It wasn't until my 39th birthday that I experienced mind blowing sex, sex that transcended the physical (and even the emotional), allowing a glipse into the sacred realms.
This wouldn't have been possible for me without doing massive amounts of heavy lifting on my own healing journey - I cleared away SO MUCH STUFF a few years back when everything in my life fell apart (now, my greatest blessing). Shame around my body + my sexuality, difficulty being truly seen, years of tolerating disrespect and internalizing that, fear of intimacy, all the things. It's an ongoing process, of course.
Also, as I talk about often, opening to my spirituality and embracing the sacred feminine was also a HUGE part of this shift.
It also wouldn't have been possible without a partner who made me feel safe, honored, respected, + beautiful. (You know who you are and I love you for that.)
It's completely changed everything for me.
Sex should not be sub par, and if you're settling for anything less than what I describe above (be honest with yourself), there's SO MUCH value in doing healing work around this.
This year, I'm going to be offering much more specific help to women around healing their relationship to their sexuality, which will involve developing deep respect for their bodies, setting clear intentions on what they want (and deserve) in intimate partnership, opening to sacred union, and much more.
There were many years of my life where I downgraded sex and told myself it wasn't really that important. For me, I now see how much I was settling, how trapped I felt, and how wrong I was to believe that good sex wasn't important. Although everything has to be in balance and I don't feel that sex is everything, it IS an extraordinary vehicle to developing intimacy with yourself, your partner, and the divine.
For now - for my ladies - DO NOT SHARE your body with anyone less that 100% deserving of you. DO NOT SETTLE for anything less than mind blowing sex. DO THE WORK you need to do to release shame, low self-confidence, not being in your body, etc. You deserve to have an epic sex life. Pleasure is our birthright.
For the men - I see you, I respect you, and I know that you have so much of your own stuff around sexuality that needs to be healed. Seek out support, because you, too, deserve to have amazing sex. The number of men's coaches doing work in this realm is rising. Email me at hello at femininerising.us if you want some recs.
I'm going to be really straightforward here. Over the past few years I have immersed myself in learning about sacred partnership/love/intimacy/sexuality: studying the polarities, attraction, and relationship dynamics. It began with a Tantra workshop in 2015, which then led me to reconnect with a more western approach that better aligned with my own spiritual roots, as Tantra has eastern roots and felt a little like cultural appropriation to me.
I have read David Deida's work and looked at what his colleagues/students are putting out there, I have looked Yogi Bhajan's ideas, and the list goes on.
Over this time, I grew extremely frustrated with the notion that women needed to be fully in their feminine and men fully in their masculine all the time in order for the polarities to be in tact. This is what I was hearing from most of the teachers.
This idea of the polarities, for those of you who aren't familiar, is this: in a romantic partnership, in order to peak attraction to occur, one partner must embody the feminine and one must embody the masculine. This can happen no matter what genders are together. Feminine does not necessarily equal woman, and masculine does not necessarily equal man. It's confusing when you're new to these ideas (it took me a while to get it) and many have advocated for the replacement of masculine/feminine with yang/yin. I go back and forth with it.
I love the concept of the polarities, and have experienced amazing sexual tension in relationships where this plays out, but KNEW that the traditional teachings needed to evolve. This is because I love and support gender fluidity, and believe it is happening for an evolutionary reason.
I am also a healthy mix of feminine/masculine, and much of the work from the well-known teachers was not fully resonating with me, as I felt like I was being told to suppress my masculine, and that if I was a woman who was carrying masculine characteristics, then that was simply cultural programming or remnants of the feminist movement that I needed to erase.
Now, I totally agree that in my past - especially during my late teens/early 20's - I was very much in my masculine, and it was actually the toxic masculine. I unconsciously hated my feminine and also lashed out at other women who were super feminine. I won't get super detail oriented here, but there were reasons why this was happening based on my own familial and cultural programming, and this DID need to be addressed. I realized this a few years ago and have healed my relationship to my femininity through connecting to the divine feminine. It's been so incredibly powerful that many of my offerings today are meant to help women heal their relationship to their femininity, and also to their female bodies.
That being said, I reached a point where I was so in my feminine that I was suppressing any masculine within me. We ALL HAVE BOTH to some extent and the degrees to which these are expressed vary by individual. However, through consciously looking at my patterns through continued study, I knew it was time to invite my masculine back in, and do it in a healthy way. This meant recognizing toxic masculinity (and toxic femininity, for that matter) and commit to cultivating healthy versions of both polarities.
