Tag Archives: authenticity

My Martyr

She touches nearly everything I do. She’s always been here, since the beginning. Ever present. Vigilant.

Daddy was terrified and ashamed of who he was and what he wanted to do, so he made Martyr carry a chunk of his load and blamed her for being so sexy. Like he used to be.

Mommy was terrified and ashamed of who she was and what she’d been forced to endure, so she made Martyr carry a chunk of her load and blamed her for being so precocious and huge and full of her self. Like she used to be.

The system was terrified and ashamed of what it had become by killing and raping and plundering, so it made Martyr carry a chunk of its load by pressing on her wound and leveraging her inability to say No.

Pushing me. Pushing me. Pushing pushing pushing me.

So much panic and anxiety and terror.

Martyr feels the terror that lives under all that panic. She pushes me to go faster as she tries to match Mommy’s panicked, frenetic energy. Survival energy. She was driven by it and she used it to drive me. Faster faster faster.

Martyr has made going faster and matching panic energy a virtue. When I’m fueled by panic and pushing myself, I find comfort in the belief that my suffering is noble. How virtuous I must be if I can rush to get everywhere and fulfill the needs of those waiting for me.

I’m doing such a good job. Good girl. HURRY UP FASTER

It soothes Mommy and she praises you for matching her speed, for getting it done. All you have to do is close your eyes and hold on tight. Tight tight tighter.

Run until you can feel the heaviness in your chest, the shortness of breath that signifies panic and terror and worry and anxiety. Match it. Feel it.

“Are you scared now?” asks the Martyr. Good. Thank you for feeling me.

Martyr doesn’t believe it’s ever going to be okay. She can’t relax. She can’t slow down. Her life depends on her load of inherited terror and shame reaching its destination in one piece and if she lets go…. if she drops it, it will shatter into a million pieces.

And it will All Be Her Fault.


The Snail Priestess

I am deeply grateful to Chani Nicholas for the following incantation, which speaks so directly and clearly to my current focus. I seek to embody the pace of the snail. My energy is slow and purposeful, not rushed or urgent. It’s focused on the breath moving inside my body, always in awareness with the ground, feeling the Earth.


I break the spells that keep me busy doing nothing. My time is sacred so I keep a watchful eye on it. I break the spells that keep me wasting energy where I don’t need to. I use the space in my days to work on my skills of constructive daydreaming. Giving myself some time and space to just be can be revolutionary. I use this new moon to break the spells that have me thinking in the same way about a problem, opportunity or situation. I use this new moon to refresh my way of seeing what I am looking at.

I am dedicated to seeing solutions.

If I can worry about my problems, then I can imagine their solutions. I can conjure up the understanding, the strategy and the wisdom needed to find my way around anything that life throws at me.

This week offers me a unique opportunity to benefit from my commitments. Especially the ones that I make to my home, family and healing my relationships with parents and childhood issues. No magic is made without a serious commitment to the elements that I work with. This new moon can help me to see that I have all the ingredients that I need to make a stable, sound, solid place to land, root down and grow from. This new moon can help me to see how much easier healing can be when I am willing to meet my life where it is.


I Didn’t Know

I didn’t know how numb I was. I didn’t know that my intuition and body were deadened from decades of abuse and disease.

I didn’t know that I was having one set of feelings in my head and another, completely different set in my body. That I’d been ignoring, devaluing, and medicating away my true feelings for so long, I no longer knew how to recognize, let alone feel them.

I didn’t know that it would require years of focused, intentional excavation to find the core of my self. I didn’t know how wounded I actually was. I didn’t know that once I found my core wounds and felt *everything* they had been saving for me, I would then be alive.

Actually alive. No longer afraid or anxious, but certain and filled with new purpose. Feeling all the parts of my body. Even the ones I didn’t know could be felt, like my toes and the tips of my labia. My urethral sponge.

I am now expressing and feeling my emotions throughout my entire body whenever they occur, simultaneously, in concert. Instead of stifling them or making them more appropriate for polite society. Instead of feeling scared and saying I’m not. Instead of lying.

This is what it means to “do the work.” To “reclaim one’s self.” This work takes a lot of practice. These new parts of mine are like any other muscle; they need to be worked often, felt often, seen and acknowledged, loved and cared for.

