As we're approaching the start of my live 6-week series for emotional abuse recovery (begins this Saturday 2/20!)), I wanted to offer more information about how the sessions will be conducted and why the practices involved are helpful for dealing with the traumatic effects of emotional abuse. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
I chose the image of someone breaking free from handcuffs purposely because the effects of emotional abuse can make us feel like we're locked in a prison we can't escape. Whether we can't escape the relationship or the endless thoughts in our heads after it's over, it feels like a nightmare, hell...a prison. With some guidance, the right tools, and some extra help we CAN absolutely escape that prison and bring ourselves and our lives into balance and, potentially, into a better state that they were before.
Emotional abuse is so unstudied that it barely has a definition to be found during a Google search. The most clear and concise one I saw is from Urban Dictionary, if you can believe that: "Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased." It definitely gets much deeper than a quick description, but that pretty much sums it up. It's categorized under psychological abuse, which makes sense, but really what it does is burrow it's way into our emotional bodies and the emotional centers of our brain allowing for us to be utterly destroyed by it. Catch the f**k up, modern psychology. This is a massive, rampant problem that is not addressed in the way it should be.
Why Am I Qualified To Teach This?
First of all, I definitely have to mention that I am NOT a licensed therapist and I do not claim to be. I do, however, have certifications in multiple complementary modalities and am a member of the Complementary Therapists Accredited association. I am a certified yoga, meditation, and mindfulness teacher, a reiki master, a student of Yoga Psychology with Ashley Turner, and I believe fully in mind-body therapies and the 8 limbs of yoga (Ashtanga yoga) and how yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and pranayama (the directing of our life-force energy-our breath) have profound effects on our ability to heal from trauma. I know this from education and research but, more importantly, from my own experience. Trying to heal from fairly severe depression, anxiety, and insomnia is what initially led me to begin a meditation practice and to revisit an on/ off yoga practice of 17 years. I couldn't afford a therapist and out of sheer desperation for help, I wondered if the body scan meditation in my Yoga Studio app could at least help me sleep. It did. Immediately. I forgot that I had done this many times before in classes throughout my 19 year dance career; I already had a connection to this! Cut to...a few years later I got a barre instructor certification as a way to maybe help me stop bartending as much and that led to my yoga teacher training from the same place that had a work-study program (an exchange for my time instead of money). I knew I wanted to be teaching people things that helped change their lives, I didn't know how that would unfold yet. Now here we are. The practices I utilize with Integrated Yoga Healing are the ones I used for my own healing and I know that they work because of that. Since I started using them, I learned HOW they work and why.
Why Emotional Abuse?
When I began that desperate search for help for myself, I didn't realize that these were effects from 2 back to back emotionally abusive relationships. I knew I had them, but I didn't know what they do to people. I have now been in 3. That's right, 3 absolutely personally debilitating relationships that ate into the very core of my being, my self-worth, my security, my ability to set and enforce boundaries, my personal well-being, my trust in myself, my belief in myself, and more. What I'm saying is that I felt worthless, unlovable, defective, stupid, crazy, ugly, and I honestly thought long and hard about killing myself multiple times and it scared the shit out of me. The first time is when I initially thought I needed help and paying for therapy was out of the question. This is all what led me, in different time frames and in various orders, to explore my experiences, myself, and what experiences led me to be in these relationships instead of being turned off by the behavior enough to make me lose interest at the very beginning. Teaching yoga and meditation from a mindfulness perspective from the very beginning helped me to really get in there, to question, to search, and to release my shit. I've been able to see how the first relationship (8 years) was very obviously emotionally abusive (and twice physical), how the second person was the polar opposite of the first and that was an open door trap to lure me right into the next one (it didn't look like the first one). The third came after years of being happily and purposefully single for the first time in my entire life. I was already into my healing and I was already teaching. It came out of nowhere and when I saw the red flags right away, instead of seeing them as that, I saw them as things coming up for me that I needed to heal but not as warning signs of "run the fuck the other way as fast as you can!!!" I had not "gotten there" enough yet to do so. I did the bulk of my learning, education, and healing throughout that last cycle of hot & cold, gaslighting, manipulation, love-bombing, future-faking, and then disappearing. The last big hurdle of healing, the original, core, abandonment/ not-good-enough wound from my childhood came after it was over and I'd felt like my world ended. It was a brutal experience but let me tell you how fascinating it actually is to know, be aware, and heal while you're seeing it happen to you. I wouldn't trade it, they brought me to here, to full healing, to the ability to help others. They showed me my life path.
