Actually, a couple secrets locked away in my heart, & my mind, body & soul were caged along with it.
I am a survivor of multiple rapes
I could relive the horrifying details here but that is not beneficial for anyone. I choose not to simply because I can say “NO”. I’ve been working through it most of this time. I’ve not been in denial. Oh no. I was diagnosed with PTSD. Initially I would lash out & attack like a wounded animal in my sleep. I self-medicated. At the young age of 22, five years later, I was finally being treated for “extreme stress”. By the age of 30, I was “depressed”. I had a great career, yet if/when I received sexual harassment, or had a cheating boyfriend, I blamed myself. I have come to realize when one is creating a support system from the ground up – it better not be made of straw.
I had an abortion
My home life was not ideal, & I’ll be honest, college/university was my ticket out. I wanted to be a Mother of a nuclear family, not a single Mom. Getting pregnant as the result of a gang rape in 1986 and not being able to ask my family for help made it that much more difficult, so I made the only decision I thought I had at the time. I had an abortion the summer before I started college. I had just turned 18.
In 2009, I had a series of devastating losses that occurred so rapidly, one after another, that part of me went numb, and the other part kept going. One of the losses I experienced was a partial hysterectomy right before my divorce was final. A year later as I was grieving the loss of my “dream family”, I realized what significance this had held for me for so long. I was trying to atone for the choice I made as a teenager, even though I believed in Pro-Choice. I realized that I had to let go of that dream child in addition to my ex-husband, in order to move forward at that time in my life. So, I did. And as I was doing so, I discovered it was really about Loving & Forgiving Myself.
Loving & forgiving
Yes, I have forgiven the rapists. Deep down inside I believe in humanity, & at that place I trust there is something good inside them. I have forgiven them, but not their bad behavior or inappropriate choices. They behaved badly & trust me, I do not condone rape. I also take responsibility for my actions that placed me in certain locations. I’ve forgiven my ex-husband & myself. I’ve admitted the decisions I’ve made that did not allow for Motherhood. I am a co-creator in this universe, so I cannot control what someone else chooses to do to me but I can control how I respond. The past is the past, & I am responsible for my emotional state at this current time. In order to truly be present with myself here today, I had to learn how to let go the pain & hold onto the lesson, the silver-lining, so to say.
What could possibly be good in all of this? Well, as a child & youth, I was very smart & creative. I was an honor student, painted, wrote poetry, played music, danced. When the trouble started, I shut down the artistic side. All of the self-expression stopped. I went completely “analytical” & focused on my creative STEM skillset. But what happened by 2010 was sheer beauty. I cracked open. Apparently I had been in a ‘bargaining’ phase for over 20 years, waiting for a specific thing to set me free from my shame – Motherhood. When this did not happen, my heart, mind and body had to have a “conflict resolution” and this is how I began to nourish my soul. The art & writing began to flow again! I unlocked the cage & was set free from myself!
The key to happiness
This is why I refer to this practice of coaching that I do as a calling, helping others move past their traumatic loss, onwards to a place of passion & purpose. I certainly do not compare my losses to yours. I believe everyone has a right to their unique emotions & insights, & should be treated with respect. Personal growth is a dynamic process, allowing one to flow freely like a river. When we are blocked, we become stagnate & become toxic. Fresh perspectives, new tools & ideas, & interactions with others will give you an opportunity to move past the place where you have been, allowing you to heal with compassion. I look forward to sharing this key to personal happiness with you if you choose to do the same.
In love & light,
Elizabeth Garland, M.S., CPLC, MNLP, GRS
Founder & Personal Development Coach of Soul Nourishing, LLC
Copyright Soul Nourishing 2011-2013