2 MBK Memoir: How to begin to make peace with yourself

2 MBK Memoir: How to begin to make peace with yourself

January 8

Good. G ended up having to work so we went rocking climbing without him and it was great. Enjoyed the last days with the kids before school starts again.

January 9

Ok. Overall pretty clear head although today was the first day I have missed sex with G. I try not to think about it too much though. Trying to be more conscious and observant of myself and my thoughts. As bedtime comes, I’m missing the routine of G in my bed and tv shows and sharing fruit bowls, but I know it will pass. Tomorrow I volunteer at the horse ranch again and I’ll begin writing again so it should be a good day.

This year I plan to respond to the open invitation I’ve given myself to be here. To be present and awake for the discovery. I know my closest friends’ quirks, patterns, intricacies… but I don’t know mine… or at least fully. I know I’m hormonal, but when are my mood swings? What are the specific moods? I will make notes and ask questions and observe. I will, however, NOT ask why.

When I was in the Christian world, I became obsessive about why I acted, spoke, thought the way I did. If someone else didn’t like it, that meant there was something wrong with me – something so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I was unaware of its hold on my life. It meant excavation was in order and I went mulling through any possible “pain” I could remember or even think about remembering.

And if someone approved of me or my thoughts or actions, well, then I must continue to do/think/be THAT. What could have been perceived as so “healthy” (self-help) and productive, turned into a systematic shaping of myself that I had little choice or joy in. The result? Ah, that’s the sad part. The result was living a life full of Representatives and devoid of… ME. I got lost in the heap of shit I was digging up in my past and when that phase finally ended with my separation from Tyrel, I got buried alive in chaos, stress, trauma, and eventually, grief.

I’m six feet under and it’s time to pull me out and let me breathe and dance and LIVE again. I see this year as an “undoing” of all that’s been “done” over the last 15-20 years. I’m unraveling the tangles of trauma, the knots of abuse, the cords of grief and disappointment, and I’m laying them all out in straight lines. They’re all pieces of who I am, but none of them single-handedly define me. I am not just a sum of all that has happened to me. These things are part of my story, but they aren’t who I am.

I am a living, thinking, choosing organism. I change and grow. I morph and expand. I shift and contract. Of course I’m worthy of life and being known. This part of my journey is more about being at peace and being allowed to not produce and perform. I get to sit back and watch from a different point of view – as an unbiased observer. I’m not judging or even fixing anymore. I’m simply noticing. Who I am. What makes me tick. What motivates or immobilizes me. I’m not trying to be anything for anyone else this year. I’m just learning who I am at ground zero – before I was mom, before I was wife, before all the responsibility.

So anything that doesn’t support me observing or creating space to be me, goes. So far:

  • Figuring out “why” is out.
  • Liquor is out. (This is a mindset and here is mine: Wine is conversational and reflective for me. Liquor is to feel tipsy and get lit.)
  • Dating is out. Even “looking”. The pursuit, the idea, and desire for it distracts me from ME. I don’t know how to date yet without making it all about what HE wants or without my Dating Rep, so it’s out for now.

At the end of this year (which really could be six months or six years), I see myself at a New Beginning. A new startline, where my past is just my past and not a constant reminder of pain, trauma, and disappointment. This is the emergent year for me, where I make peace with the first 35 years and neutralize them, allowing the next 35 to be new, fresh, and complete with me being fully ME.

I am so excited! This has come over the last few days and in the wake of navigating my first hormonal/ovulation-induced week of “blues” without G or any other person or drama around to mask it (or blame). I need this. To be with myself and get to know every part of me without the messiness of another person’s opinion clouding mine.

For instance, working out. I’m doing it now when and because I want to. Not to look good for G or attract a certain kind of guy.

My phone. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. It’s a crutch and an escape route out of my loneliness and it’s a way of finding attention/affirmation when I’m feeling insecure or small.

My free time. Made for peace and rest now, not serving someone else or figuring out my place in the relationship or the world. I just get to be whatever I am – insecure, happy, lonely, fulfilled. All of it or any of it. I don’t have to run away from myself anymore.

I’ve invited myself to be present in my life – for my kids and for peace. There is actually no timeline, although I’ve penciled in one year. This is a practice. There’s no specific end goal. I’m just giving myself the gift of time and attention.

On the other side, I know I will have found my voice. I will be the kind of partner I want. I will not be wrestling with my past. I will not be a slave to my mind. I will be open to and ready for love… my Great Love.

Up until now, I’ve wanted a man to come along and usher/draw/push me into finding myself and peace in life. Now, I don’t want anyone else involved in my bloom. All this time I thought it was about my career and making my own money, but as I’m writing this I just realized it’s about THIS. I keep telling my friends I’m not ready “to commit” or “settle down” with anyone because I need to “make it” financially first and prove to myself that I can. But really, I just need to give myself freedom to BE. Alone. Wild and free. Coo-coo and nutty. Amazing and creative. Loving and passionate. For myself.

