Client Journal: Am I Honoring Myself? Parts 1 and 2

Am I Honoring Myself? : Part 1
For my whole life, it’s been a struggle to get what I want. I have also seen that play out in my family’s lives. Everyone wants to do or be and they all have ended up miserable. Also, when I was young, my parents treated me in a way that told me that I don’t matter. My mom would buy expensive things for herself when I needed new things. I would do without and she had what she needed. That made me feel like I was not important. This feeling of not deserving carries in all aspects of my life. I started asking myself the questions, “Am I honoring myself? Am I loving myself?” as a way to start becoming more aware of when I am not honoring myself, so I can give myself the chance to make another choice. So I can begin to honor and love myself more. One example is, yesterday I got a text message from my friend K, saying “Hi, how are you” and then getting into her paranoia as to why she thinks she might have AIDS. I was about to indulge her — which usually leads to me saying, “no you don’t have AIDS, I promise…” and then goes on to me taking care of her problems and acting like I don’t have any — then I stopped myself and asked, “Am I honoring myself by doing this?” No. I am not. I texted her back, asking her to let me know what her schedule is like in the next week or so, and saying that I would like to get together with her to talk about some things that I am discovering as I am working on myself. She said sure and asked if everything is ok. I told her that I am becoming aware of how I relate to her in our friendship and how it isn’t always in the healthiest way, and I would like to talk to her about more in person or on the phone, but not through text. She said she would check her schedule and get back to me. It feels good to to take a step, even if it’s a small one, to learning how to love and honor myself more.

Am I honoring Myself? : Part 2
All week I have been asking myself, “Am I honoring myself? Am I loving myself?” It is making me aware of even the little things. Like how I walk for example, head almost down, eyes not really focused on anything, posture a little slouched. Yesterday I caught myself and asked, “Am I honoring myself by walking this way?” No. I am not. I don’t feel confident or beautiful. Instead, I feel a little anxious. I changed my walk to a walk I practice in stiletto heels class. I felt better, more confident, and less anxious.

A couple days ago was Valentine’s Day. I asked myself the same question, “Am I honoring myself”. I thought about the guys I dated within the past year and a half. Yes, I liked a couple more than others, but there isn’t a guy that stands out that makes me say, “Man, I’m upset that didn’t work out, he had everything I’m looking for!” But I can’t put it all on them, so I started thinking about how I feel about myself. Yes, I like myself. But I don’t really love myself, and I don’t really honor myself. The guys I have dated pretty much mirrored that back to me. So no, I am not honoring myself by dating right now. I feel like I need to focus on building up my self-confidence and my self-love.

When I started dating, it was to just “get in the game” and start interacting with men. But now I feel like that’s not working for me anymore, because I want more now from a man. I want a man who sees me and loves it. But I need to do that for myself. I think part of it too is that I’ve been looking for a man to love me first, if that makes sense. I thought I could be the exception to the rule. I’m not. I need to love me first, I can’t wait or depend on anyone else to do it for me. I decided to take a break from dating. I want to focus on loving myself

Marta: Intention: Today I will honor myself by watching how I express or hold back on my true feelings and needs. I will have compassion for my fear of losing others as I stand for my self-respect and equality in relationship with others. I will also learn to listen better to myself and others and create boundaries between who I am and who the other is. I will also acknowledge my need for love, without manipulation, but with vulnerability. It is safe to love when each person honors their own feelings and needs. Sometimes, when opening to love, it can hurt the heart. That is because at first when we begin to heal and soften, all of our wounded self emerges to be felt. If we can stand in hold our feelings with compassion and not jump out of our bodies to go numb into addictive behaviors, we then can begin to build a strength that is vulnerable.

Resource: New Patterns of Codependency

Co-Dependent behaviors, thoughts and feelings are the way we hold to our lies and protect ourselves. It is part of addiction and is the way we stay numb, blocking out wounds and trauma. I will be doing a series on Co-Dependency, Addiction and Trauma.

Client Poem: Refugee

I’m a refugee
From my land
My body
My mother’s warmth
My father’s attention

I’ve seen the obscene
With my child eyes
My heart slain
My fingers searching in vain
For anything, something to
Hold me

Resident Alien said my card
My country watched me go
My heart is lost somewhere over the ocean
Sinking to the floor, lost

And you mother, dear, threw it into that violent surf
Watched it drown
I gave it you to hold
For safekeeping

Father, where was your net? Your hands?
You turned your back
And I sat on my tiny legs
Waiting for the protection that never came

I believed, in the end, that my heart wasn’t worth it
I wasn’t worth it
I’m a refugee from my own heart
It still sits, among the coral reefs and fish
That look confused at the sight of it
It’s afraid I’ll never come back for it.

But I’m making my own net now
From the broken pieces of my soul
The weeds of people who left me
The twigs of those I believed above me
It’s not a perfect net, but it’ll do.

