02.13.18

{Part Two} Releasing Shame Through Self Acceptance

For 8 years I held a secret. I was exposed to a STD and it shook the very core of my existence. I felt shame, I felt such heavy guilt. I blamed myself. I believed I was dirty, unloveable and indeed forever undeserving.

Before the exposure I had only been with one man. We were together for 9 years. I followed all the rules. We were married young and I was his virgin. For years he taught me how to discover my sexuality. I was ashamed having been raised that sexual energy was bad, and only good when making a child in wedlock. Religious jargon to hide the unsettling truths around sexual molestation, abuse and control that existed in the shadows of my closest loved ones.

He left me after 6 years of marriage with a painful confession that he was unfaithful for 5 of them.  I translated that experience as not being enough.  Enough for his desires, and definitely not enough for my own. 

Our ending sent me on a short lived mindless emotionally drained journey.  Feeling like any man who showed any sort of interest in me, even if I was uninterested in him meant I had to be there for him.  If I showed up this way, I would totally understand myself more, I would surely be better at this sex thing, and that would mean I would be loved. Right? 


I met a man, a sick man who was just as energetically imbalanced. I consented to sharing myself with him, out of fear if I didn’t I would forever be undesired. 


The union never united.

But the memory of my desire to save him, or save myself, left the disease he passed down to me dormant in my cells.


7 years this disease slept. I bargained with God.  I did spiritual work, pulled cards, visited countless doctors to draw the same blood test again and again.  All proving it was there.

I met another man. I might of stayed with him out of love, or fear of not being loved.  I know many times, I wished I had left, but I stayed. His love was functional, offering less affection that I would of wished for.  He pretty bruised himself welcomed my bruised parts in. 

As time allowed, I began to see I could heal.  With a bit of distance, a lot of the struggles I found in my relationships with men related to my deepest desire to just accept myself, my story, and the stories that were passed down to me from the people who carried them and cared for me.

In that deep acceptance I allowed myself to seek support.  The shame I held in my body manifested in pelvic floor issues where sex was unbearable.

I learned a few exercises but the one visit that made all the difference was when the Physical Therapist shared her story.  She was my elder and had walked a similar path related to issues in her partnerships because of histories of sexual trauma.  On our next visit, my pelvic floor pain was completely released and she discharged me.

I learned there at that moment the importance of sharing our stories.  When ready, a story can be like the wick of a candle, the candle the shame.  When in safe spaces, we share parts of ourselves that long to be seen, like the flame, bringing light to these parts, we allow the story to do it’s part in healing us, reminding us of the journey traveled and the shame that will melt away.

What manifested as physical limitations, was simply shame.

This year, I’ve made a pact with myself, that I only keep what’s sacred to me. The precious moments that uplift me and shower my soul with love, those, I keep. The shame, I take responsibility for and then I allow it’s teaching to shower it’s lessons into my life and flow away.

Sexual trauma, abuse, shame, has helped me explore the power of sexual energy.  It’s power to create life or to manifest passions into creative pursuits.  I can’t blame the people who misunderstood it’s purpose, nor myself for having been in the path of their ignorance.  I’m no longer a victim to the story or experience.  I don’t allow it to sit in my body any more.  I know that the love I was desiring from others was simply reminding me of the love that I have for myself.

I believe I chose my path this lifetime and it is indeed one to help me see my brightness and accept the dark shadows of my essence.

What I’m most grateful for today is the knowing that I am not dirty, unloveable and undeserving.  That a STD is not a life sentence.  That I could still realize my dreams and that even in sharing my story, I might learn a bit about the power that was granted to me for simply being a woman.  I’m still learning and that is why I’ve devoted my life to living Love and being kind to the very body that held the memory of trauma.  Self care is not something we need to do as survivors, self care is simply how we must live to survive and thrive.

