Tag Archives: holistic peer counseling

Little Boy, Abandoned

The last few weeks, I’ve been *really* pissed off about men “holding the door” for me. Unrealistically so, it seemed, given what I know of my patterns. Something just didn’t make sense. I finally had to acknowledge I didn’t quite know what was going on, and that was okay. I would continue feeling and giving voice to this piece that felt like so much bottled rage.

From the perspective of inside my body, my rage feels like it comes from two directions: up from my genitals and down from my esophageal sphincter (where the esophagus meets the stomach, right in front of the solar plexus). The part in my stomach, I can clearly feel is a result of swallowing decades worth of rage.

Don’t talk back. Be a good girl. Smile. Don’t make a scene. Be kind. Stop throwing a fit. Forgive and forget. Tone it down. Smile. It’s not that bad. It could be so much worse. Make the best of it. You’re just crying to get attention. You’d be so much prettier if you smiled.


Those phrases encapsulate my experience of being born in a female body. They are the oppression and coping mechanisms I learned from my mother, grandmother, aunts, teachers, sister, and peers—all the females in my life. Horizontal violence tastes like swallowed rage, tone policing, and denial; and it feels like poisonous burning embers in my gut.

The rage coming from my genitals has been less clear, more obscure; it hides in a way I haven’t been able to put my finger on. Actually, that’s not quite it—from an embodied point of view, I’ve been able to hear my vagina and clitoris and uterus, but I haven’t been able to hear my asshole. I can hear the “female” parts of my genitals, but not the “male” one. I knew my asshole had something to do with my father wound, but the particulars have remained hidden, occluded from my newfound ability to feel into these parts.

And then, one morning while meditating, I found out why. There’s an abandoned little boy living in my asshole. A horcrux.

He’s younger than the little girl who also lives at the bottom of my psychic well. He’s also far more fragile, volatile, violent, unrestrained, and incoherently angry. He’s the one that NO ONE has ever been able to or wanted to see. Not even me. They wanted to see a girl because I had a vagina, but I’ve always struggled to “act like a girl,” to become what they projected on me. It always felt like an act. A cheap suit.

From the perspective of this new part, my father wound story is that he DID see the little boy, which is why he raped my asshole, and then left us to deal with and suffer through the consequences. After my father left, no one wanted to or had the attention to care for a rage-filled, 5-year-old boy in a girl’s body who was carrying around the seed and memory of a vicious sociopath.

So they walked away and left that little boy behind in the dark. In his stead, they welcomed the (mostly) quiet, compliant, and less volatile little girl. This little girl took his place and, along with it, inherited the heavy burden of trying to convince everyone Christina was actually a girl. Even though she knew otherwise. She knew who she stood guard over; who she protected down there in the dark.

A little boy who has forgotten what it’s like to be held in loving arms. A little boy who was good for nothing more than getting fucked and holding his daddy’s shame. A convenient little boy that an entire family could abandon without remorse because they were also wounded and hadn’t the resources betwixt them to see. A little boy whose resentment and rage and sense of betrayal has bloomed like a vengeful and terrifying mushroom. Tended, carefully, down in the dark.

The little boy who lives in my asshole.

He’s the one who doesn’t want adult men holding the door for us. He’s confused why everyone thinks he’s a girl. He’s confused as to why anyone would think he isn’t smart enough or strong enough to open a door all by himself.

He doesn’t want to smile at those men for “being polite.” He doesn’t want to allow their eyes to rove over our body, assessing, condemning, or desiring us as we walk by. He refuses to play the fucking chivalry game.

Because most important of all, he doesn’t want those men getting BEHIND us. He knows what it feels like to be preyed upon. He KNOWS what it feels like to be terrorized, for your asshole to clamp down and literally vibrate in terror. To be so terrified of the pain that you believe you’ll die. Waiting there, in the dark, for death to come.

I don’t want to be reminded of that terror when I walk through a door; even if it’s JUST THE TINIEST AMOUNT. I shouldn’t have to feel like a piece of meat when I walk through a door. I resent feeling like property to be admired or abandoned at their whim.

