It’s Okay to Feel

We’re taught that certain emotions are “bad” or wrong. We aren’t supposed to feel them. We’re supposed to suppress them and act like they don’t exist.

The top among these is anger. Especially if you’re a girl, or raised/socialized as one, you’re told to be quiet and “ladylike” and sweet. If you show anger, you’re bad.

This can be common in the spiritual practice world as well. If you’re truly spiritual, so the story goes, you don’t feel anger. You just accept and forgive everyone and everything and feel nothing negative at all ever, because if you do, you aren’t really spiritual.

Bullshit.

Anger, jealousy, fear…all the emotions that some people designate as “bad” are HUMAN emotions. If you’re a human being, odds are good that you feel emotions. Feeling anger is no more “bad” than feeling joy. Emotions are not good or bad; they just are. And trying to force yourself not to feel them often results in just stuffing the emotion down into a little box in your mind—a box that might burst somewhere down the line.

The key isn’t to stop *feeling* emotions. It’s to learn healthy and productive ways to *express* them.

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I was raised in a home where it was not safe for me to be angry. If I expressed anger, I was punished for it, sometimes in psychologically damaging ways. I was told I was a bad person for feeling angry. That “good little girls” don’t feel that way.

In my first marriage, expressing anger was even more dangerous to me, so I learned not to express it to my husband. Unfortunately, that meant sometimes it spilled out onto my children. But more often, I just stuffed it down into that little mental box and convinced myself I’d dealt with it and didn’t feel it anymore.

When I was finally in a place where it was safe for me to express anger, I had no clue how to do so. I had no tools for managing my emotions—any emotions, regardless of what they were—because I’d spent so much of my life trying not to allow myself to feel them. So when something small sparked anger in me, the anger became huge and harmful, with lots of ranting and swearing and punching of mattresses and pillows, because I didn’t know how else to handle an emotion I was terrified to feel.

Note that I am not making excuses. I handled my anger very poorly a number of times, and at times that caused emotional harm to others. I am working to repair relationships that were damaged because of this.

Despite the reasons, ultimately we are each responsible for our own emotions and how we display them, and although I didn’t have the knowledge, skills, or tools to display my anger in less harmful ways, I still take responsibility for how I did display it and the consequences thereof. Part of my healing journey has been repairing those relationships, making amends where possible, and owning my stuff. Part has been accepting myself as a good *person* despite the things I said that I can’t take back, because while I *own* my emotions and my actions, I am not the things I feel and do. Emotions are neither good nor bad; actions can be, but taking a negative action does not automatically make someone a bad person.

It took a lot of work and therapy, but I did learn. I still sometimes get angrier than a situation warrants, but I am now able to recognize when I’m angry beyond what makes sense. I’m able to walk away from a situation that’s causing anger, and sometimes even to say to whomever else is involved, “I’m feeling very angry right now and need to step away.” I go someplace where I can be alone to work through what I’m feeling, and when I feel calm enough, I return to the other person and say, “I’m feeling angry about that thing you did, because it hurt me in this way. I’d like to stop feeling angry with you, so I’d like to talk about this and see what we can do.” It works a lot better.

Feeling emotions is NORMAL. Even emotions we’ve been taught are wrong or bad. Trying to suppress or ignore those emotions can be harmful to us and can lead to them coming up in less manageable ways down the road.

We also dishonor ourselves when we deny our emotions. Many of us who have experienced abuse and trauma have a child self living within our minds, a part of ourselves that became frozen at a time of trauma. In DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy, a technique often used in treating borderline personality disorder and PTSD among other things), that part of us is referred to as the “emotional mind.” In some forms of Witchcraft, it’s Younger Self. Whatever you call it, it’s a part of us, and it’s part of our healing journey to accept, nurture, and work with it. If we’re telling ourselves, “I can’t feel angry, it’s bad, I’m a bad person for feeling this way,” we’re continuing the abuse that damaged us in the first place. We’re taking the words and concepts forced on us by others and internalizing them, and that continues the damage.

Instead, I’ve found it’s far more productive to feel the emotion. To say, “I feel really angry, and that’s okay; how can I deal with this?” Even to express fear of feeling the anger, if that’s present for you. Some coping strategies for anxiety and PTSD can be used for anger as well.

Allowing yourself to feel those emotions and express them in *healthy* ways can help lessen them, and honors you as the awesome human you are.

You aren’t bad if you feel anger. You aren’t “not truly spiritual.” You are human, and you have the right to feel however you feel. You don’t have the right to express those feelings in harmful ways, but you one hundred percent have the right to feel them, and to express them in nonharmful ways. (And if you do express anger or another emotion in a way that’s harmful, that still doesn’t make you a bad person. It still just makes you human. Make apologies, make amends, and get help with learning more effective management strategies if it’s an ongoing problem… but accept yourself as a good *person* who just needs help to learn better *actions*.)