Bio:  Didi is a writer and influencer living in Florida with her daughter and husband. Her compassion for humanity led her to pursue a career as a holistic health educator. On becoming a mother, she developed her passion for storytelling and purposeful living. Her words and creative work is immersed with life lessons, & continues to serve as an anchor for those navigating identity, self-healing and empowered sisterhood.

Follow Deanne on instagram: @deanneziadie and @thedivinefriend

A huge thanks and HUG of love and gratitude for Deanne’s willingness and power to deliver such an incredible heartfelt story with us.

xx,

Sophia

02.07.18

{Part One} This is my Story, Rewritten.

Photography credit: My beautiful and talented friend: Maya, find her work @Mayamaitri

I would like to start by introducing this series to those of you who are new here! Chasing your whole self is a blog series I’ve had in the works for many months and is dedicated to helping and empowering women to find hope and healing whether they are working through depression, suicide, sexual trauma, anxiety, or anything of that vein. I wanted to be able to share my story and my healing process, and to empower other women to do the same. My hope and vision for this series is that it will open up the stagnant, dry, and bitter places of your heart. I pray it would empower you to confront your fears, to stand tall and proud in the face of shame, and to look yourself straight in the eyes and say “I am enough.” I am so excited to have some very close and special women guest-blog on this series to bring fresh perspective to each topic. Let’s dive deep into the waters of hope, healing, and self-discovery together.

Vulnerability. It’s a word I’ve come to be close with, to explore, and to declare as a safe and wildly important word to emulate and become. It’s been a long road; the kind filled with fear and shameful thoughts, on which I was harboring bitterness deep in my bones, wondering why, becoming a victim to shame, fear, and the pursuit of a wrong version self. My story is mine alone. One I’ve tried to become one with, to believe that I am not what I’ve thought I was for so long. I so badly wanted to detach myself from my haunted memories of sexual trauma, so badly wanting to let go, soften my fists, relax my shoulders, and relax my body to embrace love and trust. But it wasn’t working. Everywhere I turned, every time my body felt tense, memories flooded. Fear gripped me and tossed me into many anxiety attacks. I was crippled. I was alone in my thoughts and shame. I was scared. I was broken. I was slowly becoming someone I didn’t want to know. It was affecting my marital intimacy. It was affecting the way I viewed my body. I needed help.

And so my story of healing begins the day I was born. You see, I was born redeemed, bought and paid for by a love that never shames, never doubts my existence, never lets me go. My whole life I’ve been sought after by a love so deep and wide that I could cry great tears of joy. I could bask in the glory and holiness this love has transformed me into. I was born into a family that loved and accepted me for who I was. A family that cultivated the important things in life such as quality time, connected conversation, and a whole lot of love. My family was and is incredible, supportive, and constantly cheering me on. But just like you, I believed the lies.  I became what happened to me. I often relived the memory of being blacked out on a pile of rocks, waking up in a car, hurting, crying, wondering what the hell had happened to me. I relived the memories of a girl taking advantage of my eight year old self, doing things that were never meant to be done to my body. So today I am opening up about my sexual trauma, things that happened to me that we’re never meant to be that way, for the sake of humans just like you and me that are flawed, secretive, hurt, and in pain just looking for a way out like me.
 After years of not knowing what to do, I truly believed it was time for me to seek therapy. A lot of people are fearful of therapy, and I too had that fear. I cringed at the thought of exposing myself to someone that I didn’t know. Sharing memories/secrets I had never spoken out loud. My husband and friends and family were a huge support walking through this season of my life. They helped me get to a place of accepting that I needed help. And so I walked into my first therapy appointment at the hospital. I sat and waited for them to call my name. I was tense. I was afraid. I filled out many papers, answered what seemed like a million questions, feeling shaky and disheveled I was diagnosed with PTSD. I had never thought of that affecting me.  I thought it was something that was only associated with soldiers coming home from war. And so we talked about the therapy they would like to try. This particular therapy is called “Prolonged Exposure Therapy. I have included the Goodtherapy.org definition and uses of this therapy.
          Types of Exposure:
  • Imaginal Exposure: In this type of exposure, a person in therapy is asked to mentally confront the fear or situation by picturing it in one’s mind. For example, a person with agoraphobia, a fear of crowded places, might imagine standing in a crowded mall.
  • In Vivo Exposure: When using this type of exposure, a person is exposed to real-life objects and scenarios. For example, a person with a fear of flying might go to the airport and watch a plane take off.
  • Virtual Reality Exposure: This type of exposure combines elements of both imaginal and in vivo exposure so that a person is placed in situations that appear real but are actually fabricated. For example, someone who has a fear of heights—acrophobia—might participate in a virtual simulation of climbing down a fire escape.

