About three years ago I had the amazing opportunity to spend the summer in Australia. You know when you have those random dreams from the time that you are small? This was one of them. The idea was inspired by when my father brought me back a stuffed animal lamb… from New Zealand. I didn’t know where New Zealand was, but I knew it must be great since lambs are my second favorite animal. Later I found out Australia was New Zealand’s neighbor so this was my number one destination for at least twelve years. Australia isn’t easy for me to get to since it is on the other side of the world, making it a very expensive and long trip. I planned that summer down to the last detail from everything I wanted to see, every trail I wanted to hike, etc. There was one particular forest within the Gold Coast that I was dying to see. My friend and I managed to get a car, survive driving on the wrong side of the road, and make it to the national park. I could barely contain my excitement. When we arrived we had some trouble finding an entrance. Something seemed off. It was hard to find a path, which was weird since it was supposed to be a well known trail within an official park. Within the next couple moments I knew I wouldn’t be hiking there because an entire section of the forest had been taken out by a massive fire and everything was completely flooded. There are no fires or floods where I am from so I didn’t even think to check. I figured that since it was a sunny day with no inclement weather pending that everything would be fine. I stood there astonished and a bit upset, frozen in a combination of disappointment and jet lag. After awhile I found myself staring at what was leftover of the forest, marveling at its beauty. The overwhelm of the unexpected dispiritedness melted. Even though I knew I wasn’t going to hike it, since there wasn’t much left and the water would be up to my shoulders if I continued, I remembered that when there is a devastation as large as this that regeneration is inevitable. Sometime in the future, I would just have to come back when there was a new forest waiting for me and anyone else who wanted to be in its embrace.
The last couple of years have been the hardest I have ever experienced. Similarly to the forest, we all go through seasons of distress and have periods of great devastation. If I am being honest, things had been off for about six years. The only reason I didn’t notice is that I thought it was totally normal. I forgot what it felt like to feel good about my life so I got used to a threshold of discomfort. It was only within the past couple of years that the boundaries were being pushed so much to the point where it was unbearable. I come from a family and a culture where when things are difficult you don’t question them, you push through. I don’t disagree with that when it comes to certain things. Beautiful things are born from an uncomfortable place. It is one of the ways in which we grow. The only issue was that I was growing into the wrong direction. I just didn’t notice because every time I pushed through something I found huge relief on the other side. I thought that that twinge of relief meant that I had triumphed over the hardship and that was what life was meant to be like. I don’t think life is meant to be easy, but I was making it really difficult for myself by not realizing earlier that something was really wrong. The most painful part was thinking that this was normal and somehow I was the only person that couldn’t hack it. I really thought everyone else was somehow happy or at least okay with their life and I was the only one who was always having a hard time adjusting. I never heard anyone mention anything about a general discomfort and I didn’t want to be that person who was complaining about something solely in my head. What didn’t help is that on paper everything seemed pretty good or at least good enough so when a red flag popped up, I hushed it and moved on. I treated it as a balancing act. For every red flag I would counter with something that seemed to make that red flag okay. Was I feeling really sad all the time? Yes, but I went to a really nice and expensive school so that’s okay, I can deal. Childhood trauma? Okay, but we don’t need to throw around the “t” word, everyone has that so don’t be so dramatic. Emotional abuse? Yes, but my parents had it so much harder (they really did but that is another story) so I am lucky to have such an easy life where compared to them I don’t have to work for much. Sexual abuse? Yes, but my friends and partner are good at heart so I don’t want to make something out of nothing. (It is important to be grateful for every blessing that you have. Do not create a practice of taking things for granted. I was generally ungrateful at the time because I was turning those blessings into excuses to ignore what felt wrong. That tainted everything. There was no room to appreciate them for what they were since I didn’t see them as anything else besides what I “should” be grateful for. Now I didn’t see the blessings or pain in my life that was hiding underneath. I resented those gifts because it was even worse that I was surrounded by beautiful things and couldn’t find a way to appreciate them.) Those are four red flags out of fifty-five. How do I know that? One day I was sitting in my room in deep silence and had a “wait a minute” moment. I started writing down every single thing I ignored within the past six years that I could remember in great detail. I am sure there are more, but I just wanted to get enough down. Besides, it wasn’t about remembering every little thing. Fifty-five was enough. The only issue in the past was that they were never in front of my face before at the same time. They always came up at different times and with different people. That made them really easy to ignore because when they were separate, they didn’t seem to have much power. I was so used to brushing them off and making excuses that I didn’t see how the toll was rising. Together, they created their own monster. When I finished the list I stared at it in disbelief, but also it made a lot of sense. For a moment I wondered, “how could I let this happen?”, but it quickly passed when I knew that I never gave myself a fighting chance. I pretended as if all of these things were normal so there was no problem. If there is no problem, there is nothing to solve. I couldn’t have done a thing about it because according to me, there was nothing wrong.