XO,

M

P.S. I’m reading Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. I’m going to be like a nun for 2019 only instead of serving God, I’m going to serve myself. Although I know part of that invariably means serving and loving others better and more. Oh how “worship” changes for me over time! LOL

M: Me

Tyrel: My first love, husband and my abuser 2005-2015, father of my children, died by suicide September 2016

Children: Jane and Peter

G: Ex-boyfriend and best friend

S: G’s ex- girlfriend

A: Widow and best friend (one of the “hos”)

L: Younger sister (12 years younger) and best friend. Technically, my half-sister (her father is my stepdad, R)

R: Stepdad, father figure from age 11 on, and Opa to my kids

Z: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

H: Older sister (two years older) and best friend

W: kindred spirit, beloved friend, licensed therapist

I began my self-study by documenting myself in my everyday life in hopes that after a few months, I could see patterns and understand some of my own rhythms. I kept 3 journals (the — symbol represents distinction between journals 1 and 3): 

  1. An emotional/mental well-being journal where I daily jotted 1-3 sentences about my overall internal stability.
  2. My mind-body-spirit (aka moon phase) journal, which was a calendar where I noted my hormones, diet, activity, and overall feelings about myself each day.
  3. The mamma-jamma journal (the main chunk of this memoir) where I pain-stakingly detailed out my experiences and my every thought about those experiences.
2 MBK Memoir: How to begin to make peace with yourself

1 MBK Memoir: What “doing the work” actually looks like

For the first few months in 2022, I will be sharing some of the entries from my personal journal from 2019. This journal dictates the part of my transition from unconscious emotional literacy to conscious emotional intelligence. I am not saying I hadn’t done any work on myself before this or that I have “it” all figured out since then. What 2019 brought me was the foundation to build a new relationship with my emotions, my past, and my authentic self. We are all made of light and shadow. We have all heard one way or another how it looks to “discover yourself” or “heal your past” or “do the work”. My journal is what that journey looks like realistically. This particular chapter of my story shows how raw, fragile, and messy meeting and fully accepting the shadow can be. This is a memoir. All of this actually happened. 

My hope in offering this vulnerable piece of my life with you is that you may find hope to keep fighting to reach your soul, your divine intuition, your most authentic self. Maybe you’ll get an idea of how you’d like to document your own healing process or perhaps you will be inspired to reach out for new resources to support you along your path home to yourself. At a minimum, I hope you can get some entertainment out of reading my trainwreck happen in slow motion, and the beauty in the aftermath.

I debated on whether I should title this memoir Shadow Dance, Finding My Authentic Self, or simply, Cringy. (Perhaps, as you read, you can offer title suggestions.) I’d like to make it known that I know how excruciating and difficult this will be at times to continue reading (you may find yourself chanting, “Don’t do it! C’mon, you know better!”). Stick with it at least through June (in the memoir), it’ll be worth enduring through the cringe that precedes.

A little background before you begin reading the first entries:

2019 was the year I decided to change a lifelong pattern of “emotional addiction”, although I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing when the year began. When 2019 started, I was hoping there was another way to live, but I had never experienced anything but the agonizing torment of being tangled inside the web of my own mind and heart up until that point. Self-sabotage was as natural as breathing.

Emotional addiction is a compulsion to find and stimulate emotional “hits”—the highs followed by the lows of entanglement with another person. “When they are good to me and give me what I want, I am floating and invincible. When they fail to show up or they disappoint me, I am thrown into disarray and I usually have a physical reaction to the emotional let down.” It is a chaotic and addicting way of life. And it isn’t just with romantic partners – parents, friends, coworkers, children are all common proxies for this addiction. 

This is my account of the year I got sober from a lifelong enslavement to a broken system of (unconscious) thought.

Here’s a list of people mentioned (I have changed some of their names/abbreviations for the protection of their dignity):

M: Me

Tyrel: My first love, husband and my abuser 2005-2015, father of my children, died by suicide September 2016

Children: Jane and Peter

G: Ex-boyfriend and best friend

S: G’s ex- girlfriend

A: Widow and best friend (one of the “hos”)

L: Younger sister (12 years younger) and best friend. Technically, my half-sister (her father is my stepdad, R)

R: Stepdad, father figure from age 11 on, and Opa to my kids

Z: Widow and close friend (one of the “hos”)

H: Older sister (two years older) and best friend

W: kindred spirit, beloved friend, licensed therapist

At the end of 2018, G broke up with me after a nearly two-year sometimes deep, sometimes casual relationship, noting “I know I want kids of my own and that’s not an option with you,” (because I knew I didn’t want anymore children from my body by then) “and, mostly, I think you deserve better than what I can give you.” This break-up wasn’t a simple undoing. G was my first kind and lasting romantic relationship after I left my abusive marriage in 2015. My kids adored G, and he was a regular part of our family rhythm. G and I were also best friends who truly wanted the best for each other, even if that meant us not being romantically connected. I know everyone says that, but we actually meant it… probably.

