Non-Imaginary Friends

A man I befriended in 2005 taught me a lot of things. Chios Energy Healing was one of them, as I blogged about last week. That was a little weird for me, and I wasn’t sure it would work, but it was a lot easier to accept than channeling.

Since I was a very young child, I’ve had imaginary friends–except that when I was small, before I learned to be careful of what I said to whom, I was adamant that they were NOT imaginary. They were just invisible. I gave them names that made sense to me as a little kid; since I wasn’t necessarily good with names at age two or three, the first two were named Big John and Little John. By the time I was 8 or 9, my invisible friends numbered somewhere around 40. By then, I’d learned that they had to be imaginary–either that or I was crazy and needed to be locked up. I’d learned it upset my parents if I mentioned them, and I got bullied if any of my peers found out. (I got bullied for many other things as well, but I figured if I could cut at least one thing, maybe the bullying would decrease.)

I read parenting articles constantly as a child, because parenting me effectively and nonabusively was largely left to me. Some of those articles mentioned that imaginary friends were perfectly normal for young children, especially children like me with no siblings, few friends, and huge imaginations, and that those imaginary friends were usually outgrown well before junior high school.

I didn’t outgrow mine. That scared me; maybe I really *was* crazy. Most of them went away; by junior high, only three or four remained. But they were definitely still there, and they knew a lot more than I did. They told me things I had no way of knowing but was able to confirm were correct. They guided me through the extreme emotional lows and traumas I experienced, and at times literally kept me alive. And even though I knew it probably meant I was crazy, I continued talking to them, because most of the time I had no one else. Despite the fear that someone would find out about them and lock me up, I also found their presence comforting.

Fast-forward to 2005/early 2006, when my friend started teaching me about energy healing and channeling. Channeling, he told me, was the ability to connect to higher-vibration beings such as beings of light or spirit guides, who could offer advice and support from a broader perspective. He had a guide with whom he spoke fairly often, who helped him with his writing projects and whom he channeled verbally for others. He offered me a session.

That scared me. A lot of things about this friend scared me, to be honest. Even though he was an extremely gentle man who would never have harmed anyone intentionally, he talked about things like beings of light and channeling as though they were completely normal, which was the total opposite of what I’d been taught as a child. And somewhere inside, I knew that his skills could help me, and I was afraid to accept that help.

But I accepted the offer of a channeling session, partly because I was curious and partly at the urging of my “imaginary” friends.

During that first channeling session, I was excruciatingly uncomfortable. I was afraid to talk to my friend’s guide; I was afraid of the guide, even though I could sense that he was nothing but benevolent. I wasn’t used to benevolence. Also, his energetic vibration was far higher than mine, and higher than that of my friend (beings’ vibrations are generally higher than those of humans), and that caused some physical discomfort for me. Over the year or so after this that the friendship continued, I never became more comfortable having a channeling session, though I at least became less afraid.

But I also realized my imaginary friends were not imaginary after all, something I’d suspected all along but hadn’t dared to acknowledge once I got “too old” to have imaginary friends in the first place. I realized there were reasons they knew things I had no way of knowing, and that they’d helped me navigate my life and stay alive as long as they had.

And, as with Chios, I realized this was a skill I could learn and use to help others.

At the time of the first channeling session, I didn’t know who my primary guide (the one who helped me the most and whom I would channel) was. That being had been unable to work with me directly for a number of years because trauma, bullying, and some of my own poor choices had lowered my energetic vibration to the point that his presence would have been harmful to me. In fact, when I first met my friend, my vibration was too low for me to tolerate the presence of his guide either; although I didn’t know it, the Chios sessions I’d had, other techniques my friend had taught me, and the friendship itself, had helped me raise my vibration to a level high enough for my friend’s guide’s presence and my own guide’s presence to be safe for me.

I learned to work with my friend’s guide through our sessions, and he helped connect me with and relearn how to work with my own guide, a being of light called Shiva. And as with Chios, I began offering this to others in the hope of helping people work through and work beyond things similar to what I’d been through.

