Where Healing Is Found

Where Healing Is Found

Photo by @mayurgala via Unsplash

Where Healing Is Found

Just today, I listened to this thought-provoking, self-reflective podcast episode with Krista Tippett of On Being. So much of what her guest, Resmaa Menakem, shared about trauma, energy, the energy of trauma in our bodies, healing and, the responsibility we have to ourselves, and society to do the inner-work spoke to me. Also, his words had me reflecting on what I believe to be true about myself. Like it or not, I’m a white woman living in rural America. I didn’t ask for my “whiteness,” or the generational trauma white people have inflicted on others and, too, experienced in the dark ages as Resmaa shares. Just like I didn’t ask for the personal trauma I’ve experienced. You didn’t ask for your generational and personal trauma either.

I’m including the episode here because I feel it’s important to give it a permanent space here on my website. I’m wanting to learn and, I feel it’s so important to always, always consider the perspective of others. There is a lot of learning lost when we get so wrapped around one point of view and don’t open ourselves up to hearing the stories of others. I LOVE hearing other human’s stories; it’s what I love most about podcasting. And, I would love to include the voices of others whose life experiences have been starkly different from mine. It’s in contrast where we have the opportunity to find the golden nuggets of sameness of what it means to be human.

Our humanness doesn’t request adversity. Our humanness is born into it, as much as it is a byproduct of the environment in which the human body and human spirit will either struggle or thrive. – Victoria Volk

What do we do with the trauma and the grief that’s left? Listen to Resmaa’s interview for some science behind the body’s response to trauma, suggestions for addressing it, and how he beautifully articulates what is plaguing our society today.

I share my perspective below, in the context of interpersonal relationships, which echoes some of what Resmaa speaks to in terms of the energy of trauma.

Traumatic events such as military deployment in a war zone, being victim to any type of assault, childhood trauma, and depression, can affect our relationships in various ways, even many years after the event. When our mind is under attack, many are left with scars that they carry on their psyche for years.

Some questions I’ve asked myself have been:

How does trauma affect our minds?

How does trauma affect our relationships?

Why is dealing with trauma alone the worst thing for our mental health? 

The Energy of Trauma

I think to understand trauma, we must understand the energy of it. Pay attention to what happens within your body in response to a personally experienced traumatic event. Pay attention to the response signals your body puts out in response to reliving an experienced (or generational trauma) felt within the body.

The book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, is not an easy read if you have unaddressed trauma. Personally, I have yet to get through it; it’s a heavy read but informative all the same. If you wish to understand the trauma of someone close to you or wonder if it is trauma that is stuck within your body, this book will shed light. However, if you have experienced trauma, I need to share the disclaimer that it is a high likelihood that it will bring up buried grief within you.

For many years, I put my trauma in a little box and tucked it down deep. As much as I tried to avoid it, it showed up in my early 20s in a big way. I still did not connect what was happening to the grief that was residual to the childhood trauma. So, as grief does, it created this divide within me. I would have experiences in my life that did not deem the reaction and meaning I would assign to those experiences. I was out of touch with reality in a lot of ways. In a way, I walled myself off from my heart and was intellectualizing everything I experienced. In essence, I was disassociating myself from my physical body and outward reality. When something happens that isn’t normal, we think to ourselves, “this shouldn’t be happening.” Logically, we know it isn’t normal. However, when a sense of safety and security is stripped away, what is left but to go somewhere else in your mind? This is how I would describe my experience. Seeing your life as if it were a movie. Memories become scant or vague. But the feeling, the feeling is there. It’s buried so deep. Until one day, like a volcano, you erupt and everything seems to go to hell in a handbasket.

So, how does trauma play out in relationships?

Dissociation is a natural response to trauma. Any person facing an experience that involves too much pain and terror, and whose mental mechanisms are incapable of dealing with it, will develop a dissociation. Shock is a response to something that erupts at us sharply, and thus the disconnect allows the mind to adapt immediately and cut out the pain, horror, and belief in the impending physical or mental death. This saves the brain access to a dangerous state of mind that contains feelings, memories, and thoughts that are unprocessable. When you think about this in a relationship, it can make you feel afraid that the other person will leave, that you’re not capable, or that things are destined to go wrong. Sometimes it can send you the opposite; overly obsessed and perhaps have a love addiction.  