I'm at a place now where I am a happy embodiment of both my healthy feminine and healthy masculine, and where I fall on that spectrum varies depending on the day, moon cycle, season, mood, etc. It's all so beautiful and I feel so honored to be at a place of such increased inner peace with it.
So, back to the teachings on sacred sexuality, etc. I almost abandoned my studies completely because I was not finding anyone speaking about how to work with gender fluidity in the context of sacred partnership. That is, until I stumbled upon the work of Londin Angel Winters and her partner Justin Patrick Pierce.
Their version of sacred intimacy is exactly what I have been searching for. They have a concept of energetic agility that addresses gender fluidity specifically, and it feels cutting edge in this domain. Essentially, it teaches you how to embody either your feminine or your masculine - whichever you feel called to express in the moment - and having a partner who is so in tune with you that they know to embody the polarity to keep the attraction alive.
Unconsciously, I think this happens naturally to some extent in romantic partnership, and yet for those of us who are more conscious about our relationship interactions, it can be interesting and important for the long-term health of the relationship to understand and work with these energetic dynamics in a deeper way.
To be clear, you don't need the polarities activated every single moment in partnership. There may be times when you are more interested in being in best friend mode with your partner and/or working with them in the business world where polarity is less important and may actually prevent these desired dynamics to play out. It's really just when you want peak attraction, especially from a sexual standpoint, when polarity becomes important.
Currently, I'm at the beginning stages of my journey of working with energetic agility in relationships, but it feels so true and right for me (finally!) that I am SO EXCITED to be on this path. I am super interested to surrender more into my femininity in the context of romantic partnership while allowing my partner to embody the strong + healthy masculine, but also need energetic agility.
You know I'll be sharing more about this as I go on, because I get super fired up about anything in this realm and want to talk about it with everyone I know!
Let me know any comments or questions below, I'd love to hear from you. Where do you feel you fall on the spectrum of masculine/feminine? (Or yang/yin if you prefer?) How have you seen this dynamic play out in your romantic relationships? What questions or concerns do you have in this domain?
(Artwork above = artist unknown. Please let me know if you know.)
This tarot and oracle card reading is meant to help us surrender into the slowed down, more internal time of winter where our hibernation is meant to open ourselves up to intuitive wisdom and deep healing. This reading is intended to guide us from today, 12/12/18 through the Winter Solstice on 12/21/18.
Honestly, I wanted to do this reading for myself, as I'm having a hard time surrendering into the energy of winter this year - I have a lot that I want to push forward right now - but then realized many people are feeling this way too, so wanted to do a collective reading for us all.
I'd love to hear your comment and questions below - how do you like the energy of winter? Do you live in resonance with the seasons, or is this way of living cyclically new to you?
Today's blog post is intended for folks who rely on therapists/helpers/healers for support, and those who ARE the therapists/helpers/healers.
I practiced as a psychologist from 2011-2018 and am now a transformational coach for women. (The reason for the title change is so that I have the freedom to weave in the spiritual tools that have had a huge impact on my own healing journey, and as a psychologist, we are bound by whatever scope of practice is identified on our licenses. Using Reiki, Tarot, and the other spiritual modialities I now weave into my work was NOT part of my scope of practice as a psychologist.)
I knew ten years ago when I transitioned from the field of advertising into the field of psychology that helping others was part of the reason I was placed on this planet. I continue to believe that, and although my title and tools may shift over time, my mission to support others stays strong.
I wanted to let you into my inner world of what a psychologist "should" be. Because I don't hear this spoken about often, and we certainly didn't discuss this in graduate school. To put it simply, I thought that being a psychologist meant that I had to have EVERYTHING figured out. I needed to have all the answers, I needed to solve all the problems, and I certainly needed to have a bright and shiny life of my own, having put all of the necessary psychological principles into action to address my own challenges.
Now, this notion is pretty commonplace amongst those of us whose job it is to help others. There is this idea that we need to be fully healed and perfect before we can do our work. I have spoken openly about this with other psychologists, coaches, and a variety of therapists, and they all resonate with this.
And although it IS finally becoming more acceptable to speak openly about this, what I felt the need to do for years was hide my true self from the world and suppress anything that was not working - to shift from being a human to attempting to be a superhuman.