I Was Skeptical About Chios…

In 2005, I became friends with someone. We bonded over a shared love of reading and writing, but as we spent more time together, I found out he had other interests as well. Things like energy healing, which I’d never heard of or at least had heard extremely little about.

As our friendship grew, I shared things with him about my life. Traumas I’d experienced as a child and was still experiencing in my marriage at the time. Healing didn’t occur to me; I didn’t know it was a possible thing. I just knew it felt good to talk to someone who seemed to care.

After a while, he offered me a Chios Energy Healing session. Once he explained it to me, I figured maybe it wouldn’t hurt, but I didn’t expect much to come of it. To be honest, mostly I only agreed to it because I wanted to spend more time with my friend, and this would be a reason to do so. Plus I didn’t want to disappoint him or upset him; my fear, irrational though it was, was that if I didn’t let him do a healing session with me, he wouldn’t be my friend anymore. I needed the friendship; it was the only thing in my life at the time that I felt like I was doing right. (I loved my kids, and they were my heart, but I knew I was screwing up as their mother.)

The day of the healing session, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and my friend couldn’t tell me much because healing sessions are different for everyone. When I realized I had to lie down on a massage table, I almost gave up then and there; I was afraid to do that. But I swallowed the fear and lay down, and my friend closed the door of the room so his cats wouldn’t try to “help,” and we got started.

Fourteen years later, and without notes to refer to, I don’t remember everything about the session. I remember crying a lot, and apologizing for it, and my friend telling me to stop apologizing. Trauma memories I’d intentionally buried resurfaced, along with memories I didn’t even recall suppressing. I talked throughout the session, telling my friend what was coming up, and he gently reassured me but refused to stop the session unless I explicitly said to. Which I didn’t, because as hard as facing these things was for me, I knew it would ultimately benefit me.

Afterward, he gave me something to eat and drink. I don’t remember what it was, only that it was something I liked, and it was vegan (because everything he ate or drank was vegan). I felt exhausted and shaky, and stabilizing my emotions seemed impossible. But I also felt triumphant, because I’d allowed the session and I’d gotten through it.

For over a week afterward, as the energy filtered through my system, memories and ideas and thoughts continued to surface. My friend patiently waded through pages of emails to address my concerns and offer support as I dealt with the memories. He never once told me to get therapy (we both knew I needed it, he knew I couldn’t get it at that point because of my husband, and he knew I knew I needed it). He never told me to get over anything, or to let it go, or to stop whining, or any of the other things I’d heard from people who claimed they wanted to “help.” He simply listened–well, read, anyway–and reassured.

I kept having sessions with him, but after just that first session, I knew I needed to learn Chios. It had had such a profound impact on me, and I wanted to share that impact with others. My friend strongly recommended I have one or two more sessions myself before I started learning, which I did. He was my instructor, and I was so excited to learn it that I went through all three levels in under four months.

That friendship and those healing sessions made an incredible difference in my life, and although the friendship itself only lasted about two years, the impact has lasted ever since. And that friend is a huge part of why I do what I do.

What Will People Think?

I used to create stories constantly. Before I even learned how to write, I made up stories to tell to people, on the occasions when I could get people to listen. Then I learned how to make those funny little squiggles people call “letters” and started putting my stories on paper.

Big mistake. Kids at school saw my stories and made fun of them. One of my worst memories–which, given the amount of bullying I experienced, either means it’s really bad or I’ve blocked out the really bad stuff–is of leaving my notebook on the bleachers when I was the manager for my school’s junior varsity girls’ basketball team. The coach had asked me to go get something, so I set down my notebook and left the gym. When I returned, the entire team–including the coach–was gathered around as one of them read out loud from my notebook. All of them were laughing, and when they saw me, they started hurling insults at me.

(Remembering this does not mean I need to heal from it, by the way. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting something from the past, it means choosing not to be affected by it. I admit I still feel angry when I think about it, especially toward the coach, who as an adult should have put a stop to the bullying instead of joining in. But it’s the same anger I would feel toward anyone who bullied any child, and it didn’t cause me to stop writing.)