The Rise of Obsession & Fear

Because this process involves many mental conflicts, pain, grief, and touching the heart of the mental trauma, it can feel unbearable. Disconnection allows us to erase, anesthetize or cut out of ourselves the same aspects of ourselves associated with trauma so that we can live without worry again. Typically, people suffering from a severe dissociative disorder in adulthood experienced severe childhood trauma. In these difficult cases, a person can develop disorders. In a lot of cases, the person will simply isolate and distance themselves from those close to them, lower themselves in different ways, be detached from their emotions, and have difficulty developing true intimacy that is the result of attention, presence, and sharing in pain.   Anyone who feels that this is affecting their life should seek therapy in some way; because there is no need to feel this burden and let it affect your life for years on end. The solution starts with firstly being able to admit that there is an issue.

And my goodness did this play out in my relationships. Add resentment and betrayal to past trauma, and that’s a recipe for troubled relationships ahead. My solution? Don’t let people get too close. I became obsessed with working out at the gym, usually two hours at a time. I became obsessed with having a good time and abused alcohol. I lived in fear of being betrayed and would make mountains out of molehills. I often created issues where there were none.

Fortunately, my husband came along and was my first safe harbor, who I attempted to push away at first, mind you. His persistence of care is what I needed in my life. He provided the affirmation that I was worth the effort when I didn’t feel like it myself. 

Truly feeling cared for was only the start of healing for me. My husband wasn’t going to walk through the hard stuff for me. I needed to do that. And, as more and more stuff would rise to the surface over the years, he’s been there, every step of the way. Every moment I felt I was going crazy. Every moment where I felt like I was unworthy of his love, he persisted.

Seeking Emotional Security

My husband provided emotional security, something I had never experienced. And, this is something so many people don’t believe they have access to. That being said, it’s also important that the person you believe is that for you, is capable of being that person for you, too. Fortunately for me, I have someone in my life who did not bring the baggage of trauma into my environment. That would have been too much for me; I can’t even imagine. Bring two people who all they’ve known is grief and wowzas…is it any wonder the divorce rate, although has come down, is still 40-50% in the U.S.?

People who have experienced a lot of trauma and grief throughout their lives likely cannot, and probably should not, be helping others when that energy would be best put forth to themselves first. It’s that whole analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first. This is why I believe before people get married, it’s beneficial to go through The Grief Recovery Method. Do yourselves both the favor of dumping your past luggage or risk bringing it into your marriage. I have not stopped doing my personal work. I continue to utilize the tools and practices of grief recovery and reiki in my life. 

I believe, as healers, we can only be of service to others to the depths we’ve gone ourselves. 

Essentially, it’s unwavering love and support we all desire. However, with unaddressed trauma, one can give off the double message: “get closer but keep your distance”. Therefore, in a relationship with another who asks them for a deeper encounter, they will find, to their surprise, that their way of preserving themselves brings them the exact opposite. A partner may argue towards them that they are not present enough, burying their heads in the sand, being passive and imperceptible. This is why you must communicate and be open and honest. My husband could have rightfully felt I was being cold and distant more times than I can count in the nearly twenty years we’ve been together. In fact, I have been accused of such. But, what has been important for him to know is that I process my emotions privately first.

What has been the most beneficial to my marriage is me working through my shit. As a society, I believe that’s the responsibility we all have to ourselves and society – focus on healing ourselves. Healing is found within; you have to dig through the shit to get there, though. I don’t care what anyone tells you; no amount of wishing or surface-leveling talking is going to erase the past. Action is your friend. Add healthy support to that, and you will be well on your way to reinventing yourself – beyond the grief and trauma.

No matter what you’ve experienced, don’t lose hope. Hold onto the possibility that life will get better. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Surround yourself with people who have done their own work. Follow the nudges that are guiding you; keep moving your feet.

From My Heart To Yours

The worst has already happened. No matter if it happened two hours ago or two years ago, it’s already happened. What matters most is what you do next. It is possible to sit with the feelings as you work through the feelings. It feels a lot more empowering to be feeling the feelings and knowing you’re taking action than sitting with the feelings and not feeling even an ounce of relief or hope for tomorrow. It’s never too soon and, it’s never too late.

Be your own biggest fan.💛

much love, victoria

P.S. I’ve launched the YouMap® page. When combined with Grief Recovery, it’s seeing your pain and your potential in one program; offered and available only by me in this way in the entire world! 

Why It’s Important to Feel Your Feelings

feel feelings

Grief comes in like a freight train and with it a rollercoaster of feelings that are impossible to ignore. Whether someone close to you has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, a beloved friend or family member has died, a relationship has ended, or chronic disease has entered the picture (or any of the 40+ losses), grief manifests in many similar ways no matter the cause of grief.

