May 28, 2013

Beyond the Masks: Losing the Game of Keeping Up Appearances

This week, I bring you part two from Kylie Devi in which she shares her journey from addiction of one kind and into a new type of addiction -- shopping and looking good!


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Finally, I had enough.

Enough of the struggle, enough of the drugs, enough of the self-destructive daily routines. I was 25 and I was sick of hiding out, playing small, and keeping my inner light, truth and love to myself.

I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be known. I wanted to come out from the margins and shine my light into the world.

I decided to make some dramatic life changes. I chose to become sober, socially acceptable, and to “do something” with my life. Really “be someone.” To put the trauma and drama behind me, and leave my mark upon the world.

These are delusional thoughts, considering that all of us are already doing something with our lives, and we ARE someone regardless of what we do. At any rate, I spent an enormous amount of energy trying to accumulate what I thought I needed to have in order to be someone. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on making sure I “looked” like somebody. This included many trips to the shopping mall, an activity I previously despised, to buy designer clothes, makeup, shoes, and accessories. New fashionable haircuts, hair dye, and the tanning bed were my new forms of entertainment. I was winning friends fast and everyone who saw me said “Wow, I can’t believe how amazing you look!” Anything was better than the drugged out junkie look I suppose. But it wasn’t me, not at all.

I joined a recovery group for my addiction and I found many of the women there doing the same thing. We felt, and put pressure on ourselves and each other to become immediately socially acceptable after being an outcast for so long. We clung to the images sold by our culture about what and who women are and should be. We became models for each other – showing each other the way to the lie of the promised land delivered by magazines, television shows, and Hollywood. 

It was so far away from everything I had ever believed in previously, but I was addicted to the increasing self-esteem and sense of belonging. I experienced a new sense of purpose in being and staying clean, and finding a completely new life, which had many healthy components to it, especially in comparison to what I had become used to before getting clean. And for this reason, I accepted all aspects of this new life, even the ones that were not genuine or authentic, because I was absolutely terrified to lose what I had gained. I knew that without it, I would go back to where I had come from. And that thought was more terrifying than death.

After a while, I faced the truth that I simply could not afford my new image. I was spending money trying to keep up WAY faster than I was making it. I thought nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on one single outfit that it took me an entire week’s paycheck at my restaurant job to earn. I had five credit cards and they were all maxed out. And I was struggling just to pay my bills.

A few years later, I was still sober, I was in several thousands of dollars of credit card debt, I was beginning to realize how shallow many of my new friends were, and I still hadn’t resolved any of the core inner issues that caused me to use drugs and engage in destructive behaviors in the first place.

In short, I was drowning in the same level of unmanageability as when I had been using, only nobody really noticed, because “I looked good.” Looking good was a slow form of spiritual death that was actually killing my recovery.

It was time to get to the root of my trauma, heal and release it, and find my true self. I did not find my true self in the margins of society doing drugs, and I did not find my true self in looking good, winning friends, and becoming materially and socially satisfied.

I found my true self in looking deep into my past, realizing how my rape and abuse had impacted my belief system and emotional development, committing to heal that, and doing the work.

This did not happen overnight.

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Check back next week when Kylie brings us the conclusion of her story!


Kylie Devi is the author of Recovering the Spirit from Sexual Trauma: From the Traumatic to the Ecstatic, a 21st Century guide to healing the body, mind and spirit in the aftermath of rape. Her healing process took her through an incredible journey of intensive study with teachers and guides in the Tibetan Buddhist, Maori, Cherokee, Hindu, Yogic, Sufi and Christian traditions. She has created over 100 healing based live events, retreats and workshops. You can check out her work and availability at www.recoveringthespirit.com.

May 22, 2013

Beyond the Masks: Not Seen, Not Hurt


This week, we begin a three part series from guest blogger, Kylie Devi. I connected with Kylie when I heard about her soon to be published book, Recovering the Spirit from Sexual Trauma: From the Traumatic to the Estatic. As we got to know each other, we talked about how abuse had impacted the way we saw ourselves as women and our ability to embrace femininity. I'm so excited to bring you this series in which Kylie explores how we can reclaim the feminine and stop hiding.

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As a child and teenager I felt like I had a sign on my forehead that said “Easy Target.” I constantly experienced unwanted attention from older men who would cross my boundaries with one look, one word, or one touch.

It was exhausting.

I often felt like it was my fault, like I was doing something wrong, or that I must be “bad” to attract all of this. 

Looking back I realize that I was groomed to accept abuse as okay, and that I learned from my experiences with childhood sexual abuse and rape that my body wasn’t really mine. My boundaries were literally obliterated by my abusers, which caused me to believe I was powerless, helpless, and had no control. In believing this so deeply, that was the energy I was putting out into the world. So no, the unwanted attention was not my fault, but my beliefs about myself and my personal power did render me as a more vulnerable target for lascivious behavior, as unwelcome as it was.