So, no. We don’t want you to hold the fucking door for us. Because we aren’t going to give you power over our asshole. This is OUR body and it is OUR right to claim this space.

This time, you get to walk in front of ME, motherfucker.


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.

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.

On Being Four: What Active Counseling Taught me About Childhood Wounding

The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.
–Augustine of Hippo

Around the beginning of December 2014—somewhat consciously and somewhat not—Brendan and I began the process of healing my father wound. To say that experience has changed my life is an understatement of almost cosmic proportions; primarily, because I now believe myself to be a manifestation of Sovereign Feminine. Which is a radical and wholly new experience for me as a woman raised under patriarchy, because it means I have begun to reclaim my intuition. Something that was stolen from me as a child.

You see, a woman’s ability to trust her intuitive voice and be fully in her adult power is a dangerous threat to male dominance, so patriarchy keeps women locked in childhood by raping and beating their intuition out of them. Of course, patriarchy also traps men in childhood, beginning with the act of forcibly cutting off their foreskin and then progressively and methodically removing nearly all forms of loving, affirmative affection or validation. Because violent oppression is democratic like that.

For the last six weeks I have felt more powerful, grounded, and clear than ever before in my life. I make decisions, give voice to my grievances, and declare what I want with a confidence that I attribute solely to intuition and my novel ability to hear/trust what she says. Things that, had anyone asked me six months ago, I might have cited as benefits I could conceivably expect to arise as a result of such a healing. But certainly nothing I would have felt I deserved or was worthy to receive.

What I didn’t expect was the actual felt and embodied presence of my literal 4-year-old self.

Of course, the further I get on this journey, the more it makes perfect sense she would come to the forefront of my psyche: because I was 4 years old when my sexual abuse began. So, once I was able to touch that experience in a way that felt relevant to my adult self, once I could fully grieve the loss of what was taken from me, OF COURSE Little Chrissy would be more “here” to my mind and body. It made sense she would be at the surface as opposed to deep within my mind palace, hidden away where she had been safe and virtually unseen for the last 40 years.

Little Chrissy was present in my daily life and most of those ways were positive. I could feel her in how my playing with Avery changed because I could drop into it so much more easily, fluidly, and authentically. I made more funny character voices, readily joined and added to his stories, encouraged interchange in ways that hadn’t occurred to me before. There were times when I really felt like a little kid reborn and it was wonderful. I felt joyous and free to be silly, to dance, to be in my body.

Little Chrissy even got to have a wonderful cosmic experience on psychedelic mushrooms. As with the ecstasy, we set a strong, safe container appropriate for a Little and then proceeded to receive the mushrooms’ download. Little Chrissy was *totally* in her element because—as a divine and magical child presence—she intimately understood the mushrooms as well as what they had to say about where we come from, who we are. Being able to channel her fully while also communing with the mushrooms gave me powerful insight on what I’ve come to understand as the Universal Perspective.

A perspective that recognizes all life as equal and divine, filled with golden light and emanating from stardust. A perspective that allowed me to recognize Brendan and his soul as something I’d seen before, perhaps many times over the millenia, like commuters passing every day in a train station. Which explains why he has always felt like Home to me. That night, the divine in me recognized and resonated with the divine in him, and because of that I feel a little less alone on this planet. A little less identified with and clinging to the body I currently inhabit. A little less homesick.

There’s a lot more I’ll eventually share with you about what the mushrooms told and continue to tell me, about who I am and what’s happening to me as I continue the process of waking and reclaiming. And for now, this is enough. Suffice to say, I experienced Little Chrissy as a beautiful child, full of love, pure and divine; not yet injured, civilized, or abused. She is my lapis lazuli, my psyche’s most precious jewel.

Over the following week or so, I continued to feel her open loveliness, but then it began to change; I felt small, sad, scared, and vulnerable. Defensive; angry even. There was still something at work I couldn’t quite put a finger on, couldn’t locate fully in my body. Something was blocked and wasn’t budging no matter how much solo loving attention I tried to give it.

