You are perfect right now. You have always been perfect, too. You will always be perfect. Regardless of what has happened to you, what is happening to you right now, or what might happen in the future.
I’m reading your responses to ‘Spiritually Abusive Weiners’.
I see now that so many of us weren’t in touch with our true selves, so we allowed light-starved individuals into our holy personal space – a space belonging and intended for us and us alone – and let them trample all over it with their dirty shoes.
Or, perhaps something even worse happened. Perhaps we didn’t let them in, but they entered regardless. Without an invitation. Without permission. Despite your prohibition.
Have you ever felt as though someone is stealing your air supply?
As though they have broken into your lungs and are taking away your breath, your life, while you make yourself smaller and smaller. While you suffocate.
When someone acts as though they know what’s best for you, as though they know better than you. As though they know how you should live your life.
When they stand in front of you, like an enormous shadow, and spew ‘good-natured’ advice at you.
When they threaten you, in the name of love, and warn you of what will happen if you fail to heed their advice.
I ask you, how many times in your life have you made yourself small?
Made yourself invisible?
Hidden your light?
How many times have you done all that and more so you wouldn’t be alone?
So you would be seen as good and adequate?
So you would finally earn the damned love of those who are so reluctant to give it? Or those who only show it to you on special occasions, in small doses, and for a very specific price?
How many things have you already done in the hopes of finally hearing a word of praise? What are you doing right now in order to be praised?
Where do you run to in order to find the acceptance that you are entitled to? Why do you think you need to work so hard for it? Where and what do you run to?
Is it food? Is it pain? Is it sickness? Is it numbness? Self- denial? Self-sabotage?
I BELIEVED THAT IT WAS ALL MY FAULT
I feel as though I’ve been retreating my entire life.
I can’t remember the first time I pulled back, but I remember the first time I pulled back the most.
I was nine years old when I told my mommy that her partner was hugging me in very weird ways. That he was touching me.
She didn’t even look at me. ‘No wonder. You insist on walking around the apartment in your underwear,’ was all she said to me. Coldly. Reproachfully.
I wasn’t in my underwear. I was wearing my pyjama. A short sleeved top. Shorts. They were checked. With lace details. Pink and white. With a bow. For little girls. For little girls without breasts. I got it in Austria. In KGM. I wasn’t walking around the apartment. I was sleeping in it. I wanted to go pee in the morning while I was still wearing it. I walked from my room to the bathroom. Four steps down our parquetted corridor. From one door with a red plastic handle to the other.
When the person who is the holiest to you, the person you love the most, and the person who should know what’s best for you tells you that something is your fault, you believe them. You understand that the problem lies within you. You know that you need to make yourself smaller. That you need to change. That you aren’t good enough. That you aren’t well behaved.
You don’t stand up for yourself in life. Because your holy person never stood up for you.
All you do is blame yourself more and more.
How can you know how to protect yourself if the person in your life whom you believed most powerful never has? How can you do that if, compared to them, you are so small and weak?
That’s how you realise that you are insignificant.
I never wore that pyjama again. I never headed to the bathroom in shorts again. It didn’t stop the molesting though. That continued for years and only got worse.
I always wanted to be good enough. Hard working enough. Well behaved enough.
All in the hopes of finally being safe.
If I ever see a little girl wearing anything pink and chequered, I still get chills. The same goes for seeing little girls dressed into shorts and cropped tops – or those little bras intended for little girls who do not have any breasts yet.
‘Don’t wear that!’ is all that comes running through my head, as my chest contracts so tightly that I cannot breathe.
If something happens, it will all be your fault.
You’ll never know what you’re guilty of, but you will be blamed for it anyway.’
CARDS OF DARKNESS, THE DEVIL WHO SPEWS WRATH
It is a perfect day in Santa Barbara. I have spent the morning attending Samba workshops, and chatting with Oprah Winfrey’s neighbour. Now I am in the home of Cheri Clampett, the mother of therapeutic yoga and an angel come to Earth.
We are seated on the comfortable pillows of her meditation room that reminds me of the insides of a uterus. It is full of flowers, crystals, and candles. It is the embodiment of safety.
Cheri is busy emptying the cupboard located under the altar in the room and rearranging piles upon piles of cards hidden inside. The cupboard is packed with all sorts of tarot, angel cards, goddess cards, fairy cards, shamanic prophetic cards… I can only laugh and shake my head. I can’t believe that I had once though myself a huge collector of cards! I have nothing on her.
I have never ever seen so many different decks in one place – not in a store, or at a fair, not even on the internet. In fact, I didn’t even know it was possible for so many different types of cards and decks to exist. Cheri doesn’t let that bother her. She simply keeps pulling out more and more, opening them, and carefully stacking them outside the cupboard.