I used to talk to trees, believe in magic, and play massive games of let’s pretend where I was the only one pretending and the people and things my imagination created seemed more real than “real” life. Sometimes I tried to talk about those things, especially as a young child. Reactions ranged from “That’s nice, leave me alone,” to “Don’t talk about those things or people will think you’re crazy and will lock you up.”

No one ever locked me up, probably because I learned to stop talking about those things.

One of the most difficult things for me in my business has been overcoming the mental blocks against “talking about those things.” I’m a witch who practices energy healing and channeling. None of those are particularly mainstream. All are things that in certain corners can get people “locked up,” or insulted, or called crazy. Being a witch, not as much, because it is a spiritual path that’s become better known over the years, though there are still plenty of misconceptions about it. But energy healing, to a lot of people, is “weird,” and channeling is just plain not something a lot of people understand.

Those are things I do. They’re skills I learned, not just something random that happened or that I made up. It is hard for me, though, to tell people about them. When I signed on with a business coach several months ago, at first I didn’t want to admit to the other women in the coaching group that I channel. Even telling them I do energy healing wasn’t easy, though some of them do other modalities like Reiki or EFT, so it at least wasn’t quite as “out there” as it is to some people. But it was scary to admit anyway.

Even when you’ve healed from specific hurts, sometimes the fears and blocks your mind sets up to “protect” you stay in place, and you might not even realize it until you start trying to figure out why something isn’t working the way you’d like, or why you sit in a corner at a networking meeting and just kind of smile and say hello to people. You don’t understand why you’re hiding, until you intentionally and consciously start connecting the dots. Even healed wounds don’t vanish entirely; they can leave scars. And sometimes those scars are hidden so well you don’t know they’re there.

I’m getting better about talking about what I do, though I admit I’m still hesitant to mention channeling since it’s the easiest for people to misinterpret and the hardest for me to explain. But still, if I feel that someone is open to at least hearing about it, I do bring it up. It’s a learning curve and a healing process, but I’m getting there.

What are you afraid to tell people about yourself? What do you do, or dream of doing, that you believe other people might react poorly to? How would it feel to tell just one person?

Give it a try, if you can. And if you want support around it, email me at kim@riverflowhealing.com and we’ll talk about how I might be able to help.

Taking a Blog Break

For the next couple of weeks, I’ve decided to give myself a break from writing blog posts. Sometimes you just need to give your brain a chance to reset. Plus it’s the end of summer, and there are a lot of things going on; I would rather resume blogging when I’m able to actually give it my full attention and provide you all with interesting and relevant content.

So in the meanwhile, please enjoy this photo I took from the Golden Eagle restaurant in North Adams, MA.

I Have a Confession…

I’m human.

You might be thinking, “Well, duh, everyone is human. How is that a confession?”

It’s a confession because sometimes people fall into the trap of believing they have to have all their shit together, or at least had damn well better act like they do. They hide how they’re really feeling. They present a fully-healed, perfect-ish face to the outside. This seems especially true in the coaching and healing industries, where it’s not uncommon to hear “You can’t help others until you’re healed.” So those who want to help others and haven’t finished their own healing *pretend* they have so people will believe they can help.

It doesn’t work that way. Not always. Maybe not even usually. Healing isn’t a thing you reach and that’s the end of it. You make progress. You might be able to shake some of the things that have held you back, and some of the habits and defense mechanisms you’ve developed, but life is an ongoing process, and so is healing.

I grew up with a constant barrage of “What will other people think,” coupled with constant judgment, bullying, and emotional abuse. I tried my hardest to hide all the things that were “wrong” with me so people would like me and wouldn’t treat me like crap. I hid who I truly was because the alternative was to let people actually know me–which would mean they wouldn’t like me, which would mean they might hurt me.

I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the decades. I’ve learned that other people’s opinions of me don’t define me and in the long run don’t matter…but sometimes, I forget that. Sometimes, especially as a healer and coach, I start thinking I have to at least present a fully-healed facade to the world or no one will want to work with me. I bury my struggles so no one will see them and think less of me. Instead of leaning on the people who care about me, I decide I shouldn’t bother them, and just hold everything in until I can’t hold it anymore.