My life during 2014-2016 was filled with darkness and pain. I won't rehash the details here, as I've already written about it on my website, but it was truly my dark night of the soul. My marriage (a relationship of 15 years) was burning to the ground. To put it mildly, it brought up ALL THE THINGS. We diligently tried to make things work, but ended up separating, and then divorcing, and that whole two year period of time drained me to my core - especially as I was ALSO trying to be a mom to my young son and deal with a very challenging role of working as a psychologist with extremely high needs students in the public schools of South Central LA. Many of these students were intensely depressed and suicidal.
When I showed up to work everyday I wanted to shut my door and never come out. And some days I actually DID have to shut my door so that my students didn't see me crying. It was really, really rough. Most days, though, I somehow had to step into a new persona and be everybody's helper - and the only way I could do that was to deeply suppress my own pain.
It didn't always work out nicely. Because I was suffering quite intensely, it leaked out of me as irritability, extreme burnout, anxiety, apathy, and/or a number of other unhelpful attributes. I also looked exhausted, was carrying around extra weight, and was definitely not physically well.
I became hyperaware of others' reactions to me as I moved through all of this - because while I was most definitely placing this notion of "psychologist as a perfect human" on myself, the truth is that many people DO expect psychologists to show up that way. There is an expectation that you fix people and you don't bring your own stuff into it (if, God forbid, you have any "stuff").
I also worked for a highly respected charter school organization that had a "do whatever it takes" mentality for our students, because we served marginalized communities. Burnout and lack of self-care ran rampant in the organization as we all rallied around our mission of social justice and positive outcomes for our students. So, the pressure I felt was even greater because of this.
I'm writing this post because I want to remind everyone that folks who work in the field of helping others (no matter what their title is) are HUMAN beings. We have our good days and bad days. We go through all of life's ups and downs like everyone does. Although I'm in a much better place in my life, I still have rough spots and need my own support. I've gotten way better at being kind to myself when this occurs, but it's honestly something I have to be consciously aware of checking whenever I slip back into the mentality of needing to be perfect.
It always hits me hard when I see colleagues and other first responders in action after school shootings and other crises. The expecation is that the helpers will show up and serve. They will put all their own stuff to the side and get to work. And while we can do that for a certain period of time, it only lasts for so long before we collapse. And unfortunately, a lot of people who aren't in this profession simply do not understand this - so it's our job to speak about it openly. We cannot and should not reinforce the expectation that folks in our profession are limitless in our capacity to serve. This is why I'm passionate about helping my colleagues realize the importance of self-care, valuing their work appropriately, and allowing themselves to be human.
I think we all know that people who are drawn to the professions of psychology, coaching, healing, etc. tend to be more selfless than most. We have tendencies to suppress our own needs and put others first. We are often extraordinarily empathic and feel the pain of others deeply. We undercharge for our services. Because of all of these things, burnout is very real. And ironically, our tendencies to serve others so intensely end up hurting us and the people we want to help in the end if we feel completely spent - that is, unless we practice radical self-care and boundary setting.
Because I know what it's like to be in this profession, I am now very aware of remembering this when I seek help from my own therapist and other support people. I do believe that it is our responsibility, as the seekers of help, to remember that we never really know what somebody else is going through, even if it is their job to help us. And they may be really good at that job, and be doing all they can to take care of themselves despite whatever is happening in their own lives, but they still remain human beings.
Of course, we as helpers/healers/therapists do need to take responsibility for our own stuff. We need to work with our own therapists and support people. We need to practice exquisite self-care and boundary setting. We need to know our limits and when to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that we are bringing the best version of ourselves possible.
(One thing that troubles me is that I was not trained in any of this during grad school. There was a very brief lesson on self-care at the very end of my three year program, but it was extremely superficial. We never spoke about boundaries. There was a lot that I had to learn on my own, and my colleagues say the same.)
I am not expecting pity from the folks who read this. I am hyperaware of the dangers of slipping into victim mode and take responsibility, as many in my field do, for self-care. But it is a two way street, and those of us who rely on others for support should never forget that they are humans too. They are not doormats.
In the end, it's all about having compassion for one another. In speaking with a friend the other day, she reminded me that nowadays, people LIKE to work with helpers/healers/therapists who are imperfect. Who've been through some stuff. It makes us more relatable. It lessens the old school hierarchy of therapist on a pedestal and client as a needy victim. I love this paradigm shift. I strive to empower others with the work that I do, and have found that the best way I can do that is to be as human as possible with my own stories and challenges, while offering up the tools and practices that have helped me through. It is my greatest honor to be able to serve in this way.