This is how it feels to be alive. This is tantra. This is holistic peer counseling. Reclamation, embodiment, felt truth. It’s all possible. Even if you don’t know it’s possible. It is.

Imagine A Woman Who Honors Her Experience and Tells Her Stories

A friend introduced me to a beautiful poem this morning, one that so perfectly describes what I’m trying to do here by sharing my stories that I couldn’t not pass it on. It was written 20 years ago by Patricia Lynn Reilly, who later went on to found Imagine a Woman International, which:

Inspires women to journey from self-criticism to self-celebration and to refashion our beloved world by giving birth to images of inclusion, poems of truth, rituals of healing, experiences of transformation, relationships of equality, strategies of peace, institutions of justice, and households of compassion.

I want to be the woman she describes; in fact, I want to live in a world where all women get a chance to be the woman she describes. Let’s lean into trust, authenticity, and deep exploration, Sisters.

Imagine A Woman

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past’s influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.

“Imagine a Woman” © Patricia Lynn Reilly, 1995

Your Arousal is Not My Fault

Brendan and I have spent a lot of time the past couple months speaking frankly, authentically, and sometimes awkwardly about our sex life and identities. About how patriarchy and our society have patterned/programmed us into doing some seriously unconscious shit because of wounding and adaptations. We’ve been using Holistic Peer Counseling tools to uncover and feel into how the wounds and adaptations we developed as children have been/are running the sex show.

There are many powerful and frankly amazing stories I could tell about our journey; however, most of them have primarily to do with embodied erotic experiences and so they don’t translate very well to writing. They’re hard to describe because Mind doesn’t grok what Body is doing, doesn’t even speak the same language, and so there are myriad translation errors.

One thing that IS coming out very clearly relates to Brendan tapping into and feeling his internalized misogyny, and how that has played out in our relationship. How entitlement to attention and sex have damaged my ability to trust him and his intentions. That I have felt his entitlement is not new within the context of my experiencing men; what’s wholly new is the fact he not only acknowledges it, but openly discusses it with me.

His courageous internal work is affording me a greater understanding of my own experience. Over and over, things he says to me are having the effect of me feeling less “crazy,” less like I’ve been making this shit up my whole life. Because—suddenly and for the very first time—a MAN is saying them to me. He is corroborating and reinforcing my body’s belief around what I’ve always known to be true about patriarchy and entitlement, but was never brave enough to speak out loud.

This morning, over text message, we had what I felt was an incredibly powerful exchange that illustrates our growing understanding. I started my moon phase this morning, and so for the past few days I haven’t wanted sex, which is edgy for both of us in our own ways. The conversation was generally about what happens when our sexual appetites aren’t in sync and specifically about my internalized guilt in that regard.

Christina: It sucks that I “make it harder for you” (when you’re aroused and I’m not available); I don’t want to do that. I just wanna be alive and around you, without forcing your body into an erotic tailspin. I mean, it’s awesome being in the yummy with you and I love our chemistry; what we create is far and beyond what I ever thought possible. And there’s this aspect of being female-bodied that I don’t love: the potent effect I have on you (and men in general) just by walking around.

Brendan: I think a large portion of the effect erotically-present women have on men (if any) has more to do with the pain that men feel when their disowned/wounded erotic feminine arises. I’m SUPPOSED to feel this painful longing.

C: I’m hearing you say that part of the longing/difficulty for you/men that arises around sexually-potent women is that you feel the loss of your disowned erotic or feminine attributes/energy. Yes? Like you resonate with mine and can feel that deep sadness/rage at what you gave up. And so—the mainstream story goes—you can then punish or take from me to quench that sadness.

B: Yes. You become an external focal point; a potent one. If I’m fully present, I feel a draw. You don’t cause that. I experience it. It’s not your willful doing. The longing in me is for what I/we gave up to survive, what was taken violently, and what we’re expected to keep hidden out of shame. Plus all the stringent limitations around conditioned masculinity, and how it’s supposed to look. It’s like my body is screaming I WANNA DO THAT TOO! And we fear being attacked or banished. At least I do.