Grief opens us up like a gaping wound. It’s important we validate the grief and feelings we’re experiencing from those wounds. 

It can be rather easy to close yourself off from others while you’re on the rollercoaster. It’s tempting to do everything in your power to avoid and ignore what is feeling unsettled within you. However, allowing it to fester is reflected in continually disregarding that which is trying to get your attention. Repressing your grief will eventually manifest in physical symptoms or external behaviors.

In grief recovery, we use a tea kettle for an analogy. Like a tea kettle, grief experience after grief experience causes energy to build within us. This buildup of blocked energy is what we refer to in Reiki as byoki. Over time, this built-up blocked energy either causes us to implode or explode – or both. When the steam builds up in the tea kettle, it whistles. Once released, like our emotional energy blockages, the pressure is gone. When the energy is allowed to flow or put another way when feelings are felt and processed, the pressure (or stress, anger, resentment, dis-ease) is alleviated or even removed (if you did the inner grief work). 

Why It’s Important to Feel Your Feelings

  • Acknowledgment: By acknowledging how we’re feeling, we can’t deny those feelings. Thereby, we’re given an opportunity to either stuff or honor them with time and space. This is a choice we make.
  • Openness: By sitting with our feelings, we are actively opening up our hearts and releasing the emotional energy they carry.
  • Freedom: Embracing and fully experiencing our feelings provides a sense of freedom when we get to the other side.
  • Overall Health & Wellbeing: It doesn’t feel good to experience our feelings fully. However, it sure beats using a bandaid like drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, fantasy, social media use, or anything else where the goal is to distract yourself from your feelings by using these things to feel better at the moment. Because what you’re often left with is more grief due to shame, guilt, feelings of unworthiness, etc.

Grief is a shock to the system on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. If you want to feel fulfillment in your life, though, eventually, you have to lean into the pain so you can move forward without it dictating and filtering into every area of your life. It’s not weak to allow yourself to feel the despair and vulnerability, any more than seeking help is weak.

Recovery from grief doesn’t mean you forget the love you have for someone. If it was a less than a positive relationship, it’s not about condoning any behavior you feel was an offense against you either. Recovery in either instance isn’t about forgetting either.

Recovery Is:

 being able to enjoy fond memories without having them cause painful feelings of regret and remorse. 

understanding your potential and no longer allowing past experiences to dictate your future. 

claiming your circumstances instead of your circumstances claiming you and your happiness.

acquiring the skills we should have been taught in childhood. 

one day realizing that your ability to talk about the loss you’ve experienced is normal and healthy.

When we lose someone close, it’s common to incorporate rituals and routines for the loss into our lives. This helps us to make sense of what we’re experiencing. Some people also create shrines and memorials in memorial of a loved one. Rituals, shrines, and routines, memorials are ways many grievers use to cope. The way that we feel when we grieve is physically, emotionally, and spiritually painful, and the need to remember that loss is a normal and natural part of our lives. However, these things can also entrap us and keep us leashed to the event’s past. 

We desire to find purpose and meaning in everything – it’s human nature. I am no different, despite the training, tools, and education I’ve received about grief. And, I’ve thought about how I’d cope with the loss of one of my children. The honest answer is – I have no way to know unless it happens to me. And so, we can pass judgment on how others are coping with their loss, but in truth, every single relationship is unique. I don’t know whether I would leave their room as-is, or if it would feel too painful, I’d want to change it completely. That’s a form of enshrinement. And, it’s a space that could bring great comfort or it could be a reminder of great sorrow and all of the unmet hopes, dreams, and expectations or anything we wish would be different, better, or more.

The effects of loss infiltrate into every aspect of our lives, often without connecting what’s happening to the grief and loss itself. We can move in tandem with our grief; meeting ourselves where we’re at in the process of time passing. Forcing yourself to move forward doesn’t help you. And yet, we also need to consider, as grievers (and I’ve been a griever since 1987), that there has to come a time when enough is enough. When the craziness we feel within ourselves is a disservice and a hindrance to our overall health and wellbeing. 

Grief is as natural as happiness and love. 

