Client Journal: Breathing

What is coming up for me today is the way I breathe. How my sister breathes, how my mom breathes and how her mom breathed. The first thing that you, Lara and my acting teacher (when I’m able to take class) tell me when I don’t seem present or open to what is happening around me, is to take a breath. When I do, I am able to feel what’s going on inside of me. I am able to be open to receive what the other person is feeling, and almost always I am able to read their energy and see and feel what else is going on in their lives. My sister would do that when I was little. My mother used to be able to do that. And her mother. They were able to give psychic readings through feeling people’s energy. But at least for me, it’s only with a certain breath that I am able to feel, have intuition and read people’s energy. It’s a breath that comes from my lower body, my lower belly, sometimes from my groin. It is scary to breathe from my belly all the time. It’s even scarier to breathe from my groin. When I breathe from my belly, I immediately almost always feel sad. Exposed. When I breathe from my groin, I feel rage. Rage from being molested, rage from being told to hide my psychic impulses. I was told to not discuss my intuition with people from outside of my family, that other people wouldn’t understand. And to an extent, I agree, some people just aren’t open to that type of thing and that works for them. It has also made me feel isolated. Because sometimes when I listen to people talk, I get premonitions about whatever it is they’re saying. Then comes the choice, do I tell them what I’m seeing/feeling or do I keep it to myself? When I do say something, I understandably get asked, “How do you know that?” “I just do.” is my answer. “How?” “I don’t know. I just feel it. I just do. This is what I see and feel happening for you.” With a spiritual person, it turns into an interesting and lovely conversation. With 80% of the world, I get defense and anger thrown back at me. I saw something I wasn’t supposed to see. Felt something I wasn’t supposed to feel, and then I feel scared, I take it personally, and change my breathing back.

The shallow in-my-chest-tight-in-the-shoulders breathing. The type of breathing that my sister does and did after she dreamed of my grandfather’s death, the type my mom starting doing in the last 10/15 years or so, maybe longer, I’m not sure. And the type of breathing I remember my grandmother doing in her mid seventies until she died. I can’t feel anything or anyone when I breathe this way. I don’t have my intuition from here. And it makes me sad. I try so hard to not get hurt. I breathe that way when I’m trying not to feel hurt. From little stupid things like getting a vaccination shot, to more intense sensations like feeling emotional pain, rejection, criticism and grief. What ends up getting lost in that is one of the best parts of me, my intuition.

Client Poem: Claiming the Soul Woman by Peggy Bennett

Claiming the Soul Woman
by Peggy Bennett

I was a woman who was more interested in acting like a man.

Climbing the corporate ladder,
Doing battle with anyone who tried to get ahead of me,
Living in the two inches above my eyes,
A head with feet, really.

One day I woke up and didn’t recognize myself.
I was so consumed with protecting what was mine,
That I didn’t realize I had become a woman who I did not like.
A woman who damned with faint praise,
A woman who withheld support for others’ work,
A woman who smiled in your face but wished nothing but your downfall behind your back.
I became all of the things that I hated in those around me.

I kept pushing myself harder thinking it would make my life better
I worked on project after project
Thinking more work would bring me peace
And then I brought in the consultant for my most difficult project
And it blew up in my face.

I worked for several years on that project
Finding the perfect format
Building support with the powers that be
Finding the right time to present it to the company executives
And in a matter of minutes it was killed off and left for dead.

The executives expressed their dislike for the consultant quickly and in various ways
Some arrogantly challenged her expertise
Some disparaged the CEO
Some remained silent and hid from the conversation
None came forward to treat her with respect.

And when the CEO found out about the meeting
He came to me to gather information
I told him what had transpired behind his back
How his own people had made fun of him and acted out
I made sure that my words destroyed any trust he had in them,
And in that moment, I sunk to my lowest self.

And then I heard the voice of my spirit,
Who are you?  What are you doing?
And I was ashamed.
I didn’t know who I was or how I became this person
And I realized that I was miserable in this person I had become.

Her voice was the only reminder of what my soul needed
Calling me back to my true path
To slow down and enjoy my life
To forget about money and endless striving for more, more, more
More homes, more cars, more stuff.
To stop living life outside of myself and find the compassion for my humanness
To live life from a place of love and not one of fear.

And on the day that I decided to value my heart above my head,
I quit.
I walked away and never looked back.
I set out to reclaim my soul.
And in the process to reclaim myself.

Client Poem: Kissing by Peggy Bennett

by Peggy Bennett

I don’t kiss any more.
No more sweet, soft, summer kisses
that start on the beach in darkness,
after all of the bars have closed.
The kind that exist in a world of their own,
not leading to anything else.
The kind that leave your lips chapped
and your face scratched,
and end at sunrise.
With a boy you hardly know and probably will never see again.
The kind of kisses you speak of to your girlfriends on Sunday mornings,
while you all sit on the beach in the sun perfectly contented.
And feeling like you are walking on air.