I didn't realize just how widespread this problem is until I started investigating Instagram pages, and communities dedicated to emotional abuse (narcissistic abuse, really, but I am not in a position to diagnose...but it was...). It is so huge that I can not fathom how it's not talked about as much as domestic violence and sexual assault. Domestic violence does not happen without emotional abuse and it's so common that it blows my god damn mind. It ruins people, breaks them, destroys lives...yet you really don't hear about it. That is why I created this series and push so hard to make emotional abuse more known and talked about. Emotional abuse isn't just in romantic relationships, in fact it usually starts with a parent doing the same things to us during childhood-leaving us susceptible to these awful relationships as adults. This shit goes all the way back to well before we can discern what love is and what it truly isn't. Yet, no one talks about it. It's time to talk about it.
What Does This Series Entail?
During this 6-week series, we'll have a 2 hour live session (with recordings available for those that can't make it) every Saturday at 3:00pm EST. Every week has a different "theme" leaving a week in between to sit with and process the session and any emotions/ experiences that come up. Every session will start with discussion of the topic at hand, journal prompts to explore for a little bit, which chakra (energy center) we're working with, a specific pranayama & meditation for that topic, and then a yoga asana (physical yoga) class specific to what we're working on.
There will be a follow-up email after every class with the link to the recording, reminders of the pranayama, meditation, and journal prompts, as well as links to relevant information, other journal prompts, and a song that embodies that week's topic. There is a private group on my website for discussion, sharing, questions, and like-minded community interaction.
Here's an outline of the 6 weeks:
Week 1: Radical Acceptance
When we're in it and even after it's over, we can get stuck in the loop of "what if, though?" and holding onto what was promised and seeing the "potential" of what could be. We make excuses for behavior and have a hard time truly accepting what's reality vs. what we want(ed) to happen. Week 1 will work with taking us out of that mindset.
Week 2: Understanding Trauma-Bonding & Releasing Self-Blame
When we know we should leave or should "be over it" but can't let go, we blame ourselves. We blame ourselves even more than that because our abuser has treated us in a way that assures
us we're stupid, crazy, irrational, too sensitive, too emotional, too anything. Trauma-bonding is the reason we're so caught up that we can't get out and the reason we did NOT bring this on ourselves. We are not to blame for feeling this way. We'll deal with this in week 2.
Week 3: Shadow Work
This week we dig into how we feel about ourselves and why. What core wound did this relationship tap into? As much as we ARE NOT TO BLAME for the abuse and we did not bring it upon ourselves, there IS a reason we overlooked the early red flags, ignored our gut feelings, and kept playing the game. This is where we look into what happened in our lives before we ever met this person.
Week 4: Releasing Emotional Blockages
The mind-body connection means that the emotional wounds of the past and present can get "stuck" in our nervous system and, therefore, in our physical bodies. These hurts get carried from the emotional center of our brains to our organs, muscles, and tissues via our nervous system (specifically the vagus nerve). This is why certain feelings, behaviors from others, and thoughts can trigger a tension or pain in a specific area and can also cause long-term health issues. This is a short explanation and we'll talk more about it and work on releasing them.
Week 5: Rebuilding Self-Trust & Connecting To Our Intuition
Our "higher selves", our intuition, our gut feeling...whatever you believe...talk to us. They know better and they know what's best for us. They can lead us to take one street and not the other, to take the red flag at its face value, to make the right decisions for ourselves. We all have access to that but trauma blocks us when so much of our energy is spent preserving our sense of safety and wellbeing instead of being able to truly "feel" into what our gut/ intuition is telling us. There are ways to hone in on this and strengthen it!
Week 6: Taking Our Power Back & Rebuilding Self-Worth
We give our personal power away in these shitty situations. We don't mean to and we aren't doing it on purpose. EVERYTHING becomes about the other person. What are they doing? Who are they with? When will I hear from them? What does this mean? How do they feel? etc, etc, etc...NO. NOPE. It's time to ask ourselves "How do I feel?" and "Wait, what about ME?" It's time to put the focus of our lives back on ourselves and come into a place where WE are the most important thing to us. Rebuilding our self-worth, our sense of our own importance and what we deserve is how we start that.
Are you ready to take your life back?
Sign up HERE
Email email@example.com with any questions!
Payment plans and financial assistance are available to anyone that needs it. I need to make a living and make what I'm worth after the years and years of all of this, yes. But I also need you to be able to start to heal and feel better and move forward more empowered and sure and happy. We can figure it out.