it a few times, and said, “Yep. This is it. This is the one for you.”

We went back outside with our drums that chose us, gathered round a fire. I took off my shoes and chose to sit on the grass rather than in a plastic chair or on a rock semi-circle build around the firepit. As always, I needed to touch the earth.

Hawkwoman lit sage in an abalone shell for the sage smudging ceremony. This is a purification ceremony. Sage smoke releases negative ions in the air around a person, like waterfalls or the waves crashing the shore of the beach. It hooks itself to positive ions and neutralizes them.  The more negative ions around you, the more at peace you will be. This is why so many people feel such a sense of release and peace where there is running water. This is what happens with sage smoke as well.

We stated our gratitudes and intentions around the circle. I was grateful for the opportunity to attend, for Prairiewoods for hosting, for health and healing. My intentions were peace and healing.  We were asked if we’d like to bring anyone into the circle with us that could not be with us physically. I asked to bring my brother into the circle. As I said his name, for the first time since arriving at Prairiewoods, a crow cawed very loudly behind me and to my right. It was the only time in my three hours on the property that I heard a crow.

Then we started drumming. I didn’t know what to expect. Each of us had a drum and I thought maybe it would sound chaotic and disjointed with all of us drumming at the same time. That was not the case. Hawkwoman kept a low and steady beat. Luke was obviously a drummer because he provided us with very rhythmic and soothing beats. One girl seemed like she didn’t really want to be there. She wasn’t really drumming, but tapping lighting on the side of her drum. Another man, who had been to the circles before, was also drumming a steady rhythm, a slightly higher note than Hawkwoman. My own drum made sounds like rain.

I don’t know how long we all drummed together. The sounds overtook all other sounds. No cars, voices, phones, no negativity. Organically, the drumming came to a stop and we sat in silence. It was overwhelming and felt heavy and light at the same time.

Hawkwomen started drumming and singing. A few joined in with their own drumming rhythms. I felt I should be still. I sang a few of the verses with her. After the song, we sat in silence again.

We drummed again like the first time. Then Hawkwoman led us in a Drum Wash. We moved away from the fire and stood in a close circle. Each person entered the circle, said their name, we said their name back,  and we drummed while moving our drums up above the person’s head and down to their feet. It was an incredibly powerful experience. When I stepped into the circle, I stepped out from under the shade of a nearby tree to full sun. I closed my eyes and felt the sun warm my body and at the same time, I could feel the rhythms beating into my body from all sides. I wanted to stand there for hours.

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After we finished, Hawkwoman and I had a conversation. I told her that I’d been meditating inside of my sauna to the sound of drumming last week and four animals came to me in quick succession: butterfly, hawk, rabbit, eagle.  I felt like the order was very important when I had the vision, but I didn’t know why. As I was reading about animal totems and their meanings, I found there are four types of animal totems. A messenger guide, a shadow animal guide, a journey animal guide, and a life animal guide. I had no idea before today that this was true. I now see the butterfly is my messenger, the hawk is my shadow guide, the rabbit is my journey guide and the eagle is my life guide.

As we were talking, first one deer came, then two. Hawkwoman told me to pay attention, as they were likely messengers. I counted 14. As I made my way through the woods on the path, I came upon the sweat lodge that we’ll be using for a ceremony on June 7. A rabbit ran in front of the entrance of and scampered off to the right side and stopped to stare at me. I remember thinking that is probably significant.

I kept going on the path and made it to a labyrinth.  (As I’m typing this, a crow just flew into my back yard and cawed,) I took off my shoes and put down my phone and started walking. I kept a steady pace. I was mostly looking down but I glanced up and saw a deer staring at me. She was right on the edge of the labyrinth. I locked eyes with her and she didn’t move. The next time I looked up there were two. Then three. Then four. They stayed the entire time I made my way around the labyrinth. I sat in the middle and looked back at them. They just stood there, staring at me. I couldn’t help but cry at the enormity of it all.

“A deer’s senses are very acute. Its vision is designed for clarity at a distance. It is especially effective at detecting contrasts and edges in dim light. Its hearing is equally acute. Anyone who has deer as a totem will find increasing ability to detect subtle movements and appearances. They will begin to hear what may not be said directly.When deer show up in your life it is time to be gentle with yourself and others. A new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born. There is going to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures. ” –Ted Andrews,  Animal Speak

I stood and left the labyrinth. As I looked back, the first deer to join me stepped into the circle and watched me leave. I understand there is significance, but I don’t know that I understand the full message right now. It’s a lot to take in and learn.

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I’ve always paid attention to things that show themselves repetitively in my life.  One of those things is the number 14. So not only was it significant that I saw so many deer, but that there were 14 strongly suggests that this plays into the message that God has been sending me for many years now.

It’s a lot to take in and I’m still trying to unpack it all. What I know for sure is that I feel peace and I’m sensing a rebirth, like the butterfly. From my cocoon into my wings.  My word for 2014 (14!) is Listen.

And I am.

Hoarding

Not like the TV shows. But kind of.

Little mementos of the lives lived: birthday cards with their signatures, a Starbucks sleeve with a note on it, a broken He Stopped Loving Her Today 45lp, a frog figurine on a shelf, obituaries cut out of the newspaper, those little cards from the funeral home, ashes in container, a shirt that still smells like my mom.

I finally burned my journals with all of their negativity. So that’s a start.

A Time to Heal

First birthday cards, bands from his hospital birth, love letters from my husband, notes of encouragement from friends, rocks from various trips, old 35mm film that needs to be developed, camcorder tapes that surely contain the voices of the now-dead.

How do you purge these things? And why do I hoard them?

I’m closer than ever to getting rid of this stuff, but as I go through the stuff, I just don’t know how to throw it away.