No, the kisses I give now are like a mom-mom or an aging aunt,
kisses on cheeks and tops of heads.
Loud smacking kisses on the lips that create giggles in the receiver,
kisses that show love and affection and the promise to be there forever.
Kisses that hide the girl I used to be,
the girl who kissed strangers in the moonlight.
And for a fleeting  moment ran free.

Client Journal: Breathing leads to Psychic Knowing

The first thing I felt when I met you was your psychic energy. When I am around someone who is psychic, my left hand tingles and it feels like electricity is running through it; it is the reason I wanted to work with you. A non-psychic therapist wouldn’t be able to guide and work with me the way that you do. You honor your wisdom, and I really need to see what that looks like.

A few months back, I took a mediumship and psychic development course. We got to the part where the people in the class were working on evidential mediumship contact. The woman I was partnered with was in her 60’s, and apparently had some unresolved stuff going on with her mother. Guess what spirit I made a link with through her? Yup. Her mother. This woman was angry that her mom cared more about looking glamorous than raising her and loving her the way she needed. She was also holding a lot of resentment and anger towards her mom because she had recently died and left her, her own daughter, out of the will. Obviously, I could relate to her feeling hurt and angry over her mom. I was able to describe her mom perfectly and tell the woman memories of her childhood. Her mom then wanted me to ask this woman about a business she was supposed to be starting. The woman kind of stalled in answering the question, and said there were some things she needed to consider and think about. Then, the spirit of her mom told me to tell her “I have no apologies for how I treated you. You know why? Because whatever I wanted to do I did it. No matter what. That’s what you need to do. Stop thinking, and start doing. That’s who I was.” I said it as nice and as gentle as I could, but it was still, in my opinion, a harsh message. Until that point, I’d thought that once someone died, they would gain some sense of enlightenment or wisdom or something. Nope. Not this lady. There was no remorse or sadness for how she treated her daughter. No apologies. Unfortunately, this woman was really looking for and needed some sort of apology from her mom. She didn’t get it. At least, not when I made this contact with her mother’s spirit. This woman got extremely angry, and then took her rage – which should have been directed towards her mother – out on me.

I felt scared! It was the first time that I’d made contact with a spirit like that. I could feel her mother’s energy, smell her perfume and hear her voice, so it was exciting, but at the same time, I wasn’t anticipating getting raged on, not like that. I can only imagine what you have gone through in your experiences. And it sucks! And sometimes is painful, at least for me. I wasn’t trying to fuck with this woman, or manipulate her. Her mom, though not said in a loving caring way, might have had a valid point. But her mom wasn’t loving and caring in life, so I guess not much changes on the other side, or least not with this particular spirit.

It feels good to me right now to share this piece with you.

Client Poem: Reclaiming the Feminine by Peggy Bennett

Reclaiming the Feminine
by Peggy Bennett

I left her in a ditch by the side of the road one day
When I couldn’t bear the weight of her
When I stopped letting her drag me down.
When I couldn’t stand her voice in my head anymore
Like some needy child
Always begging me to love her… to love myself.
She was just too big a burden for me
And in the midst of all my clawing and striving
I had no use for her.

And now I cannot find her.
I’ve retraced my steps a thousand times and combed the fields until late at night
I’ve called out to her in the dark and hear nothing but the echo of my own voice.
I beseech her to return to me.
Please be mine again
I need you to be whole
But all I hear is silence.

Maybe she was never really mine to possess
For, although I am a woman
I took more comfort in the masculine and learned to rely on that part of myself completely.
And now acting like a man does not serve me well
To power through and suck it up
I can no longer be that person and I am stuck between worlds

Wanting to feel like a woman again,
Wanting to feel warmth in my belly,
Wanting to feel love and compassion,
Wanting to feel something.

I will crawl on my hands and knees and beg her to return to me.
I will search the depths of my soul for her.
I will grovel on my belly.
I will claw and scratch at the earth with bloodied fingertips.
I will give up everything for her
And sing my song for her
Until she comes back to me
Until she comes home.

Sex Talk: The Virgin and Tampons

I spent this weekend with my niece who came up to visit me. We had an excellent time together, and you were right; because we have so much in common, some parts of it did feel like healing my teenager. There was one moment in particular. Yesterday I took her to the beach. While we were getting ready, she said she had just gotten her period and asked if I had stuff. I reached into my purse and handed her a tampon. She said she couldn’t use them. I asked why, thinking it was a personal preference. But then she said, “I’m not allowed.” “Why?” I asked. “Because I’m a virgin and using one would be like having sex.” I felt angry. “Who told you that?” “My mom.” She said.