As a final note, if you’re a parent, please teach your children that emotions are always okay to feel, and teach them healthy, productive ways to express them. Show them that they, too, are good people, and that you love them no matter what emotions they feel. Show them how to love and accept themselves even when the anger seems big and scary, or the jealousy overwhelms them, or the fear seems to cover everything else. Let’s break the cycle of people who believe and preach that it’s bad and wrong to feel human emotions—and the people who, because of those beliefs and preaching, believe that *they* are bad and wrong.

Welcome to 2020

2019 felt like a long year. I’ve talked with a number of people who have said they felt like 2019 put them through the wringer. A lot of pain, a lot of struggle. That was true for me as well.

In 2019, I started off excited about my business, then called River Flow Healing…and then things started going downhill both business-wise and, more importantly, in my personal life. The personal life struggles impacted my ability to be effective as a healing practitioner and coach, and at times impacted my ability to do much of anything at all. Those difficulties led to my choice a couple of months ago to go on hiatus and focus on myself and my own healing journey for a while. But now it’s 2020, and it’s time to start fresh.

My journey isn’t over, of course. Life itself is a journey; there isn’t any point where someone can say, “There, I’ve made it, I’m healed and everything’s perfect now.” Life isn’t intended to be something to master. It’s something to experience, and to learn and grow from.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past couple of months, though. Things that lurked in the dark places in the back of my mind that I hadn’t really wanted to deal with because we’re taught that “dark” equals “bad,” and that we have to either eliminate the bad things or pretend they don’t exist.

The thing is, dark isn’t automatically bad. It’s just dark. Just as we have to have both night and day, we have to have a balance of darkness and light in our lives and ourselves. The key is to learn to accept the darkness within us and work with it to change the negative results of it being there. 

When a toddler misbehaves, we don’t try to eliminate the toddler; we accept them, love them, and try to teach them more productive and positive ways to act. It’s the same with the dark aspects of ourselves. The goal doesn’t need to be eliminating them. It’s much healthier for us, and more effective in our healing, to accept and acknowledge–and LOVE–those aspects of ourselves, and learn more positive ways of managing them.

As a child, I experienced neglect, emotional and verbal abuse, and bullying. Those things were a constant in my life, day to day, even into adulthood. Because of that, the “dark” aspects of myself manifest, in my mind, as young children. It isn’t my job to get rid of them, but to give them the love, attention, and respect I didn’t receive. That means when one of my child aspects starts throwing a tantrum about how everyone hates her and that’s why I don’t have clients for RiverEvolutions, instead of ignoring her or telling her to shut up, I’m learning to embrace her and say, “I know it feels that way, and it’s okay to feel that way right now, but that isn’t reality. Let’s take a break and come back to this later.”

Taking a break is another key. When emotions escalate, sometimes we feel like we have to “push through” and get the thing done no matter what. But forcing ourselves to keep pushing at something that is causing us pain doesn’t serve us. It is okay to take a few steps back. It’s okay to leave a task temporarily unfinished so you can take care of yourself and let yourself feel your emotions. And when you’ve allowed that, you can go back and finish the task.

There’s a lot I’ve been learning over the past couple of months, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you as I continue my work on myself as well as my work as a healing practitioner and coach.

Darkness Equals Rest

In the pagan Wheel of the Year (or at least the one with which I’m familiar), we’ve just passed Samhain, the end of the old year and beginning of the new. But we’ve also entered a time of year when, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight is short and harder to come by, and it’s only going to grow shorter until Yule, a/k/a the Winter Solstice.

This is a hard time of year for me every year. The lessening of daylight impacts my mental health, and the holidays I grew up celebrating at this time of year (primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas) were sources of trauma and pain for me. Things will start getting better for me after the Solstice and Christmas have passed, though the cold New England winter that will prevent me from being outside as much as I would like will continue to have an impact.

These are things of which I’m always aware, and I do know how to manage myself and keep myself as focused and positive as possible through this time. But in the past years, I’ve also often put self-care behind trying to push through doing things. Running RiverEvolutions, working other jobs, keeping my house (mostly) clean, doing things that other people ask me to do…

This is the time of year when, thanks to having to interact more with blood-and-marriage family, I’ve most often heard that yet another year had gone by without my doing anything that mattered or anything that anyone could be proud of. And so even though most of those people are no longer in my life, and I know I’ve accomplished things people told me I couldn’t, and have accomplishments I can be proud of, it’s the time of year when I get the hardest on myself for not doing “enough,” whatever “enough” is. And so I push too hard, and try to do too much, and don’t honor my own needs.

