The past five years have been unusually dark for me. Full of family turmoil and career drama. I’ve had plenty of reasons to run and hide, to isolate myself from the world. I stopped dating, I stopped really socializing too. I locked away in my little protective bubble where nothing could touch me. And how fitting that this spring I’m starting to emerge into who I have always wanted to be.
I’m sure the isolation served a purpose, allowed me a chance to rest, regroup and plot my way forward. But so much hurt, so much shame, so much trauma and I was more stuck than empowered. Contrast that to where I am now, more social, more vocal, more grounded in who I am. I believe strongly that this is where I need to be right now, in a space of manifestation and creation, fulfillment and passion. It’s time for me to start making some of my own dreams come true and actualizing the purpose I have for my life.
It’s even more important for me to be in this space…
Right here and right now
I can’t even say how long it’s been since I used the word “passion” to describe myself. I’ve been in survival mode for so long that passion had hardened into a strong shell of resentment over the years I had to put aside what I wanted and desired to avoid judgment and shame. And that passion barely had any embers left until the beginning of 2016.
It was a shitty year….we know this now. And when I had started writing this back in October, I had no idea how bad it would get. I had no idea that so many of us survivors of sexual assault would get activated and retraumatized all at once. I couldn’t see that coming. But to have that same person now in the White House is even more terrifying. And more threatening.
Which is why my transformation needed to happen right here, right now. It’s needed. The value I can add to the world is needed right now.
Healing and guidance show up the moment that we open ourselves to it
This phrase has been showing up a lot in my head over the past year. Repeating in my head. Like a mantra: an invitation to connect deeper to the trust, faith, and soul of my won truth. For too long I’ve been waiting for the answers to come to me, for inspiration to drop in my lap, for the world to serve me because I was too stuck within myself to grasp it for myself.
It takes stillness and lot of courage to open ourselves up when the world has hardened us with disaster and overwhelm. For me it was a moment of desperation, working late with multiple deadlines looming. I had used up the last of my energy reserves and was on the verge of quitting. And sometimes we have to hit that wall, have the walls cave in around us in order to finally throw caution to the wind and try to open up and trust. I grabbed at the last straw I had left –surrender through meditation.*
In a very real and tangible way, I wouldn’t be talking to you today without this moment. Surrender is such a powerful tool and one that we use so rarely. It’s vulnerable. It’s scary. It exposes our wounds to the unknown. And without it that day I might not have survived much less be writing to tell you all about it.
In that moment where you surrender your will, your control, your pride to the unknown, to the stillness within, the walls around your heart and soul start to crack apart just a little. Five minutes changed my life.
We think we have those walls to protect us, but what it really does is separate us from the magic and the beauty of the world around us. It separates us from viewing failure as an opportunity. It separates us from seeing the possibilities in the present when our future seems so uncertain. It separates us from the love we deserve from ourselves.
By engaging in just the simplest expression of stillness, opening my heart just a small crack, the messages that have been waiting for me finally had their chance to be heard and seen. From that 5 minute meditation, I started to see a way out of my circumstances, a clearing of the emotional clutter that had been keeping me from my true path. I glimpsed the promised yellow brick road and saw that I had been hiding it all along with my feelings of unworthiness and shame. That moment opened a path to me that had seemed completely unattainable before. My own yellow brick road.
The key to an open heart isn’t placing our trust in others,
it’s about placing trust in ourselves
Once you see the value you possess, the worth you own as a human being, the path toward your dreams, we can’t unsee it. We might forget the steps, we might lose your way, but we can never truly unsee or unhear wisdom once it’s delivered–it is now a part of our story and experience. An open heart can hold all the goodness that is meant to flow to us. But we have to allow for at least the possibility of light.
Part of the reason this year is focused on deservingness is because, in that one flash of a moment, I saw how my own feelings of low self-worth were preventing me from reaching my dreams. I would dream, but then immediately tell myself it’s out of reach, my anxiety-ridden mind stealing the joy from the destination my soul wanted the most. Dreams seem impossible only because we usually talk ourselves into giving up before we even really start.
If anything, this past year has been about dismantling the barriers I’ve created around my heart. I thought I put those barriers there because I had been hurt so badly by the world that I didn’t trust anyone. But what the barriers really did was keep me caged in. I no longer trusted myself. After these experiences, I didn’t trust myself to be able to recover, to bounce back, to find a way to peace. I blamed myself so much for these events, even though they all occurred due to someone else’s choices, I blamed myself for being vulnerable, open and so easy to fool.
My vulnerability is not my weakness, but my greatest asset. My vulnerability is what allows me to be loved by puppies and kids. My vulnerability is how I’ve stumbled into my happiest moments: my first kiss with the Husband, applying for a job on a whim, spiritual awakenings with Warrior. All of these moments that have defined my life came from the times I was open, vulnerable, alive and charged with my own raw sense of humanity. They didn’t come because someone climbed over my wall and rescued me. They came because I tore down my wall enough to allow myself to truly shine as I am.
What if shame and guilt were just the accumulation of the fears we have that we’re not good enough? I’ve had to confront the ways my own fears of deservingness have had a role in keeping me from success. By glimpsing that yellow brick road and seeing that my dreams ARE attainable if–and only if–I confronted my fears of not being deserving of those riches.
My dream, the place I get lost in a dharmic state of purpose and happiness, is to reach groups of people and help them de-program the thoughts, feelings, and expressions that perpetuate shame and guilt within and without. My dream is to make a cultural and societal difference in how we view, talk and engage in relationships so that our interactions, decisions, and policies reflect that increased awareness. I facilitate group discussions. I talk and teach about sexuality, humanity, and communication. I am bare and raw about my own struggles so that others can either recognize their own story or start to invest more in their own empathy for others. And whether I’m acting as an attorney or as a lover, I want my legacy to be this message:
Without an open heart, without opening up that vulnerability and trusting my own wisdom, my own light, I wouldn’t be speaking to you in this forum. I wouldn’t even know any of you. My life is better for having opened up to the possibility of healing. I had to trust that my own light is worth seeing in order to put these words here, to attach it to my face, and to build my life into what it is right now. I might have still been in hiding if I hadn’t trusted my own heart to be open and ready to listen.
It was the best decision I ever made–the risk of an open heart.