The veil had been lifted. That was the first time I was in my power to do something about it. I had been disempowering myself for so long that I was really overwhelmed. Everything on the list seemed so daunting and I didn’t know how to approach it. How was I supposed to fix it? What was “it”? Some of the things that happened were so far in the past it didn’t feel right to do anything about them now. What could I even do? There were some ongoing issues, but I wasn’t even sure where to begin. It was way too much. I began journaling about the list and confronted all of the issues. Every truth that was living in the dark was being revealed and unearthed. I was seeing everything clearly for the first time. It was weird because I felt relieved to finally see them in the light that seemed all too bright for me, but there was also a lot of heaviness and grief. I knew that I would have to find a way to let everything go and move on. I didn’t know what that meant. That was only revealed to me as I pulled more and more to the surface.
I did this for nine and a half hours. I was committed in a way that I wasn’t before to giving everything that I had previously quieted a voice. I do mean a voice literally since I was talking the entire time (journaling out loud can be strange at first since we don’t usually talk to ourselves… on purpose… but everything was coming through far too quickly for me to write it down). I gave everything space to come out and be exactly what it was. I didn’t excuse or justify anything, I just let everything be despite how crazy I probably sounded. It was exactly what I needed. What I needed for the longest time but refused to do was give space to the unseen. I also needed to be the one to do this myself. Every time I tried to do this in the past with someone else other than myself, I was immediately shut down by anyone I tried to get to listen to me. I tried telling my family and a few close loved ones about the red flags above. They either told me that, “that happened such a long time ago, you need to get over it”, “that didn’t happen that way”, “you’re lying”, “that’s your fault”, “figure it out”, or my personal favorite, “so what?”. Those are the kinder phrases I was met with. What is interesting is I don’t necessarily disagree. I don’t think anything that happens in your life is someone else’s responsibility. That is putting the power in someone else’s hands that needs to be in yours. You need to give yourself the power to heal yourself. I do believe that it is much more meaningful to find your own way and realize that you can show up for yourself in this capacity. I do believe you don’t need to let things from two thousand years ago be an excuse for you to not do something about it today. I don’t believe in complaining about something that happened in your life and refusing to help yourself. I do believe that if you don’t even acknowledge the issue in the first place, there is very little anyone else can do to support you. You need to be your own advocate and want to change before anyone else can be there for you. You need to be honest with yourself about what is happening in your life before anything can be done. I don’t think what my loved ones realized was that I had so much unsorted in my head and some of them were involved in those “red flags”. I wanted to heal that with them, but they weren’t interested because they didn’t think there was anything wrong. For them, everything was peachy and I was the one who was losing it. I can see that now with fresh eyes, but I couldn’t comprehend how that could happen back then. I thought that they would understand what I was talking about because they were there. I thought that since they were there that they were an essential part of the equation. So when I was met with aggression, confusion and in some instances, gaslighting, I figured I just got everything wrong and tried my best to let it go. If no one else could see the pain and sadness that I felt then it must not exist. Thus, I must be just fine and blowing things out of proportion. I didn’t understand that I gave away the power to someone else to determine whether what I was feeling was real. I needed their validation at the time and every time I didn’t get it, it trained me to believe that if something wasn’t seen or acknowledged by someone else then it was never real. Do you see how this can cause a lot of problems? The unseen remained buried, until that day. During those nine and a half hours I realized it didn’t matter what anyone else said, I knew what I felt. Everything felt real to me and it was taking a toll. I was finally doing something about it by knowing that whatever felt real to me was real, whether someone validated it or not. The power was back in my hands. Now I am speaking directly to you, because we need to cut this sh*t out. When someone comes to you and says that they need you to just be there with them and listen, it is not for you it is for them (a great example: #metoo… sound familiar?). Some people need that sounding board. I don’t now but some people certainly do and that’s more than okay. Put aside your ego and what you feel is “true”. Put aside your need to be right to give Love* to someone who clearly needs it and is on their way to figuring out how they can provide it for themselves. My loved ones made it about who was “right” vs. “wrong”. They were protecting their egos and would do anything to not be “wrong”. The problem for them was if they validated how I felt then they would be “in the wrong” and that just couldn’t happen. They were more concerned with defending themselves. I just needed someone to listen. Do