Trauma Resolution

 

After rape, feeling safe isn’t easy to come by.

And through some interesting research and my favorite podcast, an idea was brought to my attention. You feel unsafe for surface reasons that are obvious, but also a deeper biological reason that isn’t so: you haven’t finished your fight or flight response, and so discomfort is an underlying feeling in similar situations. And this covers all forms of trauma.

The Tower can symbolize trauma. A card of disaster and upheaval, this card from the outside looks like doom. However, like all things in the tarot, and all things in life, there is ALWAYS a way to move through.

Trauma stores in your body like a parasite. And your fight or flight responses, your mammalian brain, always tries to rectify that. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally have slept with many a drunk stranger trying to correct what I thought I did wrong. And I always woke up feeling guilty because I couldn’t remember if the choice was mine or not. I was trying to rectify a sexual trauma with promiscuity.

In my case, my trauma (having happened while I was near to black out drunk) lives in my body and tries to mirror my traumatic situation in order to complete its fight or flight response. That means that, when out partying when I was not getting help, I would go up to strangers and flirt, using my mammalian brain to recreate a similar situation so I can fully act out my fight or flight, quenching the animalistic need to do so.

It’s almost like when you reboot a computer, but an application is still running so it won’t let you do so. That application is still trying to finish its job, but can’t move forward because you’re trying to shut everything down. By ignoring the application, you’re actually doing harm to the system and slowing down the progress, aka, your end goal.

What needs to happen, on the other hand, is addressing the situation head on. If you have lived through any kind of trauma (and that could look like anything, be it a divorce, rape, death, or something that isn’t textbook traumatic but simply made an impression on you) there needs to be an acceptance of what happened before you can move through it.

But what if you don’t know if you have trauma? What if something is holding you back underneath the surface but you don’t even realize it’s there? You don’t even realize it’s traumatic? Well I suggest this first: if you are engaging in unhealthy behaviors consistently, I ask you to dissect the context. When do you reach for that drink? When do you shop to numb out? When do you clean excessively? When you get curious about your habits, you will embark on a new mystery: solving the case of the root and not the symptom.

This is where you are guided by The Star. This is a card of transformation and healing, a reminder that you will always have the universe surround you and that you will never be alone in this world. Use this as your guide through the pain and into a lighter and brighter future.

Get curious. Address your feelings. Do not be afraid to indulge in your sadness, pain, or fear. They exist because you are human and you are a survivor. But in order to heal and move through, in order to rectify your trauma, you must ask the tough questions and accept the truth you find. Find your truth and stay witchy ( *)

 

How to be Wrong with Grace

 

Being wrong is just the worst, isn’t it?

The Five of Wands signifies conflict that is far from constructive. Everyone is shouting and no one is listening, so nothing gets accomplished. All the feelings are valid, but everyone is too self absorbed and focused on being “right.”

But what is the point of being right if nothing gets resolved? And what if, by some stroke of misfortune, you’re actually wrong for once?

Well it’s surely a hard pill to swallow, and as a struggling perfectionist, I never want to be wrong. But we are all human, and sometimes it just happens. Whether it be at work, at home, in a relationship, or with a friend, our human interactions leave a lot of room for hurt feelings. However, you can be wrong the right way.

If someone comes to you to address a problem they have with you, opening your ears and heart is the right way to receive the conversation. Reaching for combat to prove that you were right will get you nowhere; it almost always ends in a stalemate.

This is where you reach for Temperance. Balance, patience, and harmony will be your guide. You may not agree with everything the person is saying, and you have every right to stand up for yourself, but remember that being receptive to another persons feelings will get you much farther than shutting them down. Everyone wants to be heard, and an apology wouldn’t hurt either.

So next time conflict arises, don’t fuel the fire. Being right isn’t that important. Strong relationships and showing up as best you can means way more in the long run. Stay compassionate, and stay witchy ( *)

 

When Compromise Becomes Compromising

There must be a theme of compromise in relationships; it is perfectly necessary when two people learn how to work together while being emotionally invested in each other. But what happens when there is only one person sacrificing? How can you measure who brings what to the table?