Eventually, we are joined by her husband. We are all seated around the enormous ‘house of cards’ in the middle of the room. We can’t stop laughing at the sheer size of it.
I finally understand why people call Cheri ‘the Card Lady’
‘Take any deck that catches your attention. Anyone that calls to you,’ Cheri says suddenly. ‘There’s a message for you hidden inside.’
I look at all the beautiful colours, the golden letterings, the assortment of silk pouches, and pearly boxes. These cards are real works of art.
Then, finally, I notice a small package. It is only slightly bigger than a box of matches. Plain. White. With simple, black lettering. Compared to the other luxurious packaging it looks like a beggar trying to sneak, uninvited, into a royal ball. It doesn’t belong.
‘What’s in that box?’ I ask Cheri.
‘Shadow Cards. They reveal and unlock our darkness. The blackest parts of ourselves.’ She studies my face to see whether I will flinch. ‘Very few people who come to see me want to open them. They prefer the colourful angel cards or golden goddess cards.’
I nod. I understand.
‘Every card depicts a devil.’
‘I want these cards. I know that I can find the key to my wings in these cards. I don’t want to just be a well behaved, good little girl anymore. I want to be whole. I can’t be whole without accepting my darkness, Cheri.’
Touched by my declaration she takes me by the hand and hands me the plain white box. The smallest of them all. The ugliest of them all.
‘I think my mom has wanted to be a good girl her entire life. She thinks that’s how she’ll become worthy and loved. She’s suppressed herself so thoroughly and forgotten about herself so entirely that she has overlooked an entire part of herself, the fruit of her loins – me. I don’t want to be like that, Cheri. I don’t want to overlook my darkness. It’s part of me. Until I accept it, I won’t have the strength to protect my personal space. I’ll never be able to kick out anyone who dares enter my sacred space with dirty shoes.’
I shuffle the cards.
As long as I was afraid of the Devil, I was separated from God. I couldn’t let Him in and He couldn’t get to me. As long as I was denying the devil within me, I was also denying God.
I pick a card.
Cheri lights a candle. She wants me have enough light to see my shadow.
The card is white. The devil depicted on it is red and surrounded by lightning. He is breathing fire.
He isn’t terrifying. He looks like he has only just woken up. He almost looks as though he has to burp after having eaten spicy food. He looks sick, actually. Like he might vomit.
The sign underneath the image reads: WRATH.
‘My darkness is WRATH,’ I tell Cheri. ‘The devil inside of me is wrathful.’
‘The darkness within us is that which we have suppressed in life. It is everything we haven’t expressed but should have. It is that which we haven’t transformed into light but have hidden in the deepest parts of ourselves. The Devil represents everything that is hidden instead of being seen. Once we reveal it that which is poisoning us becomes our antidote.’
I take a deep breath.
I KEPT APPOLOGISING FOR NOT BEING WELL BEHAVED
‘When I was in Slovenia, I observed you. I watched your previous business partner scream at you. She was leaning over you and shouting. And you didn’t say anything. You were bending over, as if you were trying to fold in two. You were crying.’
‘“Don’t cry,” she ordered you. “Don’t you dare cry.”
‘You didn’t stand up. You didn’t shut her up. You went away. You escaped into yourself. You retreated deep into your body. Then you apologised for crying. You told her that you needed some space and that you would return when you stopped crying. You spent the next two days hidden away in your room. Crying. Alone. You only returned when you were composed and “well behaved” again.’
I can remember the incident she was describing as clearly, as if it happened a day ago. That had always been my way of dealing with things. When I thought I wasn’t behaving properly according to other people or when I wasn’t feeling worthy, I always removed myself from the situation. I would hide in my room, hidden under several layers of clothing and far away from my body.
Later, I would apologise. Apologise for existing.
When I was fighting for my freedom, Cheri always told me that I would have to get in touch with my anger in order to obtain it. She told me that anger was what would set me free, that I had to get angry. She would say that understanding and forgiveness weren’t enough.
First, I had to become fucking pissed. Anger alone wouldn’t cut it.
I get a little pissed in the past months. Just enough to free myself. But it obviously wasn’t enough. Not by a long shot. Because if I had been, the Devil wouldn’t be here now to remind me of all my suppressed emotions.
Good little girls aren’t wrathful. They didn’t get angry.
Whole(some) Women, on the other hand, mercilessly kicked anyone who attempted to steal their freedom out of their sacred space.
