There was a time when I was afraid to speak my truth, it took a great deal of courage for me to finally find the strength to reclaim it but once I did I knew I would never allow myself to be silenced again.
I started the “Note to Self Series” as a campaign for individuals to share their inner strength. What’s in your “Note to Self” learn how to share it here: The Note to Self Series Let’s show the world what we are made of from the inside out. Look for the Note to Self Series Campaign on Twitter by searching hashtag #notetoself
Kara expresses how she finds strength in her own personal “Note to Self”. Thank you Kara for being brave with your voice! There are so many people Kara touches with the great work she does helping girls and women to empower themselves through her organization, Empower Her, Inc.
I started the “Note to Self Series” as a campaign for individuals to share their inner strength. What’s in your “Note to Self” learn how to share it here: The Note to Self Series Let’s show the world what we are made of from the inside out. Look for the Note to Self Series on Twitterby searching hashtag #notetoself
The solace I find in re-connecting with myself, whether it is found in the quiet of a slumbering house at dawn, a walk among the trees, or watching the sun slip behind the horizon, is beyond measure. It has been my experience, that when my mind stills, my heart opens up to all that is possible.
It wasn’t always that way, years ago being alone left me feeling restless. I always wanted to be going somewhere, surrounded by people, never sitting still. And there was also what I think of as “the revolving boyfriend door” era, where ending a relationship signaled permission to begin a new one.
No, spending time alone has not always been on my priority list.
Eventually it caught up to me. Somewhere early on in my separation from my first husband I realized I really didn’t know who I was; a pretty grim prospect given I was 26, headed toward divorce and the mother of a three year old. But that single epiphany was perhaps one of the most vital of realizations because it eventually led me toward a sustainable sense of wholeness.
I started out slow. Time alone in my condo when my son was with his father. A trip to the coffee shop to sit, write and think. A day skiing at the local mountain. Oh I still filled plenty of my hours surrounded by people but, eventually I craved the time tucked away in my own thoughts to think, feel and be.
Last year, while attending the LunaFest event with my friend Lois, they featured the short film, How to be Alone, a delightful vignette created by Andrea Dorfman which explores the first steps of spending time alone. This beautiful film is a poignant reminder that love, begins inside…
Guest Post: Dianna Bonny
Traumatic experiences can dramatically interrupt our lives like a mighty ice storm and instantly change the landscape. We then face the question of whether we are we going to remain frozen in the position the storm left us, or smash the ice and begin the journey that healing asks of us.
For a few months after my husband’s suicide, I was compelled to share the story with total strangers. I couldn’t explain why, but I needed to do it. It was uncomfortable for some but for others I became a safe container to share their pain. One day, I struck up a conversation with a fifty-five year old man at a coffee shop. After hearing my woeful tale, he touched my arm, looked intently into my eyes, and whispered, “I’ve never shared this with anyone. My dad killed himself when I was thirteen and I still haven’t gotten over it.” He slumped onto my shoulder, saying through his sobs, “I would stand naked on the freeway for a day just to have ten minutes with my dad now.”
I realized I was in the presence of the thirteen-year old boy, not the man. His unhealed sorrow, fresh and raw, vibrating between us like a hummingbird briefly released from captivity, knowing it was to be caged again in solitary agony.
His mother forbade him from speaking of the suicide or his father, which forever bound him to his grief. Rather than being allowed to explore the contours of his loss, the man was imprisoned by his shame, his soul interminably tethered to the wound bound in suffering.
Over the last two years, I have come to believe that we can exponentially increase our capacity to heal by allowing the agony of our heartbreak to escape, little by little, out into the open, incrementally creating more space in our being for love and compassion. Then, we can slowly integrate the pain, so we are not defined by it, rather deepened and enriched by its presence.
I see now that sharing my story with others was an extrapolation of this process. A way of examining the experience by stringing the painful events up on an invisible clothes line of sorts to be aired out, caressed by other hearts and touched by healing energy. Otherwise it would have become a cemented mass, manacled to my soul, plunging me down into the depths.
We are forever changed by trauma and pain, no matter how big or small. Making a conscious choice to heal aligns us with our own unique internal compass, which always seeks to steer us home to our true self and requires nothing short of surrender and conscious intent.
I do not believe the universe wants us to collapse under the weight of our wounds, clutching our pain and enduring a lopsided existence. I think the universe wants us to alight upon the mysterious and magical powers that exist within and around us every day. By wholeheartedly embracing the messy details of our days, we hold the key to our well being, where each moment creates another loop in the kaleidoscopic net we cast across the universe in the hopes of harnessing the beauty and joy of being alive.
Guest Post: Kathleen M. Milliken
It’s been well over 15 years since I made that terrifying decision to finally once and for all, flee from abuse. I left everything behind, including my pets, as my life was on the line. Once I was safe in a shelter, I kept moving forward, writing in a journal, pouring out all my pain and hurt, working to heal and get as far away from him emotionally and physically as possible.
I was very proud of my accomplishments, learning to scuba dive while in the shelter. Becoming top sales woman of the year for a company I worked for and won a trip to the Bahamas and a chance to dive with sharks. I would share my story of survival with whoever would listen. Partly to encourage them to appreciate where they are and what they can do to empower their lives, however, I believe I needed to remind myself how far I had come.
But the funny thing about always moving forward……the past will eventually catch up. Not too long ago there was a shooting in my neighborhood. Everyone was stunned at the news, and I was even more so as when I asked a passing journalist what happened. He said a man was shot in domestic violence and/or drugs. Something about that really shook me to the core. I found myself alone in my home, shaking and sobbing. It was as if I was reliving an event from my past all over again. I could feel the spray from his spit on my face and my ears ringing with his screaming. I could feel the cold nuzzle of the gun pressed against my head; I was shot back in time, in a place I buried for many years. Oh, I’d talk about it, but I was detached and never really allowed myself to FEEL it.
The thing is, you don’t want to become completely detached from the pain, you forget to live, and you become numb. Detachment is a tool for survival, but not for living, or even better, healing. My “side job” is at a busy children’s hospital emergency department. There are many occasions where it is necessary to detach to do my job. It is not easy and more than once I have needed to find refuge in the bathroom for a good cry. I’ve detached from my past for survival from abuse, but over the years, all those pains have slowly surfaced and I knew it was time to feel and let it heal. And like the experience I shared above, it was time, it needed to come out, I needed to purge and allow myself to feel it all over again……and let it go.
Domestic Violence has lifelong effects. When you’re ready, let it go, let it flow and get help if you are afraid of what you are feeling. Journalizing is one of my favorite tools, as well as writing letters. Not emails, letters, the kind you mail. You can file them away, burn them, or have a trusted friend you can write to. When you’re writing, get that yuck out; but then ask yourself some very simple questions. What have I learned about this situation? What have I learned about myself? If I received this letter, how would I encourage “me”?
It is a powerful thing to really come to terms with the past; when you finally get to that place of healing and forgiveness. But it is a long road, it can be bumpy, but you’re not alone.
Kathleen M. Milliken is a published author, radio show host, mountaineer, public speaker, Women’s Empowerment Coach, workshop leader, diver and mom. She’s been featured on numerous websites, articles and blogs including the National Domestic Violence Hotline for her work with Climb for Empowerment.
You can learn more at: www.kathleenmmilliken.com