One Final Thought

I think, spiritually, if we believe our loved ones are always around us, there is no specific room, shrine, or memorial spot needed. We can feel close to our loved ones always and forevermore, no matter where we are. This is the aspect of grief, I believe, that has the potential to offer so much healing to grievers, but isn’t often talked about. I’m definitely going to share what I’ve been learning about this topic as of late. If you want a head start, check out the Netflix DocuSeries: Surviving Death.

Sending you all the love today, friend.

much love, victoria

P.S. Did you find this post helpful? Please share it with a griever you love or care about. Sharing is caring. 💛

Get Mentally Strong This Year

get mentally strong

For some people, mental strength comes easily, while others have to fight hard to feel well each day. Whichever kind of person you are, there is no denying that changing the way you live your life, and incorporating healthy habits, can improve your mental health significantly.

With that in mind, here are a few things you can do right now to build mental strength and start feeling better than you have before:

Meditate

Yes, it’s become a bit of a buzzword in the world of wellness and mental health in recent years, but that’s because it works. Meditation gives you space from your thoughts, teaches you to live more at the moment, and helps you come to terms with past traumas. If you can practice meditation for just 20 minutes each day (build-up to this if you need to), you will begin to notice a big difference in how well you feel and how able you are to cope with difficult situations. I like to think of meditation as a “popping of the cork,” where the mind is the cork. It’s a disconnection of our minds from our hamster-wheel thoughts that allows us to venture into our subconscious (higher selves). And, you don’t have to sit cross-legged while chanting “Ommmmm…” to meditate. There are also walking meditations you can do where you focus on your breath. Meditation really brings awareness to the moment, which is so easily disregarded in our western, hustling culture.

Seek help

There is nothing weak about seeking help when you’re feeling unable to cope with your mental condition. From using an anxiety counseling service to seeing a psychiatrist who can work with your brain chemistry to get you back on an even keel or even having Reiki healing to get back in touch with yourself, doing what you need to do, and seeking help from the professionals who can help you with this is a smart move. It’s also a move you should make whenever you’re struggling – it shouldn’t be a one-time thing. If grief weighs you down, I offer a service specific to grief that isn’t going to take two years of talk therapy. In grief recovery, get to the root of many of the issues that plague your life, not realizing that grief is quite possibly the cause. Not to mention, it’s an evidence-based, proven structured program for moving beyond grief. 

Challenge yourself

You can never be truly mentally strong if you stay in your comfort zone. To be the best person you can be, you need to challenge yourself regularly. Don’t underestimate yourself and try activities that you may think are beyond you. Do your best to master them, and even if you don’t fully succeed, you will have built a mental toughness and a level of resilience that will help you get through tougher times in the future. I wholeheartedly feel that had I not ventured out of my comfort zone more than ten years ago to start my own business, I would not have the business I do today. Challenging yourself also requires an openness to possibility, failure, and growth. We grow through challenges and experience – no doubt about it!

Practice gratitude

By being grateful for what you have, you teach yourself to be more positive, which will stand you in good stead when times are hard. To practice gratitude, end the day by writing down five things (big or small) that you were grateful for, making you happy that day. Pretty soon, your brain will start looking for the good in every situation, and you will start to feel happier than you ever thought possible. Give it a try; it really does work.

One thing I started doing is, when I lie down at night to go to sleep, I bless the day I had and will have the next day. I go through my day and give thanks for the blessings that occurred that day. I give my gratitude for any connections I’ve made, how well a situation played out, a heartwarming moment, etc. Also, knowing what I have to do the next day, I play it out in my mind how I would like it to go. And, if things didn’t go exactly as I hoped, I play it out in my mind how I wish it would’ve gone and then bless the people and the situation. This has been the easiest gratitude practice I’ve found that works for me. Steal away if it resonates with you!

Keep practicing

Being mentally strong and healthy is a lifelong effort; it isn’t something you can work at for a while and then give up when you get bored or distracted or whatever. If you want to be truly happy, grateful, and mentally well, you need to put the work in day after day, even if you don’t feel like it. By practicing the above, and other techniques you find useful regularly, you will struggle less through life.

I’ve said it before, but it begs to be repeated: “Grief is cumulative and, it’s cumulatively negative. But, so is healing.” Every effort you put forward in your whole body wellness comes back in dividends and compounds over time. Every time (or financial) investment into your healing is an investment in yourself. And, you’re more than worth it.

much love, victoria

The Ways Emotional Dis-Ease Impacts Life & Business

Emotional Dis-Ease

Have you felt like you’ve been on a rollercoaster ride, emotionally, lately?

I have.