In addition, Brendan and I had to deal with the reality she didn’t want to have sex. Like *really* didn’t want to. He would kiss my neck and my body shriveled; I could feel my yoni clamp down/close up like a scared little oyster hiding in the corner. This was not the response I was accustomed to feeling when my sexy-hot husband kissed my neck, and I didn’t like it; I felt embarrassed and wholly unlike myself. I could feel my programmed inclination to bypass intuition and “just do it” sneaking up from behind.

But I couldn’t, not anymore. Intuition and Little Chrissy weren’t going to let that happen and, as a now-sovereign female, I had sworn to keep them safe, to believe what they told me and act upon it. Ten days into feeling like my body was working directly against us, we decided to set another ecstatic container with the express intent to Counsel on Parts, a powerful Holistic Peer Counseling technique.

Inner parts are those we feel inside. Similarly to many meditation practices, we can bring our awareness inside ourselves, witnessing what parts are there and what they want. We can even relate to each individual part as its own person, an approach that teaches us how to understand our internal world and which system(s) work best for us.

When we give our parts loving attention, we search for the Balance of Attention in order to bring about release. Remember that this process is neither linear nor especially predictable; our patterns tend to feel more like mazes, all twists and turns. As we learn to feel the Balance of Attention more acutely, we are better able to follow the pattern’s path and support its eventual release.

We were operating under the belief that if we held loving space for her and listened to what she had to say, she could feel sufficiently heard to stop interrupting us with the intensity that only an urgent 4-year-old can muster. We had already introduced Little Chrissy to both our adult bodies during the mushroom trip as a way to help her feel safe with us, to know we weren’t going to be “like the others”—that we had no intent to harm or scare her. Which was a critical step in our journey because at this point we knew the next ecstatic container would be specifically about sex.

Little Chrissy, as an internal Part of me, needed to experience us (that is, she and I) jointly having loving sex with Brendan as a contradiction to her lived experience 39 years ago. She needed to trust us in the present.

30 minutes after ingesting the ecstasy, I could feel Little Chrissy right up front in my psyche, where she stayed for about 45 minutes until she receded slightly, allowing me to experience a more integrated state. That is, I could still feel her, but I wasn’t “acting like a child” or trying to channel her directly. Brendan and I spent about three hours lovingly affirming who we were to one another, to our families, to our communities, and to the world. We were essentially lining our container with safety, love, intention, and acknowledgement—all things critical for the deep work we were about to undertake.

We then slowly started to have sex. I had been feeling something like mild abdominal gas for the past hour, which I’d attributed to either the drug or the snacks I’d eaten earlier. It was irritating, but nothing new to me as a lifelong sufferer of intestinal upset and certainly not something I considered stopping or slowing down for. But as he entered me, it got worse; it was a tight little knot right up inside the very core of my belly. It was deep and not moving like I’d expect gas to.

So, he got off and laid next to me. I put both my hands on my belly and began speaking directly to the knot. I told her I knew she was scared and that I was here to love her, to give her some attention. Brendan reiterated “This attention is for you, little one.” I told her that we needed to keep going and that yes, it was going to hurt, but I promised I would stop if she told me to. I asked her if she could trust me and, after a little bit, she said Yes, okay.

This time I got on top of Brendan and as he entered me, almost immediately I felt the knot seize up with pain. It was at the end of my vagina, right where it had always been. Where it had been for so long I had never questioned its presence. As I rubbed back and forth across the tip of his cock, I began to cry and then get angry. Angry. Angrier. The more I rubbed against that spot the more I cried and the more scared I got. I was able to stay there for about 90 seconds before pulling off and rolling over onto the bed.

I was shaking uncontrollably, my teeth chattering together like I was lying in snow. My whole abdomen was hot and tense. Brendan put his arms around me and held me, eventually putting his finger in between my teeth to stop the chattering. And then it happened: I was hit with a massive intuitive download and in an instant I knew the truth. I hadn’t just been molested as a child; I’d been raped. Repeatedly. With either penis, fingers, or object. Raped hard enough to wound, to leave that hard little knot.