Today, I wanted to shed some light into the inner world of being a psychologist so that those of you who are unfamiliar can have a greater understanding, and bring greater compassion, to those of us who do this work. And I hope that everyone reading this who does work in this capacity remembers that it's 100% OKAY to be human.
Now I want to hear from you:
Please let me know in the comments below.
I've been thinking deeply about formality in spiritual practice. While this conversation can certainly apply to any spiritual or religious practice, I speak about it here in terms of my own path, specifically the practice of magic.
There is this idea about magic needing to be practiced in sacred spaces (at an altar, by casting a circle, etc.) AND in a very specific way, and I have often thought about this concept and how/why magic has become so formalized.
Admittedly, I'm triggered by formality. I have a rebelliousness that questions authority and hates dogma. It's been clear for a while now that I need to examine my relationship to ceremony + more formal spiritual practices, and I can certainly see how, for many, it makes the practice more potent. But I am much more drawn to the idea that magic happens in our everyday moments as we walk through life, and the concept that ALL spaces can be sacred without needing to make them such in a formal way (i.e. God is in everything). And I'm interested in stripping down magic, prayer and other spiritual practices into their most essential forms without needing all the bells and whistles.
Tehya Sky writes, "When we begin to see the altar is all around us—in the rocks, the magic of numbers, the miracle of other people, the sound of crunching leaves beneath our feet, our morning showers—all of life is again meaningful, and each moment carries within it the invitation home."
Where do we draw the line between what is magic and what is not? If you believe that the words we speak and the actions we take are all magic (which I am inclined to believe), then is everything we do magical? Is the magic that is performed in a highly structured, formalized environment more potent than everyday magic? I can see how it can be psychologically powerful. So perhaps what ultimately matters is the mindset of the practitioner - such that if it is powerful and meaningful to that person in that moment, that is the most important thing? And whatever strengthens your BELIEF about what works/what doesn't is key?
Gosh, I could take this in so many directions - the power of groupwork, using symbolism and other ceremonial elements, trance states, the necessity of doing things "just so," etc...and I'm obviously not the first person to wonder about these things.
Although I roughly follow a pagan path, it's really my own version because I hate dogma and being told what to do. However, it's prevented me from taking my practice deeper because I am turned off by formality in the way some teachers and communities practice. This has been the case for me in all spiritual/religious paths I have explored.
As I play around with my discomfort, I sense it's probably wise to explore all levels of formality in spiritual practice. I'm just not totally sure how to do this (yet).
However, I'm not totally informal with my practice. I sit at my altar nightly and do spiritual work. I understand that entering that space and time in my day flips a switch in my brain - for example, the lighting of candles and incense alters me psychologically and provides spiritual boundaries to work in. I also have regular pratices around new and full moons, the wheel of the year, etc. I'm just playing around with the level of formality here that is NECESSARY to do the work.
So, I'm wondering what others think. Is your spiritual practice formal, informal, or something in between? I feel that most people I've spoken to who share similar spiritual beliefs just LOVE ceremony, and I've felt out of place in this regard. Ultimately, I believe that whatever works for you, works! But I am still curious to hear people's viewpoints on this because I do have a sneaking suspicion that it's holding me back from deepening my practice.
I've wanted to write this post many times now, because although Tarot is becoming more mainstream, many people are still kind of scared of it. And for those of you who have never met me in person, I'm not scary or evil (at least I don't think so!) and would never use tools that are. So, I want to destigmatize Tarot. I've been using it for the past few years to assist with my own psychological and spiritual development and have found it so powerful that I now incorporate it into my one-on-one work with clients.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the alignment of personal will with divine will. And true co-creation. Whether you are somebody involved in the law of attraction, magic, or simple intention or goal setting, I feel that it’s really important to go deep before wishing or chasing something.
I think we all have experienced that phrase “be careful what you wish for.” Which can be fine, honestly - if you see it as a learning experience where next time, you’ll try to bring your desires more in alignment with your higher self.
It’s time to stop the demonization of personal will/desires/ego. It’s not about sacrificing our deepest longings or becoming desire-less beings. If we can bring this aspect of ourselves in resonance with our hearts, our intuition, our deepest knowing (what I consider divine guidance) then amazing things can happen.