My kids are now home due to COVID. So, aside from that, and all the other things come with life, work, and business, I’m tired. And, I know I’m not alone.

One thing that I’ve found that has helped me not to lose my marbles lately is taking at least 45 minutes every morning for myself. Every weekday, I do a workout. Periodically, I give myself Reiki. One day this week, I also journaled. The point is, taking time for my body, my heart, and my mindset has dramatically kept me from lashing out in frustration.

How often, though, do we go about our day without making our body, heart, and mindset a priority? How often do we lax on our self-awareness and go about our day mindlessly? A lot.

I recall many times throughout my life, where the littlest things would set me off. This response is not uncommon to us when we feel as if we’re on an emotional rollercoaster. So, how do you suppose this quick-to-anger, being easily poked by the bear – way of being is impacting your life, work, and business if you have one?

Back when I had my first business, I was struggling in a lot of ways emotionally. I was having physical symptoms, including unexplained body aches, headaches, and hair loss. Also, I had or have never been diagnosed with anxiety. However, since having a better understanding of our energy, I look back in hindsight and recognize that the physical angst I would often feel was anxiety. Even today, when my thoughts start to tailspin around overwhelm (which I’ve come to learn is due to lack of prioritizing) and the future, I begin to have episodes of heart arrhythmia and feel like I could jump out of my skin. Again, I don’t know if this is what anxiety feels like to those diagnosed, but this is when I know I am out of energetic balance.

I’ve come to understand that grief and energy go hand-in-hand. I do feel that is why Reiki found me after going through the grief recovery program and starting to unravel the years of emotional dis-ease I had carried.

When I look back on the years when I first joined the workforce at 14 and onward, I recognize (with new awareness) what emotional dis-ease (i.e., grief) has cost me. There were many jobs I never applied at because I didn’t feel like I had a snowball’s chance in you know what of getting the job. I also got so scared about the future, finances, and all the things when it came to college. I spent a weekend in a dorm when I turned 18 to pack the car and leave before ever giving myself a chance. I gave up on myself before I even tried. And, all because of fear and money.

I did not trust myself. I did not understand intuition and how to tap into it. I always looked to the external for affirmation that I was doing the right thing or looking for permission or just someone to tell me what to do. It was this confusion, and yet, also a knowing that I could do hard things that led me to join the military. If money was the problem in attending college, well then, I found my solution. What I didn’t realize was that I still had to pay that money upfront (which, I believe, is still the case).

I’ve learned to become resourceful through struggle, but I’ve also learned how to be resilient. That said, it’s taken me decades to dig in and tap into how to utilize my resourcefulness and resiliency. You see, when we’re emotionally suffering, it’s often difficult to see potential and possibility – in ourselves. Our minds become a fog of illusion that we’re okay and fine. However, if we take a birds-eye view of our life, we often see that we have blocks that keep us repeating the same self-sabotaging behaviors. Or, we become hyper-focused on performance, results, and outcomes – all the while neglecting ourselves and those we love (hello, burnout)!

Below is a rundown list of all the ways, I believe, emotional dis-ease creates blocks and hinders our progress in life and business. These are ways I self-identify with, and I am sure there are many more I haven’t thought of that I could add. If this list resonates with you, I’d love to hear from you! I’m curious if there are others I haven’t included that you found to be true for you?

The Ways Emotional Dis-Ease Impacts Life & Business

  • self-worth issues
  • questioning/second-guessing every decision or difficulty making decisions
  • seeking outside validation/affirmation
  • unable to see other perspectives
  • lack of discernment 
  • physical symptoms
  • money drama – money comes, money goes // lack of growth in account or savings
  • quick to anger
  • fractured relationships
  • difficulty connecting with others
  • feeling like others are out to get you // victim mindset
  • trust issues
  • lack of self-awareness or not conscious of your physical body // desire to “numb-out.”
  • avoid important issues within life or business 
  • not sure what you value
  • don’t see the value you bring to others
  • lack mindset // inability to see opportunities
  • difficulty focusing/concentrating
  • procrastination // difficulty prioritizing & planning

The more of these that resonate with you, the more likely you’ve got some emotional weeds in your heart garden that need some tending and pulling. With each weed we pull, we’re clearing out space for more beauty to enter and unfold in our lives.

There is hope on the other side of all of this. I’ve been having some wonderful conversations with some incredible healing hearts for my podcast, Grieving Voices. And, these guests have proven this to me over and over. There’s no such thing as joy or sorrow – the two co-exist within a matter of moments of each other. However, when the scales tip further one way than the other in a way that doesn’t sit right with you, then you have a choice to do something about it.