‘Life has offered you an amazing opportunity,’ Sheri whispers gently. She hugs me and continues. ‘You’ve been pulling away your entire life. You’ve been pushing yourself down and suppressing yourself deeper and deeper. You’ve silenced your voice. But now, you have no more room to hide in. Now you have to get angry. The last few months have shown you that it is necessary for you to stand up tall and show you teeth. You are allowed to become pissed off and say, “ENOUGH!” You can finally scream, “You can’t have what’s mine.”’
She continues, ‘It’s time for you to tell people, “This is who I am. This is me, and no one, no one, can decide who I am for me. No one can tell me who I can be, what I am allowed to do, what I shouldn’t do, and what I am capable of doing. No one can tell me to be good and well behaved. I am everything. I am my own keeper. I own myself and my existence. I am my only authority. I am my own power. I do not need anyone. I will not beg on my knees for safety and adequateness. I will stand up tall.
“I will be the one to decide who can touch me.”
‘“And I will forcefully remove anyone and anything trying to hurt me or slimily latch onto me. I will singlehandedly pull out every leech attempting to suck me dry. I will squish them beneath my heels and smear their remains across the floor. I do not need anyone to protect me. I am enough.”’
HE BROUGHT ME A SWORD
‘How was the Samba workshop?’ asks Dr Arturo Peal. It is the morning after and we are on our way to his Aikido centre for a therapeutic yoga session.
‘It was excellent! But now my sacrum is hurting like crazy again. It doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t seem to heal the remaining injuries from my car crash. Whenever I move or dance my nerve becomes inflamed. As soon as I try to enjoy myself, my pain stops me. It’s like it exists to remind me that I don’t have the right to a good time – that it’s a privilege not intended for me. It’s almost like I’m punished whenever I get in touch with my inner woman.’
After our conversation, Arturo builds the entire yoga session around rehabilitating the psoas muscle located in the pelvis, and stretching the connective tissue around my sacrum. The pain in my sacrum lessens slightly. By about 20%.
At this point, the pain in my sacrum has been my constant companion for nearly thirty years. It comes and goes as it pleases.
Just as we are about to finish, Arturo pauses. He looks at me, pondering. Then he gets up and grabs a sword.
‘A sword? For me?!’
‘I think you need it more than you need yoga!’
We start practicing Aikido. I keep jumping around him as though I have springs tied to my feet, trying to attack him.
‘Get out of your head, Savina. Go into your centre, below your bellybutton. Go into your power.’
I centre myself.
‘Remove me from your space! Don’t allow me to enter your space!’ Arturo instructs. ‘Show me your power. Don’t retreat!’
I collapse. I can’t continue. My back hurts too much.
‘I can’t do it, Arturo! I am in too much pain! It’ll only hurt me more. I give up!’
‘You are in pain because you refuse to fight. You refuse to get angry.’
‘That’s what the Devil card told me yesterday. That was my shadow message,’ I say, shocked. ‘It told me that I had to get angry.’
He gets up and disappears for a moment. When he returns, he is carrying an enormous shield and a new sword.
‘Get angry at me,’ he tells me. ‘Let out all your anger. Let everything you’ve been suppressing into your sacrum since you were a little girl out. Hit me. Kick me. Scream at me.’
I don’t know how to do any of those things. Least of all how to scream.
Nevertheless, I try to cooperate.
I flail my sword at him half-heartedly. Maybe I even hit him once or twice. I kick a little bit too. I don’t scream, however. I stay silent. Like a little mouse.
‘Go into the source of your pain. Go into the left side of your sacrum. Hit me from that part of your body. Don’t worry about me. Let it all out. Let everything hidden at the core of your injury out.
NO MEANS NO!’
My breathing changes. As does my focus. And, with it, my strikes.
‘YES!’ Arturo screams. ‘That’s it. Go deeper! Go deeper within.’
I am no longer flailing. I am hitting. I am striking. I feel like I am no longer myself. I feel like Hercules.
‘GET OUT!’ The words topple out of my mouth.
I had no idea I could scream like that. From such a deep part of my body. My voice is no longer breaking. ‘NO! ENOUGH!’
I stop. ‘Oh my gosh, sorry, Arturo. I’m sorry I screamed at you,’ I say, ashamed.
‘Don’t apologise. Continue. Imagine that this shield represents all the people who have caused you to hide. Imagine their faces and hit them.’
I want to object. I want to say that good, well behaved people do not do that – that good little girls don’t behave that way. Then I remember that I don’t want to be a good little girl anymore. I want to be whole.
‘They’ve entered your space, Savina. YOUR SPACE. Kick them out.’
‘I said NO! No means NO!’
Something inside me shifts. Within a tiny spot on the left side of my sacrum, a hurricane awakens. A storm of pure rage.
‘NO MEANS NO!’