This is one reason why I love living in resonance with the cycles of nature. Respecting the ebb and flow, waxing and waning aspects of natural phenomenon (like the seasons and the cycles of the moon) teaches us to honor the light and the dark, the active and the passive. The cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth which is crucial for growth. We need to retreat, withdraw and go within regularly to access our intuition in order to receive guidance on our next steps in life. Action without intuition is often motivated by external definitions of success which are not in resonance with our true selves.
I just wrote a free ebook called Living a Divinely Inspired Life: Using Your Intuition to Co-Create with the Universe, because the process of slowing down, receiving, and trusting our intuitive guidance is something many people still struggle with. Wouldn’t the world be such a better place if we acted from a more intuitive, heart-centered, authentic place? Download it for free here if this calls to you. I wish you the best of luck on your journey!
Around 13 years old, I became enamored with eastern religion and philosophy. I didn't have a very deep understanding of it all, but the concepts of balance and moderation in particular really resonated with me. However, I was way too young to have the life experience to be able to see the depth of these concepts beyond an intellectual level.
Now that I'm older and wiser, I am able to see just how important balance is. I could speak of all the dualities: Yang and yin. Action and reflection. Giving and receiving. Speaking and listening. Light and dark. Or, flowing with the seasons. Working with the four elements. Balancing the chakras. It's ingrained in my spiritual practices and I've seen direct positive impacts in my life on a profound level.
When I first learned about the energies of the masculine and feminine from a spiritual perspective, I saw that many of the above dualities were assigned to one or the other and it really bothered me. I thought it was incredibly sexist - why are women associated with passivity, for example? It took time for me to understand that these are just energies and do not necessarily equate to male and female. If feminine/masculine bothers you, you can call it yin/yang. But these are energies that live within us all and exist everywhere in the universe on spectrums, and they are complementary energies that work with rather than against each other.
When I started diving into my studies, I also saw that I was living way more in my masculine than my feminine. Not only was I unconsciously distancing myself from my feminine energies, but I actually loathed them (for reasons I'll share another time). Again, I'm not talking specifically about gender expression here - it's bigger than that.
Because I recognized that this was something I needed to heal, I spent the last four years reconnecting deeply to my feminine, and the transformation has been remarkable. The pendulum swung way towards the feminine, to the point where I began to have negative feelings towards my masculine.
Now I'm ready to reintegrate the masculine and have that beautiful inner union of both. That may sound weird to some of you, but I believe it's absolutely essential for each of us to recognize that both energies live within each of us. That they both complement each other and help each other. While you may not desire perfect balance between your masculine and feminine sides (and that's impossible to achieve anyway), it's still important to respect how both of these energies want to express themselves through you.
The 1:1 coaching that I do allows for the recognition of these energies, the exploration of the shadow self in relation to any imbalances or blocks, and a full and healthy expression of your true self. There is a full spectrum within you that is longing to be expressed in order to live an authentic, free, empowered, and joy filled life. If this sounds important to you, contact me to get in touch.
This is a blog post about divorce. That heavy, yucky word that sucks so, so much. I could take this in multiple directions. I could write volumes about what's on my mind and what I have gone through. But what I will start with is this:
Every single day, I am thankful for my ex-husband. I love him deeply as a person and am truly blessed to have him in my life. He is an amazing father and human being.
Unfortunately, not many divorced folks can say this about their ex-spouse. How did we manage to get to this point? It CERTAINLY was not always like this, trust me.
Let me share some of our story, because I feel a need to destigmatize divorce and share how we managed to get to a good place, with the intention of helping others going through a similar time.
If you don't feel like reading the background story, just scroll to the bottom and check out my summary of advice/reflections. But I do feel that it is useful to give you some context.
To describe what happened into a very basic outline: we were together for 16 years. (This doesn't include meeting in college 3 years before that and dating on and off. It's been a long, long road, peoples.) At the 14 year mark, our marriage was in crisis. There was no one event that caused this; we simply had a long, slow decline which led us to feel extremely disconnected from one another. We entered a very intense period of therapy for two years straight which involved weekly couples therapy + individual sessions for us both. He and I were committed to the process and both had in our minds that the best case scenario was that our marriage would be saved.
At the end of year one, we had ironed out most of our issues. Unfortunately, though, while we were much more at peace with each other and had developed much better communication skills, we were not in love with each other anymore. The attraction had long gone and it had not returned. So, the second year was all about trying to reestablish that connection.