After the break up, I decided I didn’t want to do what I had always done before when the latest relationship expired (jump to distracting myself with new men). I wanted to, you know… take a peek behind my own walls. I began my self-study by documenting myself in my everyday life in hopes that after a few months, I could see patterns and understand some of my own rhythms. I kept 3 journals: 

  1. An emotional/mental well-being journal where I daily jotted 1-3 sentences about my overall internal stability.
  2. My mind-body-spirit (aka moon phase) journal, which was a calendar where I noted my hormones, diet, activity, and overall feelings about myself each day.
  3. The mamma-jamma journal (the main chunk of this memoir) where I pain-stakingly detailed out my experiences and my every thought about those experiences.

I had no idea what I would find swarming inside my soul… 

* I have not edited the content of these entries as will be clear very soon!

2019 Journal Intro

This is an observation journal for the year 2019. After a series of life events and recent circumstances, I have decided to step back and take the position of “The Observer” (aka “The Watcher” as Ekhart Tolle says). Not that I won’t be living or being “present” in the now, but rather that I am my new project of sorts. Instead of finding other things and people to fill my time and mental energy (scrolling the gram, texting my friends, binge watching Netflix), I am going to focus on getting to know myself this year.

This means, of course, I will live with no Representatives (read more here), only bringing and being my true self in any given moment or situation. I have only recently realized I’ve managed to live my entire adult life with a slew of very helpful, self-deprecating Representatives. The strongest being my Dating Rep. While it hasn’t been a struggle to live without them, more enlightening really, the hole my Dating Rep leaves is rather deep and it has made me aware I have some things to figure out. 

If approval, acceptance, inclusion, and affirmation are no longer the driving force for LITERALLY EVERYTHING I do, then what am I? Who am I? What’s to know? I’m sure it’s good stuff, I just couldn’t say specifically “what” it is. And so… I quest.

December 30, 2018

I was in a good headspace until I dropped by G’s to unload some Xmas stuff. His high school buddy, J was there. That was the first time I’ve met J, and G was energetically playful with the kids – almost like he was showing off. But that was all fine. J seems extremely insecure.

What did me in was G mentioning tomorrow he could only come by for an hour after work because he’s “gonna go to…” then he stopped himself from telling me where (maybe because of J, but probably because of me). Instant knots.

After I got home I could tell I was shorter with the kids. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Am I jealous? Do I really expect him to only be with us all of the time? Why do I feel like this?

I texted him to not feel pressure to come over tomorrow “we can do firecrackers with you another night,” then asked what he was doing tomorrow night. He said, “Ok cool. I’ll come over on the 1st for longer… Nunya.” More knots.

He doesn’t want me to know which makes me think the worst – some other chick – but IS THAT SO BAD? Isn’t this the plan anyways? Why is this bothering me AT ALL?!

I also saw a pic of him on IG with some other people from work and I sank lower. He’s doing things in business and personal life that I know nothing about. It’s absurd. That I always take it in the worst ways, but moreso, that I still want him to pick me, invite me, choose me, want me.

I desperately need to belong and I’m sinking. What am I supposed to focus on when I feel this way? Oh, yeah… gratitude. 

It helps 20% and I listen to my breathing. Then I remember!

*When I am desperate for someone to give me something I am lacking, I need to give it to myself!

So, I invited myself to spend time alone writing tonight. And tomorrow, I’m inviting myself to play SORRY! and drink hot chocolate with the kids in my bed for NYE, then drink Korbel and watch movies alone and rest in my aloneness…

Because it’s actually what I choose for myself.

And just like that… I dgaf what G is doing tomorrow night. Or any other night! LOL

December 31, 2018

Talked with A about it all. Feels better to get it out and be reminded of what I truly want – more for ME – a true match for my family and for G to get his dream of his own family.

January 1, 2019

Woke up distantly thinking about G, but I can feel the detachment happening again. That’s good. Feeling better about it and easy to create distance from him.

January 2

I woke up feeling 50% secure – so not solid, which makes me feel slippery and close to unstable. G was being formal and distant which irritates me and makes me feel insecure about how our relationship will pan out. I’m not in control of that though. I have to allow him to be himself and take our friendship one day at a time.

January 3

Woke up worrying. Soccer, $$, bills, career. I feel alone and untethered. I tried to take deep breaths and remember all the love and support I have. Then my mom texted she’d take the kids tomorrow night and I felt such relief. I wondered if maybe just having the kids out of school and a wonky routine is getting to me. Always an excuse for the emotional lows, I guess.

Well, the day got better then worse! Distracted with errands then went to P’s house. Then… I ran a red light and a teen driver hit me (eye roll). I’m so mad at myself, but I’m embracing this as the Universe warning me to get focused and pay attention (I had been texting while stopped at the red light). I’m really trying to listen and not self-loathe. This is definitely a low day. 