There is no timeline for healing emotional dis-ease. However, how much time are you willing to give sorrow? How much of your life are you ready to gamble? We all reach a point where we get sick of our own crap. My friend, that’s when the magic happens. That fire in your belly for wanting more for yourself and your loved ones – it’s the stuff that dreams are made of, and we often give up on our dreams before we give ourselves a chance. We often don’t think there’s hope.

Take your life by the horns, my friend. It’s waiting for you. Will there always be painful and challenging things that put a boulder in your way? Of course. Life isn’t a fairy tale or movie. But, why write the final chapter before you’ve lived all the chapters in-between? Resiliency is learned through experience and growth, a by-product of suffering. I don’t care which way you slice it. It’s just some people are more willing to allow the unfolding than others. Fear and resistance keep the rest stuck in the past.

The future will not be found in the past. It took me 30+ years to discover this. That said, our pain often becomes our message. And, maybe that’s just a part of my walk here on earth. I don’t know. As a podcast guest stated recently, “I feel more awake now than ever.” And you know what, this woman lost her 17-month-old son suddenly. A loss I cannot even fathom. So, please don’t take it from me; tune in to the podcast and hear the stories of hope for yourself—just incredible stories I am honored to share with listeners. I feel so inspired by their faith and trust in what is possible for them. And, for a time (like myself), they didn’t see it for themselves, either. 

There are gifts of grief (i.e., emotional dis-ease/suffering). Get empowered by what is possible, regain emotional control of your life (and body), and watch that list above fade into the rearview. 

much love, victoria

P.S. Need a lifeline of hope? Reach out to me. Here to serve and create more healing ripples in the world. 

Grief Healing Experience Workshop

grief healing experience workshop
Carrying grief is exhausting. It ripples into every corner of your life, dimming our light and brightness along the way.
Grief is a burden we all shoulder, and despite the passage of time and positive thinking, we are unable to bury it or wish it away.
And many of us do not even realize this load on our shoulders; causing us to snap at our loved ones and reach for food, alcohol, and other crutches to numb and pacify ourselves for a short time.
Grief is not spoken about and because of this, we don’t even realize how it is preventing us from living the life we desire to lead.
Have a listen to my guest appearance on Michelle’s Podcast in preparation for this workshop. This is a great conversation where ample examples are given of the different ways grief presents itself.

My beautiful friend, Michelle Marsh (Aromonosis Coach + Facilitator, Podcaster, Writer, and Natural Living Advocate) is bringing me into her community to hold a Grief Healing Aromanosis Experience. With her expertise in the area of hypnosis, aromatherapy, and holistic wellness, and mine in all things grief + reiki, we are bringing our hearts together to facilitate this very special healing workshop.

Is this workshop for you? If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you may already identify yourself as a griever. If not, I encourage you to check out my podcast, Grieving Voices, where I offer bite-sized, weekly grief education.

Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss or any change from what is familiar in life. It is the emotional response to change. It can be defined as a feeling associated with the things we wish might have been different, better, or more in any relationship. Whether it is with a person, a pet, a job, an educational experience, or even a place of residence doesn’t matter. Grief can be a result of unmet hopes, dreams, and expectations in any relationship as well.

The Ways Grief Manifests

Some people find that the confusing feelings that grief generates interfere with sleep, while others find it challenging to get up and function after waking up.

Some people find that they feel sad or cry over things that never seemed to bother them before.

Many find themselves longing for that relationship lost, and others find, especially when they discover that friends seem to be able to offer little meaningful help, that they lose some of their ability to trust others.

Some find themselves easily irritated, while others do not have the energy to feel much of anything.

For some, the memories leading up to and including the moment of loss overshadow all of their fond memories of that relationship.

Simply stated, grief can be overwhelming!  Just as overwhelming can be the labels that are put on grievers and the advice that they are given.

To gain FREE access to the LIVE workshop, enter your details below and I will send you the Zoom link on Monday, September 14th. The workshop will be at 7:00 AM CST on Tuesday, September 15th, 2020. My friend, Michelle, is located in Australia, where it will be evening. No worries – by signing up, you’ll receive the recording! However, if you can make it LIVE, it is highly recommended. 😉

You can learn more about Michelle and her Aromanosis Membership HERE. For questions about the Aromanosis Membership, email Michelle directly.

