Sometimes I feel guilty saying “No”
Sometimes saying “No” is empowering
Saying “No” with an open heart for myself and others takes practice
Sometimes saying “No” in anger feels freeing
Sometimes saying “No” silently, is honoring myself
I remind myself that saying “No” is saying “Yes” to something else
My relationship with “No” has been a journey in and of itself. I realize the role “No” has played in my false belief that my voice doesn’t matter, that I don’t matter. I used to tell my dad “No” when he was abusing me and he would continue touching me. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this experience started creating a thought pattern that “I wasn’t worthy of my voice being heard and what I wanted didn’t matter.”
I don’t remember when the sexual abuse started, but I do know it ended when I was 15. When my dad touched me, I felt so scared and my body would contract like a boa constrictor wrapping around its prey. Sometimes I wanted to cry but held it in and waited until after he left. I would muffle my cry so no one would hear me. I didn’t want my mom or sister asking me why I was crying. I built up so much frustration in my body. Frustration that I wasn’t telling anyone what was happening. Frustration that I was saying “No” to my dad and he was still forcing his actions on my body. Frustration that I didn’t do more to stop him. Frustrated that I was keeping a secret. A secret which became toxic in my body. I don’t know why eventually my dad finally listened to my “No” and stopped. But even though he stopped, the damage was done. I had so many pent up feelings of anger, sadness, worry and fear living inside of me. He would apologize, sometimes in front of other people, after he had been drinking. This just added to my worry and fear. I would tell him to “shut up!” I didn’t want anyone to hear him or ask why he was apologizing because then I would either have to lie or tell them the truth. I didn’t want to do either. I became a master at hiding my emotions, but not feeling them as they arose, was getting the better of me. When I discovered drinking, I added poison to drown out the secret and keep those emotions stuffed deep down inside. A cycle began. The anger, fear, worry, sadness, and frustration were boiling in my body, like a volcano waiting to erupt. Twenty-something years later it did. All of those stored emotions started coming to the surface.
I would like to tell you that once they came up, that was it. That I felt those dense emotions and they went away. Maybe someone’s journey has been this way, but not in my experience. My experience has been one of learning to surrender to the unfoldment of my life and let go of control. Because, really, I have no control over when and what emotions will arise in my body at any given moment. I do have a choice on whether or not to feel and allow my emotions to flow.
I was recently at a friends house. It was the first time I had been there. I arrived late at night so we hugged, she showed me where I was staying and I went to bed. The room I was staying in was very small. Just big enough for a twin bed against the wall, a dresser, and a small closet. Growing up, I had the smallest bedroom, with a twin bed pushed up against the wall. I didn’t immediately make this connection. But as soon as I laid down to go to sleep, intense sensations started filling my body. It was a force beyond my control. I immediately felt panicked. My heart started racing, my muscles started contracting. I froze, wondering what was going on?! It all happened so fast. Then I realized, I was having a flashback to my childhood. Unprocessed emotions were coming forward to be acknowledged. At this point, I was sitting up. I knew I was in a different space in time and that I was not in any harm. With the little bit of present moment awareness I had, I remembered the tools I’ve learned as an adult. I started focussing on my breath. I took deep breaths while relaxing my muscles. I took deep slow inhales and long extended exhales while reminding myself that I am no longer a child. My thoughts were spinning, “I am no longer experiencing my dad abusing me. But in a way he is, if I don’t let my emotions be felt. If I let them stay stuck in my body. If I don’t transform my feelings of shame, guilt, and unworthiness. Say “yes” to all that wants to come forward. FEEL IT ALL. Thinking that I didn’t matter. Let go. Breathe. Let these feelings come up to be heard and move on. Breathe. I matter and I am worthy. I love and accept all of me. Breathe. I am feeling afraid. Where do I feel it? I feel it in my stomach. I want to throw up. Breathe.” Well, I didn’t get sick, and after about 30 minutes, I started breathing easier, my heart rate slowed and I began relaxing into sleep. I had no idea that I would have this experience. It came on like a wildfire.
When I first wrote about being molested, I had someone reach out in a personal email who said: “I pray that those events early in your life are now forever put to rest, perhaps like a speeding ticket from long ago.” Even though I knew that the intention was from the heart, I felt so shocked, angry and VERY upset that someone could compare being sexually abused with a speeding ticket. After much contemplation, I shared my feelings with this person and we had a meaningful heartfelt correspondence. Along with expressing my feelings, I actually emailed back saying “YES! yes, I can put my past to rest like a speeding ticket!” I really thought that I could. Ha! What a misconception that was! I don’t know who I think I was fooling by saying “yes” to that…Because clearly, the universe has other plans for me!
You cannot just toss your past experiences out if you went through them stifling your emotions. Well, you can, but if you want to come into a heart-centered life, living in joy, peace, and love, you will need to start feeling ALL your emotions. If you don’t, they will keep knocking at your door and if you continue not listening to them, they will keep knocking until you do.
There are a lot of spiritual teachers, inspirational speakers, and people that talk about saying “YES! YES to life! YES to adventure! yes, yes YES!” I like this sentiment, but for me, coming into a relationship with “No” has been a “Yes to life.” I now find peace within, whether I am saying “Yes” or “No.” I allow whatever emotions that want to arise after saying “Yes” or “No,” to flow through me. I made a commitment to myself to go down this road of uncovering my heart, loving and accepting myself completely. As I have said before, it is not always easy.
I am sharing this with you in hopes that you will be inspired to say “Yes” to yourself and gain some knowledge on how to process your stored emotions. Your story may be different and may not even be from childhood, but it is anytime in your life when you did not express and allow your feelings to flow. Anytime you keep your emotions inside. Ideally, you are feeling them as they arise in any given moment, but if you continue to not feel what your body and heart have to say, it becomes toxic inside your body. Whatever your story may be, know that when you decide to ask yourself with sincere intention and dedication to feel ALL your stored emotions, you will come into a heart-centered way of living in peace, love, and harmony. I am not there completely yet, but I have had glimpses and it is powerful. The process may not always feel pleasant. You may feel uncomfortable in your body, but know that you will only bring forth that which you are capable of “handling.” Trust, let go and surrender to the process. You are not alone.
♥ much love and light