It never came back, at least not in the romantic sense. I wasn't sure how much longer I could go on doing what we were doing. Those two years of therapy were the darkest, scariest, most emotionally exhausting years of my life. I was on a constant emotional rollercoaster of getting my hopes up that our marriage could be saved, only to have my hopes crash and burn on a pretty regular basis.
Looking back, I have no idea how I managed to go through that while ALSO going to work each day (I am a high school psychologist working in South Central LA, a super intense job) AND trying to be a mother to a small child (also intense at times). Words can't really describe those two years for me. I simply refer to it as my dark night of the soul. That time of my life and the lessons I learned is a whole different post, so I'll leave that for another time.
At the end of the two years of therapy I called for a trial separation, which we entered into shortly thereafter. The minute that decision was agreed to, a mountain was lifted from me and I felt as if I could breathe again. It wasn't until that moment that I realized how much I was suffocating in the relationship. It was one of the most intense energetic moments of my life and I felt it deeply in my whole body. I knew instantly that I needed to leave.
On a practical level, we rented an apartment close to our house. We agreed that the trial would last three months, to prevent it from dragging on longer than it needed to. This was all arranged with the help of our therapist (who we worked with throughout the separation and divorce process in order to help support us emotionally during this time, as well as to help us move into coparenting and the practical decisions around that - HIGHLY RECOMMEND). For a few days at a time, we would rotate in and out of the apartment, so that our son could remain at home. It was definitely an interesting time, but we made it work and it was actually just fine.
At the end of the three months, I was ready to move forward with divorce. We had already at that point done SO MUCH therapy and SO MUCH processing of everything that was happening, that the moment we decided to end our marriage seemed almost unemotional. Although there was a sense of energetic relief that this chapter was finally closing, I knew I had to gather up strength to get through the divorce process.
Looking back at that moment, it seemed like such a blur - we found and began working with a mediator, who was excellent - such a big reason why the divorce process seemed so much less intense than what you might expect. She was a former divorce attorney who switched to mediation because she hated the contentiousness of traditional divorce. She knew the law like the back of her hand, was whip smart, and acted as a completely neutral party who made the process fair and balanced.
The divorce process felt fairly unemotional due to the help of her, in addition to our therapist who supported us emotionally with anything that came up. I remember it as being intense only in the sense of needing to get all of our financials in order which involved a lot of phone calls, paperwork, and getting really organized with all of that. In retrospect, it was an excellent thing for me to go through as a woman who definitely had let her husband rule most of the finances and financial decisions. It felt like a learning curve at the time, but was so incredibly necessary for me.
While the moment when our divorce was finalized a year later felt like a relief and a more formalized sense of closure, it really was the moment we decided to separate that was the most significant. Family and friends kept asking when/if the divorce was final, and I remember thinking how they did not understand what we were going through. It had already ended, even if the piece of paper had not arrived in the mail yet - and we had already separated emotionally, transitioned to separate living spaces months prior, and were settling in to the new way of living.
Which brings me to our son. The number one reason we stayed together for so long, and remained in therapy for so long, was because of him. We both had intense anxiety around what would happen to him if we decided to end our marriage. We assumed that it would immensely damage him. Loving him more than anything else in the world and wanting to prevent harm was a huge motivator for us to give it our all to save things. Our son was 4 when we entered therapy, and was 7 when the divorce was finalized.
This is also something I could write volumes about, but to keep it brief, our son did not crumble. We had the support of our therapist to gather courage to tell him, in addition to having a plan of what to say and how to support him. Yes, he was sad when we told him we were separating. But he actually moved through his sadness incredibly quickly. His resilience and ability to make the transition still, to this day, amazes me. Our son is very sensitive and feels things deeply, so we both assumed that he would be incredibly distraught. But what we did not realize is that our unhealthy relationship and the stress and tension that had hung thickly in the air for years - for probably his whole life - was also an incredible burden on him. And that perhaps he also felt a sense of relief when that was lifted.
In fact, I know he did, because his behavior changed for the better. There were way less meltdowns. His mood improved. It was clear when we were witnessing this shift in him at how tied up we all were in each others' emotional states and how they impacted all three of us. The energy in the house changed completely when we separated. The weight of the stress, tension, frustration, repressed anger, etc. all lifted and benefitted all of us incredibly. We felt happier, laughed more, and had a sense of ease that just wasn't there before. And it had huge benefits for our son.