This year, I’m trying to be different about that. I mean, seriously, who am I trying to impress by pushing through the darkness to do things that sometimes I’m not even sure have a purpose? It’s a time of year when some forms of life enter hibernation, and some just settle in to keep warm until spring, and I think I–at least the business “I”–am going to follow their lead.

I’m not shutting down RiverEvolutions. I believe strongly in this business. I believe people need balance, relaxation, and clarity, and I have seen through working with clients that I can help them achieve those things. I know where I was fourteen years ago before I learned Chios Energy Healing, and I know how far I’ve come–even when voices from the past pop into my brain to tell me I haven’t come any distance at all. They’re wrong.

But I do believe there are times to work and push, and there are times to rest and recharge. There are times to plant seeds, and to harvest them, and to cover the garden with warmth and let the snow fall.

I’m still open to clients on a very limited basis for both Chios Energy Healing and channeling; very limited meaning a maximum of 2 clients per week. I’m still working with my students, and I’m really pleased to watch their progress, and honored they chose me to work with. I’m still poking at tentative plans and ideas for RiverEvolutions for the future.

For the next couple of months, though, I’m turning inward. Looking at my own healing, and seeing where the weak spots are. Relearning what I learned from my mentor 14 years ago that put me on this path in the first place. Relearning what I learned 3 years ago when I was charged with creating this practice and guiding people on their journeys.

Relearning the “me” that exists under the years of sludge and other people’s voices. Because I will be far more effective guiding others to learning who they are when I’m doing a more effective job of remembering who I am, and taking care of myself.

Honoring a Need

Today is the third day I sat down to try to write this blog post. And it’s the third day that I looked at my planned topic and my brain said, “Nope, not doing it. Too tired.”

It wasn’t a hugely involved topic. It was more that I wasn’t as clear as I would have liked on what I wanted to say about it, and trying to put words together was resulting in a lot of mental twisting and turning. I’ve also been fighting off a cold (thanks to working in two elementary schools a couple days a week) and, as often happens at a season change, haven’t been sleeping well, so my creativity is not at its peak.

So instead of sitting here forcing the post I’d intended to write, which would have resulted in some half-assing and inaccurate phrasing, and probably in the energetic vibration of “I don’t wanna do this” coming through, at least to those who are sensitive to energy, I chose to write a post about how I’m not writing the post I’d planned. Because I think sometimes we all need the reminder that it’s okay to give our brains a break. It’s okay to say, “I can’t think about this right now,” or “I can’t complete this project this week,” or whatever.

Obviously if it affects your job or interferes with someone else’s needs, you might need to think about it more and maybe do some negotiation or compromise. But the world isn’t going to end because I wrote this blog post instead of the one I’d planned. It won’t end if my post is under 400 words instead of close to 1000.

It won’t end if I take the time to honor what I need.

Sometimes, I think that especially those of us who were brought up to believe we were responsible for everyone else forget that our needs matter too, and that the world doesn’t actually end if we say no to some things. So this is just a reminder for all of us.

And now I’m going to go honor my need for coffee. Because coffee.

A Container? What’s That?

Recently, Britt Bolnick, a business coach I’ve worked with, shared information about creating a container for one’s clients. I read the transcript of the video, which she sent out to her mailing list, and thought, “I have no idea what that means.”

And then I thought about it, because “I don’t know” or I don’t understand” sometimes becomes a defense mechanism for me. Sometimes, it becomes an excuse for not putting in the work to figure it out. This sounded like something important, so I chose to put in the work.

Basically, Britt’s point is that the service one provides as a practitioner (coach, healer, etc.) is only part of what one gives the client. It’s awesome that I’m able to provide Chios Energy Healing and that my clients find it effective and beneficial, but that isn’t as useful if I’m doing it in a way that doesn’t leave my clients feeling comfortable and confident in the process.

I tend to get nervous before sessions. Not nearly as much as I used to, but still, those “what if I’m a fraud” fears do crop up occasionally. Because of that, sometimes I don’t have the space adequately prepared when my client shows up, or I’m overly focused on remembering paperwork and the questions I want to ask, so I don’t give the client a chance to speak or I plunge right into the businessy stuff without taking the time to be human first.

I’ve been doing some inner searching to try to find what I could do differently in my business. One of the biggest difficulties I have is that even when someone comes to have a Chios session with me, they usually don’t come back. And since they don’t come back, and don’t answer my emails, I can’t find out *why* they don’t come back. It isn’t necessarily, or always, entirely about me. Some people aren’t ready to do the work of healing. For some, I’m not a fit personality-wise, or Chios isn’t a fit as an effective modality.

