Self-help can be healing, even life-saving. But, self-help is also a multibillion-dollar industry. Domestic Violence is an epidemic. What on earth could the self-help industry and domestic violence possibility have in common? They are both capable of preying on vulnerabilities. When someone or something causes you to feel powerless, feel worse about yourself or less than them, to doubt your own answers, to go into debt against your better instincts, to make you believe you need them to be ok, it’s wrong. That is taking advantage. You don’t deserve that. You don’t need to be fixed, controlled, managed, manipulated or worse, made unsafe. You need to be loved. You deserve to trust your own inherent and profound inner wisdom. You deserve the people and influences in your life to honor and support your autonomy.
Allow me to explain why I care so much about this.
I have spent a lot of my life giving my power away. I felt like other people had my answers or had power over me. Sometimes they did have power over me. I am a Survivor. It has been a pretty epic journey taking my power back. As I learned how to be empowered, my calling became clear. I am here to help others trust themselves, see their value and take their power back too. Particularly? People wired like me: the Sensitives, Creatives, Survivors, and Old Souls. We have unique gifts and challenges I am qualified to address.
I have decided to really put myself out there. I am telling you my story and how it made my calling clear. In the most painful moments, I knew everything was happening for a reason. Sometimes that intuition was the only thing that kept me going, the thought I could help someone on the other side.
I love my family with all my heart. My parents love me and gave me everything they could. They are kind, generous and loving. They suffered in their own childhoods more then I could imagine. They are trauma survivors. They were never given the tools to heal their traumas. I was born an old soul empath and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person.) I felt their pain, and thought it was my fault.
I was raped by a babysitter at five years old. He groomed the whole family. Nobody could see what happened. Yet, I became a different child. Before the rape, I remember being curious, playful, and possessing an adorable sense of humor, (if I do say so, myself). I was already super sensitive. But the rape broke me. Traumatic amnesia is a real thing. The memory was instantly and completely blocked. But my body would never forget. I was utterly lost inside. It was a prison. Terrified and frozen, every moment of my life felt like imminent doom.
By twelve years old I was ready to implode. Unconscious trauma, and feeling guilty and responsible towards everyone else’s pain around me, I morphed into pure self-hate. Something was wrong with me. I was broken. I was the problem. Everybody else was busy living. I was frozen in time. I was the scourge of the earth ruining everyone’s life. I could no longer take the old terror that was my body or the new rage of being trapped inside it so long. I wanted to die or run away. I sat in the basement and tied things around my neck. I made threats. I did not remember being raped. And I did not know I was a Highly Sensitive Person in much less sensitive or conscious environments. I felt completely alone. I was watching a movie I was not a part of. Self-hate mixed with teenage hormones. I was a brooding mess.
By fourteen my soul was working overtime to get a foothold back in. My mother fought to get me financial aid for a couple of alternative schools. I am so grateful she did. Nobody in my family had been exposed to opportunities like those. Those schools saved me. I found things I truly loved and some people more like me. Early miracles. I took many walks in the woods. I talked to God at night on the soccer fields. I found mysticism and a deep resonance with one of its core messages: the world inside of us is infinitely more real than what is happening outside of us. Spirituality felt like home. And the arts, man. Was I being blessed. I could take improv dance at the same time someone else was taking geometry! The arts saved me too. The playful 5-year-old made a tentative little knock from deep in my buried heart.
In my twenties I started to really break free. Hallelujah! I was remembering my essence, feeling my true self beyond the story of my youth. I stumbled upon (or you could say Spirit dragged me kicking and screaming) into a theater apprenticeship at a Renaissance Faire. You can ask them- I was so shy at the time, I tried to quit at least three times! I knew when something was mine by the way it lit up in me and took hold. I could not deny it. They were my soul YESSES. From theater to a transformative experience in a holistic health coaching program, to founding a cooperative home in Boston for women following their dreams, I was finding my free spirit. I surrounded myself with inspiring people and a conscious community. I was learning how to live in magic and joy. I had true friends, meaning, happiness, and security. It was safe to open my heart. I had enormous privilege and was blessed.
Then came the next 'before and after' moment in my life: domestic violence with a spiritual twist. She said she was my wife. She said she was awake and I was not. It was her job to wake me up. And I believed her. I thought I was in love. After such an incredible reunion with my Spirit and my tender new life, I thought she was my next great Yes! I see now, I had no idea how fucked up I still was. I had no idea how much trauma was buried inside of me. I was vulnerable in a way that I did not even know. I believed all I had to do was love well and take responsibility. I was perfectly primed to go back to the old wound of “Everything is my fault.” I kept trying to love her and fix things by working on myself. It was a disaster. I couldn't see how I was giving my power, safety, sanity, identity; my very life away. The hell I endured, the mind-fuck insanity is a story all its own. It broke me. For the second time in my life, I broke completely.
