Relationships

A Practice in Self Love

When coming out of a dark and difficult period, we can vacillate between feeling lost and feeling grateful. This can be so confusing and exhausting; sometimes jumping from these emotional lily pads on a minute to minute basis. We get stuck in our heads, analyzing ourselves, others, events, emotions; everything is fodder for judgement. Experiencing darkness is an essential part of experiencing life; we all have these moments of grief, heartache, getting knocked on our asses and making the decision to either stay down or get up. I have had days where I stay in a place of anger and then judge myself for that anger. I think “I should be grateful for this pain--thank you God!” and then I think, “WTF, I don’t have the perspective to be grateful yet”. And around and around. Ultimately, I am able to come to gratitude because I trust that all of this is meant for me and my greater divine timeline is being unfolded.

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The last month for me has been this rollercoaster of trying to get grounded and get back to taking care of my own heart. This idea of practicing self love is so undefined and almost scary at first. As healers, a lot of the time we think we are supposed to know all the answers, all the ways to get “back to happiness” or live this perfect, Instagram life. The reality is that we too have pain, we too have moments of doubt and insecurity, moments of being humbled in life’s raging current. And because we are healers, we often jump to action before we are ready; “I must take care of this. I will do all the things!” There is nothing wrong with doing all things, and there is also great need for quiet, patience and love towards yourself and your process. I sometimes look at the process and I want to be “done”, as if it is my enemy. It is that quick moment that I have been reminded or remember that pain is not my enemy but my teacher. I recall that when you love your problems, and can really sit in that love, the solution will appear. Breakdown/Breakthrough.

“One of the biggest lessons we learned from our trip is that when you stir up energy with deep healing work, it’s vital that you give yourself enough time to process it.” -Crystal Muse

I recently stumbled across an app called Insight Timer (an amazing meditation app that is totally free--whaaaa?!); I have been listening to a guided meditation from a woman named Sarah Blondin entitled “Loving and Listening to Yourself”. In this meditation she asks you to place a hand on your heart and a hand on your stomach, gently holding yourself as you repeat the words out loud “I love you”. It is uncomfortable and awkward; and the first time I did this I was sitting in my car outside of Caribou, sobbing, as I repeated these words to myself. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear them. I didn’t realize how void I had been of giving myself what I had been seeking in others. Each time I have practiced this since then, I still feel that energy bubble up through my entire chakra system, as if it is a current that hasn’t been turned on in years. There is crackling, uncertainty, emotions that are tucked away that get pushed to the surface. And then comes the warmth. If floods me-through my heart and out my eyeballs. The tears are not of sadness of but of pure love, of relief. Oh, there you are:).

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I encourage you to try this; it is unlike anything I have ever experienced. To physically and emotionally give yourself love. Recognize the shame and discomfort that may arise, and hold space for that; you are clearing out the darkness. That is the only way to light. Allow compassion to replace that shame, “I am allowed to love myself. I am allowed to hold myself and speak to myself the way that I desire to be held and spoken to”.

My other practice of self love in the last month has been physical outlets; seeking to expel energy that creates anxiety, a build up of anger and helplessness. I find more inspiration when I am moving, when I give myself permission to stop thinking about my “process” for an hour and just sweat and breathe. I gain clarity, focus and regain grains of trust in myself (I got the inspiration for this blog post this morning while I was on my spin bike at 6am). Instead of waking up and staring at the ceiling, wondering about things that aren’t helpful, I put my feet on the floor and meet friends and strangers at new classes and old classes. I am reminded that people are kind and welcoming. I am reminded that I am strong and beautiful. I am reminded that I am powerful and can overcome physical challenges and that just by showing up I am making progress. I am reminded that I am allowed to get out of my head and into my entire body. I am blessed that I am able, capable, strong and resourced to have gyms to escape to and rediscover myself in. Movement in my physical body has always equated to movement in my ethereal and spiritual bodies as well; in moments of sadness and loss there is stability and trust in what waits for me on my mat, on the stairs, on a bike, hugging a friend at a class.

