Speaking Through Fear

I’ve been working and learning to be better about speaking my truth. Speaking up for what I believe, and expressing who I am and what I stand for.

What I didn’t take into account is how scary that actually can be.

I knew *I* was scared to do it, but chalked up the fear to all the time I spent in environments where speaking up was literally unsafe for me. What I’d forgotten is that in claiming my freedom to speak, I’m also claiming responsibility for the things I say, and sometimes that responsibility includes facing people who respond negatively or who are hurt by my words.

When I am informed that I’ve said something offensive or hurtful, I apologize where warranted and make amends where possible. My right and willingness to speak up doesn’t absolve me of the need to own my shit and take responsibility. But even though I apologize and I respect and validate people’s reactions, that doesn’t mean fear doesn’t raise its head.

In my past, people have harmed, or attempted to harm, me because they didn’t like things I said or just didn’t like me. So when someone approaches me with an issue they have about something I’ve said, while outwardly I try to respond in a respectful and productive way, my inner child is gibbering that the person might hurt me, that they’ll talk behind my back and turn people against me and so on. And anyone who has experienced the gibbering fear of a child can tell you that logic doesn’t always work to quiet the fear.

Then there’s the issue of attracting unwanted attention. Since I’ve begun speaking up more and sharing my messages on Instagram as well as Facebook, I’ve had about half a dozen men respond with propositions and “compliments.” (They might think that “Hey, you’re sexy and I want to be your friend” is a compliment; I do not.) It’s easy enough to block them, but again, my past comes up. I have been preyed on and victimized in the past because I present as female, and so even though I know these men are online (and often in far-away countries) and I can block them, the fear that they’ll stalk me or track me down elsewhere in person or online still looms.

I’m learning. I’m finding the balance between staying quiet out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings or speaking up but in a mindful way. I’m also finding the line between rational fear and irrational, and the more important line between what I am in control of and responsible for, and what is in the control and responsibility of others. I believe I owe people the respect to not hurt them intentionally and to apologize if I cause hurt; I do not believe I owe anyone the choice to keep my mouth shut so they aren’t offended.

(Note that I am referring to individual offense, such as someone not liking it when I state an opinion that is opposed to theirs. I am not referring to things that are offensive, prejudicial, and harmful to entire groups of people, such as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. speech. I don’t engage in those types of speech knowingly, and if someone calls my attention to something I’ve said that falls under one of those things, I learn from it and am more mindful going forward.)

Saying, “I’m going to use my voice and speak my truth no matter what” is easy. Actually *doing* it is complicated, difficult, and scary. There are a lot of things to weigh, including whether speaking truth is worth the risks. For me, it is, and I hope to learn more over time about how to find the balances I need in order to speak.

In Hiding

NOTE: This is a revised version of a post that originally appeared on this blog in 2017. I am choosing to share it again because it is relevant to a situation I’m living through now, and because I’ve made strides in this area that I wanted to share.

“Living your truth” is a big thing in the coaching field. Every coach I follow has said it at one time or another, and I definitely have used the phrase myself on more than one occasion.

The thing is, it’s easy to say, but less easy to do.

When you’ve been taught that you have to hide certain things about who you are, or who your family is, you learn that living your truth not only isn’t acceptable, it can be dangerous. If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, someone might hurt you. At the very least, you might be shunned by the people around you.

Even though I advise others to live their truth, I haven’t always been out there showing everything about who I am. I’ve been in hiding about some things, because I’m one of those people who was taught to hide. As a child, I talked about things like communicating with the wind and trees. I told my parents when I “just knew” something was going to happen, and I shared my writing and stories with anyone who would listen.

I wasn’t praised for those things. I was told not to talk about the wind and trees because people would think I was “crazy.” My parents said the same thing about my “just knowing,” and also ranted at me about how little good it did to know those things since I couldn’t do anything to change them. While my parents tried to be supportive of my writing, and so did some of my teachers, my peers and other teachers made fun of me or at least of the stories I wrote.

I learned to hide.

Even as I type this, there are some things about myself that not everyone in my life knows. There are things about which I don’t talk to some people, and other things I don’t talk about at all.