As I lay there, sobbing, accepting what I had known-but-not-known my whole life, the wound began revealing itself to me, lighting up and getting hot so I could trace its outline. Its edges are jagged and sharp, like shards of glass. It looks like what I imagine a shotgun wound to the gut would: it spreads across my entire abdomen, all the way up my left side and into my armpit, and—most importantly—straight into my solar plexus, the seat of my intuition. And in that moment I was rocked by the cell-level understanding that The Affliction was a result of my having been raped.

For 31 years—since I first suffered The Affliction at age 12—she’d been trying to get my attention and I couldn’t understand her, couldn’t hear what she was saying. Because my intuition was broken, scarred; turned into a hard knot. And so she got disowned, left behind; alone and in the dark. No wonder I couldn’t stop shaking once I found her.

It didn’t stop there. Over the next two hours, my intuition showed me things about my family that directly contradicted my lived experience of them and what they had told me. I saw things they would *never* talk about. Things that would likely get me disowned if I spoke of them publicly. And I knew they were true; in my bones I fucking KNEW. During those two hours I remembered conversations I’d had with my mother over the years that never made sense, random things I’d overheard aunts and uncles saying, memories left in dark corners for decades that finally had the context they required to make sense.

It was like that scene in V for Vendetta when Inspector Finch asks Dominic whether knowing the truth would be worth the consequences. Because I clearly saw a chain of events, things that would otherwise have been deemed coincidence or laughably impossible, things that suddenly aligned with both my body’s intelligence and lived memories. I could see it…all of it, going back to my great-grandparents. My mother always said I remembered things nobody else could, and now I knew why. Someone had to remember, to be The Witness. That someone is me.

I’ve since received additional downloads that I’ll definitely be blogging about because WHOA AWESOME. I’ve also counseled extensively on what happened with both peers and my therapist. As I integrate all the aspects of being four—including the angry, wounded maiden and the divine star child—my understanding of who I am grows and becomes more defined. I see many things about what I’m here to do and how I might go about that.

What I specifically want to make a point of is this: there are parts inside each of us that need loving attention. Parts that may have been silenced decades ago. We may believe they have nothing to teach us, no wisdom to impart. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not true because they do and they want to. If we can only be courageous enough to face them and hear their truth.

Healing My Father Wound

“If you ever meet someone brave and powerful enough to walk with you directly through your most uncomfortable wounds and shadow caves—someone with the stupefying courage to see through the chinks of your armor and then help you take it off—love them. Because they have done something for you which is impossible to do alone. They will show you the treasure you’ve been seeking all your life, and they can do this because they aren’t afraid of your fear.” -Jacob Nordby

Like many females raised under patriarchy, I received my first lesson in bodily sovereignty from my father, who told me with his actions that my body wasn’t for me; it was for him. I continued to learn that lesson in myriad other ways from family members, peers, and lovers; but never so powerfully as that first wounding. When he took advantage of my innocence and a grossly unbalanced power dynamic to seek relief from his own pain and suffering by making me partially responsible for and complicit in it.

I’ve worked my entire life to recover from that seminal experience, never really believing I would arrive at healing. There are so many ways this culture insidiously and blatantly tells women that their bodies are for public consumption, for male appreciation and appropriation that it’s almost impossible to see any kind of light through such a dark tunnel. And even when I would see flashes of light, when I would think I had made progress—something would inevitably happen to re-trigger my shame and embarrassment.

My anxiety over knowing I would have to do something I didn’t want to would threaten to engulf me, and I would once again be reminded that I was never going to be anything more than a commodity. A balm for another man’s bruised ego, threatened vulnerability, or misplaced anger. Because once the stage is set; once the scenery is primed by lack of consent, misogyny, broken trust, shame, and coercion there’s no such thing as free will. Once a society’s propaganda about gender roles, sexual expectations, and dominance are ingested you can’t really see any other choices. Not really.

And, I didn’t see any other choice. Oh sure, I was sexually “liberated” in that I was actively bisexual and a practicing polyamorist, was fluent in kink and BDSM, and would try just about anything that didn’t involve shit or fire. I was Good, Giving and Game. But almost every time, I felt like a prostitute, and not in the liberated, empowered way. I could feel something inside me twist in fear; my gut would feel sick, nauseous; my anxiety would spike and sometimes I would want more than anything to disappear or run away. Like a scared rabbit.