My mom told me the same thing. So I, being the obedient daughter, followed what she said. Except I had this really embarrassing experience when I was on swim team. I had gotten my period and had to go to practice. I asked my mom what I should do. She had instructed me to safety pin my pad to my swimsuit. I’m pretty sure you can imagine what happened. A few laps in, the pad swelled like a diaper and I had this sagging bloody mess on my hands. I. Was. Mortified. I bought and wore tampons in secret the rest of my of college years.

But I didn’t want that for my niece. I said, “No disrespect to your mom, but that’s bullshit. Wearing tampons does not make you want have sex in any way, it doesn’t physically prepare you or emotionally prepare you for sex in any way. Now, if you don’t want to use one for your own reasons, that’s totally cool. But I just don’t want you to think that tampons are the gateway sex drug.” She thought it over and said she would like to try it out and see if it was less annoying than a pad. I talked her through how to use one, and she ended up saying she liked it better because she feels cleaner.

I felt warm that I was able to clear up some archaic view of tampons for her. I know for me personally, my mom’s weird concepts on certain things made me very scared to ask questions about sex and explore it in a healthy way.

Client Journal: From Numb to Love

“Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called ‘the love of your fate.’ Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, ‘This is what I need.’ It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength is there.”

– From “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.

“Being numb was/is the biggest way I protect myself. My heart. But so many things go into that. In your email, you mentioned feeling my heart, my belly and my vagina. I think for this week, when I do this exercise I want to focus on my heart before I move into other areas of my body.When I was young, I had to train myself to be numb. At first I had to really fight hard to pretend. A memory that is coming up for me, was my middle school experience. Middle school sucked for me, it was borderline traumatic. I was the only black female most of the time in my honors classes, and because I lived in a middle/upper middle class area my mom had me do activities such as horseback riding, swimming and tennis. My dad would tease my mom about her slight southern accent (in an abusive way), so she became overly sensitive about the way she spoke. Because of this, my mom wanted to make sure that my brother, sister and I spoke eloquently. All of this translated to some of the other black kids at my school as me trying to “act white”. So for three years they teased me, called me names such as blackie, tar baby, Oreo, sellout, the list goes on. One girl even spat on me in gym class. They would knock over my books, do stuff to my locker and humiliate me in front of large groups of people. The teachers wouldn’t say anything or stop the behavior. And even though I knew I that what they were saying was stupid and ignorant, that I was/am proud of my heritage, that speaking proper English to me wasn’t a “white thing” but a “I want to get into a good college thing”. It still really hurt to experience such brutal racism especially from other black people. But, I was taught not to cry, never show weakness. So, I acted like it didn’t matter. My face would be like stone, expressionless and I would feel cold and like I wasn’t there while they were calling me all these names. I would checkout, daydream. Or fantasize about ways to kill them all. I was trying to protect my ego, my pride by acting like it didn’t matter. But it did, and it hurt. A lot. And I felt a lot (and still do when I really feel it) a lot of just pure rage about it! Eventually what happened then was one day I snapped at one of the girls who was picking on me and threw her into a locker really hard, yelled at her (I forgot what I said I just remember feeling the rage) and then spouted out a bunch of black history facts facts that I knew she didn’t know. I made her feel stupid. And it felt good!

Intelligence became another form of protection. After the locker incident, it got around that I had a short fuse. So when I got into high school, aside from the stupid comment made here or there, I wasn’t bullied. But I discovered that I could use my words in a way to make people feel really bad about themselves if I wanted to. Since I was kind of quiet and observant I would say really mean things when I felt threatened. Because being cold and “super witty” felt safer than saying,”I am really hurt. Or I am really angry you said that.” I didn’t want to be vulnerable. Because if I was vulnerable, that meant you really got to know me. And if you really got to know me, that meant you knew about all my traumas, my messed up parents and one day you could use those things to hurt me, betray me and reject me. And I would have rather felt nothing at all than feel rejection and betrayal. Because I felt rejected or hurt in some way everyday and I just didn’t want to feel more of it anymore!

When I got older, into my early 20’s, I tried on a different persona. I tried to be this badass hard as nails chick that no one could fuck with. I would still be numb, I would still use my intelligence, but I added more walls to it. I tried to “act strong”. Like the Angelina Joile characters in movies. Because that was what I so desperately wanted to be. I wanted to be strong. Tough. In control. Aggressive. I didn’t want to feel my pain. I didn’t want to express it. But at that point because shutting down and being numb was so second nature, I didn’t really know how to express my feelings. When I would try, I would go back to using my intelligence, either by trying to rationalize or by speaking in metaphors to describe what I was feeling. There was one point in my 20’s where I hadn’t cried for a really long time, like 5 or 6 years or something! I didn’t want to feel my weaknesses. I didn’t want to see them. And I didn’t trust anymore to see or feel them, but I guess also, I didn’t trust that anyone would love me and accept me in spite or because of my weaknesses. In my mind, the badass never got hurt. But I was wrong. Because I was still hurting. And hiding. I just started to delude myself that I wasn’t anymore.