First and foremost, I think I should clarify that one shouldn’t get too wrapped up in a 50/ 50 split at all times. Sometimes one person will sacrifice more for the other, and then it will switch up. The important part is that down the line of the relationship, you both know you will have each other’s backs when needed.

But where we can get into trouble, is when one person is constantly catching the other, and then justifying it with “unconditional love.”

This is where we see the Two of Swords. A message that you may be blindfolded to the compromise. That you are giving more than your partner would for you.

You see, love is conditional. There should be conditions for every thing in life. This is how we protect ourselves. And to jump into a love with no boundaries to become a literal love servant, you will get into immense trouble. This is obviously a case for the extreme, but you must learn when you are giving up too much of yourself for someone who will not respect your input.

The Three of Cups reversed will indicate three’s a crowd, which in this case signifies an insecurity you are making up for or catering to. When it is clear that your partner will not hold you up when you are down, or what’s worse, will make it seem like he/ she will without really doing anything, and you will constantly give 100 %, you have to ask yourself: what am I afraid of?

 

More often than not, the extent to which you will compromise yourself and your feelings for your partner runs parallel with the fear attached to losing them. If I let them borrow money, they’ll know how much I love them. If I miss work to spend all day with them, they’ll know how much I love them. If I buy them gifts I can’t afford, they’ll know how much I love them.

These are examples of extending yourself to where not only can you not reach high enough to hold up your partner, but you’ve lost your footing to keep yourself grounded. Compromise in relationships is healthy, but there needs to be a balance. Take care of yourself first, and stay witchy ( *)

Love and Heartbreak are Acts of Self Trust

 

I’ve talked about these topics at length, as well as of my favorite book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. In this book, Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about the cycle of love in a new, and yet, ancient way that speaks very clearly to me.

In this book she dissects old fables and explains how they inspire the Wild Woman Identity. In one in particular, entitled the Skeleton Woman, she describes the Life/ Death/ Life cycle and how you need to die in order to be reborn.

In love, from what I’ve come to understand, is that a broken heart is your death cycle. But rather than being a tragic occurrence, it is more of an opportunity. Much like the Death card suggests, it is the gift of rebirth, rather than the mourning of a loss. When you “die,” you are given a low platform, a new angle from which to learn. And once you do, it is then that you are allowed to live again.

Once you reach this new ability of living, you are given a new age of innocence and vulnerability. This is not to be confused with ignorance. Your death cycle has taught you well, and you know now more than you did before. This new innocence, on the other hand, is an act in self trust. Because your knowledge is more advanced, richer, you are able to trust yourself to move through a new relationship in a way that is wiser.

Further, when you live again, you will come across more opportunities to die and reincarnate. There is not just one cycle. In life and love you are constantly learning. And whether it is with the same lover or someone new, if you are not constantly moving through Life/ Death/ Life, you are not living at all.

Life includes pain. But it is what we do with this pain, how we grow with this pain, how we mold it to strengthen us, that creates the new life and all of the blessings it has in store for us. To sit quietly in bliss does not breed knowledge. To focus on pain does not help us grow. We need constant and fluid movement to live fully and experience everything with a wise knowing that this is how we reach the Wild Woman within us. Get moving and stay witchy ( *)

Why Can’t You See the Love When it’s Staring You in the Face?

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I remember, as a child, feeling quite alone and isolated. I remember a deep, unquenchable thirst for love that I thought I wasn’t getting. I convinced myself that I was not receiving love, and was therefore unworthy of it. I found comfort and solace in pain.

But why? My parents loved me. I had a little sister who has only grown closer to me. I always had friends. Why was it that I chose to see the world from a negative angle?

The truth is, when you have such a deep set belief that you are undeserving or unworthy of something, you are going to take every opportunity to prove your point to yourself. This is where your perfectionism steps in. You aren’t allowed to be wrong, so your perfectionism will prove your point to you over and over again, even when it is detrimental and untrue. Much like the Orange Car Effect, your perfectionism will cherry pick evidence to prove just how unworthy you are. It is just doing it’s job. And not only is this very clearly damaging, but it is perpetual. Only you can choose to stop and see the love.

But how do you break this cycle? How do you go from one day proving to yourself that you are alone and nobody loves you to becoming a confident powerhouse? Well it takes time, imperfectly, one day at a time. It is a slow process, but it starts internally. That’s the beautiful thing, because you’re holding yourself accountable.