this especially for the people that look up to you, even if you don’t realize that they do. What was happening was I was so early in my own exploration of what it meant to be in my own power so I wasn’t quite there yet when having those conversations. Every time I got shut down I learned more and more to distrust myself because I was “wrong” and they were “right”. They had the better argument and “proof” that they were “right”. What I didn’t understand at the time was that what was “real” for me wasn’t “true” for them. They were so busy protecting their own “truth” because that is what mattered to them more. I am personally grateful for this because it taught me how to cultivate a space of patience, compassion, understanding, and Love for myself no matter what anyone else had to say about it. I am not sure it would even be this important to me if it wasn’t for this experience. What is “real” for you doesn’t need to be “true” for someone else. What is “true” for someone else doesn’t need to be “real” for you. There is room and Love for all of them. Our realities don’t match up perfectly in ways that we can perceive with the mind alone. Words are imaginary anyway. Since one word has infinite meanings, is there ever really a way to have true consensus? Oddly enough, it doesn’t make them any less powerful. All of our realities are happening simultaneously in one moment. They all create one another. Be aware of this. I learned the importance of knowing and feeling what was “real” to me and allowing that to be enough. If you have the opportunity to spread this Love to someone else who needs it, take it. There is an incredible amount of Love in holding space for someone and their experience despite whatever you may think is “right”. We all have wildly different perceptions of “truth”. It takes a strong person to be able to honor what they feel is “real” and “true” for themselves and hold space for someone else without feeling threatened. All of our realties coexist every single day. You don’t need to defend yours. Once you free yourself from defending your own “truth”, as long as your “truth” comes from Love it has enough power to sustain itself, you can really be there for someone else because you won’t be trying to make them conform to what you believe. You have the strength in your heart to be confident in yourself and Love someone else. Your voice and silence are your power.
Everything that was buried and unknown to me became known. I was able to see myself and life with great clarity. Once I gave the power and voice to all of my experiences, they were not only a Source of great healing but also guidance. I could not let this keep happening. These revelations changed how I saw this world instantaneously. There was no going back to how I was acting before. Even though I knew what needed to shift, my entire existence didn’t just immediate change. I took small steps every day to make the big changes I knew needed to happen. I was always observing myself to make sure that I wasn’t backsliding. It wasn’t easy. I was simultaneously comfortable and uncomfortable with the way my life had been the past several years. This promised to be even more uncomfortable. I didn’t care. I knew that if I wanted real, lasting change that I had to commit. If I wanted to give myself a real chance at living and enjoying my life, this was critical.
What really changed everything was the day that I made God the priority. I know that is a very loaded word, but if you read my little note below, that is the same thing as Love. I use them interchangeably, which not everyone agrees with. (However, as you and I know from what I said earlier, that’s more than okay.) It was just the language I was using at the time. There were so many things that I felt I needed to tackle. What made it less overwhelming was this commitment. No matter what, Love was the priority. If something or someone in my life was not coming from a space of Love, something needed to change. I was not sacrificing myself or my relationship with Love ever again. I was not compromising this for anything. I chose God over and over again in every relationship, interaction, thought, space, etc. and everything transformed. There is so much power in Unconditional Love because it is infinite. You have the ability to allow it in to transform your life in was that you didn’t know were possible. That day when I spent nearly ten hours holding space for myself, I chose Love over anything else. I chose to have Unconditional Love for myself i.e. everything I felt and knew within my heart. That day, I chose myself as Unconditional Love over everything everyone had previously told me. That was the first day I truly and unconditionally chose myself without reservations. Up until that point, I put anyone and everyone else first. It wasn’t sustainable and that is why I was breaking. This doesn’t mean that everything magically goes away. Well it does, but it doesn’t. The people that I Love but caused me so much pain still exist. The only difference is now that no matter what I know Love as what is real and my personal truth. They exist as Love now. They transformed in my eyes and still remain the same. With Love I know there is room for me to know what is “real” for me and room for their own personal “truths”. I also know that they are Love within their third dimensional shell. I will give them nothing but Love in return. It doesn’t mean putting up with any bulls*it, I have fallen into that trap before. Boundaries are very important and I learned to create those boundaries with Love. You can have strong boundaries and know people for their hearts.