Or a violated child. Someone with zero agency or power.

I didn’t even know how wounded I was until Brendan and I began to actively use Holistic Peer Counseling (HPC) in our sexual relationship—I’ve written about how our using HPC techniques helped me begin reclaiming my sexual identity. Which was back in April of this year. We have since then remained committed to transparency, talking through, and embracing The Awkward during sex, and it has continued to deepen our connection to both one another and to our separate grounds. By which I mean we have learned to trust ourselves and one another to create an authentic connection in the moment, as opposed to believing we have to show up already turned on. We have found it increasingly easy to be grounded around and loving toward one another, even when the world and its inhabitants are sending us the chaotic and hateful.

I trust Brendan like I have trusted no other human on this planet. Ever. And there were still parts of me that couldn’t meet him. Didn’t trust him. Couldn’t surrender to the experience of our bodies communicating. Because those parts KNEW they would ultimately have to do something they didn’t want to: they would have to sacrifice their version of desire for his and then fulfill his desire by surrendering our body.

And then something happened. I had an experience so powerful and consciousness changing that I will literally never be the same again.

In addition to HPC, Brendan and I use ecstasy about once a quarter as a therapeutic relationship aid, which is actually what it was designed for in the first place. The ravers just knew a good thing when they found it. Each time we take it, the overall intensity of the effect and what we “get” out of the experience has increased; primarily, I believe, due to how we are changing and growing together, how we are healing ourselves. Because the ecstasy we get is tested regularly and pretty homogenous, so dosage variations significant enough to muddy the water are relatively unlikely.

This last time we took it was different from the start. We elected to ingest it orally as opposed to snorting it (which makes the onset much faster and harder to balance); we wanted to be embodied and to feel the effects occur more slowly so that we could find balance of attention with the sensations. We consciously set an environmental and emotional container for healing, connectedness, and loving compassion. What we didn’t realize until the next day was the level of alchemy we were conjuring into being.

Now, ecstasy is a great drug for having deep connected sex fueled by serotonin and oxytocin; it’s positively orgasmic in that your entire body feels alive and engorged, full of light and love. Ecstasy is not, however, a great drug for having a climax; in fact, unless you have access to a powerful vibrator and can get off from using one, chances are you’re just going to have to wait until the drug leaves your system sufficiently before you can finally experience that particular release. This means I can have a climax while high on ecstasy, but it takes a LOT of focused attention and the aid of a Hitachi Magic Wand. A fact that will come into play very shortly.

So, Brendan and I were having sex on ecstasy and it was amazing. I mean, like seriously connected, attuned, hot, wet, in almost-total surrender and animal-like abandon. We reached the point where it seemed like he was going to be able to climax, or at least wanted to try, and in that moment what I wanted more than anything was to feed his energy; to stoke it and follow it and add all the hot energy I was building to his fire; I wanted to follow him up and through his climax while still remaining totally aroused, totally present, in total devotion to his pleasure.

I remained in that space for a long time because, as noted, ecstasy makes it super hard for anyone to climax who doesn’t have a vibrator. So Brendan and I chased his climax for 15, 20, 30 (?) solid minutes—I don’t really know because time stands still when you’re high and on the knife-edge of pleasure like that. All I know is that I surrendered completely and I held back my climax for longer than I had ever imagined possible. It was excruciating and awesome and more agonizingly pleasurable than anything I’d ever felt. I was terrified by the power I could feel building inside me; afraid it might engulf me or maybe kill me. I wasn’t sure I could hold out.

And then, when it seemed impossible to wait any longer, he said he wasn’t going to be able to climax, and that I should. That he wanted me to push through and take that pleasure for myself. I will never be able to adequately describe what happened to me over the next minute or two, but it felt like my entire body became a clitoris; I had my first whole-body climax. For one solid minute, I inhabited every single cell of my body. And I sobbed. With my whole body and soul and core I sobbed; without censure or shame I wailed as waves of golden light passed through me.