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I tell my clients that physical movement is often the precipice of change in so many other areas of your life; when you feel physically strong, your mental strength, clarity and motivation soon follows. There is another component to this which is that we store energy and emotion in our bodies and through releasing it by sweating, stretching and grinding we force these emotions to the surface. The times that I have cried at yoga and spin, where the tears are mixed with the sweat on my face, have been times of intense release and vulnerability. These are moments when I give myself permission to just be present in whatever is coming up; I don’t pretend. I just am Nikki--a kind, beautiful, loving, emotional woman who is in it.

I have practiced this branch of self love for over 6 years, and yet with each new life lesson, it takes on a new iteration. I was originally upset that I felt as if I had to leave my home gym [to escape ‘that man”] that I have spent the last 6 years building my body and community at; but the amazing, beautiful gift in it has been being able to lift my eyes up, away from the track that I’ve always known and take steps towards new experiences and people. The choice to try new things has been the most incredible reminder that I am brave. It might not seem super brave to jump on a reformer at solidcore or walk into a new class at TigerFit, but for me it is! It is humbling and allows me to remember on a regular basis that “I can do hard things”. When I did my first headstand in Bali in December, it shifted my perspective on what was possible for me in my practice; it matters the accomplishments we find, no matter where they appear. Bravery gets to be mini and mighty, sometimes in the same moment.

Before December 27th, I thought I was taking care of myself, I thought I did love myself fully. I thought I was doing “all the things”. I had the most blessed, humbling opportunity to realize that I wasn’t. I got to/get to recalibrate and reconnect with what that ubiquitous term, love, actually means for me and how I want to practice it and commit myself to it now. I desire to weave together the quiet moments of integration and rest and the loud, rhythmic beat of change. That is my intention; as a healer I share with you that I walk this path not in front of, but alongside of you. My pain and my love is my work; there is no separation.

“Sometimes we ‘act’ like we love ourselves so that we don’t have to change. Except our spirit very much wants us to change what’s not working for our lives. But we’re afraid to do what it takes to change. Fake self love can turn into a cop out for really growing” -Danielle LaPorte

Be Well Always,

Love, Nik

 

I Am A Force

Today I had the first glimmer of my old self. I woke up this morning and although I was still hit initially with the pain, it subsided more quickly. I actually slept last night. I actually ate yesterday. I’ve been hearing messages from my helpers and guides about this relationship and what it means for me. That it is a launchpad. A divine gift. It was a traumatic force that made me wake up. I have choice again. Detoxing from him will take some time, and I can already feel the love in my heart return. I have more compassion for what I traversed. I’m remembering who I am without him.

My higher self, my divine awareness is flickering back on. I went out to dinner with a girlfriend and laughed last night. I teared up knowing my best friend is having her baby today. I am making plans to travel, move, create. These are bits of me that I put on a shelf to create as much space as possible for him. It is beginning to stop being about him, finally, and starting to be about me.

I don’t pretend that I’m okay yet, because I’m not. I am forever changed. I wept for most of yesterday, on and off. It feels like a Great Purge. Sobs leaving my body. His energy that still feels like it is in me, on me, lives in my space, escaping with each tear or breath released. He infiltrated my life, my head, my heart. You don’t just move on, you have feel it. I have to feel it. I have to experience this in order to walk away completely. I can’t numb it nor do I want to. I want to feel my truth. Also, smudging helps :)

I have been reading a lot about people who treat others like this and how it affects their “victims”. I dislike that word greatly. It implies powerlessness and meekness. I am neither. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am a force. Never down for long. A nurturer and a protector. A seeker. Resilient AF. I called in this experience with this man for a reason. I needed him to illustrate something for me. I allowed myself to accept pain from another person and called it love. Make no mistake, though-I accepted it. I welcomed it. He mirrored for me the emptiness in myself that I get to heal.