When I breathe into this, I feel sad. Really sad and hurt. Sad and hurt that I can be so mean to myself! When I ask my heart what it needs, It says that I need compassion. Compassion for myself. It also needs to trust. It needs to trust that my close friends wouldn’t betray me or hurt me just to hurt me out of sport. It’s also telling me that I need to take my time when getting to know people, not to tell too much too soon. That was a tactic I would sometimes use with men. I would try to create the intimacy and connection I really wanted by “putting all my shit out there”. Now I realize, I wasn’t respecting myself, or loving myself or honoring the trauma that I had been through. I would say, “hey I was molested.” they would feel uncomfortable, I would then shutdown and not express my feelings about it or my feelings about telling them, and then I would never hear from them again! I was traumatizing myself even more because I was forcing them to reject me and abandon me, the very things I was afraid of happening!

My heart also is telling me that I need a lot of reassurance and unconditional love. I am mainly familiar with conditional love. Yes, those are things I need from other people. But most importantly, those are things I need to start giving to myself.

Client Poem: I Breathe by Sonam Hajela

I breathe
In your presence, my breath is ignored, lost, forgotten
It skips, slows, speeds up
My heartbeat thunders, goes quiet
It drifts, it crashes
I breathe
In your presence, my breath never matters
It is an idle watcher on the sidelines
I chase it, come back I say
Come back.
I’ll hold still, I can manage, I can do it but I try
Grasping with my arms, it is lost to me.
I breathe
In your presence, I forget how. I forget why.
But even so
Even so
My breath running, running, hiding,
Losing, wandering –
Even then
My breath goes completely silent at the thought that yours, one day, will

You say you love
But do you even know what this word is?
You say you love
But do you know what this word does?
It is a shield for you
To hide behind
A safe place for you to draw weapons
To aim
To fire
Because love isn’t just a word you say
To appease
To mollify
To use
To defend
To hurt
It is standing with your nails dug in your open chest
Holding your heart in all its dripping frailty
With no cover.
It is no limbs, no skin, no bones
No eyes or hair
No sharp teeth, or nails
It is no I or you

It is raw openness
You need, I give
You touch, I take
You break, I fall
I hold
It is strength, it is power
Love is a fight you can’t turn away from
No matter how ugly the sides
Love is not saying “for now”
“until then” or “don’t push”
It is ugly, it is in the middle of the night screaming moments
Right before you bathe moments
Before I even wake up moments
It is standing up when the other can’t
So when you say you love
I don’t hear fight, or courage or truth
I hear cowardice, easy words
And a war lost.

Client Poem: Sirens’ Song by Peggy Bennett

What if Odysseus was a woman?
Would she have feared the sirens’ song
Or would she recognize that haunting melody as some deeper part of herself…
Calling out to her from some unrelenting and vengeful place
A place more ominous than any myth.

Alone and tied to the mast, would she cry out?
Would she wail and scream to venture through impassable reefs
To find her way back to those mermaids, to her home.
Or would she hear their song as one of bliss
And sail past their island, unscathed.
After all, the sirens were once handmaidens to Persephone
Sisters still, even though they failed her.
Would they wish her dead as all of the other sailors they have sung to?
Or would they recognize a kindred spirit
And sing her on her journey.

I hear the siren’s song
The melody resides in some deep place I cannot name
Seductive and beguiling
I hear the voice but I do not wail.
This song is sweet and I have known it since birth
It sings to me of my heart’s desire.
It leads me to a life that mirrors me and no one else.
I am lulled by warmth and lullabied by my own voice.
I am Ondine
The sea creature
I am my own siren
Singing myself to love.

Client Poem: Shame

What do you know of shame?
All these years I’ve cried
And I know your darkness deep inside
I ran from it
I run from it still

For you father,
For your blind eyes
For you sister,
For not thinking of anyone else
For you mother,
For your hate

Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself how much I let the fear take the wheel and steer
It’s driven me before and it seems to have a vague haunting mass appeal
It’s the way that everyone else gets around
But lately I am beginning to find I should be the one behind the wheel

I’m sick of all your stories
Of my own story
They have gone stale

With open arms and open ears
I welcome
The tomorrows you made me fear
Whatever tomorrow brings
I’ll be there
But when I drive myself my light is found