I am no longer jumping up and down. I am completely calm. I am breathing. I am acutely aware of my every move. I am aware of my space – within as well as outside of me. I am protecting it.
For the first time in my life, I become a warrior. My space belongs to me. It belongs solely to me. My ‘NO’ now truly means ‘NO’.
‘THAT’S IT!’ Arturo encourages.
‘Don’t touch me! Fuck off!’ I blurt.
‘Oh, no, Arturo, I’m sorry for cursing at you,’ I apologise immediatelly, appalled.
‘Don’t apologise. Scream at me instead. Scream, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY SPACE!”’
The words echoe through the room. ‘The fuck out… the fuck out…’
Ohno. Do I dare repeat them?
Do I want to be good? Or whole?
Good or whole?
I scream, ‘Get the fuck out of my space!’
A new wave of strength washes over me.
The fight is on.
If you come into my space without my permission, I cut your head off.
With this in mind, I strike.
I mean it now.
I will cut your head off.
‘Use the sword to cast out every single person who has ever dared to enter your space without your permission. Throw out anyone who was once invited in but has since betrayed your trust and lost their right to stay.
‘You decide who stays and who goes. You set the rules. Even if you once allowed a person to enter your sacred space that doesn’t mean they can abuse the privilege indefinitely. This is your space. Your body is yours and yours alone. Your energy belongs to you.’
At that point, I am no longer screaming with my words. I am screaming with my strikes. I am no longer solely defending, I am pushing Arturo’s shield further and further away from me. Not only is he not allowed to enter into my space, but he also has no right to come close to me. He can no longer exist too close to me.
NO LONGER COILED TOGETHER BUT WHOLE AND ENLARGED INSTEAD
‘This is my space,’ I ceremoniously announce at the end of our fight.
I have won and am now lying on the floor in the middle of the hall.
Despite everything I have done, my back is completely pain free. Nothing hurts although I have been kicking, jumping, and moving the exact part of my body where my injury is located. I feel absolutely no pain. Instead, I can feel the energy that used to be lodged there in the form of a tight, painful mass moving freely through my body – through every cell in my body – for the first time.
That was me. That tight, coiled pain was me. I could only release the pain by releasing myself and reclaiming my territory.
And if I ever got pain anywhere in my body, I would know that I had restricted myself and I would simply enlarge myself again.
I feel like my lungs are as large as the whole room. I have never experienced such breathing capacity.
‘This is your space. This is your territory. This is you,’ Arturo says proudly.
‘This is how you feel when you’re whole,’ I say, grateful.
‘This is how you feel when you put yourself first. This is how you feel when your emotions become your top priority, when your existence becomes holy to you, when you love yourself unconditionally. When you know what’s best for you and when you believe in yourself. When you believe yourself.’
‘Yes. As you were striking, your energy suddenly changed. I could physically feel the boundaries of your personal space. That energy propelled me out of your space. I could feel that I couldn’t enter without your permission. Your space enlarged.’
‘Damn, I’m huge!’ I say with self-admiration. I can finally breathe without fear. I am breathing my own air and no one is stealing it.
ALONE BUT NEVER LONELY
Energy vampires are people who break into your personal space. They lack their own source. They use different intimidation techniques in order to steal the air from their victims. They convince them that they are protecting them but, in reality, they are abusing them.
Your true friends, the people who are right for you, are those who respect your space. Your sovereignty. Your independence. They support you in your wholeness. They don’t expect or need you to be nice or well behaved. They do not need you to obey them. They don’t need anything from you. They give you their love unconditionally.
I am resting on turquoise pillows. There is so much space around me. I can feel myself. I can feel my body devoid of pain. And my body is not merely physical. It is enormously energetic as well.
I am alone in it. But, strangely, I am not lonely. I understand. I know that every single person is an individual. They are their own universe. They are alone. They don’t need anything or anyone. They do not require anyone else to assign them their value or their adequacy. No one decides how much love they are entitled to. No one can give or take love from them. They don’t need anything. There is no force outside of them that is wiser than them. They are the source of every single existing force. They hold all the wisdom within them. They are love. They are everything they thought existed outside of their universe. Everything is already within them. Since always. Forever. Perfectly.
A vast universe meet many other universes on their journey. It embraces them. It creates, feels, and shares experiences with them. It learns with them. Enlarges with them. Lives with them.
Any who wish to tame, adjust, change, control, hurt, abuse, fix, or direct this universe have no business being close to it.
By cutting them out of our lives, by throwing them out of our space, by setting clear boundaries for them, by preventing them from ever entering into our space we are actually helping them. We are doing more for them than you can imagine. This way they might one day decide to turn inward and start creating and breathing their own air.
Breathe yourself. You are so large! You are so important.