The idea of betrayal is one of the most archetypal stories on our planet; a person you trusted and loved abuses those sacred feelings and forces you into one of the darkest moments of your life (basically every Disney movie ever). The darkness demands that you examine yourself and what you are capable of. You either crumble or rise; you redefine faith and self. You shed the old beliefs of limits and step into the version of you that you were always destined for. This is Universal. This is mine and I am grateful for it.

For myself, for my clients, for anyone who reads this--the power in this story is not about how he ruined me. Because he didn’t. It is about the Rise. It is about the fucking Holy Rise from true darkness. That is my truth today and I’m sending you all true love on your own journey on your own Rise.

 

Current resources that I am leaning on and highly recommend:

Leaving A Narcissist: Day 7

I have woken up every morning since finding out, wincing. As if someone has poked my brain with a stick or found the spot in my brain that contains every memory of us and touches it as soon as I regain consciousness. We were together since July of 2016.  Even though he was still technically with his girlfriend, he was REALLY with me. At least, that was what I believed.

Everyone in my life knows, because the only way out of living a complete lie for 17 months is to be grossly honest. I know not everyone likes it; I know not everyone gets why I’ve decided to share this with the world, but when you’ve lived under the regime of the Prince of Lies for so long, it seems as if they only way to take back any power is to reveal the truth. And to have witnesses bear that and validate it for you, as I need people to help me reconnect with True North.

I am a therapist and a coach, I help people see their truth for a living. How could I be so skilled in assisting others and be so lost in my own life and relationship? Great question. How could I stay with a man so long that kept me hidden, gave me so little, told me nothing but lies, and gaslighted my reality? When you are “chosen” by a narcissist, you feel as if you have won the GD lottery. You are groomed, carefully, slowly, calculating. Our rules were laid out early and clearly and because I loved him so deeply, I agreed.

I tried to end the relationship with him. I asked him to let me go. I asked him if there was someone else he loved. I asked him to not make promises he wasn’t going to honor. I told him that I wasn’t going to do this sick dance anymore. I wondered why someone who looked so together on the outside, was so lost on the inside. I didn’t understand his truths. I knew he was lying to me about things and I didn’t push him on it because when I did he would pull away from me, sometimes for a whole day. It was my punishment for questioning the rules we both agreed to. When I would challenge him things, he would blame his mother, the death of his father, me for being too needy and never satisfied. He cited this as a reason that he didn’t love me the same way was because he felt as if he could never please me.

He would railroad the other women in his life and then tell me I was special. He would talk behind everyone’s back that we both knew and cared about and then would be charming and sweet to their face. I wondered what he said about me when I wasn’t there; and in actuality, I was more afraid that he wasn’t talking about me rather than saying anything negative. I worried I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough or popular enough for him. I worked on all those things consistently to prove to him that I was his perfect match.

He broke up with me in May, but never left my side. The longest we ever went without talking was 5 days, and that was in October of 2017, because I was finally finding my backbone again. He became frantic at that point and begged to come over and talk to me. I thought he was coming back to ask me to marry him. That is laughable looking back.

He never gave me a reason for breaking things off in May, only that he felt he had to work on himself around the grief of his father and his relationship with his mother. Like a good little girl, I instantly jumped to support him and show him that he still needed me. I begged him not to go and to let me love him while he did this work. I knew it was off, but I was addicted to him. He kept me close enough to make me still feel as if I “got a piece of him” but so far away that I could never find out who he really was and what he was really doing.

He was my only sexual partner during the entire time I knew him and I was obsessed. He told me that I was the best lover he ever had, that I taught him how to be “good”. Before and after every time we had sex, he would make sure to remind me that it “meant something”. I soon got irritated with this, because when you’re in a relationship with someone you love, you don’t have to tell them that having an intimate relationship “means something”. The reason the sexual component is so intense with a narcissist is because it is truly the only way to feel as if you are receiving any intimate contact with them. They hold you at bay, compartmentalize you and distort your reality in every other facet of life, that sex just becomes the quickest and easiest way to feel loved by them.

