Every August, on or around the 7th or 8th of the month, I get hit with a sense of foreboding – a life-draining energy of “something is terribly wrong”. My birthday is later this month, and every year, the feeling comes and lifts after my birthday is past.
I’ve always put it down to what happened on my 15th birthday: that has been the logical explanation that fit in my head of why my birthday (and the days leading up to it) could possibly be so bad.
Losing the life you dream of
At 14, I found myself caught up in a web of events way beyond my control or understanding. Events that would forever shape my life, as well as the lives of all those that I loved. My sister, who had been injured in a game of softball and hospitalised for three months, had then been raped by one of her doctors. This was never confronted or dealt with, as there was political power involved.
My sister was later date-raped, which once again went unreported and unaddressed, because “it might have been considered consensual”. You can read more about that on one of my previous blog posts.
So, at 1.00 a.m. on my 15th birthday, we were at the airport, waiting for our flights leaving Panama, returning “home” to New Zealand.
Except, for me, New Zealand had never been home. We had visited family there and friends of my parents, but it wasn’t a place that I called “home”. One of the many challenges of growing up as a third culture kid!
At 15, I said goodbye to the friends and life that I knew – and all the hopes and dreams I had built around stories and expectations of what life was going to look like – and moved to a foreign land to start over in pain and humiliation.
And yet, that’s not really the problem?
Today’s AHA moment came through a friend simply asking “are you okay?”. I failed to show up on a group call Friday night, choosing instead to watch a movie with my daughter and have an early night. But consciously avoiding interaction, because I was already starting a down-hill slide into the abyss!
My healing stories
By yesterday, I could physically feel – through my body – the despair and depression. My body in survival mode again.
For about three weeks, as I’ve been on Digesticure and exploring healing, I’ve been playing with not taking the usual supplements that I take:
- Boswellia (frankincense)
- Turmeric ( a natural form of Estrogen & anti-inflammatory)
So, yesterday, I bolstered by body with supplements once again, thinking that perhaps I’m just not ready for my body to make it’s own building blocks.
The Molecules of Emotion and releasing storage
I also was conscious of how my body is changing as I’ve been more conscious about eating when hungry (and not eating for other reasons) and how the fitness challenges are sculpting my body!
It’s all good!
Except, did you realise that neuropeptides (things like oxytocin) – known as the molecules of emotion – are “lipid-soluble”. That means that they can be stored in fat. Literally – you can eat your feelings and store them away in your fat until you’re ready to deal with them.
Of course, as you lose weight (or release the storage, as I prefer to call it), you might find yourself coming face-to-face with emotions that you put away to handle “when I’m ready”.
And I’ve been flooded with emotions as of late that don’t seem to have much rhyme or reasons. For the most part, I’ve been allowing them simply to be, rather than spending a lot of time analysing them. They don’t have to make sense!
In my rational mind, as I’ve made meaning of emotions that don’t seem to have any relation to what I am currently experiencing in life, I’ve just put them down to “what is being released”.
Except, this was a rapid descent into the abyss. I have no desire to go there!
So many dots…
In recent weeks, I’ve been reading and working my way through the journal questions of “The Heroine’s Journey” with a group of amazing women in my life! There are all kinds of questions about the unaddressed and ignored issues of what does it mean to be a woman and in what ways do I personally celebrate my femininity.
Part of that challenge is the creation and celebration of rituals – like we used to have as women “Once upon a time”.
At the same time, I’ve been continuing my deep dive into Caroline Myss and her books, which take me into Archetypes (believe, don’t go there is you don’t want to look within the shadows of your soul), Chakras and healing. It’s taking me way longer to process it all than I ever imagined, since I’m not just “reading the books”.
Oh, the good old days of just reading a book and filling my head with ideas and moving on to the next bright and shiny object… when did I decide that I wanted to be transformed by the books I read and do all the inner work as I worked my way through the head knowledge? 1 start. I don’t recommend highly.
It’s so much easier to just breeze your way through on the surface without doing the inner work!
And yet, that hasn’t been the path I’ve chosen over the last 24 months.
Connecting the dots: the OMFG moment
And yet today, when Colleen asked again “are you okay?” I really just wanted to say “yes, fine, sorry I missed Friday” and just brush it off. A couple of years ago, that’s exactly what I would have done!
Given that I’m in a coaching group with her, and I’ve done a terrible job in the past of totally messing up friendships by just crawling into my hole and ignoring the world, I decided to answer a little more vulnerably.
But that little bit of free writing gave me so much more (another reason why I firmly believe in keeping a journal):
I really only intended to tell her that I was going to spend some time rewriting my stories of how I interpret the first days of August, how it’s not really impending doom and gloom! But at least reach out to say that I am processing my experience and finding a new way within.
But what happened was something unexpected! And that’s the beauty of writing for me!
Connecting the dots just takes place effortlessly!
I’m very well aware that I got my period about 10 days or so before my 10th birthday. Like any other 9-year-old that this happened to… Especially since the first years of getting my period were traumatic. And as I write this, I’m only starting to recognise the visceral response I get thinking about it.
Those first years I dreaded my period. It wasn’t the blood – that was easy. It was the gut-wrenching pain of the cramps – from my thighs all the way up to my diaphragm. Most often to the point of vomiting and occasionally causing diarrhea, writhing on the floor in pain, just wishing it would stop.
Mum was a nurse, so she knew about pain killers and hot toddies and how to deal with menstrual cramps. I cannot tell you the number of times my dad would nervously ask if I needed to be taken to a hospital “because this isn’t normal”.
Except it was my normal.
Eventually, my body could take no more, and I would pass out on the floor wherever I had succumbed, giving in to the pain and the resulting fever and sweats.
I’m so grateful that all of that is in the past.
The physical pain is all behind.
But today I realised that my body remembers on a much deeper level… I’ve been carrying this dread with me for the past 38 years… and I’d really love to put an end to it.
The same way that I managed to overcome the physical pain (one of the many motivations to exercise), I think it’s probably time to rewrite those neurons in my body and brain to acknowledge that August… especially the days leading up to my birthday… should not be filled with dread.
So excuse me this week while I go within to discover new ways of being.
I’d like to celebrate my 50th next year without an impending sense of doom upon me.