Changing the Mental Health Conversation

May Mental Health Awareness Month

For me, 2019 was my year of focusing on my mental health. I’ve continued to do so in 2020, ensuring I am checking in with myself. It is so important that we can recognize when we’re not quite feeling right.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and how fitting, for the times we all find ourselves in, and, with Mother’s Day right around the corner. I know for myself, my “mom brain” has not felt like itself many times since quarantine started. My thirteen-year-old daughter has been telling me that “this is going to be the best Mother’s Day ever!” I have no idea what she has up her sleeve, likely along with her sister, but I do look forward to it! I’m sure my son has made no plans – in typical teen-boy fashion. Just to give you a glimpse into the banter that is pretty typical in our home, I had said to my daughter: “So, if it’s the best Mother’s Day ever, does that mean I get the whole house to myself for an entire day?” Without skipping a beat, she replied: “You’re not that lucky!” Lol! Awww well, after seven weeks, does it even matter anymore? Well – yes, yes, it does.

Our mental health can leave us feeling as though we’re in the middle of a mental tornado, stuck drifting out at sea, or surrounding by flames. Or, we can feel like we’re floating on our backs, sailing, and feeling the warm sun on our skin, our thoughts drifting and passing through the mind. I don’t know about you, but the latter sounds pretty much like an oasis.

And, here’s the thing – yes, some contributing factors within the mind are beyond our control. However, so much of what manifests within our bodies in illness or dis-ease, are a by-product of our emotional climate and not necessarily our mental environment, and there’s a difference. More often than not, it is grief that clouds our mental game with emotional clout. We have thought patterns and beliefs that become so engrained; we can’t imagine our life without them. We become so accustomed to the negative self-talk, bouts of anger, and personal judgments, that to imagine a fulfilled and joyful life seems like a dream that’s meant only for other people. Or, we believe that – if only we were wealthier, skinnier, faster, more beautiful, etc., that we would find happiness.

This past year, for me, has felt like a real-life coming of age book, full of challenges, personal triumphs, and some regret, too. In a lot of ways, I still feel like there’s lots of mental growth that needs to happen. Just today, I realized how much emotional gunk I’ve worked through the past year. I found hope in The Grief Recovery Method that helped me move forward in a significant relationship in a healthy way, not to mention, work through many other relationships using the tools I learned, too.

Additionally, I experienced flashbacks to a traumatic experience I had long buried that came up during, of all things, my reiki levels I & II certification. And, it’s still an ongoing process of healing through the utilization of new tools I will forever have in grief recovery, as well as through reiki. During my reiki master training, I experienced even more healing of that traumatic experience. Grief recovery and reiki have been the perfect blend of healing modalities that have allowed me to process my emotional blocks in a healthy, productive, life-changing way.

The progress of my healing was brought to light this week. The accountability group I joined six months ago met online for our last official call. We come from all walks of life, with varied backgrounds and challenges. What these women shared with me was how, from when they first met me, there was this negative aura around me. And, since that time, I’ve turned into Pollyanna (i.e., an excessively cheerful or optimistic person). What was shared, took me a couple of days to process and digest; because, on this call, we all shared how we see each other, what we love about them, and where they shine. It can feel uncomfortable to have a bunch of women shower you with compliments; it’s not something we typically experience, right? But, it was in their sharing that I recognized, for myself, how far I’ve come in my healing. Just as hurt people hurt people, healed people help others heal, which is why it’s so important that I make my mental health a priority. In doing so, I am at my best, so I can hold space for others in their healing.

How I Make My Mental Health a Priority

Not long ago, I had a session with a healer. She shared how sadness was the emotion that came up during the session, which wasn’t a surprise to me. As we talked, I shared with her that sorrow (i.e., grief) is one of the feelings that’s always been present in my life. She felt it came up for me even before my dad had passed away when I was eight. And, as I reflected, my earliest memories of myself are me hiding to cry, under my bed, in the linen closet, even the kitchen cupboard. I did not dare cry or, I would be given something to cry about (as children are often told). And so, like many children, I grew up hiding my sadness, and even as I sit here and write this today, I often find myself doing the same at the older, wiser, and more evolved age of forty-one. Our child wounds run deep, friend. And, it takes inner-work (i.e., action) to pull those weeds up from the root.

I’ve found myself led toward healing modalities that have equipped me with tools and education I can utilize on an ongoing basis and share with others. I don’t believe that’s a coincidence. Since my mid-twenties, being of service and aligning that with my skills and education has been burning in my heart. And, everything I’ve learned this past year has positively impacted every aspect of my life – more than I imagined.