January 4

The funk is looming but mom is taking the kids for the night so I’m going dancing with the hos.

January 5

Not. A good start to the day. Very blue. I desperately miss G. I miss our friendship and companionship. I’m tired, hungover, and feeling so lonely. Like really alone. I’ve been thinking (not good) for almost two hours about why… in the end, it doesn’t matter. Two things I’m considering:

  1. Not drinking for a month (or more)
  2. Not dating or even looking to date for this entire year

January 6

Today was much better. I felt like myself again, but maybe with a little added soberness for how rough the last week has been. Would have preferred not to see G today, but sold a mirror from my storage (which is still at his house) and he was home. It was fine. I wasn’t overly uncomfortable. However, leaving, I felt comforted by his engagement with me and the kids. I’m not sure how good that is for me. I guess I’ll find out. He is going rock climbing with us in two days (eye roll). I was undecided about him going, but he pushed for it so I agreed. Not sure if I should be able to decide that for myself or not.

January 7

Feeling so good today. I love the space I’m creating for myself to live alone and free from over-analyzing myself and the “why” of everything in my life. I feel detached from “looking” for attention from G (or any other man). I feel so safe in giving myself room to be alone and learn about myself. I want to learn my intricacies, moods, wants, likes, needs, etc. I want to find my voice…

Somatic Memories: Healing Body, Mind, and Soul

Somatic Memories: Healing Body, Mind, and Soul

Your body remembers significant mile markers along your life journey, even when your mind doesn’t. Today marks six years from the last fight we ever had. My body has been sluggish all week, feeling the magnetic pull to my bed. I only just realized why. I feel it in my spine and tightening muscles around my hips and shoulders–what this weekend symbolizes in my soul. Freedom. Isn’t that strange? My body constricts at the memory of how I reclaimed my freedom. The body and soul are intimately interwoven, and mine are remembering the process it took to get me here–safe, stable, whole again.

Exiting a toxic relationship is never easy, let alone one tangled with gaslighting, bipolar, depression, alcoholism, drugs, and codependency. It was like pulling my head out of a shark’s mouth–painful, bloody, no clean lines. So, that’s what my visceral memory is recounting. It took me four years to finally be able to truthfully declare: I am emotionally stable. And another two years after that to actually feel… I am going to be okay in life. 

Domestic violence is a funny thing, the way it sneaks up on you and eats away at your confidence, personality, and neural pathways… in silence. We assume we are safe inside our own minds, but victims of abuse have learned the hard way, this is not true. Once that is understood, it makes sense that it can easily take years to untangle the complex webs of toxic beliefs that were sown into our psyches. 

I mostly have amazing days, full of laughter, joy, and love. But a few days a year, my body remembers what I came from. I honor this pull. It’s sacred to me–remembering. I never want to forget the horrific lows of what it felt like to be treated less than human by the one who swore to love me for the rest of my life. I want to be able to tap back into those days of hollowing emptiness inside my chest. Why? Because it’s where empathy lives now. It is no longer re-traumatizing for me to think about my days as a victim (after substantial PTSD therapy), so I treasure those memories and emotions. They are what help me spread and teach hope and power to those who are wading through the dark hollows still. 

“Healing” isn’t linear, with clear directions and graduation points. Reconciling one’s past is excruciating at times, and I wasn’t ever actually interested in facing that kind of pain. But I chose to turn into the abyss of lost dreams and try to recover pieces of myself in hopes that I could somehow be able to give my kids something better than what I had. I started out doing it for them, but somewhere along the way, I ended up doing it for me.

As I collected the lost pieces of my soul, I learned the most valuable lessons of my life: I am worthy. I am enough. I belong. I am okay. It was in this learning that I began to accept my story–the abuse, the decisions I regretted, the divorce, the loss of myself. Acceptance didn’t mean it was acceptable to be treated poorly, but it meant it was okay to honor my past for bringing me here today. What follows this brave embracing of one’s self is perhaps one of human’s most precious capabilities: compassion.

When I learn how to extend compassion to myself (for all the things I wish I had done differently), I become capable of showing compassion to others. The same goes for caring for oneself, loving oneself, forgiving oneself, respecting oneself, embracing oneself. If we can get clear about practicing these patterns with ourselves, we will naturally create space and capacity in our lives to do these things for others. It’s magic.

So, yes. I am allowing myself to soberly sit in the memories of what this weekend represents for me: the beginning of my exodus to freedom. It isn’t painful to remember, it’s humbling. And at the same time, I feel immense pride for the six-year younger version of me who was brave enough to say, “No more.” She’s fucking radiant and I am honored to hold her in the deepest parts of my soul today. She has taught me so much, led me home, and reminded me of my humanity. I love her. I love me. 