With Love as my greatest ally, I was able to see how everything over the past several years was connected. The “truth” was that I abandoned myself as Love a long time ago. I stopped showing up for myself as Love so I didn’t trust myself. I put my trust and power into other people and it bit me in the a*s. I wasn’t giving Love to myself so I looked for it in other people. It took me a very very long time to understand that this was the original issue. I blamed everyone else but me. I thought that they must be the issue because it happened such a long time ago and uncovering this kind of past trauma was kind of trendy in a weird way at the time. I looked back and thought that it was the result of a friendship that went south when I was fourteen. When that excuse didn’t seem to work anymore, I did what everyone else does now: I blamed my parents. That didn’t hold up anymore when I realized that they were just doing the best that they could. Who else was there to blame? No one. I learned to take responsibility for myself. They weren’t accepting the blame and I couldn’t reasonably expect them to take it anymore. Even if they did, that put the power in their hands which disempowers me. That doesn’t help me or anyone else. There was no more room for excuses. I knew that at the core of all of these issues, there was only me. I couldn’t figure out what they all had in common… they had me in common. It wasn’t always like this, but somewhere along the line I stopped giving Love to myself and started outsourcing. I don’t know why but somewhere alone the line when we are kids we learn that “love” from someone else is easier and more valuable than the Love we can provide ourselves. When it seemed like this “love” was limited, I did anything and everything to try and get every drop that I could. But at what cost? There were many instances where in order to get the “love” I needed to sacrifice a part of myself. I ended up really f*cking myself over. I felt every single sacrifice. I felt a little piece of my heart dying every single time. My heart was trying to speak to me and every time I ignored it I felt that there was something wrong. But then when I got that little hit of “love” from another person I thought I was okay and even worse, on the right track. I was abandoning myself by not choosing myself/Love over and over again. It cost me my mind, health, heart, power, freedom, relationship to myself and connection to God. This is what connected everything on that list. I was confused when I first wrote it down because I didn’t see any correlation between the “individual” events. They all seemed so unrelated. In every single instance I was choosing someone else over myself and what I knew was Love. I was so used to it that I was doing it all the time every chance that I had. Now the solution was very clear and simple. The manifestations and consequences of this choice were all very different, but it was all a reflection of the choice I made that receiving “love” from everyone else was more important than the Love that could come from myself. (I put “love” in quotations because if “love” is somehow conditional or someone chooses when to give it to you, it is not Love at all.) The one thing I needed to heal to change everything and reverse the damage was to promise choose Love. I have never gone back on that promise.
I share this story with you to remind you to protect your heart. I learned through a great upheaval, but you don’t need to do all of this. We can all grow from a place of Love. You do, however, need to remove the veil of deception from your own life. The only way I was able to accomplish this change was through radical and unapologetic honesty. Honesty is a powerful form of Love. Honesty allows you to hold space for the unseen. The veil of deception and dishonesty will not protect you from your “truth”. It will only push you toward it until you have the courage to confront it yourself. “Dishonesty” isn’t bad because it allows for honesty. There was a period of time where I was so frustrated with myself for essentially lying to myself for years. I was upset that I wasted a lot of life buried in deception of my own creation. I quickly came to understand that without dishonesty, there is no room to be honest with yourself. “Dishonesty” is a form of Love as well since it is the partner of “honesty”. Without “dishonesty” I would have not been able to Love and hold space for “honesty” within myself. Love as “dishonesty” was the catalyst for me to create more Love as “honesty” in my life. It is all Love creating within itself. You cannot transform the unknown into the known without the unknown existing in the first place. There is no seen without the unseen. You just need to decide what form of Love you want to experience. I was done experiencing Love in the form of “dishonesty”. All opposites are different dimensions of Love that create one another. There is no good or bad, only what you know is in alignment for yourself. I learned that I had so much strength, resilience, and patience to be able to survive those six years where I wasn’t myself. Now, I know a different form of strength.
Love will always protect you. You don’t need anyone else to do that for you. Love is infinite. Whether you need Love to hold space for yourself, someone else or the both of you at the same time, there is more than enough. It is unlimited. It is only Love if there are no limits. Love will always provide you will all of the power and strength that you need. Love hold space for the seen and unseen; known and unknown; what is “real” to you and “true” to someone else; what is “real” to someone else and “true” to you; everything you can imagine, everything you can’t possible dream of; what is possible, impossible and everything in-between.
I was able to experience so much regeneration as a result of the wreckage that came from deception and the “truth” that came to the surface. I found the power within myself, within Love, to release the old narrative and create a new one. I shined light on everything that I was previously hiding. From allowing the “truth” of Love to shine through, everything was reborn. I found and held onto my center every step of the way and it guided me here. I did not allow confusion and hopelessness to take over as everything seemingly inconsequential and earth-shattering appeared. The “truth” stormed the entire forest of my life, there was nothing that was untouched. Everything that burned down made way for a different dimension of my true nature to grow in its place.