Brendan knew Something Important was happening; he could feel the hugeness of the moment and so all the while I was thrashing and sobbing I could hear him intoning “Your Body, Your Body, Your Body, Your Body” while cradling my lower body in his arms rather like a wounded child. Which, in that moment, I absolutely was. Because in that moment I was finally able to grieve what I lost when my father touched my clitoris for selfish reasons. In that moment I felt again what it was like to be in my entire alive body all at once. I felt All of Me for the first time since early childhood; I was sovereign once again.

Brendan has been helping me uncover and identify my shadows for six years, even when it’s been excruciating for his own wounds, even when he was terrified he might die or I might abandon him. He has walked with, loved, guided, and re-parented me, and he didn’t flinch when it came time to meet my maker. He walked with me to that darkest of places and then stood by me while I opened that smallest of doors, that 4-year-old–size door where Little Chrissy hid all her pain, fear, and shame. Where she buried that ugliest of wounds so no one could ever see it and shame her for having been so gullible, so trusting.

He walked with me to that door and once it was open, he invited me to step inside, alone; to take for myself all the power and pleasure everyone else in my life had taken for themselves. He has been a fierce advocate for my wholeness and sovereignty because, by his own words, “I could never have given you what you built yourself.”

That was eight days ago. And every day since then, I’ve noticed two awesome and previously nearly-inconceivable things: I feel grounded without consciously thinking about grounding, and the voices in my head have mostly gone away. Except for one: the voice of Intuition. There are actually times when Intuition is the only voice I can hear. Sometimes for a few hours at a time. I don’t know about you, but for me this is literally the best thing that’s ever happened.

For the first time in my memorable life I trust what Intuition says because I can feel Her in alignment with my body and chakras. When I had that minute-long whole-body climax, all my chakras opened simultaneously and I believe I channeled pure healing energy directly from the earth and cosmos. I can’t explain it or rationalize it, and I don’t feel the need to one little bit. I touched the divine in myself as it is mirrored in the universe, and because of that I am now a manifestation of Sovereign Feminine.

I have integrated most of the pain and resistance I’ve always felt around surrendering to those I love, which means I can now be authentically intimate and loving with them—because I know with certainty where I begin and end. I can feel my boundaries vividly, can hear my Intuition clearly—and that means I’m no longer afraid of being coerced into doing something I don’t want to do. It means I trust Brendan to comfort me. It means I can ask for what I need. It means I can take care of myself. It means I can give myself wholly and creatively to playing with Avery in the moment. It means I know what I want, and when I actually identify those wants, I’m pretty certain there’s no part of me needing to please you in them.

It also means I can fully embody my calling and devotion to the healing that continues to arise through intimately parenting my son, re-parenting Brendan, and the continued parenting of Little Chrissy. The experience of having healed my mother wound, and now healing my father wound means I can be strong, vulnerable, and fierce for all of them without reservation, without fear or anxiety.

I didn’t consciously know it at the time, but starting this blog helped me reclaim my Voice. Trusting myself and Brendan to have the deepest, most intimate and awake, loving sex that we could at any given moment helped me reclaim my Intuition. This is the treasure I’ve been searching for my whole life and right now I feel rich beyond measure.

“When we mother the child within ourselves, we are cultivating an inner environment of safety and unconditional love that we did not experience in our childhoods. This heals the frozen energy of early trauma and brings our inner child into the present moment where her purity, innocence, vitality and creativity can be brought into our daily lives. […]

To step into our mastery, we must be increasingly sovereign over ourselves and our own energy. This means fiercely protecting your inner child and thus, allowing your inner life to be your priority. Your sovereignty is what allows you to fully flower and emerge into your full potential.” —Mothering Yourself Into Mastery: The Sovereign Feminine and Your Inner Wealth


Anatomy of an Interlocking Pattern: My Side

Patterns develop around our responses to significant (usually traumatic) life occurrences and manifest as a recording that, when played, seems to temporarily take control of us. It’s important to remember that the pattern is not the person; it’s actually an external, rigid, repeating, non-survival value recording that opposes the flexible, creative, loving behavior of the rational, thinking human. Patterns can affect every aspect of our existence—mental, physical, spiritual, behavioral—and when re-stimulated or triggered, prevent any forward movement or progress. Patterns are all about the past. — taken from Nekole Shapiro’s Holistic Peer Counseling (HPC) curriculum 

The last week has been an exceptionally difficult one for my husband and I because we’ve been uncovering more information about our core pattern complexes. In truth, whenever this happens—and no, this isn’t the first time—it totally fucking sucks; it’s painful and embarrassing; I get sunk intermittently in my shame; I want to disappear, maybe even die in that childish way that yearns for release from the responsibility of living.