My particular therapist suggested “exposure therapy” for me. My exposure therapy was spread out in eight sessions, once a week. I am not going to lie, there were weeks I dreamed of skipping, making excuses for why I couldn’t get through the homework, and through the pain. But with support of loved ones and my own stubbornness, I pressed on. I remember in each session wondering if it would get easier, but the truth is.. it was so much harder than I could have ever imagined. Opening up about such personal and intimate things are painful. Reliving memories that I had stuffed down deep hurt. Seeing myself a crying, moaning mess in front of another was bittersweet.

I faced many fears in those eight weeks. I revisited many dark memories, and I paved a way for hope, healing, and restoration to be opened back up in my life. The very things that haunted me, the fears I had never tested were now all reminders to me of how far I had come and will go. For the first time in years, as I finished up my “Exposure Therapy”, I was FREE. Wildly free from shame, bitterness, and fear. There is something incredibly healing about diving into the face of fear.

A few thoughts I have for those of you processing the thought of therapy:

-It wasn’t until I realized how hurt and affected I was by past traumas that I sought out therapy and took a big step with “Exposure Therapy”.

-The only way to experience a better, whole-hearted life, is to get deep into the mess of things. Opening up, and beginning to let your raw emotions be seen is what it takes to get there.

-Past traumas do not disappear overnight. We all know this is a process. It’s in deep connection with ourselves where we learn to discover our story in a new way.

-What if I told you YOUR story could make a difference, impact another, free another from the bondage of self hate, depression, and a tortured mind? When you choose to look fear in the eye, you are choosing another woman, another scared and hopeless woman. You are choosing to become a part of your story that once hurt, and turning it into something that will bring restoration to the hearts of many.

Through the process of healing, I also turned to Yoga. I began my certification to become a yoga teacher and during those six months my life was changed in so many incredible ways. I learned that the movement and breath of my body was a tool in my healing process. I learned that breath work was not only good for energy levels and lungs, but that it could calm down my anxiety, center my emotions, and help me feel incredibly peaceful. I become closer and more self-aware of what my body was capable of. I became aware that there was a tremendous freedom in discovering the art of movement and breath. I became more aware of who I was. Yoga was one of my saving graces while I was working through some pretty deep things.

Lastly, my friends, I want to provide you with some resources/tools for you to look into! These are tools I have used in my healing process, including books I’ve read and communities of people that support and make this world a better place.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Here on this website you can type in your zip code to find a therapist close to you.

Restorative Yoga: This is a yoga practice is usually only a series of five-six yoga poses supported by many props to make you as comfortable as possible. The purpose of this deep practice is finding stillness within your body and beginning to become one with your breath.

Expectful : Expectful focuses their efforts on the  impact that mental health and well being have on the journey to motherhood. They believe the mind-body connection isn’t just an idea — it’s the key to navigating the physical, mental and emotional aspects of every stage of motherhood from the moment you decide to conceive. I used their services with my second pregnancy for anxiety and fear, it was tremendously helpful. I continue to use their meditations for everyday life.

Brene Brown:  Author and Public speaker. My top suggested books: “Daring Greatly, The Gift of Imperfections!”

Stay tuned for next weeks blog post featuring a very dear friend, Deanne Ziadie.  She will share her incredible story of healing and continued restoration of owning her own beautiful story.

xx,

Sophia