Client Poem: The Saddest Truths

When I look at my face in pictures
I don’t see the makeup
The hair
The earrings
The smile

I see the eyes.
The big, luminous eyes.
Pained, unsure, glassy, innocent, questioning eyes.
They speak the saddest truths.
The truths I cannot say
And my heart cannot hold.
The truths that make me break

That I loved you with every fiber of my being
But we lacked passion
Because you never pushed back, never fought for yourself, for me.

That I envied your own brother for your attention
That sometimes when you spoke, it was like you didn’t see me.
That your words were so careless, it was like the world could have ended, I would have gone with it,
And you would have shrugged.
That you will never make me happy, because you hold nothing dear
That I find happiness so fragile and precious
And you live in a black void that smiles its oily smiles.

That as much as I hate my mother
Her cruelty, her ignorance and irresponsibility
I feel her pain. I know her pain.
I understand it. Even acknowledge its rightness.
It runs in my veins.
And as much I love you father dear, for your guilt-stricken machinations
And good intentions,
My mother and I are much more alike than you and I, I’m afraid.
She’s my mirror. And no matter how far I run, I turn around and see her, see me.

That for all my romantic notions, and perseverance of love
It has hid from me, run from me, rejected me
And so I learned the harder side of human emotions
The softer ones just out of my reach
My need has grown, and with it, love’s appearance has gone from sporadic to never.

That for all my need to save the world.
It’s a selfish, self-aggrandizing notion that I have done nothing to act upon.
Save the world?
Maybe I should save myself first.

Video – Client Poem: Crash by Sonam Hajela

Crash by Sonam Hajela

Written and read by Sonam Hajela


it’s coming
like a rain
down my face
a train hurtling at tragic speeds
a hurricane gone
I whip my head
my hair floating around me in
slow motion
where is everything?
my hands reach but
I can do nothing but wait while the
tires, rails, winds, sounds
crash into me
and I can only absorb
the skin too porous
my heart gone still
waiting, gasping
for everything to still
but the stillness is dangerous
I have no cover
from silence

Client Poem – Little Black Dress by Sonam Hajela

Client Poem: Little Black Dress – by Sonam Hajela

You want me to zip it up
Blend me in
And close me out
All those straight lines
And perfect seams
You see numbers,
Fake smiles and handshakes
Status quos and authority
All I see is a disappeared spirit
I want fire
Orange, red
Painted against the sky
Like the sun leaking
Pouring out its heart
Dripping in flames
Too hot to the touch
I want to be ablaze
Not the tepid little doll
That holds true to the mold
You don’t understand the burn
Of an artist, the hunger of a creation
I want a revolution, not a following
I want gasps, the trees to bend
The sky to tilt
And the grass to turn blue
The chaos painting me divine
In all my humanity
The Gods smiling down at me
Knowing I’m just that much closer.
I wish
just once
You had said
Go set the world on fire
And leave the rest in black.

Videos: Trauma, Brain and Relationship Sections 2 and 3

Trauma, Brain and Relationship: Helping Children Heal
Videos from the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute

Section 2: Brain Development at Risk

Section 3: The Many Faces of Trauma


Videos: Trauma, Brain and Relationship | Client Poems

Trauma, Brain and Relationship: Helping Children Heal
Videos from the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute


The Very First Relationship:

Read Article: Attachment and Adult Relationships: How the attachment bond shapes adult relationships

Client Poems:


Walk into the void
Lean into the words
Run towards them – reckless, fearless
What bad can come of this?
Monsters created and released to come back again and again
Tortured by my own creations, my children.
I dare not speak, form the words from my mouth, from my heart.
Then you will know
more importantly, I will know
And I don’t want to know



Small black pouch
filled with your most sacred possessions
rosaries, scapular, prayer cards.
a remembrance of a life well lived
Well, a partial life well lived.
A very small part of you who prayed every day
I don’t think that god heard you
This is all I have left of you.
Priest, father, teacher…devil
Who are you really?
Should have left behind empty beer bottles, crushed out cigarette butts, remnants of your rage.
Somthing deep inside that I cannot go to
Some emotion – my rage?
I can’t feel it yet.
I froze it here and thought I would take it out later, when it was a safe time to look at it.
Too late now.
Rage for the dead goes nowhere.
No one to express it to
You’re gone and I’m here and I’m still pissed off.
I burn with it and hate myself for feeling so sad.
for missing such an abuser.

Client Journal: Letter to Dad

Dear Dad,

It’s me, Evelyn. Can you see my face? I can barely see yours. It hurts too much. To see your crinkly crow’s feet. Crooked front tooth. Pinky twitching on the steering wheel when you’re upset. That’s what I remember. I am frozen in those moments. I am frozen inside, Dad.

I have a rage inside of me that could sear mountain ranges, slice them in half. So I’ve build glaciers on top of it, frozen frosted blue lips. I have grown up now, Dad. Grown up too hard, and too soft. And not at all.

I have not let a single man close to my heart. No fucking way. I am still reeling from your betrayal, from your choices. And mine. But you’ve been betraying me since as far back as I can remember. All those nights you worked late. You worked on numbing your soul with Johnny Walker. You couldn’t bear to watch Mom bruise our tender flesh. The day you told me, the first glacier began to grow. I couldn’t bear my hate. That’s when I tried my first drugs, Dad. I wanted to feel nothing, just like you. I did whatever I could get my hands on. Smoked it, snorted it, ate it, swallowed it. I would have fucked too, if I had the balls.