So, the punishment is projection. Men can’t fully own their _____. So they attack it when they see it in others (women, gay people, transgendered individuals, etc.). As I see it, projection as punishment generally includes these elements:*

  • Disturbance
  • Disapproval (what we see is not consistent with our own self image in some core way)
  • Segregation/banishment
  • Expulsion (because it’s easier to demonize in absentia)
  • Demonization
  • Persecution
  • Annihilation

(*We can’t recall exactly where Brendan heard this and Google didn’t help; perhaps in relation to the witch hunts? Or perhaps it’s a part of oppression theory? If anyone could help find a source that would be much appreciated.)

C: OH RIGHT! I don’t cause your arousal or your difficulty in finding balance with it. It isn’t willful on my part or “my fault” that you want to have sex. You know, I’ve lived so long being told/feeling like masculine arousal was somehow my doing (because vagina is a force of nature duh) when actually it’s post hoc ergo propter hoc! I’m just amazed and so fucking grateful you can describe and understand this. Also—that projection list neatly describes what I imagine St. Augustine was feeling when he decided to canonize the property/demon status of women.

B: We’ve worked this process together and you’ve felt me blaming you. Now I’m emerging through to the other side, where we can feel the tension and also sit in the Balance of Attention with it. Lovingly.

And so, here we sit: loving one another, seeing one another, and holding space for ancestral sexual wounds. I can’t even describe to you how amazing this feels and how grateful I am to finally be here. Thank you, Brendan, for being the man who finally made space for Me.

The Meanie and the Mind of the Clock

Time and its invisible, arbitrary, relentless, uncaring structure is my go-to method for bullying my 5-year-old son, Avery. This was made crystal-clear to me on an otherwise ordinary Wednesday morning because Brendan and I chose to pay particular attention to a recurrent behavioral pattern of mine that loves to show up around transitions: the Meanie.

The Meanie is fucking mean and she doesn’t care. She’s mean because she wants to have impact, wants to be taken seriously, wants to have some control over how time is being spent. Or wasted, as the case may be. Change and its inevitable transitions are her nemesis because they are difficult enough to navigate among consenting adults who agree on the basic structure of time—but when a small child is involved?

A small child who also happens to be a master of the universe and general force of nature? A child who is wholly present to and engaged with whatever he’s doing, no matter what, and Mama why are you not watching me play this game right now? If you’ve spent any time around kids, you know exactly what I mean, right? They don’t WANT to change what they’re doing to transition and come do whatever we say “it’s time” to do.

What have I got that’s half so interesting as moving water and sand and half-rotten pears around between buckets to make yard soup with specially seasoned ants? Nothing; that’s what. Unless it’s candy or a power tool, then…maybe.

So, what’s one of the most contentious transitions a modern American family can experience? What gets my anxiety up and ensures the Meanie has a hot mess of compost to come plant herself in?

Getting everyone out of the house by 8:00 am so we can ride together to work and school.

I’m sure your family has a version of this. An episode of family drama that gets enacted over and over: constrained by time, fueled by a chronic low-grade state of exhaustion, and brought to a roiling boil by the addition of a child who wants what he wants and what he wants is to be neither helpful nor efficient. Apparently. Because getting dressed and leaving the house when you’d rather lounge about, eat raisins, and watch videos? Fuck. That. Am I right?

So. Wednesday morning. 7:43 am. I’d been having a pretty good morning; no major disturbances or disasters, my baseline wakefulness was above average. I later had no explanation for what was about to occur. I got triggered by something—maybe I was secretly harboring resentment over making lunches when it “wasn’t my job,” maybe I got anxious because I “should” have been at work already, catching up on project management homework. Probably both.

Thing about core patterns and their triggers is they sneak up on me and grab the wheel before I realize what’s happening. Because they’ve been here so long they’re really skilled at hiding in my blind spots and convincing me they don’t exist.

I remember feeling a surge of anxious energy in my chest and solar plexus, and suddenly I was in the Mind of the Clock. I noticed that Avery didn’t have his shoes on yet and was playing Legos on the front porch as I came out to stage bags for the trip downstairs to the car. The Meanie was poised and ready because if she holds one thing sacred it’s that The One Right Way to Transition is Quickly and Without Dawdling, Dilly-Dallying, or Farting Around.

“Avery, put your shoes on please; it’s time to get in the car.” (She likes to hide behind “manners.”)