I have depression, anxiety, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. These are illnesses, and they aren’t going anywhere. There’s no cure. There’s treatment, which is varying levels of effective, and there are management strategies, some of which I’ve learned and some I’ve developed myself, because I know what works for me.

But despite best efforts, sometimes those illnesses flare up, and those are the times I’m most likely to bury things and try to convince myself I can handle everything without help. The demons of screwed-up brain chemistry and brain alterations caused by trauma start whispering to me that I can’t count on anyone else, shouldn’t count on anyone else, and if anyone finds out I’m struggling, they’ll think I’m a whineass. I don’t deserve to be helped, according to those demons. I deserve to feel like crap, and that’s what anyone else would tell me.

Obviously, that isn’t true, but those demons can be pretty damn persuasive.

I have come a very long way in my life. I have done a lot of healing and a lot of work. It isn’t always steady forward progress; most healing isn’t. There will be setbacks and backtracks, and that’s okay. The point is to keep moving as forward as possible, and accept that when the setbacks happen, they don’t equal failure. They equal being human.

Over the past few months, the demons have been especially loud as I’ve tried to get River Flow Healing fully off the ground. This has been due to a combination of the stress of trying to start and run a business, some personal life stressors, and the medication I’m on becoming ineffective, which is a problem because there is a very limited number of medications I can take without adverse reactions. (If you’re someone who doesn’t believe in medication for mental illness, more power to you, but please post on your own venue about your opinion instead of starting an argument here. For me, and for many other people I know, medication is not only beneficial but vital. Nothing works for everyone, everything works for someone. And I have tried treating my illnesses both without and with medications.)

For the past few months, I’ve forgotten to let myself be human. I’ve become convinced that I can’t let anyone see that I’m not fully, perfectly healed, or I’ll never have clients. I’ve shut down and operated on autopilot, compartmentalizing the negative thoughts and emotions instead of managing them.

But I am human. I’m not some magical being who doesn’t experience pain or fear or flashbacks. I’m not here to show others how to become perfect. I started my healing journey at a much lower point and I’ve progressed to where I am now, and I’m continuing to progress, and I’m here to tell and show others how I’ve done it and how they can too. To be a healer, you don’t have to be fully healed. You just have to be more healed than you were, and continuing to work on it.

So yeah. That’s my confession. I’m human. But I’m a human who’s been where you might be, and if you think I can help you, I would love to try.

Channeling for Myself

In 2006, my mentor taught me how to channel, after first explaining the concepts of guides and channeling and helping me, with the aid of his own guide, reconnect with my primary guide Shiva. That was when I started channeling for other people, beginning with my mentor and moving to regular channeling sessions at a store in Portland, Maine.

But I’d been working with my guides most of my life, unknowingly. As a child, I thought of them as invisible (never “imaginary”) friends who told me how to stay out of danger, helped me navigate my life, and even occasionally helped me with homework. On one memorable occasion, one of them helped me with a test in my 11th-grade Algebra 2 class. Although I hadn’t understood the material in the chapter at all, and had gotten D’s and F’s on every assignment, with my guide talking me through solving the problems on the test, I got a B+.

After the age of four or so, I wasn’t able to work directly with Shiva for a number of years. Due to traumatic events in my life, my energetic vibration plummeted to the point where Shiva’s high vibration would have been painful and possibly dangerous for me. He never left. He just “backed off,” so to speak, and relayed things to me through one of my spirit guides, whose lower vibration was safer for me.

Once I was able to reconnect with Shiva at the age of 35, we started working together directly again. Since then, he has guided me through a lot of difficult times in my life. I’ve had to learn to ask for help from him and my other guides, because growing up I was taught to never ask for help from anyone, but when I ask, they give. Shiva generally won’t give me information or support unless I ask, but he will sometimes say, “I think you need help with this, but you have to ask for it.” And occasionally if I’m questioning something, he’ll answer even if I don’t address the question to him specifically.