My friends and family watched from the sidelines, trying to pull me off him. They told me that he was too broken or something was off. They told me he was image obsessed and demented for starting a relationship with me while he was still living with someone else (this also makes me demented, I realize). But his promises of marriage, family and a life together kept me there. I wanted those things with him. I wanted to be his partner. I wanted to feel chosen by Jason. And he would tell me things like:

“you’re my muse for life”

“You are the reason I get up in the morning”

“you will always be mine”

“I have never been as attracted to someone as I am to you”

“Our babies will be so cute”

“I miss waking up next to my Nik”

“I’m putting all my effort into fixing myself so we can be together and live our life the way we want”

“I will always take care of you”

“You are my safe spot”

“No one knows as much about me as you do. You know me better than anyone”

“Pick a week and we can go to Mexico”

“I would rather go to Spain with you”

“I’m selling my house and then we can find a place and rent together before we buy our next house”

“I can only relax when I am laying next to you”

“It has never crossed my mind that we won’t eventually be together”.

A snapshot of why I stayed

A snapshot of why I stayed

 

And this is the tip of the iceberg. He made me feel as if I was the ONLY one that mattered, but these moments were stretched out, weeks between these professions of love. Crumbs that sustained me for over a year. I was addicted to the surge of love I would feel and I would chase that high. I tried to date other guys, but no one could compare to Jason. He was perfect in my eyes. When I told him that I had started to date again in September of 2017, he freaked out. He told me he was physically ill and couldn’t stand the thought of me being with other guys (even just for dinner). I thought this meant he was coming back to me, for real this time. It worked, I thought! The oldest trick in the book, dating someone else to get the attention of the guy you really love and want. No, it did not work. Because he came back just enough to reclaim my attention and I dropped all those other men. He said he was giving me his full attention and commitment and I instantly felt guilty for seeing other people (even though he had broken up with me, again). I told every one of them that I was back with my ex-boyfriend. We were actually dating again. He actually took me out to dinner at Martina, he actually slept over (mind you, this happened once). But soon, we were back to the same cadence. He wouldn’t call me his girlfriend, he was more and more elusive with his time, he wouldn’t give me straight answers, he was less affectionate on the phone, the time gaps between our conversations grew more and more. It felt like I was crumbing for less and less, and I was so exhausted. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted from this relationship with him. I was so fatigued and so twisted up inside I decided to take a trip to get away from him.

So I went to Bali. Before I left, he again, came over and told me we needed to end it. This scene is so familiar in our relationship that it didn’t even phase me. I think I may have actually rolled my eyes. And I was done. I told him, “Fine, let’s take these two weeks I’m gone and give each other some space.” And he agreed, but did not follow through (and neither did I-I’m a fucking Jason addict). Me being gone was like a renewed sense of desire; he FaceTimed me EVERY day, twice a day when I was Bali. He would text me non-stop. He was all of a sudden enamored and in love with me again. He talked about our future; our upcoming trips, our plans for when I got home, how much he missed me and loved me and couldn’t wait to see me. I was so happy. I was so encouraged. Again--oldest trick in the book, start focusing on yourself and your dude will open his eyes and finally see the light. No, he did not see the light because there was never a light to see between us.

The entire time that I was in Bali he was with her. His actual girlfriend. The girl that he brought around his friends. The girl that he brought to the State Fair, 4th of July, Christmas parties. The girl who would come to his house and cook for him. The girl he brought to his family home in Florida. The girl who was living the life with him that he promised me. He’s actually been with this woman for quite some time. The earliest marker that I’ve been told is October of 2016, when he text a mutual friend and asked about her. He took her out for dinner in May to celebrate her divorce. They’ve been on vacations together. He’s met her children. The list is sickening. This is why I wince when I wake up. The wince is about starting to marry what I believed to be true and what the actual reality of his life is, and how big I compromised my life for him. The contrast is so great that it is painful for my brain to process and accept. I am on Day 7 of finding out who Jason really is; it is not easy to realize that man you loved was an illusion. It is not easy to experience the emotions that come from ending a relationship with a true, living breathing sociopathic narcissist.