Once you decide to make this shift from self destruction to appreciating yourself, the Orange Car Effect shifts into this new gear, where you’re getting little gems of appreciation from outside sources. And not to count on them as validation, though you may need that at first, they just show up organically because you are starting to heal.

So why can’t you see the love when it’s staring you in the face? It’s because you don’t want to. You aren’t ready yet. But that’s ok, my friend. It is out there waiting for you to embrace it. Stay witchy ( *)

Sexual Trauma and Relationships

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The Eight of Swords depicts a feeling of powerlessness, and nothing will make a person feel more powerless than sexual trauma. It’s an indescribable feeling of emptiness from abuse, but it is not the way one has to feel forever.

When one holds sexual trauma in their body, they will react to triggers. I’ve written about triggers before, but when you have been abused in a way that involves sex, intimacy with a partner is going to be a bit of a struggle. It can look like an unquenchable thirst, a sheer reluctance, or an all together abstinence. And with one of the definitive qualities of a sexual relationship versus a friendship being, well, sex, that can prove to be a bit of an adjustment.

First and foremost, anyone who has been sexually assaulted must seek out help and support however and whenever they can. It is a complete must and the avoidance of it will show up in very compromising ways. Mine showed up as codependency, as you’ve read in my previous post. But what if you’ve sought out the help, have been doing the work, and you get triggered during sex with your partner? What then?

Well this may come as a no-brainer to most of you, but it certainly wasn’t to me; in that very moment when you are triggered, you must stop whatever sexual act and breathe. You need to step away from the situation and take a minute to give yourself some time. Your feelings are perfectly valid and you need to re-calibrate yourself with the reality that you are in now. And as soon as you’ve given yourself some time to get to a calm state, you must have a conversation with your partner.

Whether they know about your trauma or not, whether you want them to or not, you need to set a boundary. Maybe the act was too hard, too fast, maybe he/ she said something that acted as a trigger, whatever the case may be, you need to express that you did not like what happened and that it is not allowed to happen again. This will be an act in self protection and self respect, and I can think of no where more deserving to be respected than in the bedroom. This is a place of safety and intimacy, and though you were wronged and abused in the past, you have always deserved that.

Now you don’t have to completely spill your heart out and tell your whole story, but if you want to then you should. Your partner should respect your wishes and listen to your boundaries, and if it becomes an argument, I suggest finding another partner. Your body is sacred, and it took me a long time to figure that out.

You do not owe anyone sex. And after a sexual assault, you’re going to need some time to work back into a feeling of safe intimacy. It is a confusing process, but creating sexual boundaries and honoring what you need from your partner will help you to get back to a safe place. 

It is imperative that you feel comfortable with sex. Sex is a beautiful and natural act, and with someone you love can be completely fulfilling. And wherever you are in your recovery, you will find that unless you feel comfortable, it should not exist in the equation. Take care of your beautiful bodies and stay witchy  ( *)

Self Permission


As my Euro trip comes to a close, I want to touch on an important issue for most every woman on vacation, and that is allowing yourself permission in terms of diet and exercise. 

Yes it is the New Year and I’m sure most of you have weight-related resolutions, but let’s get this shit straight: you are human, and excessive rigidity always fires back with a huge and devastating relapse. 

As a woman with body image issues, going on a month long Euro-trip devoid of exercise and full of heavy meat and potatoes can really take its toll on you mentally, especially when you’re used to a pretty regular regimen of running, yoga, and vegetables. But along with self permission comes moderation, and we all need to remember that it’s ok to allow yourself to enjoy life. 

My sister and I have been walking between 2 and 8 miles a day and eating a budget-friendly diet, so while it may be rich in red meat and starch, it is also in small portions and surrounded by smaller healthier meals. This constitutes for moderation, but I digress. 