I’m a lot better at asking for help than I was years ago, but that doesn’t mean I always listen. Sometimes Shiva gives me suggestions or advice that I don’t want to hear. Not because I didn’t ask for it, but because I’m afraid to take the action he suggests, or I know he’s right and that pisses me off. Eventually, once I process what he’s said and sometimes discuss it with him further, I do follow through, and he hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

Ultimately, my life is up to me. But it’s incredibly comforting to know I’m not alone as I try to live the best possible life. I have love and support. I have a source of wisdom and knowledge that I can access any time I happen to think of saying, “Hey, Shiva, I have a question.”

Channeling isn’t something I only do for others, though I’m very happy to do so when someone approaches me for a channeling session. It’s something I do for myself as well, and I’m thankful to have the option.

It’s Pride Month…

I’m not sure how wide-spread Pride Month is, but I know in a lot of cities in the US, at least, there are events during the month of June to celebrate people who are LGBTQ+. As the parent of someone who fits into those letters somewhere, I’m glad to see these events exist. It isn’t about shoving one’s sexual orientation or gender in other people’s faces, and despite how offended some folks get, it isn’t about pissing people off either.

It’s about acknowledging the prejudice and discrimination those who are LGBTQ+ have faced throughout history–and continue to face today. It’s about acknowledging people as human beings, regardless of who they love or who they are. It’s about celebrating diversity, love, and respect.

In past years, I’ve gone to the Boston Pride Festival as someone who considered herself an ally. I’ve been an attendee and a volunteer. But I’ve felt like I was watching from the outside, and felt privileged to be allowed to be there.

This year, Pride means something different to me. After years of wondering why I grew up not feeling like a girl (and not particularly wanting to, if “girl” meant acting like the bullies and backstabbers I knew), and why that feeling persisted into adulthood, and after doing a lot of soul-searching and inner work, it finally made sense. I didn’t feel like a girl because my gender isn’t female. It isn’t male either. I’m agender.

Agender means not having a gender. It’s important to note that gender has nothing to do with anatomy/biology (that’s sex), or with whom someone is attracted to (that’s sexual orientation). Gender is who your brain tells you that you are, and how you identify. Although I was assigned female at birth, my brain was never comfortable with being considered female, and male didn’t fit right either.

Gender is a spectrum, not a binary. And this year during Pride Month, I’m going to celebrate having finally recognized where I fit on that spectrum.

Much-Needed Respite

Every year for the past few years, in May, I’ve gone to a spiritual event/retreat. Sometimes it’s relaxing. Sometimes, depending on what’s going on in my life, it isn’t.

This year, I wasn’t really looking forward to going because of some issues in my personal life that were taking most of my emotional bandwidth. I almost backed out of going at all, but I’d made some commitments I needed to fulfill during the event, and I don’t break commitments if I can help it. So I went.

One of my commitments was teaching a Chios Energy Healing Level 1 workshop. I’d done the workshop at this event before, a couple of years ago, and was looking forward to sharing Chios with more people. Although fewer people came than I’d hoped, the important thing was people came! And learned, and seemed interested. A few people later mentioned having wanted to go, but they weren’t able to because of scheduling conflicts. So hopefully I’ll be able to offer the workshop again next year.

Aside from that, I wasn’t able to put as much energy into the event as I usually do. My body decided to rebel against me, leading to my needing shuttle rides around the campground where the retreat is held and to my going to bed before 10 every night. (Usually more like 8. Which is earlier than I ever go to bed at home.) During whole-group activities, I had to sit down and observe for the most part, though I was able to take an active role in one.

I wasn’t happy about it. I seriously dislike not being in control of my body, and the pain and exhaustion were beyond my control. But at the same time, at least I was at the retreat. I was able to participate to some extent, and I had plenty of time to reset and relax. Maybe that’s *why* I was exhausted and in pain. Maybe it was the Universe’s way of telling me to use the retreat to slow down and rest for a while.

Sometimes that’s the way things go. If you don’t take the gentle nudges toward the best course for you, the Universe steps in and gives you a not-so-gentle shove.

