Beaten Up

I used to get beat up. I was afraid to walk through the halls of my high school because on most days I was pushed into lockers. Once after a basketball game in the girls locker room I came out of the bathroom stall to a fist in my face, and then another and then a whole group of girls throwing balls, someone even threw the ball rack at me. While my body suffered minor soreness my confidence, trust and spirit broke me in more significant ways. What do we have if not safety?

In that same time period it felt impossible for me to focus on my school work and it certainly hindered my creativity. I am 32 now, I have had plenty of time and therapy to try and uncover the root of why these things happened, to me. I have wanted to take some responsibility for those years, surely I must have done something to call in such torture. I once received a note in gym class, it was handed to me from an unsuspecting note passer and when I opened it I found that someone had used it as toilet paper and they left evidence to prove it. I always felt that if I were able to take some kind of responsibility for this kind of treatment it would have empowered me, I certainly do my best to consciously choose not to be a victim now. 

Kids get bullied. And it’s probably safe to say that at large we as educators, mentors, parents, aunts, uncles, friends and members of society we do our best to set a better standard. It is not normal for someone (of any age) to be pinned down and have a pencil at their throat with someone saying “If you keep running your mouth I’ll kill you”. It’s not normal for a high schooler (or anyone) to wear chunky rings for self protection and have a daily exit strategy prepared. I am all grown up now and I have chosen to channel my past to create community, events and educational opportunites that provide inclusion, safety and strength in camaraderie. For to be the best version of ourselves we must express without the fear of being judged, hurt or hated. 

In my youth I have said “I don’t like having girl friends”, and in my working with youth I have heard it even more times “girls are mean”. And even in grade school I often felt like the odd girl out, being excluded from birthday parties, secret clubs and sleepovers. Through this it has become the focus of my energy to cultivate a new understanding for the importance of healthy relationships, especially the relationships between women. The times of behind the back breaking one another down is over, we must teach our youth the beauty in conspiring in each others favor, we must shine a light on the damage that is done in tearing each other down in a jealous fit. Same goes for all relationships, I just happened to start by repairing the broken bond I had with the feminine, girls, and women. 

So how do we rewrite the story of decades? We set healthy examples. We make it cool to be kind, we invest time in cultivation of our own relationships, with ourselves, our sisters, our partners and our sons and daughters. We talk about it, we set the safe stage for conversation. 

On many nights I would sit in m room wondering what it would be like if I died, if I took my own life. Some kind of strong force kept my foot to the ground when I wanted to jump. Not everyone has that tether. Too many take their lives. Strong support systems save lives, strong support systems foster intelligence. 

Fifteen years, many one way- solo plane tickets, two therapists, a community built on sisterhood and a lot of processing time later I have discovered some of why I was abused. I was meant to embody the lessons of perseverance. I learned what the many colors of insecurity manifesting itself as poor behavior look like. I learned to go find people who understood me, people who would accept me while challenging me to be better. I needed to learn that self worth was not something I can get from anyone else and I needed to learn that I was safe. I was a safe person for those kids (most of which were girls) to take their anger out on, perhaps because I never fought back or perhaps because I had built in resiliency even in times of great despair. I needed to go through all of it so I could create Shakti Sanctuary, a women’s (and those who identify as) community that hosts events worldwide for the betterment of female relationships. I have since expanded my programs to work with all genders and to anyone who feels the call to intentionally come together and support each other on the path of growth.

The programs that I offer are a place where people can come share what is present for them, move through yoga practices, unlock buried cellular trauma with breathing techniques, process with counselors, learn tools for healing, play, be nurtured, reconnect with nature and celebrate the gift of life. Most of all, the wellness retreats that I lead are a safe place where people can come be their real selves, in all their vulnerability and in a community that “gets” them.

Looking back, it makes great sense as to how I got here from those haunting hallways of my teens.