Both Brendan and I were born into dysfunctional families suffering at the intersection of rape, oppression, isolation, abuse, depression, and neglect; his significantly more so than mine. The scars we bear as children of these families makes it obscenely hard for us to prioritize care for ourselves, have healthy boundaries, trust others, trust our bodies, be parents, and maintain consistent, nourishing social interactions.

When we met, we had both done personal work including Landmark Education, anger management group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and embodiment work. By the time we decided to make a baby together 18 months later, we were committed to healing and re-parenting one another, an embodied birth, and raising our son in a way that was diametrically opposed to how we had been raised. We actually had no clue what we were in for when we made those commitments.

Patterns affect our inter-personal relationships all the time; in fact, it’s not uncommon to gravitate toward a relationship specifically because the other person’s patterns interlock with ours. — HPC curriculum

My mother was not adequately resourced when she gave birth to me. (I laugh even writing that because goddamn what an understatement.) My father kept her terrorized, abused, and isolated, which was pitifully easy given that she’d been brought up under the influence of a patriarchal church that taught her the man was in charge, taught her to honor and obey, taught her to be meek and never prideful. She thought all men were relatively honorable, upstanding men of the community like her conservative, wheat-farming father and her brothers.

As a result of her near-complete lack of support, she leaned on me more than was healthy for either one of us, especially after my baby sister was born when I was 2-1/2. I was her Big Girl; the reliable one, the helpful one, the one who learned to always make time and space for Mommy’s distress and pain. There was a lot of pain. Both she and I had to live with the consequences of her shameful marriage, his sexual abuse of me, his all-encompassing abuse of her, and his eventual abandonment of us when I was 5 for less-complicated pastures. We became emotionally enmeshed and fiercely co-dependent.

There was scant room for Little Chrissy’s pain, thoughts, dreams, or concerns. Because Mommy’s distress filled the room, sucked up all the air, and entertained no competitors—not even her daughters. I had no choice: I had to support her, had to supplant myself and keep her healthy because otherwise I would die or she would abandon me. She was my survival line and I loved her. After all, look how much she suffered just to keep her head up and food on the table; how hard it was for her to live with the daily shame of Going Back Home in disgrace after a violently failed marriage. Someone had to stand up for her.

As the years went by and my mother honed her Victim/Martyr patterns, I unconsciously began to hate and resent both her and her ever-present demands regarding who I should be and to whom I should give my attention. In fact, in addition to my growing perfectionism-bordering-on-OCPD, I developed an acute case of what I now know to be demand resistance. From Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control:

Somehow, “I want” turns into “I should.” In fact, the phrase “I want” is a rarity in their (the obsessive’s) thinking and their vocabulary. Instead of “I want to,” they usually experience and say “I ought to”, “I must,” or “I should.” Volition is replaced by obligation. […] This is a childhood safety-seeking maneuver that becomes ingrained in the obsessive’s character, a maneuver that comes to serve many motives:
  – People who need to be above reproach are often most comfortable when they feel their decisions/actions are being dictated by outside forces.
  – It’s harder to criticize someone who’s “only following orders,” as opposed to one doing something he initiated himself.

In the obsessive’s worldview, where conscientiousness is king, it’s better to be fulfilling one’s duty than satisfying one’s own needs. But the cost of unconsciously disowning one’s desires are high. […] When most of your activities feel like obligations, you can reach a point where nothing gives you pleasure, and life feels meaningless. You don’t feel like an active participant, but instead experience yourself as a passive recipient, grinding away at the obligations that are laid upon you. You may feel powerless; you may lack a clear, stable sense of self.