I realized and continue to realize through this unfolding process that I have undeniable codependent traits. That I devalue myself in my relationships with men. That I have soul searching to do while I pick up these pieces and go forward. I am so inspired and encouraged by making connections with other women that he has done this to. Simultaneous to me, before me, and whoever may come after me. I am here. I understand how you feel. We are stronger together and he is true criminal against women. He sins against our minds, bodies and hearts. He is a thief in the night. Although I have only known about his true character since Wednesday of last week, I already know of 4 other women besides myself that he has treated this way in the less than two years I knew him (and I’m sure that is just the beginning).

I write because I feel stronger when I write. I share my story because I’ve kept it inside for so long. I’ve protected him, sinned against myself, excused his behavior, compromised every part of me to be good enough for him. I know that he was a lesson that I needed to learn and someday I will understand it more fully. I know that I will continue to write and process and hope that it finds its way to whoever it is meant for. Right now I have gratitude for the beauty of truth. Painful, gut wrenching beautiful truth.

To myself and the Other Women I have hurt throughout my relationship with Jason:

I love you

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you.

 

Hell Hath No Fury...

Love and Rage

Love and Rage

Do you know what the feeling is like to know that the person you love (or loved) is in love with someone else and has been lying to you for God knows how long? Do you know what it is like to drive over to your best friend’s house and have them tell you that they have not one but three people who can confirm this? Do you know what it’s like to then have your partner, who only hours ago you were talking to and flirting with, disappear,  because he so desperately wants to control the situation and cannot handle the realness of what is happening?

I saw him hugging, snuggling and kissing her on a boat on 4th of July earlier this year. I snapped because we had just had sex the night before and although were supposedly broken up, we really weren’t. I told him that I never wanted him to talk to her again. Her name was the name. Her name was the name that came out of his mouth yesterday when he said he had struck up a “friendship” with her at the gym. I lost my breath. That’s how we met. That’s what he said about me for months. The questions and my breath quickened; rapid fire and non stop. My fingers were sending texts and pressing “call” on repeat. 10 times. 15 times. Fuck, I'm that girl. No response.

He is in Florida right now, and I remember FaceTiming him a year ago when he there; we talked about what this new year would bring and how we were going to build this beautiful life together. But it was anything but. That is the thing with a narcissist; they are so good, you don’t even know it’s happening until you’re drowning. 

“She’s going to Florida to meet him” the text came in last night from my friend (all confirmed through reputable sources). “They’ve been dating for at least two months, if not longer. She’s telling her friends that their going to get married and they’re in love”. Cracking, breaking, the earth splitting open for what feels like an unending period of time. Still no response from him; except to tell me how I was being out of control. Uh, yeah you bet your fucking ass I’m out of control. But that is unacceptable and he won’t speak to me until he, ahem, they return on Saturday.

I never understood the old cliche “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” until yesterday. Until that moment I heard her name. Until I felt that visceral pain in my body like it was being shot, my skin and organs being shredded. I feel anger like I’ve never experienced before, I’ve acted in ways that are out of my body. The level of betrayal and dismissal from someone only a day ago said “I love you babe”. Disposable like I never mattered to him. Everything is being run through a sieve: lie or truth? lie or truth?

People wonder how smart, beautiful, confident women stay in bad, emotionally abusive relationships. It happens everywhere, and almost every woman has a story (or two). This was/is particularly devastating and I don’t have enough space right now to process and share everything, but this man is smart and calculating to a degree I’ve never witnessed. I do have enough clarity to know that I am not the crazy one, I did not expect too much (or anything actually), I only loved without logic. 24 hours ago my world changed in a way that I honestly didn’t ever foresee. He promised me he would never hurt me. He promised me we would be together. He promised me a partner, a lover, a life, babies, adventure and love. He promised everything that I wanted to hear. And he left me with a dial tone.