Living your truth and speaking your truth are vital as you build the life you want to live, but sometimes you have to be more cautious than you would like about what you say and how you live around certain people. And that’s okay. If you’re just playing it safe because you don’t believe in yourself, that’s one thing; but sometimes it really is a matter not of *playing* safe but of *being* safe.

But knowing the difference matters too. Are you staying silent because speaking out would genuinely be unsafe, or because you’re afraid? Learn to recognize when fear is the reason you’re hiding, and work toward speaking despite your fear. Hiding doesn’t serve you or anyone else. I realized that, while in the past there were times when sharing my truth would have been genuinely unsafe for me, that ended years ago. It’s been safe for me to speak; I was just too afraid to do so. Realizing that my fears were not reality has made speaking my truth much more possible.

Your voice and your truth are two of the most important tools you have. Come out of hiding and start using those tools, and see how much you can create and grow.

That’s a lesson I’ve worked hard to learn. I’m coming out of hiding. And I look forward to sharing more of my truths with others.

Blocking People

On social media, I generally don’t block people unless they’ve either proven themselves to be dangerous in some way (in other words, directly threatening me) or I’ve found them to be detrimental to my mental health (such as an abusive ex).

However, lately I’ve found myself blocking more people for other reasons. I’m not happy about it; some of those people are ones I considered friends, or at least friendly acquaintances. I have respect for some of them in general.

But the pandemic and other current events in our world are leading to people showing their beliefs more and more, and there are some beliefs and teachings/preachings that I simply cannot and will not support.

Some statements and beliefs just frustrate me to the point that I need a break from them to manage my emotional reactions, and in that case I’m more likely to unfollow the person or, in Facebook terminology, “snooze” them. However, other statements and beliefs are things I see as having a strong potential to cause harm, and I won’t allow people who espouse beliefs I consider harmful to remain in any type of connection with me. I don’t hold anything against the people, but their statements and, in some cases, vilification of and threats toward those who don’t agree, aren’t acceptable to me.

I’ve learned not to try to debate or reason with these people. I’ve seen some flat out reject reliable, scientific sources as “I don’t consider that reputable.” At most times, I wouldn’t have the emotional bandwidth for a discussion with them; right now, as I’m trying to maintain and manage my health, I definitely don’t have it. So blocking them is to prevent myself from engaging in something that will take more energy than I have available as well as to prevent myself from seeing and appearing to support conspiracy theories and potentially harmful–and false–information.

It’s sad that so much divisiveness has come from the pandemic and the current political and social climate in the US. (It may be similar in other countries; I’m not in another country, so I’m only speaking from what I know and what I’ve seen.) Sometimes I think the real virus and the real threat is humanity being torn into factions and fighting against each other at a time when working together is the surest way to end the struggles.

It saddens me to lose people I considered friends because they’ve chosen to espouse beliefs I can’t support or accept. But that is their choice to make; my only choice is whether to continue a connection with them. Unfortunately, sometimes the choice I need to make is not to.

It’s Fine Not to Be Fine

How are you doing?

When someone asks you that, do you reply honestly, or do you cover up how you’re really feeling? Do you say, “I’m fine,” when you’re anything but?

Right now, a lot of us are anything but fine. As the pandemic continues, people are fearing loss of income. Some are struggling to survive in homes that were unsafe even when they were able to leave from time to time. Some are wondering if they’ll have homes to survive in by the time this is over.

Marriages and relationships are ending. So are some friendships, either because of inability to stay connected or because people are realizing that their ideals and beliefs are diametrically opposed to those of their friends.

It’s a difficult time, even for those who seem to have everything together.

When you answer the question I asked at the beginning of this post, do you say you’re fine? And if so, is it true?

Many of us are taught to cover up the negatives in our lives. We’re told that it isn’t okay to talk about feeling stressed or afraid or angry. We’re told that no one wants to know if we’re having trouble with our finances or our families.

We’re told no one wants to hear if we’re experiencing abuse or other harm.

It’s time to change that conditioning. Right now, a lot of people are not fine–and that is okay. It is okay to talk about the not-fineness. It is okay to say you’re afraid or stressed or angry.

