To help women reclaim their sensual nourishment & embodied freedom by reconnecting them to their body voice & feminine wisdom.
Don’t Let Them Dim Your Light
What I’m about to tell you makes me SUPER NERVOUS!
…But I’m going ahead anyway, because many women who seek my support have trouble trusting themselves. They come to me wanting to erase their self-doubt, eliminate their lack of confidence and connect to their inner voice. And this story is going to help.
A few days ago, I was listening to an interview between Elizabeth DiAlto and Terri Cole (who was actually my first coach!) talking about “gaslighting”, which is essentially when one person tries to overwrite another person’s reality.
Here’s an example:
You have a conversation with your mom (who doesn’t believe in therapy) about going to therapy for the first time. Next time you connect with her and you refer to the therapy session, she swears you never mentioned it to her. You remind her. She denies it completely. In this scenario, she is gaslighting you by making you believe that you never said it even when you 100% did.
This is manipulative behavior that, over time, results in you questioning your own sanity & reality. And many times it’s unconscious…and not always intended to be malicious.
I noticed this phrase starting to trend a few years ago and never fully grasped the extent of what it means. I always thought of gaslighting as something done by an abusive slightly psychotic partner. Or some recent politicians…. “What? I never said that!” <– Sound familiar?
What I didn’t realize was that the denial doesn’t have to be OUTRIGHTLY EXPRESSED. It can be subtle & passive. Sometimes, this appears in the form of a family that likes to conveniently sweep things under a rug and pretend it just didn’t happen. Who here knows what I’m talking about?
Terri used this example:
An awful traumatic episode occurs with an alcoholic family member in the evening. The next day, no one mentions a single thing about it. Instead, everyone seems cheerful and goes about their day never to mention it again. And there you are, sipping on your coffee, and thinking you’ve lost your mind because you’re totes traumatized… and yet no one else seems phased by this.
Now this hit me HARD. Not only did I realize in that moment that – holy shit – I was gaslit too. But it gave me a HUGE a-ha moment.
When I finally mustered up the courage to tell my mother that my grandfather had sexually-molested me, I was gaslit by the family.
When I reported, less than six months later, that a male nurse had touched me in numerous inappropriate places, it happened again.
And I‘ll explain how in a minute. But first, this…
I always thought these violating incidents made it hard for me to trust OTHER PEOPLE.
Understanding the dynamic of gaslighting, I now realize that these incidents actually ERADICATED trust in MYSELF.
When it all went down with my gramps, from one day to the next…my caretaker…my second dad…went from living with us to disappearing. No one addressed it.
When he died from cancer soon after (in an apartment… all alone…because of what I deemed to be my fault), still nothing was addressed. I had no one to share my mixed emotions of guilt, anger, relief, shame and deep sorrow. I felt like I had just made it all up. I recognize my family was 100% trying to protect me. Everyone was doing what they thought was best. But it wasn’t. And it had its consequences.
Or how about the time when I reported the nurse RIGHT after it happened, and I was told a report would be filed and it would be investigated and by the next day, it was NEVER mentioned it. And I was too embarrassed and uncomfortable to bring it up either.
Or how about when my two male colleagues made passes at me which I politely declined (Ps. I wasn’t even single) and I ended up being humiliated by both of them because of their bruised egos.
They didn’t have the authority to kick me off the project but they spent the rest of our time pretending it never happened and texting each other hateful things about me.
How do I know this? Because mid-meeting while I was speaking to them, I got a text exchange between them that was mistakenly sent to me describing how they wanted to “punch that bitch (me) in the uterus”.
Yep. That happened.
And when I addressed it, it was DENIED. And because the project was a huge career move, I didn’t quit and kept working with those a-holes for the rest of the project.
This is the sort of stuff I let slide. I never demanded what I needed. I never addressed my true feelings. Because it’s hard when you’re not sure what’s real and what isn’t anymore. It’s hard when one incident after another is denied by the world around you.
When that guy attacked me on the street, not a single person on the street came to my rescue. It was broad daylight. I had to push him off and run my ass off all the way to my friend’s place. Like it never happened…
I question myself a lot. I am often times foggy-headed and unclear. I find myself unable to remember the details of any stressful interaction. Sometimes, I totally black out. I feel like I’m floating through thoughts, unable to latch on to one for long enough to taste it, feel it, process it. I have an awful memory and many times, I distrust my recollection of monumental events such as these I shared with you today. Sometimes, I’m convinced I made that shit up.
Why am I telling you all of this? It’s super uncomfortable to share. My skin is crawling. My belly is nauseous. In fact, I feel foggy-headed just writing this and I can feel my nervous system trying so desperately to disassociate from those moments.
I’m talking to you about this today because this concept is KEY when we are talking about stepping UP and INTO the embodied feminine leader we want to be. I want you to know that it’s possible that your lack of trust in yourself and your potential could be because someone at some point denied your reality and stripped you of your own self-trust.
And when we speak about connecting to our inner voice and using our body compass, which I’m doing all the time in this embodiment work, it is essential that we feel solid in our experience, in our reality. And if we had a chapter in our lives where that was taken away from us, well, then our trust might be real difficult to embody.
So today, or whenever you feel ready beauty, I want you to take a few minutes to close your eyes with one hand to your heart and one to your belly and check in with yourself… Have you been gaslit? Have you been denied your reality?
I know it can be scary to admit. I had and HAVE lots of fear around admitting this:
I don’t want to feel like a victim.
I don’t want to sound like a whiny, angry, overly-PC feminist.
I don’t want to come off as weak.
That’s why I didn’t speak up then and demand that my reality be acknowledged.
But today, I am championing my voice, my potential and my leadership and I’m championing your voice, your potential and your leadership. Because this is not only about my experience. It is the experience of so many women (and minorities in general!). It is a way to silence you. To silence us. And we’re done taking the bullshit.
And so I say this to myself as much as I say this to you:
You’re only a victim when you stay in that same spot, replaying and looping the same pattern.
When you recognize that this happened, the control is shattered.
When you speak up, the pattern is broken.
When you slowly start to demand your reality back, you empower yourself.
That’s when you create space for your desire. Your devotion. Your dreams.
Don’t let them dim your light.
P.S. Are you ready to step UP and INTO a way of life & leadership that weaves together feminine flow, sensuality, embodied ecstasy and radical responsibility? I’m currently curating an intimate group of women for “Your Embodied Life”, a 4-month program starting end of January. If you’re feeling a pull to learn more, book a time for us to connect HERE. I’ll tell you about the program deets & we’ll explore if you are a good fit!)
P.P.S. (You can listen to the Untame Yourself podcast with Elizabeth & Terri here.)