3183 miles by car. 1661 miles by airplane. 100 or so miles by horse, bike, run and hike. 6 National Parks. 2 Large Cities. 1 amazing cross country adventure from the east coast to the west coast. For the first time in over 25 years, I took a three week break from responsibility. No work. No computer. No email. No social media. No phone call or text from anyone other than those in my Sacred Circle (what I call my family and closest of friends.) I experienced deep meaningful, life changing talks. Belly aching laughs. Amateur photographer’s delight in trying to capture the natural wonders. I find Mother Earth hides the awe of her majestic beauty from the limiting camera lens, which is her way of encouraging us to get out and see it with our own eyes.
Life is that way. We can read about something and learn from it but until we really experience it firsthand…see it, taste it, smell it and touch it so deeply you get dirt under your fingernails from it….it’s hard to really understand it and see how it can have a personal impact on you. I learn the best when I’m in the middle of it. If I close my mouth and open my eyes, ears and mind…that’s when real insights and understanding occur. Once I learn something, I like sharing it with my family, friends, clients and for that matter, anyone who’s interested. I’m a helper, not a hurter…so I’m in the process of writing a book to help others recognize and understand abuse and then ultimately how to end abuse in their lives once and for all. Kinda heavy stuff for me personally as I experienced childhood abuse by both of my parents and domestic violence as an adult. As I write about the really hard stuff, it’s easy to be triggered by memories. I can feel hurt over the verbal and emotional abusive “limiting statements” including my mother’s top three most consistently used on me: my unattractive physical appearance, who are you to shine and my lacking intellectual capacity. For example, since early grade school until just this past Christmas I have been told by her “You are stupid…you NEVER could spell…it’s a miracle you passed Spanish, you just couldn’t get it….it’s shocking you’ve been able to run a company all these years…” etc. These were told to me over and over and over again until I absolutely believed the statements to be truth. I deeply believed I wasn’t very smart or overly capable in this world or would ever be good enough. My skin often became thin over the topic of feeling stupid or fear of being exposed as dumb. I would hold a stiff-upper-lip, and later cry when I was alone. I also experienced a lifetime of physical intimidation and abuse by my parents, an unrelenting furnace fueled by their anger, hurt and hate. I had emotional wounds that ran so deep the scars were noticeable, if you know where to look. From an outside perspective, I was doing well in life but internally, I was daily fighting off the heaviness of overwhelm, fear and doubt that was ingrained from the abuse.
After the domestic violence, I found myself barely functioning. It was clear to me that the time had come for me to face and overcome abuse or it was going to overcome me. I spent the past five years in roll your sleeves up, heavy-duty research and healing. I studied insightful books written by talented women and men authors to understand various views about the abused and the abuser. I made myself go and do the hard work at being fully present and totally vulnerable during sessions and programs with the Crisis Center, including EMDR to overcome post-traumatic stress (PTSD). I invested in various healing modalities from mainstream talk therapy/counseling, to “woo-woo” energy work, to holistic essential oils and organic food. I spent endless hours journaling to open the floodgates of repressed memories; it seemed at times the raging river would never end. As often as I could, I would sit quietly in nature waiting for answers and truth. I wore out dozens of Mizuno shoes by running in the woods to release pent up hurt and anger, in order to obtain a state of tranquility. I drank gallons of coffee softened with flavored creamer, wine (deep rich red in winter and a buttery chilled white in summer) and my delicious, all-natural well water, while talking with my Sacred Circle for their healing insights and absorbing their loving support. Going through the discovery and healing process, was so dang incredibly hard. I was unbalanced in life with more sorrow and fear than joy and faith. I operated out of sheer mental willpower and physical stamina while I “grinded” my way through life. It felt the more I dug, the more I discovered how deep and widespread the roots of the abuse ran.
Then as if by magic, it all came together and clicked in my mind, body and soul. Life beautifully unfolded and made sense! I learned and created a way of understanding the codes and cycles of abuse. Why the abused, abuse. Why I was a target. Why I believed the abusers as being truth. Why the “limiting statements” were so damaging. How to spot and squish abuse, before it even has a chance to start. For the first time ever, I realized how smart I am for having survived and navigated my way through and out of abuse to be on the other side where I figured it out. I can actually talk about and even laugh at the past abuse in my life. I see it for what it was…about them, way more than it ever was truly about me. I still am learning even more about the codes and cycles but it’s so simple now. So crystal clear. It’s an exciting time!
Because I never want anyone to struggle through abuse, the aftermath or grind in low gear, I’m fully committed to being an Awareness Creator and do my part to end abuse. I don’t want anyone to feel alone. I want everyone to feel encouraged and empowered. I want to pass my hard-earned life lessons to others, to help them heal themselves. I’m confident that with understanding, empathy and unity, we can join together and end abuse.
I started this new mission in January and have worked my tail feathers off while still being a Mom and running my company of 20 years (a girl has to have cash flow!) By early June I was needing a break from the focus on abuse and wanted a resurgence of energy so I planned the three week cross-country adventure. While in California, we hiked trails in the Sequoia National Park including the path to the epic 2,300+ year old General Sherman tree, the largest tree in the world. I learned these sacred trees survived drought, intense heat, limited sun and more than 80 forest fires. Due to the fires, many trees look completely dead, some with their center core burned and missing (see both tree photos in this blog.) Only a skeleton of burned thick bark is seen…until you know where to look…UP! Sometimes as far up as 130’ off the ground, you see living branches and a healthy top to the tree. I realized, if a tree can survive and thrive after those types of horrific conditions and earn our awe and praise…then why can’t all abused people do the same. Abused people are made to feel by their abusers, blame and shame. How amazing would it be if I can help “flip-a-dip” the image of abused people to represent respected and revered thrivers of the world!
I was so inspired by the trees. They were a perfect physical representation of all I had been through. They reminded me of my horrific conditions I’ve endured and yet, I’m still here and growing and thriving. Through witnessing the trees, I could see their lives and mine proved…faith wins over fear. Love survives hate. Life challenges are there to create opportunities for us to become strong. Scars aren’t shameful but prove how brave we are in facing the limitations and fires in our lives.
I would be returning home soon and wanted a coffee mug (they didn’t sell wine glasses!) to remind me to be a thriver and keep doing work on ending abuse in our world. I found the perfect mug at the gift shop so I bought four…one to keep for myself and three to give to others as encouragement. Right now as I write, I’m sitting outside and drinking coffee (today’s cream is Coffee-Mate’s Italian Sweet Cream…no, it is not organic!) from my new mug. After reading this blog, I think you’ll know why the mug’s quote resonates with me so deeply. “A Giant Sequoia’s Guide to Life. Have a thick skin. Stand up to the heat. Don’t let things bug you. Heal your own wounds. Enjoy your days in the sun. Strive for balance. Hold yourself up high.”
Long live the Sequoia, inside all of us!
ENLIGHTEN. EMPOWER. END.