It is okay to reach out for help, whether to people you trust in your life or to organizations or professionals, if you are experiencing harm or abuse.
Even though there are widely different ways of handling the current crisis, and people are experiencing hugely different impacts, we are all experiencing the same crisis. We aren’t all “in the same boat”; far from it. But our boats are all in the same ocean of fear, uncertainty, and crisis.

So speak your truth when someone asks how you’re doing. Speak it so you can get help or support. So you can know you’re heard. So you can know you aren’t alone. Speak it so others know it’s okay for them to speak their truth.

You don’t have to be “fine” right now. Really. You don’t.

(If you are experiencing abuse, please seek help. In the US, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website http://www.thehotline.org. For support and help in dealing with child abuse in the US, visit http://www.childhelp.org or call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). You might also receive help or resources from your local law enforcement agency. If you are concerned that someone you know is experiencing abuse, please don’t remain silent or figure it’s none of your business. Reach out to them, to one of the hotlines named, or to law enforcement.)

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.

What Would You Like to Know?

At the beginning of June, I began offering channeling as a service to my clients. Although I’m able to do trance channeling, in general I’ve found I prefer relayed channeling. In relayed channeling, I’m listening to my guide Shiva’s responses to my client’s questions and am passing along his words, but I am also able to offer empathy and clarification. When I’m in trance, Shiva is the one speaking, and I can only address what he’s said after I come out of trance.

I’ve had the honor of doing channeling sessions for a few clients now, and it excites me to see how much help and understanding they seem to get from hearing what Shiva has to say. I have openings for more clients, both for real-time sessions, which can be done in person or by video chat, or for email channelings. I would love to work with you to help you get the answers to the things you want to know.

To give you an idea of what you might receive in a session, Shiva and I did a brief channeling for this blog post. This one was done with me in trance. (Note: Shiva refers to me as “Ganatram,” a name he apparently gave me several lifetimes ago.)

Many of you have questions about your lives, but hesitate to ask any, whether human or otherwise. Why do you fear the answers to the questions you know you must ask? In some cases, these answers may shake your view of the world to its core. Many of the beliefs you hold within you are incorrect, and yet those beliefs have taken on an existence of their own, as it were. They cling to you as you to them, and they will allow you to hear nothing else, because they would then lose their grip upon you. And you would lose that with which you have become familiar.

The unknown is frightening. When my Ganatram first began to work upon her traumas and beliefs, she questioned who she would be without them, and the fear of not knowing who she might become was greater than the pain of the beliefs. So, too, is it for many of you. Pain and fear are not your preference, yet they are familiar and therefore feel safe to you. Countering those beliefs and fears is frightening, because you do not know who you would be without them.

It is time to learn the truth. Time to seek out the validation of what you know deep inside, beneath the fear, to be real. Those who care for you are with you, even when unseen. Trust in this.

* * *

Could Shiva and I help you uncover your truths? Visit my Channeling page to learn more about how to work with us and schedule a session or arrange an email channeling.

Listen to Yourself

In all the things I’ve been writing lately about channeling, I realized I’ve forgotten one very important point.

Your guides–or my guides, or the guides of anyone else who might channel for you–know a lot more than humans do. There’s no question about that. They have access to more knowledge and wisdom than we have, and they’re happy to share that with us if we ask.

But no matter how much they know, you aren’t obligated to listen to them. And a true guide will never force you to listen.

I’ve met people who have told me their guides call them “stupid” if they don’t listen, or insult them, or order them to do things whether they want to or not. I recently had a conflict with someone close to me who claimed that if a guide or being wants to get a message through, they’ll have no problem forcing a human to relay that message whether the human wants to or not. He didn’t seem to see a problem with that, but he had a big problem with my assertion that a truly benevolent being would never do such a thing.

Benevolent beings who work with humans, whether as guides or in other ways, are–well, they’re benevolent. As Shiva puts it, “Free will trumps all.” These beings want to help us and show us love and compassion. Forcing someone to relay a message, or commanding them to follow a course of action no matter what, or insulting them if they don’t listen, is not love or compassion. And it definitely isn’t helpful.