To all the souls who are still wandering for your scattered pieces:

Carry on. You can do hard things. You are worth the often silent, lonely journey back to yourself. And I see you.

Photo by William Farlow Unsplash

The Cocktail of Abuse: An Inside Look at Intimate Partner Abuse

The Cocktail of Abuse: An Inside Look at Intimate Partner Abuse

Reemerging into the world after leaving an abusive partnership is… terrifying. It’s particularly challenging learning how not to wear your insecurities like a glittery cocktail dress, drawing every eye in sight to attention. My particular cocktail began as self-doubt with a splash of inferiority. Then six months into marriage, my doting husband–the mega church pastor–added his own twist to the potent concoction: a double shot of disdain with a generous pour of chastising, gaslighting, and blame, shaken with a bit of mockery, and finished with a twist of zesty disgust at the mere sight of me. He would usually offer an icy chaser in the form of an unrelenting verbal attack–bringing me to the point of drunken stupor–or (his favorite) sobering me up by stonewalling me for days with intricate deliberation. The life I found myself in was not unlike how it might feel to be a stray dog in the street–full of mange and starving for life, thoughtlessly avoided but never actually sought after to be cared for, spoken to, or protected. I had been pounding this cocktail for a decade, and what began as poison slicing my voice as it made its way down my throat eventually became the standard by which I classified normal.

Normal that men pretend to adore women at first then become monsters once they’ve signed the marriage license or tied them down with a child. Normal to feel duped, trapped, and foolish for actually choosing this person to marry (of ALL the men in the world!). Normal, having canker sores all over my mouth, shingles at the age of 24, and pinched nerves every six weeks for years on end. Normal, being “coached” on what can and cannot be said to friends/bosses/family members/strangers. Normal, never quite knowing if I’m safe or in danger when he’s around. Normal is the sinking hollow in my chest and gut when I lay down in the quiet of the night. Normal is not knowing if I actually am alone in the world or if I really do have someone in my corner. Normal, not recognizing the woman staring back at me in the mirror (or is that a skeleton? It’s hard to tell). Normal when lies are the truth and the truth are all lies. 

The poisonous cocktail of abuse destroys a person’s ability to decipher normal.

In logic, I knew I was human, but I only ever felt like worthless trash, unapologetically crumpled and tossed away. I was desperate for proof that I was actually visible to other humans. I clung to humanity as best I could, holding every eye that acknowledged my existence at the grocery store or passing along the sidewalk, hanging on every word when people spoke kindly to me, and gaping in disbelief when I saw the “fairytale freak-husbands” who were attentive, gentle, and supportive of their wives (they were clearly putting on a really good act… but for who? I couldn’t ever figure out why they went out of their way to keep up the persona of “doting husband” at times when it seemed so unnecessary–like in the parking lot or the driveway of their own home–who were they trying to fool? Who did they think was watching? I never did understand men’s trickery. It was baffling and frustrating).

One day the entire filthy trance came to a screeching halt when my daughter innocently and valiantly stood for justice (and the preservation of her mother’s dignity). At just five years old, she interrupted one of her daddy’s eerily controlled, but fiercely charged beratements and locked eyes with me. “I love you, Mommy. I love you. MOMMY! I love you.”

And that–it turns out–was the slap in the face I needed to end the cycle that was swallowing me whole. No more throwing back twisted cocktails of abuse. No more waking up sloppy and emotionally hung over. And no more spending days spinning out dazed and confused.

It was over. 

I blinked hard and fast. What was this feeling? It was like someone had poured cold water over my head after being coated with sweat for years in the raging sun. The truth was coolly washing away the stickiness of the emotional abuse I had caked on every inch of my skin, my lips, my eyelids. I was beginning to see things as they were. I could move about as I chose for the first time in years. I even tried flexing and stretching again–my muscles and my will. It was equal parts liberating and horrifying. I could breathe–like actually inhale without a concentrated effort. 

And there was something else. Something strange, but familiar, creeping towards me. It was light and airy, but dashing and flighty. I couldn’t put my finger on it for days; each time I was close, it would disappear. But finally, I found the courage to reach out and touch it. It was the enchantment of my childhood, but I had not seen it for quite some time. It was hope. 

Oh, no. I won’t dare hold onto hope again. It’s too dangerous. Too unpredictable. Too scary for someone like me to keep around. I was no fool. I knew how dark and twisted life–and people–could be. I wouldn’t fall into that trap again. Not ever.

But eventually, it was hope that would carry me through the horror of facing my reality: I was a victim of domestic violence. I argued with this one for a long time. After all, he was a pastor and he never laid a hand on me. How could I be a victim? It was hope that gave me the courage to ask questions, seek help, and absorb the truth. The truth is abuse isn’t just physical–it’s mental, emotional, financial, spiritual. It isn’t always classified by bruises on skin, but on the often unseen power and dominance over another person. That, I couldn’t argue with. Intimidation and control were the staples of his power over me. Seemingly strong and confident as I was, I was no match for his twisted words and constant power plays. I also learned that there is no certain “type of victim”. Abusers prey on the fragile and the strong, the broken and the successful, the isolated and the known.