My first sexual experience? So ignorant. So unaware. The only thing I knew about men then was that they lied. They lied, they couldn’t protect me, they ran away when things got hard. He fingered me while I was sleeping. I was too high to feel anything. He died anyway, Dad.

I could never grab onto you. I could never know you, understand you. Your body was there but you were already living on some alien planet. I’ve grown up to believe that no man will ever have my back. That he won’t want to hold my hand through my pain. That I will forever be too much. That I’ll have to practically kill and main to make myself heard, to be important. That he’ll disappear into the night. That long, philosophical conversations will be the only way to connect, unless I just give him my body. That he doesn’t feel anything, doesn’t want to feel anything, that I will always make him feel what he doesn’t want to.

Just like you, Dad. Just like you. Just like you.

Client Journal: My Parent’s Daughter

I see all of my patterning in them. I am definitely my parents’ daughter. I disappear from people I care about like my father when I feel overwhelmed by something. I don’t think I pick fights like he does, but I do a lot of mental yelling at people over small/stupid things that usually end up not being the real reason for why I feel so angry.

I shutdown and just go mute like my mother, and I try to blame and rationalize my behavior and my feelings before taking ownership. When someone asks me a question that brings up a lot of emotions for me, I change the subject and/or give vague or short answers.

I am finally accepting that I act like they do. I was too much in my ‘fuck you’ to be honest with myself and own up to my behavior. I am cold like my mom and dad and I have my own addiction with baby powder that I used to eat when I really wanted to escape myself and escape from feeling and even from being responsible (I still haven’t eaten any but I definitely still have the cravings). For example, a couple years ago when I was fired from my job, there was a solid 3 weeks where instead of look for another job or talk to anyone, all I did was eat baby powder and sleep.

When my mom was venting, I felt angry and frustrated. Not necessarily angry at what she was saying, but because when I was trying to connect with her and find out more about the situation she is going through and how it affects her, she kept shutting me out! But I realize I can’t judge her for it, because I do the same damn thing. It was just eye opening really start being aware of my behavior and have it mirrored back to me.

Client Journal: The Pain of Loneliness and Perfection

For so long my loneliness was and is a secret and a place of shame. When I was young, it started and grew out of keeping secrets. I felt scared and ashamed and like it was my fault for what was happening to me, and I thought if I didn’t say anything, the pain didn’t exist and I wasn’t really getting molested. But I always felt scared, anxious, edgy and really sad. Feeling lonely meant I was hiding something, that no one could understand or know what was happening to me. Feeling lonely meant that no one could help me. That no one was there for me. Because no one was there for me. I didn’t want to feel that, so I acted “perfect”. Smiles all the time, pretty good grades and I was super polite as a child, always saying “please” and “thank you” with my excellent table manners. Because being perfect meant I wasn’t lonely. Being perfect meant that everything was fine. Being perfect meant that I was happy.

When I was a teenager my loneliness was secret romanticized tragic thing that made me “different”. I wore it as a huge FUCK YOU badge to hide my insecurities. So what I’m the only black person in my honors classes? Fuck you! I’m going to do it all by myself, no one knows how I feel, what it’s like to be called a sellout, Oreo, whitewashed, a wannabe, to defend my ethnic pride on the regular, fuck you! Fuck you, no one knows what it’s like to go out in public with my parents praying that my dad wouldn’t rage out at my mom, hoping that everything would be ok, hoping that everything would be perfect. That we could just for a couple of hours pretend that we loved each other, enjoyed each other and that we were perfect. But being perfect had a price. It meant that I couldn’t talk to my friends about my parents, that I feel like I’m fat, that I don’t like myself or my body, that I actually hate myself and that I feel like a loser pretty much all the time. Those were the things that made up my loneliness and the isolation that I put myself in, by never talking about it. Because I didn’t want to face it. I didn’t want to accept my pain, my rejection, my sadness, my fear, my hatred. So I listened to heavy metal on full blast, wore Doc Martens under my pom pom uniform (pom pom girls were like the equivalent of a Lakers Girl or a Knicks Dancer at my high school) and black sparkly lipstick, renamed my loneliness and called it “depth” and “angst”. FUCK YOU.

As an adult, my loneliness is still part of those things I felt as a child and a teenager, but it’s also my coldness and fear. Fear of being rejected and abandoned. Because I was rejected and abandoned. I don’t think I have felt the full force of that pain yet, and to be honest, I’m scared to feel that amount of pain on my own without [Marta] on the phone, because I don’t think I could handle feeling it by myself. But to hide my loneliness I still try to be perfect sometimes, with the fake smile. Or I get defensive and attack or blame or make excuses, so I look like the “good one”, so I look perfect . Or I just shut down and go numb and cold as ice. My loneliness became my fake security to keep me from letting people in, so I won’t have to experience hurt or pain if they reject me, and all my flaws, sadness, pain and craziness.