In situations like this, it is very easy to beat yourself up for not eating a superfood for every meal, especially when you see European beauties in tiny Brazilian bikinis at every thermal bath in Budapest. It is easy to compare your body and blame yourself because you had a hot meal. But this is not conducive to your mental well being AT ALL. That will not make you feel better about your body, make you skinnier, make you have less cellulite. And dieting on vacation is just as inane. You’re here to experience life and the cultures, eat their food and socialize, and just plain have fun. Focusing on your body image and what you ate for lunch takes away every bit of beauty because you’re focusing on the wrong damn thing. So this is where self permission comes in. You need to allow yourself the modest freedom to enjoy life. You aren’t a glutton. You’re on fucking vacation. 

So next time you feel like you really want that pistachio cheesecake after you’ve been eating really well, let yourself have it! You can’t starve yourself into a better you, trust me I’ve tried. Next time you’re tired from working late and can’t muscle up the energy to run 5 miles in the morning, allow yourself to sleep in a little later and do a 30 minute kickboxing video. Or, allow yourself the day to recoup. It’s not the end of the world. Changing your diet and exercise routine is a lifestyle change. It’s not a quick fix, but when you eat well and exercise over all, you’re definitely going to deserve to have treats and rest days. Moderation is key, and self permission is part of self love. Stay witchy ( *)

Control Freaks and the Unknown

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Reversed, the Emperor denotes excessive control and rigidity. And that sounds super familiar to me.

You see, regardless of the self help path that you venture on, you’re bound to revisit some demons. But when you face these demons with the tool belt you’ve stocked up, you’re more able to combat them in a successful way.

So, as a person who struggles with control, I constantly come into contact with situations that are far out of my control (obviously) and it makes my psyche suffer. Until I whip out my tool belt.

Let’s take, for example, my trip to Europe. I’ve always had a big problem with money anxiety and in order to keep that in check, I’ve used my tools. Let’s see what that looks like:

Alright so I booked the trip on October 1st. I set out a savings plan to give me “enough” money  (3000 US dollars projected) to last me the month that I’m away.

I’ve stuck with my plan to the best of my ability, and yet, there’s still anxiety surrounding the situation.

Why?

Because I’m facing an unknown. I’ve never been to Europe and I’m terrified that I’ll run out of money and be stranded.

But where does that stem from?

I’ve written about this before, and it was more philosophical, but now it’s personal. The reason why I feel like I need to control the money aspect is because I’m afraid of my spending habits while I’m there, and also the fear of being unable to support myself.

Having 3000 in hand is going to be as much as it is. That is the bottom line. But it isn’t the amount that’s scary. It’s me. I’ve lived with myself all of these years and know the rabbit hole I can fall down when I live recklessly. I’m still paying off a 15 grand debt from credit card purchases. 

So in order to combat the scariness that surrounds me, I breathe and recite mantras that instill trust in myself. I also research the hell out of prices in Europe for peace of mind, but I mostly breathe and chant.

You see, the money isn’t the issue. I have what I have and that is that. A five hundred dollar expense doesn’t just sneak up on you (under normal circumstances) so just remembering to have a little trust goes a really long way.

Having faith in yourself is difficult, because you are faced with your entire wrap sheet. But if you just take a breath, take a look at where you are, understand that there are forces outside of you that you have no control over, you actually gain peace of mind. Accepting and surrendering is the best way to stay on top of yourself. Remember to breathe and stay witchy ( *)

 

Love Addiction vs Codependency

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While labels may seem obnoxious and confining, they can be helpful tools in figuring out where you are in your journey and how to correct what isn’t working. So lets go through and take my favorite topic and compare and contrast a love addict from a codependent.

First off, love addicts and codeps share a lot of innate similarities. Theses two types have problems with self esteem, self care, and self love. But that is a no brainer. While these two have similar stories as to how they developed those traits (abandonment issues, familial problems, etc.) they kind of fork off in different directions through how they handle their relationships.

A codependent has issues with control and boundaries. This is a person who wants to care for someone and then takes it to extreme levels, forgetting themselves in the process. They have a hard time seeing their reality and processing it, because from the inside there is no other way. They would stand in quicksand with the other person on their shoulders in order to make them better. A codependent person can find themselves in an unbalanced relationship with anyone: a friend, mother, father, child, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. simply because this is how they operate in daily life. They are second to everyone.

At the very core of it, codependency is the byproduct of a need to control. And when control doesn’t work, resentment bubbles to the surface. Resentment for their own lack of boundaries and inability to control, directed at the person on the receiving end.