*tick tock tick tock tick tock tick*

He doesn’t stop what he’s doing or respond in any way. To the Meanie, this is an open invitation to start Driving the Situation. Bring the shoes to him, put them down right next to him, and then stand there, hands on hips and say “Put your shoes on. Now.” I say this with the air of threat in my voice, the implication of consequences. After all, Time is on My Side. I’ve interrupted what he’s doing, forced myself into his reality, and am now applying pressure, using time as a crowbar.

Shoes finally on, I proceed down the stairs, focused on meeting my next milestone even though I can hear him calling me to “Wait, Mama! I want to go with you!” “Fuck no,” thinks the Meanie, “you had your chance to come with me two minutes ago and you wasted it!” But he keeps calling me and it sounds like he’s about to cry. Meanie hasn’t yet committed to a Scene on the Front Lawn, so I turn around and come back to stand at the bottom of the stairs. Where I project irritation and disbelief.

He stops halfway down the stairs to enact a critical point in a story I’m not even close to tracking. I’m standing there, seething, every second feeling like torture and failure. I am wasting time waiting for him, I think. I’m trapped. ALL I WANT TO DO IS MOVE FORWARD AT MY SPEED. WHY THE HELL IS HE SO SLOW?

About 30 seconds later (which honestly felt like WHOLE MINUTES) I hear myself say in the meanest way possible “I’m done here. I’m TIRED of waiting for you!” I turn away and walk toward the car. I hear him yell “MAMA NOOOO!” followed by little feet pounding on stairs. And then, because he’s upset and trying so hard to hurry and please me, he trips on the last step and falls down chest-first on the sidewalk. He explodes in tears.

Inside my head, Meanie says “He did that on purpose.” I roll my eyes dramatically and take a big, heaving breath because I am SO INCONVENIENCED and now I have to deal with comforting a child pulling manipulative bullshit tricks like falling down the stairs to get attention and thwart me in my need to Be Timely and Efficient.

I look up to the porch and there’s Brendan, watching the whole scene. He yells angrily, “What the hell are you doing?! He’s trying to fulfill your arbitrary demands and your anxiously pushing on him is making it worse! We aren’t even late yet—why are you being so MEAN?!” My whole body got tight and hot with shame, sadness, remorse, and unspent meanness. The Meanie just got seen. Big Time.

During the ride to work, she got contradicted big time because Brendan had the skill and presence to lovingly hold space for me and the pattern, and the beginning stages of my coming to see and understand what it was about. The Meanie is an adaptation I developed to deal with the fact that I was rushed through transitions as a child. Chronically.

I suspect you might have had a similar experience. The lifestyles and parenting approaches our society enforces don’t afford people the time or teach them the skills to respect one another during transitions. And since we don’t actually view children as full persons, we respect their space less. During transitions, even less. We have internalized the Mind of the Clock; the scheduled bells and report cards and compartmentalized activities have trained us to MOVE when “time is of the essence.”

Because undirected playtime looks a whole lot like “wasting time.” Moving slowly looks like “farting around” or “being defiant.” Being fully present in the moment means you aren’t aware of time, you aren’t “trying to get somewhere” because where you’re at is perfection. Children live in the present, so time is meaningless (and, frankly, stupid) to them. To adults who have already been indoctrinated, who have become a servant to alarms and schedules—at a core level, that fact is infuriating.

We didn’t get to be our full selves. We gave up our authenticity because preserving our parental attachments was more important. We didn’t really have a choice. The Meanie doesn’t want Avery to be his authentic full self. She wants him to adopt the ancestral pattern and help me bear the anxious weight of having traded away my divinely-inspired playtime. So that we could Hurry Up and Get Somewhere.

I’m finally beginning to see that Right Here is the most valuable thing we have. The Meanie is showing me how terrifying time is for her; how she thinks it means she has no control and will disappear. Because that was her lived experience; she had no control and her desires did disappear. My authentic self disappeared and it’s taken me almost 40 years to reclaim her.

I don’t want that for Avery, so in the search to find an alternate approach, I’m consciously giving up rushing him whenever possible. I’ve decided there are few things in the world worth my forcing him to choose between doing what inspires him, and pleasing me.