The family I was raised in was extremely proper, and my Mother’s dream was to have a little girl who wanted to wear dresses, get perms, and be a model. But I learned early on that being attractive was dangerous, that it would lead to abuse and exploitation. That my “attractiveness” caused others to abuse their power. So perm days were painful. Going shopping for cute and pretty new school clothes was literally hellish for me. I hated dressing rooms, clothing racks, shopping malls, beauty salons, and anything associated with accentuating my appearance. My Mother’s desire for a beautiful little girl, and my desire to disappear and not be seen were in constant conflict and a major source of wounding for both of us.

I was happiest in a really baggy sweatshirt, oversized pants and my hair at least partially covering my face. This helped me to feel like I was concealing my vulnerability, so I could save it for a later date when it was safer to reveal. I wasn’t sure when that time would be, but I knew it wasn’t the present moment, I knew that exposing myself to the outside world would elicit violent, attacking energy. Remaining hidden, while painful to my creative spirit, was also the only way I felt I could protect myself from potential abusers. I felt if I disappeared, they wouldn’t notice me. In high school, I found myself at home in the skateboarder/punk/rave scenes where baggy clothing was pretty much the standard dress code.

I projected a strong attitude to others that “I don’t care what I look like, it’s only what’s on the inside that counts.” But the truth is, I cared immensely about not being seen. I put tremendous effort into controlling external appearances for a very specific result – the illusion of safety and security. I wanted desperately to appear carefree and non-conformist, but the truth about my style and behavior is that it was reactionary and filled with fear. I didn’t want to be like “them” (the abusers), and I didn’t want anyone to notice me unless they were similar in appearance to myself and equally mistrusting of people and society in general. The cynical, jaded and outcast became my community of refuge.

There came a point in time where this kind of hiding out no longer served me. I had developed a lot of life experience, wisdom and compassion, and I didn’t want to emanate “Keep Out” with my body language, clothing and appearance any more. I didn’t want to keep hanging out on the sidelines of my own life. I craved intimacy, connection and loving communication with others. And so I realized, slowly and painfully, that I had to change the way I showed up in the world and how I presented myself. And because I am a survivor, and I have spent much of my life operating in extremes, I went to the opposite side of the spectrum. I overcompensated for years of wearing the same boring tee shirts and ripped up pants and suddenly my life became all about “looking good.” I wanted to be socially acceptable because I thought that was how I would “get love.” I was tired of living in the margins. I wanted to be seen.

And in wanting to be seen, I compromised myself just as much as I had in not wanting to be seen. In bringing myself out of hiding, there was a whole new level of self-deception I had to overcome.

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Check back next week when Kylie brings us Part 2 of her story!


Kylie Devi is the author of Recovering the Spirit from Sexual Trauma: From the Traumatic to the Ecstatic, a 21st Century guide to healing the body, mind and spirit in the aftermath of rape. Her healing process took her through an incredible journey of intensive study with teachers and guides in the Tibetan Buddhist, Maori, Cherokee, Hindu, Yogic, Sufi and Christian traditions. She has created over 100 healing based live events, retreats and workshops. You can check out her work and availability at www.recoveringthespirit.com.


May 14, 2013

Giving Up Gimmicks in Our Relationships

In this final part in this series on Transactional Analysis, we learn more about "gimmicks" and the roles we play in communication and relationship transactions. We can, by tuning into what we are after or out to gain, learn out to think or act our way out of the games we are playing.

Watch this video to learn more about how gimmicks keep us stuck in faulty thoughts and roles and how to get out of the cycle.


May 7, 2013

Let's Play a Communication Game!

Last week, I introduced you to the Parent-Adult-Child (PAC) model developed by Eric Berne. If you watched the video, you learned a lot about how these states interact and intercept, often times leading to not so positive relational outcomes.

This week, the series continues but this time taking a look at some of the positive dynamics that exist for each of these states, which ultimately creates lots of room for creativity and individuality.

Also explored are the "games" we play in communication.
A game is a series of transactions that is complementary (reciprocal), ulterior, and proceeds towards a predictable outcome. Games are often characterized by a switch in roles of players towards the end. Games are usually played by Parent, Adult and Child ego states, and games usually have a fixed number of players; however, an individual's role can shift, and people can play multiple roles.
Berne identified dozens of games, noting that, regardless of when, where or by whom they were played, each game tended towards very similar structures in how many players or roles were involved, the rules of the game, and the game's goals.
Each game has a payoff for those playing it, such as the aim of earning sympathy, satisfaction, vindication, or some other emotion that usually reinforces the life script. The antithesis of a game, that is, the way to break it, lies in discovering how to deprive the actors of their payoff. (source)

Watch this video for a great illustration of the games we play:




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