This dynamic still remains to this day, and has actually gotten better over time. I have to admit that this is one of the things that people close to us noticed and commented on right away. It was enough to convince those who were anti-divorce that maybe, just maybe, this was the right decision for everyone involved.
It can be easy to think back about what might have happened if we had intervened in our marriage problems earlier. And trust me, I tried. I think we both did at different points. Admitting to your significant other - especially in the context of marriage - that things are not all good and that work needs to be done is hard and incredibly scary. It takes a lot of courage. But for whatever reason, those were failed attempts that did not solve the issues we had. Is it really that useful to rehash the past and see where repairs could have been made? I think it can be, to some extent, in order to learn lessons for next time. But ultimately, we had to focus on the present moment and where we were truly at. We had to accept that at that moment, our decision was the best for all involved. Had we stayed married, we would have never been happy. We would have modeled a dysfunctional, romantically loveless relationship to our son that would not have served him, or anyone. (And how many children are witnessing those types of marriage at this exact moment??) We weren't willing to do that to him, or to ourselves. We felt that our son deserved the opportunity to witness his parents in healthy, loving relationships. And just as importantly, we felt that we, also, deserved to be in healthy, loving relationships.
The three of us still spend a lot of time together. My ex-husband and I see each other most days due to the fact that we share the responsibility of dropping off and picking up our son from school (because of our work schedules). During these times we have the opportunity to still be connected and involved in each others' lives. We also have family dinners once a month that feel easy, good, even fun. We all like each others' company, and I feel so incredibly grateful that we are in this place - for our son, and for ourselves. After all, I have known him for over 20 years now. He knows me better than anyone in the world, and vice versa. That's pretty damn special.
Soooo....holy moly, going through the divorce process is incredibly complicated. I didn't even cover:
I COMPLETELY acknowledge that this is our story, and that everyone has their own version. For starters, he and I were both committed to making things work out in the best way possible. I know many people who were not able to have the same outcomes because one person was unwilling to do the work. Second, I acknowledge huge amounts of privilege in being able to work with a therapist. Unfortunately, due to cost, stigma, schedules, transportation, and a whole other host of reasons, therapy is just not as accessible for some people, which is a huge problem.
But, for what it's worth, here are my main pieces of advice:
There's so much more to say. Although this post is already very long, it's really just the tip of the iceberg. However, I feel passionate about helping others who are struggling in a similar way, whether you are in an unhappy marriage, considering separation, going through divorce, or whatever stage you are in. So please comment and/or contact me to let me know what you want to hear more about. At this point I am a pretty open book about what happened - so if you want to hear more about any of these things, or hear me talk about something I didn't cover, reach out and I will respond or write another post covering it.
The bottom line here is that I am the happiest and healthiest I have been in my entire life. I never realized it would turn out this way - the horror story of divorce played out in my head pretty consistently over that two year period of time. However, I used this incredibly difficult experience to learn and grow into a better person - and I have 100% witnessed the same for my ex-husband. So it is definitely possible for you, as well.
I know that when you are in it, you cannot see this as a possibility. It's only darkness, depression, fear, anger, and incredible amounts of pain and suffering. But wherever you are at, I am hoping that my story at least gives you a different perspective on how things could turn out. I totally acknowledge that where the three of us are at right now is an uncommon scenario. And it might not happen this way for you at all. But I also have a sneaking suspicion that the way most people approach divorce is really off, and it does NOT always have to be that way. However, nobody teaches you how to do it. We just tried our best to move through it in a conscious way - considering the impact of everyone involved, while also staying true to our own needs.
I'll end with the sincere hope that my story has helped in some way, and I wish you the best of luck on your journey. And to those of you who have asked, or are wondering, yes - we are all (beyond) okay.
As a Virgo sun, knowing that Virgo is the Virgin, I never really understood the connection. Virgos are traditionally known as neat freaks, detail-oriented, perfectionists, worriers...I didn't get where 'virgin' came in. I searched for more information about how the Virgo archetype related to being a virgin, but there wasn't much I could find. Most Virgo descriptions of sex painted the Virgo woman as being ultra-feminine and perhaps a bit restrained in her expression of sexuality, but I couldn't find much more.
It wasn't until years later when working with some powerful women that I uncovered the connection, and it wasn't what I expected.