Hope led me back to my will. My will carried me straight to my power. And my power broke the chains of my addiction to this cocktail of abuse. See, it wasn’t enough for me to realize anyone could be a victim of abuse–how was that going to help me avoid getting into a similar situation again? I needed more data. I had to know what it was in me that led me to choose and stay with my abuser. I went on a mission to excavate the previous 10 years of trauma and go back to the beginning; to study every choice I made, every choice I ignored, and every choice I gave up. I had to know so I wouldn’t do this again. I had to know so I could protect my kids from it and teach them how to watch for signs. I had to know so I could help other victims.

See, for victims of abuse, their sense of self is hidden behind some locked doors–usually labeled fear and insecurity. Sometimes those doors have boards nailed over them called lies, loss, rejection, and failure. On the other side of those fears and insecurities, are all the tightly taped boxes of bad beliefs we victims–like hoarders–tend to hold onto: “I’ll never find better. It’s not really that bad, sometimes it’s good. I’m not good, worthy, or enough. No one will believe me. I’m stupid, small, and meaningless. I’m not strong enough. I can’t do this alone. I’m nothing without him/her. He/she will take the kids from me. He/she will ruin me. I am ruined. No one will ever want me now. I am broken.” Once those bad beliefs are removed, under the floorboards lie the mounds of self-doubt and self-abandonment we accumulated along our journey through hell. 

And it’s this overhaul of the cobweb-filled home, decked with labor to bear that keeps victims in the ties of their abusers. It’s nothing less than overwhelming to face this house of horrors–at least when we try to do it alone. In fact, I would venture to say it’s impossible to do alone, without any help or support along the way. It’s the death of a soul–this abandoned wreckage we find ourselves in. Without hope–a lifeline, the right tools, and a circle of support–it’s absolutely paralyzing to face.

This is where my work began: my quest to understand victims of abuse. Me. 

Five years later, I’m here, coaching women (and men) through their own stories of toxic cocktail consumption. I throw lifelines, hand over tools, and whisper truth to those who walk their own path of abuse. I get to do this now because I found the key to freedom. I know where the gift of empowerment hides within the soul. Every story is a little different, but every soul holds the same power–the power to fight, live, heal, love, and be whole again. They call this kind of power self-worth,and I know where and how to find it.

This is what we all need to be talking about–friends, family, survivors, advocates, officers, social workers, teachers, clergy. Leaving intimate partner abuse isn’t a simple decision. It isn’t a matter of “just doing it already” or even a matter of “finding the courage”. It takes bravery AND resilience, a fleck of clarity AND the stamina to see it through. Victims need shoulders to cry on, arms to hold them up, caretakers to watch their children, resources to cover their needs, and time to walk out their healing. And not just for a month or even a year. Sometimes they won’t even see the posttraumatic stress until years after they are out of their abuser’s reach. The healing process for victims of abuse can neither be predicted nor formulated. Each of us are unique in the way we cope with the devastation of where our story has led us. 

But, no matter who you are (victim or not) and no matter what your story (touched by abuse or not), the cycle of abuse will always begin to end with this: talking. So, speak. Use your power and share your words. Reach out. Lean in. We’re all around you, 1 in 4 of us–victims and survivors alike. Just do me one favor: Never underestimate our power to survive and heal. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse in your home, please call 800.799.SAFE (7233) or visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline and talk with a trained advocate today. If you understand what this article mentions, you understand domestic violence. Find the next right step for YOU. Sending you strength and BIG, warm hugs.

XO,

MBK

Get Out of The F*cking Fairytale

Get Out of The F*cking Fairytale

I am deeply rooted in my efforts and ability to tell the truth and live honestly. I speak, write, coach, parent, and relate on the single steady foundation of honesty. To me, living honestly also means being aware and up front about any realizations of covert motives or agreements I’m trying to attach to a person or situation. For instance, I’ve been known to say, “Turns out, I was only dating you so I could feel worthy, but now I feel worthy on my own and no longer feel we are a dating match.” Brutal or honest? I say honest. So, imagine my surprise when I recently managed to wriggle free from a mental block that has been confining me for over two decades. The block: my lack of honesty. 

There have been many plot twists in my story–divorcing a megachurch pastor, him taking his own life six months later, raising grieving children alone, the absolute shit-show of dating post-marriage in my 30’s, and countless “epiphanies” of healing and freedom along the way–so, perhaps, this is just another notch in my “twisted story” belt. But it shook me down to a cellular level because it happened to challenge all those beautifully crafted “stories of honesty” I had been so triumphantly proclaiming. Through the course of relatively unimportant happenings, I landed flat on my face and locked eyes with this brutal discovery:

I’m the one holding myself back.