Without a clear identity, a solid sense of self, or a clear sense of what you want, you feel insubstantial, passive, and more vulnerable to external influences, especially the wishes of others. Because you feel (at an unconscious level) as if your sense of self can at any moment be overrun by more powerful outside forces, you are compelled to guard against people who seem strong or intrusive, or who get too close. […]

The obsessive learns that withholding gives them power, keeps them in control. “When I know somebody wants something from me, I don’t do it. It’s so automatic, it ends up being more important for me to hold back than to decide what I want. I balk at expectations simply because I perceive them as demands.

Demand resistance is closely connected with interpersonal control. First, it’s a way of safeguarding one’s fragile sense of self by refusing to be overpowered or controlled by others. Second, it is a way of reassuring oneself that one can have a subtle impact on—and control over—others by frustrating them.

This is exactly what I do to Brendan; it’s what I’ve done to him for the entirety of our six years together. Because (as the person I currently love and am beholden to the most) he represents Mother in my personal constellation. The problem is, Little Chrissy and her gang of feral compatriots don’t yet understand that we can make choices about who we help; that we now have tools and insight and loving compassion. That we now have an identity and a semi-solid sense of Self.

My side of the interlocking pattern is “IF I help you, I’m not going to do it unless you’re half-dead with need and bleeding out on the floor; because that’s the only way I’ll know you aren’t a threat.” Brendan’s side of the interlocking pattern (as I currently understand it) is “No one ever helps me because I don’t matter and am worth nothing except for what I give. So I will give until I’m dead.” See how nicely those fit together?

Brendan has pointed out facets of my pattern over the years, but because it’s SO core to who I am and permeates literally everything I touch, it’s been impossible for me to see in totality. More importantly, it’s a slippery fucker, needs to defend itself vigorously against attack, and the character of Brendan’s pattern allowed it to continue doing so.

The experience of falling into a pattern is generally unpleasant due to internal conflict and imbalance: while the pattern itself may be defensive, our psyches prefer to be rational and integrated. As a result, we may defend our patterned behaviors fiercely, which usually occurs because our psyches see no alternative and are deathly afraid to change

It’s important to remember that it is the hardest to see someone else’s pattern clearly when that pattern is triggering our own. — HPC curriculum

My pattern of demand resistance has been particularly hurtful and destructive toward Brendan because he is the primary parent to our 4-year-old son. And as any parent whose paying attention knows, the primary parent requires a LOT of support and help; in fact, I theoretically believe the majority of any family’s resources should be going to make that parent’s life easier because there is NOTHING in this world so hard as giving loving attention to a small child for 10–12 hours a day. Nothing.

But all the theory in the world hadn’t succeeded in making traction on loosening my patterned resistance to helping him any more than was required or convenient for me. I bring home a regular paycheck, help out with household chores, do the evening/bedtime routine, and take point with Avery on the weekends. Beyond that I get obstinate. Withholding. Resistant. In fact, I’ve been listening to him report an ever-increasing need for time and resources during the day for well over a year. Heard him say that he’s struggling specifically with X, Y, or Z.

I have offered my loving attention and given him heartfelt words of understanding. I have not offered concrete acts of support beyond what I already perform. I have watched his health and physical well-being deteriorate; watched his sleep suffer; watched his frustration rise. And I have waited. Resisted. Turned away.

I say these things not to beat myself up publicly, but to call attention to something I perceive is a fairly common pattern among women raised under patriarchy. And while our situation with Brendan playing the “mom at home” role and myself playing the “dad at the office” role isn’t conventional, it doesn’t really matter. Because we didn’t need to be parents for this pattern to show up in our lives. I certainly didn’t; it was present in my first, childless marriage too. Of course, the being parents part certainly intensifies the need and tightens the spiraling of our interlocked patterns, but they would have been here regardless.

It’s times like this past weekend—when we are furthest apart, when “I hate you” has been uttered—that I’m most grateful for our HPC community and the tools we’ve developed through doing this work. Because it means we can trust in the Balance of Attention and continue to love one another even as we hate the patterns; even if that love is only a single thread stretched thin between us, threatening to snap.