Amanda Garcia Yates taught me that the Virgos were the priestesses. I found that fascinating and part of me was in disbelief - because I had been led to believe a much different picture of Virgo - but we didn't get too deep into it at that time.
Shortly after, when Tami Brunk read my birth chart, she took me deep with this concept, and I will share her teachings here. I am blending what I learned from her with my own research on this topic.
Let's look at the true history of the word "virgin" - and how it ties into the true meaning of the Virgo archetype.
The original defintion of Virgin means:
Note how different these definitions make you feel vs. the later definition of a virgin as someone who has not yet had sex. It is so interesting to see how words evolve and change over time! And while these statements have extra special meaning for women, they can apply to men too.
Historically, Virgins (Virgos) were the Priestesses in charge of the ceremonies. This is what the Virgo archetype was modeled after. Tami Brunk shared this with me as she read my chart:
Let's return to the phrase "she who is whole unto herself" - which struck me straight in the heart. Like, something I literally need to tattoo onto myself.
Why is it important to be "whole unto yourself"??? I think you probably have an idea why...
These reflections are for those of us who easily lose ourselves in others. For the empaths, the romantics, the givers, the helpers, the healers, and so on:
1) In relationships where you become too intertwined, it is easy to lose your identity. What makes you unique and special, separate from the other? Who are you, on your own? Think about this in relation to your significant other. To your children. To your family members. To anyone who you love deeply.
2) Losing your identity like this in a relationship is the road to codependency. When your energies become too blurred, it can be hard to separate yourself from the other person energetically. When they are happy, you are happy, when they are sad, you are sad. It's hard to live separately from them in your own energetic realm.
3) When your energies are so tied up in another person, your energy is continually leaking out towards that other person. Sometimes, the other person is a vampire (metaphorically!) who loves to suck your energy. But often times, the other person - lover, child, etc. - may feel smothered by your energy. (I have felt both smothered by others and have smothered other people...)
4) Pay great attention to energetic boundaries. Develop and respect your own boundaries, and respect the boundaries of others.
5) Learn to do the dance of union vs. separation, especially in romantic relationships. Allow yourself to love fully, with your whole heart, while also being able to pull away when appropriate in order to nurture yourself, and in order to respect the other person's boundaries. It's the ebb and flow, waxing and waning of a healthy relationship dynamic.
6) Don't think that pulling away happens only when you are mad at the person or punishing them. If that's the only time you pull away, question whether the relationship is codependent. Reframe your view of separation. Pulling away should be a natural, healthy thing that happens in order to respect the energetic boundaries of both parties. The push and pull of union vs. separation is key. Love flows freely between both people, but both parties are 'whole unto themselves' and are not dependent on the other person to complete them.
This can be VERY hard work for those of us who love others deeply. I am a romantic person who loves the concept of a soul mate. I know that I have come into this lifetime as a Virgo to learn the lessons I have just described. I must become whole unto myself, or else this lesson will continue to reappear in my life until I master it...
Related to all of this, I have looked at my tendency to put others (especially lovers) on a pedestal. These reflections may be useful for you, too, if you do this:
1) Remember that some do not WANT to be put there. They will feel overwhelmed by the love and attention and worship.
2) Ask yourself: why am I worshipping this other person so much? What do they have that is so worthy of that much love and attention? And why am I not able to give that much love and attention back to myself? Is it a feeling of being less than? A feeling that I am not as good as they are? A feeling that I lack that qualities that I am worshipping?
It really does create a huge imbalance, which leads to feelings of unworthiness in the person doing the idolizing. It can also lead to a reality where the other person DOES see themselves as better than you. This can very easily create an imbalance of giving and receiving, where one person is giving so much and not receiving much in return.
The other thing that happens when we idolize others is that we end up craving their love and attention. We imagine how we must reinvent ourselves in order to please them. So we end up disconnected from who we really are, trying to be somebody who we are not (AND also making the mistake of thinking that we know what they want us to be, which may not even be accurate.)
Back to that familiar lesson of balance...strive for the middle point between worshipping somebody and not caring at all. Love them, but also love yourself. Just as much.
Rupi Kaur poem:
i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete
i could light a whole city
i want to have you
cause the two of us combined
could set it on fire
It is only when we are truly authentic AND truly comfortable in our own skin that we will attract real love. Healthy love. Because you allow that person to love you for who you truly are (and vice versa). So strive for authenticity, true self-love, and being "whole unto yourself."
I wish you much luck on this journey - it is a work in progress, always!