A love addict, on the other hand, treats love like a drug. And while these two behaviors can look very similar from the outside, the love addict tends to thrive on the actual feeling of love further than control.   While the codependent has a pretty consistent degree to which their codependency works within their daily lives, the love addict has surging ups and plummeting lows surrounding their drug of choice.

With a theme of longing and desire for attention, and the severe withdrawal associated with loss, love addicts have a chemical dependence on love. They, usually because of childhood neglect, place an extremely high standard for which they need to be loved, and when that attention isn’t paid or their needs are not met, they come back to that sensation of longing and pain. Where a codependent needs to control an outward situation, a love addict needs internal compensation. A love addict needs that high and feeling of euphoria coming from their partner because it takes away, even for a short time, that feeling of emptiness that resides inside.

Both love addicts and codependents serve an internal emptiness by looking for relationships that satisfy their core needs: either control or attention. Their symptoms look similar and their relationships tend to mimic each other, but the actual motives behind them take them in very different mental directions. So, as best to serve you, if you identify with one of these states over another, you can find the proper support group or book to help you. When you can pinpoint what is exactly going on in your heart and your head, you can help yourself to heal from the pain and loneliness that is keeping you confused. Get out and stay witchy ( *)

 

An Apology to My Past Self

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Over my few months of writing here at WitchyWisdoms, I’ve come to notice a pattern in some of my posts. When trying to prove a point, through examples and comparisons, I’ll throw my past self under the bus and shame her for the “mess” that she was.

And in being quite frank, I did look like a mess from the outside. But shaming myself for what I did with what I had is like judging a homeless person on their outfit. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right, for my growth and yours.

Yes, I had many bad habits and made many reckless decisions, but underneath all of that were the bones of a survivor, and through every bad experience I made it out to the other side with a little bit more knowledge than before, and finally I’m at a place of self awareness that allows me to work on myself consciously.

I may have forgotten some creativity to drugs, sex, and alcohol, but it was never lost. It always lived in me and I have to remind myself that the sad girl in the past just didn’t know that. She was told it went away forever, and that made her sadder.

In reading Women Who Run With the Wolves, one excerpt in the first few pages really spoke to me:

Once women have lost [the Wild Woman] and then found her again, they will contend to keep her for good. Once they have regained her, they will fight and fight hard to keep her, for with her their creative lives blossom; their relationships gain meaning and depth and health; their cycles of sexuality, creativity, work, and play are re-established; they are no longer marks for the predations of others; they are entitled equally under the laws of nature to go and thrive. Now their end-of-the-day fatigue comes from satisfying work and endeavors, not from being shut up in too small a mind-set, job, or relationship. They know instinctively when things must die and things must live; they know how to walk away, they know how to stay.

This excerpt is so empowering because it highlights that all women have the ability to find their original wild woman and excel, and though you may not be in that part of the journey yet, you are one step closer to her because every experience peels back a layer to let her shine through just a bit more.

I am deeply sorry for all of the judgement I cast. I had all of the same traits that I possess now, I just didn’t have the tools. As a child I was free and unashamed, as a teenager I was curious and experimental, as a young woman in my early twenties I was ambitious and tough, and rounding out the later years of my twenties, I can say I have all of these characteristics working in tandem, but with mental health as the glue.

I apologize fully to my past self. She went through hell for me, and she made my present state possible. I love that little sad girl, because the fire within her was always of tenacity and passion. She lived honestly within her means and she survived. She continues to survive, but she blossoms and flowers with the strength of her Wild Woman identity.

I can say now that I am still finding my way to the Wild Woman, but she is visible in the distance. When earlier I did not know which direction I was headed, I ended up back on the path that I belong. Every heartbreak, overdose, sexual victimization, binge and purge, starvation, maxed out credit card and penniless night was not in vain. Though it was not the easiest route, it was the one that we chose, and through it I am able to help others and speak from experience.

So when you reflect, when you compare yourself to how you were a few years ago, do it in a way that is enlightening, but also kind. You don’t need to bring internal shame, because you are here now doing what you need to do as she did years before you. Stay kind to yourself, and stay witchy ( *)