Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Even More to Heal: My Year of Emotional Excavation

Me in February 2012, by an old deserted car in the desert
In my books and articles, I often talk about seeing challenges not as roadblocks, but as as doorways and opportunities to get even wiser, happier, and more free. I also emphasize that even the same issue, when it resurfaces after we thought it was long since healed, is not evidence that we are moving backwards, but rather evidence that we are spiraling even more deeply into joy.

As I look back on 2012, I feel such a sense of accomplishment. I've practiced what I've preached, that's for sure.

As you may know from my books, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse: I was abused by my former stepfather. And in January of last year, about a month after my boyfriend and I moved into our new, more spacious and light-filled apartment, I realized that I still had some blocks regarding my sexuality. I got a book called The Courage to Heal, which led to what seems like at least a dozen other books on the subject of my healing (see below for a sampling), received some pretty serious love and support from my boyfriend and close friends, and did a lot of work with my body, such as exotic dance classes, dancing and sensual meditation at home, therapeutic baths, and aromatherapy. I learned a lot of things during these early months in 2012, including:
  • That I still held resentment against my mom, as in the name of "forgiveness" I had unwittingly turned some blame and anger (i.e. for not feeling protected in my own home) on myself, which was leading to both physical and emotional challenges.
  • That I was not fully inhabiting my body, or caring for it properly, as it felt unsafe to me to do so in a number of ways.
  • That I did not feel comfortable with my femininity, and energetically covered over it in order to protect myself.
While it hurt very badly for me to realize these things, the truth was that it felt a thousand times better than carrying them around and shoving them to the back of my consciousness. What's more, like stagnant water that begins to move, in time the toxic conditions in my emotional landscape began to take on a clearer and more vibrant flow.

In May of 2012, my mom agreed to go see a therapist with me that we both have worked with in the past. Although she didn't appear to be enthused, I was enthused, and I drove five hours north to make it to the appointment. At that time, I discovered that my mom was not willing to hear my anger, and was only willing to be in a relationship with me if I continued to be her sweet and cheerful daughter, and not if I brought up old issues that were uncomfortable to her. What's more, she was not willing to go see the therapist for a second time (let alone a third or fourth). At first, I felt a lot of anger and resentment, which was healthy because in the past I had not let myself do so. Then I went on to feel deep sadness and grief over feeling bereft of a supportive mother figure. Today though, while I go through waves of sadness and grief, I mostly feel compassion for her, that she is in a place where she finds it so challenging to talk about the past. (I also feel unspeakably grateful for all the gifts she's given me throughout my life, such as sensitivity, creativity, and the courage to be myself.) Who knows what will happen between us in the physical world in the future, but in spirit I feel like our relationship is as healthy as it could presently be, since on my end (which is the only end that I have power over) I have spoken my truth I've allowed my feelings to be fully felt and expressed, and I am standing up for what I need. It's very empowering to feel so authentic - like I can trust the process of life more because I can trust myself to speak my truth and to maintain boundaries that feel right to me.

As far as my body goes, I have discovered a whole new level of self-acceptance and self-love, and I feel so much more comfortable being present in the physical world than I've ever felt before. Earthy aspects of life, such as color, texture, taste, cooking, music, and touch are more intense and delightful than they used to be. And I feel safer in my relationship and in my home than I ever knew to be possible.

During the last grand rotation of the earth around the sun that we call a year, there have been a lot of twists and turns and spirals into the heart of healing, and it has all been worth it. I'm not pretending that I've seen the last of this issue by any means, but I can say that when it comes to emotional healing, the only thing to fear is fear itself, or in other words, the only scary thing is the thing you tiptoe around and that you don't want to simply look at and feel. It might hurt, and you'll probably cry, but it will be a relief and a release, and you'll definitely feel more empowered immediately. When you face things with courage, and with love and compassion for yourself, you will find yourself to be stronger and happier than you otherwise could have been.

I know that everyone's situation is different, but in case you're moving through something similar, here's a sampling of the books that have been helpful to me on my journey:

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma
Powerful and Feminine
The Path of the Priestess: A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine
Womb Wisdom: Awakening the Creative and Forgotten Powers of the Feminine
The Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit, and Joy in the Female Body


  1. Tess, I am so happy for you. I know it was not easy but such an important step! I wish my mother could do as you have. It was her father that hurt her so badly. We have all tried to help her and support her but sadly enough her pain came out as anger on the ones who loved her most. We are still there for her but we just know we cant help her until she is ready. She is almost 70 years old so I am not sure if it will ever happen. But all I can do is have faith. So thank you for your story and I hope that will help more people face it head on to help them heal!
    Wendy C.

    1. Wendy, thank you for your sweet and kind words. I think it's great that you see your mother's situation as clearly as you do, so that the patterns can be healed in many ways through you. Sending love to you and your family.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing that and congratulations of your hard work!

  3. Tess, thank you for sharing your story and the beautiful ways you have enriched other's lives with your sweet spirit and sharing through your writing. I was the first child (of four) born to 19-year old parents. While I had home comforts and have no doubt my parents loved me and did the best they knew to do in raising children, there were self-esteem building tools my parents were unable to give me due to their own lack of experience. For a long time I carried resentment from my childhood for those things -- but came to realize that served no purpose. Now at 48, I keep a small framed photo of my 4-year old self on my bedside table. Every morning, I see that photo as a reminder that I have the wisdom and capacity to lookout for that little girl inside of me and do my best to nurture those wounds and turn my experiences into something positive. While it didn't work out that my husband and I have children of our own, I have two precious little nieces. It is my blessing to be their aunt and to encourage them in positive ways and in helping them build their self-esteem. That heals me and helps them build their life foundations -- just as I hope your healing and work continue to do for you. Blessings to you Tess.

    1. Thank you for reading, and for your lovely words. Congratulations on facing your fears, healing yourself, and taking such good care of yourself. I know that it's not easy, but that it's SO worth it! Blessings to you too.


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