I came home from the retreat feeling more positive than I had beforehand, and feeling more rested as well. And I’m looking forward to being there again next year.

Who Are My Guides?

I’ve been connected with my guides (beings who work with me to help me find my way through my life and experiences) since I was a very young child. I’ve been told that it’s rare for someone to connect with their guides as early as I did. In my case, it was because the humans around me were either overtly dangerous to me, or those who were intended to protect me chose not to. I needed help and protection, and so subconsciously or unconsciously reached out for those things.

I was very fortunate. Many people who open to channeling and to their guides are permeable, which means that any being who chooses can connect to and communicate with them. Sometimes that results in them connecting with beings who are not what they claim to be, and do not have the person’s best interests at heart.

In my case, the beings who responded to my call were my genuine guides, and they put protective measures into place to prevent other beings from connecting with me. This makes me an impermeable channel, since only my own guides can connect with me unless I request otherwise, or another being receives consent from me and from my primary guide.

My earliest memory of my guides comes from when I was about three. Two of them manifested to me as “people” whom I called Big John and Little John. (Hey, I was three. Names weren’t my strong suit.) My parents called Big John and Little John my “imaginary friends.” I was very adamant in correcting them; my friends weren’t imaginary, they were just invisible.

Big John and Little John, whom I now know as Dominic and Blake (though they’ve given me other names to use for them over the years), are spirit guides. Once, they were human, but they completed the incarnations they needed in order to learn what their souls had come to learn. They stopped incarnating and instead took on the role of guides. Dominic and I knew each other in one of my past lives, which was his final lifetime as human, several hundred years ago. Blake hasn’t been quite as forthcoming with why he’s chosen to work with me.

When I was about four, “Jesus” came to play with me quite a bit. This wasn’t the Christian Jesus, nor was it the being some know as an ascended master. Nor, for that matter, is Jesus one of the names this being generally uses. I was brought up in a nominally Christian household. A being with extremely high energetic vibration, who manifested as protective, safe, and loving, wasn’t something I could conceive of outside the “Jesus” I’d learned about in church.

That being, who I now know as Shiva, though again he’s had other names, is my primary guide. He’s a being of light, which is one of the highest-vibration beings among those who choose to work with humans, and he’s the guide I channel.

Some pretty horrible things happened to me as a child. Although my guides protected me to the extent they were able, free will plays a role in beings’ dealings with humans. My soul chose certain lessons to learn and patterns to address in this lifetime, and certain events occurred because of those soul-level choices. Since I was unaware of these choices on a conscious level, I wasn’t able to ask my guides to help or protect me from the events, and without that request, they could only be with me, support me, and try to ensure that I survived. At times, they advised me on courses of action that might prevent trauma, but if I chose not to listen, they couldn’t do much else.

With each subsequent traumatic event, my energetic vibration decreased. In order to work with a being of light, a human has to have a proportionately high vibration. By the time I was seven or eight, my vibration was too low for Shiva to work with me safely. He never left, but he “stepped back” and observed and protected me from a distance, figuratively speaking, so his vibration wouldn’t become painful for me or cause me harm.

For nearly thirty years after that, I remained connected to and communicated with my other guides, often wondering why what I’d come to believe were imaginary friends (because that’s what I was told by everyone around me) didn’t disappear as I “outgrew” them. Then, around 2005, I became friends with a man who channeled; he was also the one who taught me Chios Energy Healing. Through channeling sessions with him and his guide, I learned techniques for raising my vibration, and his guide, working in concert with Shiva, restored the connection Shiva and I had had when I was a child.

It took work for me to believe I was “worthy” of channeling a being of light, and to be honest, sometimes I still struggle with that lack of belief in my worth. But he is my guide, though I’m not the only human with whom he works directly, and I did learn to channel him.

Beginning on June 3, Shiva and I will be offering relayed channeling and trance channeling services. We did this together over a decade ago, but then life, including raising my children, got in the way of my practices. I’m thrilled to be able to offer it again.