But since I’m involved, I have responsibility somewhere, and one of the things I’ve realized is that setting a “container” is something I haven’t really been doing. Partly due to not understanding what that meant, but also, it just isn’t a thing I think of.

I grew up with parents who shut me down–or told me to shut up, though usually not quite that bluntly–if I didn’t immediately get to a point when I talked to them. They didn’t give me time to lay groundwork. As the only child of an only child, with two parents who rarely socialized with anyone, I didn’t have a chance to learn the small talk, give-and-take preambles to business work. I learned to just jump in and say what I needed to say, and do what I needed to do, and I’ve continued that pattern my entire life.

Recognizing that has been important, because I’ve realized I’m not serving my clients if all I’m doing is the service. If all I do is say, “Thanks for coming, I’m going to do this, this, and this, any questions, okay great lie down,” I’m not only not putting them at ease with the process, but I’m also not putting them at ease with *me*. I’m not giving them a means to connect with or a reason to trust me. More, I might actually be causing them to feel less comfortable than they would otherwise, because I’m coming across as rushed or abrupt.

I don’t know if that’s the reason some clients haven’t come back; as I said, I can’t ask them, because they don’t respond. But it is something I can control, and something I can work to change.

That’s where those of you reading this can help me. Just as I don’t think to set a container, I don’t always respond well when I’m having some kind of session and the practitioner spends what feels like forever doing small talk, or clearing the space, or whatever. I start feeling uncomfortable or impatient at those times. That’s also a result of how I was raised, but it means that as I try to change my process to better serve my clients, I don’t have a clear idea of what to do. I prefer the “get down to business” model as a client myself, so I’m not sure what to change or include as as practitioner.

So I would love to hear from you: If you’re having a healing session, coaching session, etc., what do you hope or expect in terms of how the practitioner greets you? What would you want to see (hear, smell, feel) in the space? What would set you at ease and give you confidence in the practitioner and the process? Feel free to comment here, or email me at kim @ riverflowhealing.com (no spaces). Thank you!

When I Quit Channeling

From 2006-2009, I offered channeling sessions at a store in Portland, ME. The store no longer exists; it went out of business in early 2009, if I remember right. I enjoyed doing sessions there, especially the group channelings I did in 2006 and early 2007 with my mentor.

Things tapered off for me in 2008, because I was trying to work and raise my kids as a single parent, and there wasn’t much time left over for channeling or energy healing. But people still occasionally requested channeling sessions with me, and I was happy to provide them.

Until one day in early spring of 2009. I got a call from the store saying someone had booked a session with me. I was excited; I hadn’t done channeling for a while, and the payment would be a benefit. But I was also nervous because I hadn’t done channeling for a while.

It did not go well.

The client was a Shaivite, someone who worships Shiva. He had scheduled the session because the being I channel is named Shiva. That set me a little on edge. I channel a being of light, not necessarily a god, and I was terrified I would screw up somehow and this client would conclude–and tell others–that I was a fraud.

I entered trance and Shiva greeted the client, who responded in Hindi.

Here’s the thing… while Shiva, as a being of light, probably could speak Hindi if he chose, *I* do not. And when a being is channeled by a human, the being is limited by the human’s capabilities. If Shiva was the type to ignore my consent and my well-being, he might have been able to force the language issue, but doing so would have caused harm to me. That isn’t how Shiva operates.

Already afraid the client would think I was a fraud, I started panicking. Shiva, who was still the one speaking, informed the client, in English, that he could not communicate in Hindi because it was beyond my abilities. The client seemed to accept this, and the conversation went on.

Or, rather, didn’t, because my panic got the better of me. I broke trance, stammered through an apology to the client, and brought him out to the store’s register to get his money back. He assured me it was fine, that he had been able to tell I–and Shiva–was the real deal and there was no harm done, but I didn’t fully trust that.

I didn’t channel again until 2016, and then it was relayed channeling, in which Shiva told me his responses and I passed them along to the client. Even with that, every time I saw a client, I was anxious about getting something wrong and being called a fraud, to the point that I ended up stopping those sessions as well.

Fear is a powerful thing. Whether it’s rational or not, it can take hold and grow into something that blocks you from doing even things you badly want to do.

I’ve resumed offering channeling in the past several months, because I’ve worked with those fears. I know that what I’m doing is, as the Shaivite client said, the “real deal.” If a client chooses to believe otherwise, that is their choice, but it isn’t a reflection on me, and their belief is not my truth.

I have openings for channeling clients, as well as opportunities for clients to receive channelings via email. For more information, please visit my Channeling page or send me a message at info @ riverflowhealing.com.

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.

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.