Oh, that’s cute, huh? Super life-coachy of me to say, “I’m the only one standing in my way.” But here’s what that actually meant. It meant this disgusting, vomit-in-my-mouth reality: I had been unconsciously waiting for a man to appear into the picture so I could then continue on with what I was meant to do, live, and be.

Gross. Why is that so utterly repulsive to me? Because I am a free-spirited, independent, and no less, happy woman goddammit! Why on earth would my subconscious ever allow for such a sadistic and treacherous motive to ever creep in? Needless to say, I was one hundred percent dumbfounded at this realization, so, naturally my mind began spinning a million miles per minute to figure out why, God, why I ever got into this mental trap to begin with and compensate for having stayed there so fucking long (two decades, remember?). 

Lucky for you, I will share a cute, tidy version of all the mind-fucking this actually took to retrieve:

After a decade-long regime in an abusive marriage (to the megachurch pastor), I came out rather tattered and wobbly. I had lost all sense of self–self-esteem, self-love, self-trust. It was gone. Because I have an overactive mind (which up to that point had been a curse), my recovery moved at an obscenely rapid pace. If I am one thing, I am obsessed with personal development. The three years following my wildly disappointing marriage were jam packed with sexual escapades (that for sure did not end up like you are imagining they did), so many tears I could have filled the Hudson, lots of fist-shaking at the heavens “why me!”, an ungodly reckoning with my liver by way of whiskey, and playing a tricky game of “catch up” in emotional and relational intelligence as I had taken a lengthy hiatus from those fields for over ten years in order to stay married (if I outgrew him, I’d be blamed for breaking the sacred vows we partook in). It was in playing “catch up” that I unlocked the majority of mental and emotional blocks that had me seek and tie myself to my abuser for so long, continue to chase unavailable men, and kept me adequately distracted from my own “shadow work” while at the same time safely making it seem like I was actually quite knowledgeable on emotional quotient (EQ). As I became aware of these blocks, I would release them and consciously build new habits, beliefs, or behaviors in their place. I was getting healthy! While all of this delicious healthiness was happening, I was also learning how to talk to my kids about mental illness and suicide (as this was what consumed their world having lost their dad to it), which meant lots of bittersweet, brutal fucking honesty. In that honesty is where I gave birth to a new standard of integrity for myself: to live and speak my truth as soon as I am aware of it. 

The safety and stability I have created for myself and my family is based on this commitment to myself. I will show up honestly every day to every situation with every person I’m in front of. Fucking honorable, right? Sure is. And it works. It’s an exhilarating way to live, but it is NOT easy. I have a lot of uncomfortable, difficult conversations. I’ve learned to get comfortable with discomfort. I’ve had to in order to keep living the story that’s turned out to be my life. 

As honorable as I’ve become, just like you and everyone else, I have a shadow. The shadow is the part of me that I’d prefer to keep to myself, not share with lovers, and pretend it doesn’t exist at all. Everyone’s shadow is a little bit different, but there are some blanket similarities with all of ours. For instance, shame. Shame is a shadow trait. Every human experiences shame. So, that’s nice to know we’re not alone in it. But our shadow likes to say, “But yikes! My shame is grosser than other people’s shame, so I shouldn’t talk about it, otherwise I might not be liked or loved or accepted.” Bullshit. Everyone’s shame is equally terrifying and gross. 

Speaking of shame, back to how I grotesquely and unknowingly–but maybe had a little inkling–put my life on HOLD while I powerlessly waited for some fairytale unicorn of a man to waltz in and start building an awesome conscious relationship with me… (for the record, I will never stop hating that this was ever true for me, but if I know myself–and I do–soon I will be able to honor this younger, idiot version of myself for leading me to the point of expansion.)

So I worked through a clusterfuck of heavy, ratchet ass feelings, drank my way through some grief, and came out the other end with some badass integrity. Cool story. Except for that damn shadow. It regularly and unpredictably shows up to keep inviting me to grow and find breakthroughs… unless I ignore it or waste my energy trying to hide it. Then it’ll become the big, bad wolf that huffs and puffs until it blows my whole life to smithereens. You probably know what I mean. 

My most recent shadow invitation began with a pity party–why is everyone else finding their person and not me? And ended with another sacred, completely unexpected mindfuck–because, baby girl, you’re still waiting to mooch off of someone else’s power instead of finding, taking, and living in your own. 

Oh. 

Power. That’s one of those residual effects of living honestly. You get a lot of power when you live in your own truth. And in a weird, twisty way, this whole shadow appearance about my powerlessness actually showed me how I can choose differently if I wanted to. And I do. So I did. 