I haven’t been back to the forest in the Gold Coast yet. I am sure that there are new trees, flowers, animals and all kinds of growth for everyone to explore. Choosing Love allowed me to look at the past several years with compassionate eyes. It also allows me to look forward to what I can create in the future. Love is powerful because no matter where or when you are, you can feel the effects of how it transforms every aspect of your life in the past, present, and what is to come next. Love has infinite forms for all of us, the possibilities are limitless. I wonder what that forest will look like in the future.
with love, katie
*Love/Higher Self/God/Source/Spirit/Creation/Consciousness/Unmanifested/The Eternal/Soul/Everything/Nothing/All That Is/Infinity/The Unknown/The Witness/Being/Existence… you fill in the blank…
I heard this poem by In-Q about an hour after I wrote this. Allow the words to really sink in. It is so much better when you listen to him preform it. He did such a beautiful job of capturing what I was feeling at the time of this piece. It was too serendipitous not to share.
I’m staring at the number, wondering if I should call
I can hear the tick tock from the clock on the wall
As it meshes with the thump thump beat of my heart
Sometimes getting something started is the hardest part
I didn’t meet my dad until I was 15
I had seen his photograph, but his image was sickening
A coward with a dick, but no balls to back it up
See, when he left me as a kid, I had cause for acting up
The funny thing about hate
Is the person you hate
Doesn’t feel that hate
You feel that hate
The weight can be too much for a person to take
And personally I was hurt, so I locked it away
I was angry all the time and I didn’t know why
I couldn’t handle my own rage, so I would hide it inside
Pretending everything’s fine became a daily pastime
Time passed and I started to believe in my own lies
I took it out on my mom because she raised me alone
The rage that I couldn’t own had left me totally numb
It was like land mines in my mind that I didn’t understand
So when the boy inside cried, the young man outside yelled
I think I learned about my masculinity from TV
The people weren’t real, so I knew they couldn’t leave me
I’d sit there for hours right in front of the tube
The images that I saw were my depiction of truth
It was manhood in a box, and I bought into it
The censorship of anything inside of me that’s sensitive
The sentence is a lifetime of tears suppressed in a stone face
An overblown ego they’ve distracted through a paper chase
Back when I was nine, I imagined in my mind
That my father was a spy working for the FBI
And that’s why I couldn’t stop by, write, or drop a line
He was off saving our lives from the bad guys
But that was just a lie that I used to get by
So that you wouldn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes
When you’re rejected by the person that you’re created by
You secretly feel like you don’t have a right to your life
I thought if I confronted him then it would make it alright
But since I couldn’t forgive him, it just recycled my spite
I remember meeting him for the first time
Every time a person passed by I would ask
Mom, is that him?
I look a little like him, right?
Well, what about that guy?
And that was what it was like
To meet the man that gave me my life
To shake his hand and look into his eyes
We talked till he apologized, then said our goodbyes
I walked away on my own then I began to cry
Now, for years after that I acted like it was all resolved
I’d told him what I thought, so I figured problem solved
But it just re-evolved
My insecurities were eating it my mental health
I took it out on the world because I hated myself
That’s when I finally decided I needed some help
I opened up and started writing about my past
I got honest with myself and I started chipping at my mask
I looked into the mirror and confronted what I saw
Accepting the reflection by embracing every flaw
Then directing the connection into breaking down the walls
By reflecting the perfection of the God inside us all
I stopped focusing on everything that I had been hateful for
And started focusing on everything that I’m be grateful for
And personally there is a lot I can be thankful for
If pain is dragging you down, just cut the ankle cord
That’s when the weight lifted and I really started living
That’s what my hate shifted and I really started giving
That’s when my fate twisted, it was like an ego exorcism
Your mind state can be the most powerful of prisons
My father never played catch with me, or gave advice
But if nothing else, that man gave me my life
And that’s enough for me, if that is all he can ever give
‘Cause I’m appreciative for every day I get to live
And even though I don’t need my dad to validate me
I thought that I should write this poem
To thank him for creating me
Because every moment we are alive is like a gift
And if that’s not enough to forgive, then what is?
I’m staring at the number wondering if I should call
I can hear the tick tock from the clock on the wall
As it meshes with the thump thump beat of my heart
Sometimes getting something started is the hardest part
I pick the phone up, the dial tone begins to sing
I punch his number into it, and it begins to…
Your son– In-Q