As part of that, while a guide will offer you information or advice if you ask for it, they don’t demand that you accept it. Even when they know they are correct, they leave it up to you whether to listen or not. I frequently refuse to listen to my guide Shiva or one of my other guides, partly out of obstinacy and partly out of fear, and they have never gotten angry, never insulted me, never given me orders. They simply, and patiently, say, “You don’t have to listen. We’ll still be here.” And when I finally accept they were right, or if something negative happens as a result of my not following what they’ve said, they simply, and patiently, say, “It’s okay, we’re here, let’s figure this out. And maybe you could listen this time?”

When you have a channeling done, or speak with your own guides, it’s a good idea to listen to what they have to say. But it’s also a good idea, maybe even a better one, to listen to *yourself*. To your own intuition. Does what the guide says feel true to you, or is your intuition telling you something different? What feels like the best course of action?

A true guide won’t become angry or frustrated if you choose to follow your own inner guidance rather than the guidance they offer, because one of the things these beings want for humanity is for us to learn to listen to ourselves. Even if it turns out the guide was right and our intuition has steered us wrong, choosing our own free will over someone else’s words is not a wrong thing to do. It’s part of learning to connect with yourself and make your own choices, and that’s one of the things guides want for us.

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.

I Admire…

…people who aren’t afraid to speak their truth and share it with the world.

As a transformational speaker and coach, that’s what I’m trying to do. But I am still on my journey of opening up and allowing myself to believe I know what I know, and that it’s okay to share the things I know.

Growing up, I was a “pleaser.” The one who tried to do what everyone else around me seemed to want or expect. I didn’t usually dare to say what *I* wanted, or what I believed, because doing so wasn’t necessarily safe. Sometimes it was far safer and easier to just stay quiet. Not that I enjoyed staying quiet. I knew I had things to say that others needed to hear. I just didn’t necessarily believe I should be the one to say them.

One of the hardest tasks in my journey has been letting go of what others might think of me, and just being who I am. Accepting oneself can be difficult at the best of times. When one has been taught that they’re unacceptable, it’s an even harder fight. I’ve learned over the years that not everyone is going to like me, and even those who like me as a person might not like what I have to say, and that’s all okay. They don’t have to like me or my truth, just as I don’t have to like them or theirs.

It isn’t about being liked, or about what others find acceptable or true. My truth might not be true for everyone, and that’s okay too. It’s about liking and accepting *myself* and what I have to say, and knowing that even though not everyone will be happy with it, some will be helped by it. And that’s why it’s important for me to allow myself to speak, because there are still others who need to hear what I have to say.

In Hiding

“Living your truth” is a big thing in the coaching field. Every coach I follow has said it at one time or another, and I definitely have used the phrase myself on more than one occasion.

The thing is, it’s easy to say, but less easy to do.

When you’ve been taught that you have to hide certain things about who you are, or who your family is, you learn that living your truth not only isn’t acceptable, it can be dangerous. If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, someone might hurt you. At the very least, you might be shunned by the people around you.

Even though I advise others to live their truth, I’m not always out there showing everything about who I am. I am in hiding about some things, because I’m one of those people who was taught to hide. As a child, I talked about things like communicating with the wind and trees. I told my parents when I “just knew” something was going to happen, and I shared my writing and stories with anyone who would listen.

I wasn’t praised for those things. I was told not to talk about the wind and trees because people would think I was “crazy.” My parents said the same thing about my “just knowing,” and also ranted at me about how little good it did to know those things since I couldn’t do anything to change them. While my parents tried to be supportive of my writing, and so did some of my teachers, my peers and other teachers made fun of me or at least of the stories I wrote.

I learned to hide.

Even as I type this, there are some things about myself that not everyone in my life knows. There are things about which I don’t talk to some people, and other things I don’t talk about at all.

Living your truth and speaking your truth are important as you build the life you want to live, but sometimes you have to be more cautious than you would like about what you say and how you live around certain people. And that’s okay. If you’re just playing it safe because you don’t believe in yourself, that’s one thing; but sometimes it really is a matter not of *playing* safe but of *being* safe.