Here is how Shadow Work usually works:

  1. Discontent. Not getting the results or outcome you wanted.
  2. Shadow appearance. Usually creepy and uninvited.
  3. The great choosing. You make a conscious or unconscious choice about Step 2.
  4. The reckoning. Your shadow fucks you up, and depending on what you chose in Step 3, this will either lead to the best life yet or it will lead to more pressure, pain, and pretending.
  5. Power or Powerless. Again, depending on Step 3, you will feel one of these.

Regardless of what other delectable outcomes I’ve had from the most recent shadow appearance (and there are a few), this is the biggest: Whether I’m aware of it or not, when I pretend to be anything lesser than who I am, I am only ever lying to myself. 

Here’s the deal, bosses, when we prevent ourselves from living in our truth–our full potential, our highest integrity–we are presenting the world with a smaller, and dare I say fake, version of ourselves. And if you’re like me, you were hoping someone else would come along, call “bullshit” on the whole facade and beckon you into full blossom.

Get out of the fucking fairytale. 

That’s not actually how it works. It looks more like we pretend we’re accomplishing all of the dreams and hopes we have for ourselves while secretly in the quiet of the night, lying awake sad or with a brick on our chests because we know there’s more, but we aren’t sure how to get it so it feels safer to never speak of it. So we don’t. We stay silent in our true experience, which happens to be a little disappointing and causes shitty feelings to linger from the night into the day. Those days and nights string together and before we know it we have chronic gut issues, headaches, insomnia tousled with the perpetual switch of the toggle between anxiety and depression, and we surmise that, “Yes, this is in fact, just who I am.” 

The danger of not allowing your shadow to teach you is this: You begin to think you ARE your shadow. And this. Well, it’s perhaps the precise source of our restless unhappiness. 

If you want to stop feeling like someone else has the power to make your life so amazing that you actually want to keep living it and start finding, choosing, and living in your own power, then stop lying to yourself. You’re only doing yourself a disservice when you pretend what is true isn’t and what isn’t is. Stop that shit immediately. Practice being aware of your thoughts and how often you discount your own experience–feelings, needs, pain. Bring all those swirling thoughts hanging out in the shadows of the back of your mind forward and turn a spotlight on them and start asking them some questions. Get curious about your own thoughts. This practice of awareness in and of itself is going to revolutionize your power meter.

Once you’ve become pretty aware of how often you shove your actual true self under the rug and tell him/her to “shut up and go away,” then you can start getting intentional about how you want to be honest about your true self (either with yourself or with others). You’ll be off the power charts when you start actively, consciously choosing how you want to show up (honestly or not). It’s really quite fascinating. I highly recommend this as a lifestyle. 

Whatever you decide to do with this information, I hope at a minimum you’ll stop lying to yourself. Because really, it’s not helping anyone in the long run, especially you. 

Watch the YouTube video

Listen to the Podcast

WTF is Codependency?

WTF is Codependency?

Codependency is not a one-dimensional method of relating. I’m sure you’ve all heard a lot of different pieces of what it is or could be: dependency on another person financially, emotionally, or otherwise, losing oneself in another person, needing others to feel ok about self, etc.

So, WTF is codependency, really?

My definition is this: when one person doesn’t understand how to have a separate experience from another person.

It’s like you are scared that having your own experience will not be enough… so you jump into someone else’s and try to fix it for them.

Oh, that egocentric know-it-all syndrome. Most of us like to mix it with a shot of self-abandonment and throw some good ol’ patriarchy in to really chill the glass.

And that lovely little cocktail is called: CODEPENDENCY.

Trust me, if you can find the courage to be quiet enough to listen to your inner voice, brave enough to turn and face your shadows, and curious enough to observe and study YOURSELF, you will NOT have any interest in inserting yourself in other people’s feelings/situations/experiences (aka being codependent).

We all have wounds and triggers to those wounds, that will always be the case. What DOESN’T have to be the norm is reacting out of those unacknowledged triggers and obsessing about other people’s shadows/issues because we covertly want them to get better so they can stop triggering us!

Can you see how ass-backwards that is? How about you take care of the ONLY thing you ACTUALLY have power over–yourself–and pay attention to your own wounds and learn how to self-soothe when you are triggered, so you can regain ALL your power and stop passing it off to others HOPING they will be quality enough people to not let you down?

When I was in an abusive relationship (with an addict), I was CONSUMED with his pain. By the end, I was a shell of a human and had NO joy or excitement left in me.

I was never going to be able to control his choices or his pain, but I could have used my power to save myself. Instead, I enmeshed myself in him and tried to heal him so I could have a better life.

Of course that didn’t work. So here I am, years later, FINALLY discovering what it means to have relationships without BECOMING one with the other person.

In the upcoming posts I will address more examples of codependency (I’ve got plenty!), the faith-based ideas that can be a catalyst for it, and how to recreate healthy relational habits.

What’s your experience with codependency? Does ANY of this sound familiar?

XO,

MK

PS. Check out @createthelove and @risingwoman for more brilliance on wounds/codependency/emotional intelligence!

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