These days, with grief recovery, reiki, meditation, journaling, exercise, and self-help books, I’ve found myself feeling more like myself. I remember when I was trying to find a way to be of service when my kids were little. I worked overnights as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home when I was pregnant with our second, and later transitioned to home healthcare. I honestly wouldn’t have had to work at that time, but for me, it was essential to feeling like I was of service in a way that didn’t include diapers and breastfeeding. Later, I would choose entrepreneurship. And, thank goodness I did; it laid the groundwork and foundation for what I’ve created in my life today.

My Message To You

My message to you today is this: I am no one special. There is nothing extraordinary about me. I put my pants on the same way as you. I struggle with the very same things as a parent, mom, spouse, etc.. I have days I know I’m not being patient or have had unkind thoughts. This is what it is to be human.

All that said, what I am now, that I never felt as strongly as I do today is: empowered, confident, and very intently sure of my inner-knowing. Discovering these qualities within myself had taken years of excavating (when I started digging into my emotional wellness in 2014). But, only because I hadn’t discovered grief recovery until 2019. My growth this past year has been ten-fold. And, you know what – it can be for you, too. 

You may not identify yourself as someone grieving. And, had someone asked me in 2014 or even as far back as 2001 (when my life was going off the rails) if I was grieving – I would have said “no.” Looking back, I know my emotional state, and my behaviors (especially after having children), were textbook for someone grieving. I was not practicing self-care (often not showering for days), had regular, angry outbursts, found myself pouring myself into entrepreneurship, which was a preoccupation for being present. I also sought help from a physician during that time who simply thought a pill was the cure. For many, many years, even after trying therapy, too, I felt like I was on an island. And, I felt like there was something wrong with me.

Once the health issues started in late 2013, which carried on through the years without resolve, I felt like I was “crazy.” I understand why people resort to going from doctor to doctor to doctor – hoping one will finally listen or do what is necessary to find the issue. And, you know what? I’ll let you in on a secret. Not a single doctor ever asked me: “What happened to you?” Not one doctor asked me: “How did you get here, to this point, in your declining health?” Not a one. Why? Because physicians are not trained, therapists. And, physicians are not educated in grief in medical school either. And, likewise, unless a licensed therapist seeks further education on grief on their own, traditional schooling does not include it. It’s why there are dozens of licensed therapists who sought certification with The Grief Recovery Institute.

Changing the Conversation

The collective conversation around mental health needs to change. It is my mission to spread the message that we start talking about mental and emotional health (i.e., grief) like we do about the weather. I am very honored and proud to now offer a way to spread this message. As one of around 150 advanced grief recovery method specialists in the world (and the only one in ND), I feel like I can offer something very special to North Dakotans from the comfort of their own homes, and also, to anyone – anywhere.

The question to ask yourself is not what it costs you to take this action. The better question to ask yourself is: “What does it cost me, in my life, to not take action.”

If you’re willing to invest years, time, and money into therapy and anything and everything else under the sun and have yet to get results, why not consider this? I urge you to get in touch with me. Could I sell ice to an Eskimo? Sure. I’ve sold Kirby vacuum cleaners. However, if the Kirby would’ve been grief recovery back when I was going door-to-door, I wouldn’t have needed to sell Kirby’s in the first place. You discover so much more going through this method than I can even put into words.

If your gut is nudging you to contact me as you read this – listen to that whisper. Our guided intuition will never steer us wrong. Having the ability to understand and have that inner-knowing has been one of the many gifts I’ve received from doing this work on myself. Reach out to me via email at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com with any questions or book a free consultation HERE.

This blog post goes out to all of those who are struggling with emotional and mental illness right now. Not to mention, all the mamas, the desire-to-be-mamas, and the earth mamas of angel babies this Mother’s Day. I know it’s not a joyful occasion for so many and my heart is with you.

Mind your mind, but first – listen to your heart.

much love, victoria

P.S. Resources: 

  • My website – there are many articles on my blog about grief, and there is also access to free, educational PDF’s like The Free Guide for Loss 
  • The Grief Recovery Institute
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255 – if you’re thinking about suicide or know someone who is
  • Crisis National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255
  • 24/7 Crisis Counselor – Text “HOME” to 741-741 
  • Better Help – affordable, private, online counseling
  • FirstLink211 – an online resource specifically for ND and parts of MN

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