Four years or so, later, I crawled out barely alive. More like, I opened my eyes laying on my back. A fog cleared. I was barely breathing. I was in debt, isolated, and worse. Any sense of self I recovered in my twenties was shattered beyond repair. I was not there. Pieces in every room. Unrecognizable. Empty.
* A special love note to all the kindred spirits I lost when I LOST MYSELF. I am sorry I disappeared. I am sorry I stayed away. That is not like me. I am grateful for the time we had. I have joined the living again. I love you.
What brought me back was an emergency. Cancer had made a home in my body. Well of course it did. I saw no way out in my “marriage.” My body had been secretly growing a way. I had spent too many years studying the connection between mind, body, emotion, and spirit to miss this one.
I remember signing the guest book in the hospital chapel. I remember not feeling afraid of death, but a gnawing dread of my life ending early when I was not done. I wanted to make a difference. I had always lived for that! I felt painfully unrealized. I had lost myself in serving a damaged soul. I was scared, a deer in headlights. Frozen, again.
But the will in me kicked back in. Actually, in some ways for the first time. Cancer proved to be a gift. I had to make a choice and I had to make it quickly. It was like all of the phases in my life had prepared me for this one. I got back into the power of intention, visualization, prayer, and meditation. I returned to my deep faith in food as medicine, energetic and emotional healing, all forms of holistic health. I did this as well as working with my western doctors.
There was a moment. I was leaving a radiation treatment. I was driving through a nerve-racking split of two highways in Boston. I had a bigger-than-me-like flash. A resounding question came up from the deep. Which was going to be bigger: me or the cancer? Choose. I absolutely knew if I did not choose myself and mean it, my cancer would spread.
I chose me.
I was still scared as shit. Sometimes I cried through my day. I went from crawling in the mud to tiny breakthroughs of FAITH, just to start it all over the next day. But it was different. I was different. I wasn’t just going through the motions of getting better, I had really decided now. The fear was still fucking me up, but I wasn’t its bitch anymore. I WAS BIGGER. I was fighting back with all my effort, desire and belief. I was putting my best foot forward again and again.
It was messy. But it was my own.
I beat cancer and slowly built up my life again. Little did I know, out of the war and back into the apparent peace of safety and stability, was when the real work began. Nothing has been more humbling, difficult and ultimately rewarding than healing my trauma and embracing my sensitivities. And with this, "Hello my free spirit." It is you who wanted full reign all along. I met you once in a fire circle. I met you in an empty, moonlit dance room where my highschool dorm-mates and I snuck out to play. I met you singing my heart out with friends in a tunnel in a park. I met you in the dark of night, darting through the trees with one of my first soulmates. I really am coming full circle. I am learning how to let Spirit back in. I am learning how to love again and be loved, with curiosity, sensitivity and an adorable sense of humor. ;-)
I finally came home to trusting myself. Now that is some REAL empowerment and security. LOL. I have embraced my unique gifts, perception, empathy and intuition. It still requires effort, but I don't give my power away. I rise from the mud of fear, lack, and thinking I don't have my answers. It is crazy to think I am anything less than whole, right here and right now, in all my glorious mess. I am done fixing myself or listening to people who say I need to be fixed. I still have work to do and places to be accountable. But I am worthy at every step.
Love doesn’t fix.
Love doesn’t judge.
I deserve love.
I am learning to see myself accurately. I am both strong and sensitive. Truer to the point: Sensitivity is strength. I am learning to say, “Fuck it,” to what anyone thinks, even if, alas, I may feel it all deeply. I am done being silent about my story and who I really am. I am done pretending I am anything even close to conventional! I am done being afraid to mark an empty canvas with the colors of me.
No more living in shadows.
Hiding is the slowest death there is.
I did not survive to die again.
The magic is back. Dancing in the kitchen. Shaving half of my head (my inner Celtic warrior is beyond happy). Being proud that I am non-binary, genderqueer AND very gay. My creative soul is busting through. I have to do things my own unique way. This holy mess is blessed! The taps spring open. I share with the abandon I have always longed for. This time I am using my real name. I am really here, taking up space and making my mark. I am here to make a difference on my terms. No more doing life-changing work in secret.
When I got back into coaching three years ago, I named my business Rise Up Now. That was me owning what I wanted all along: to support others in learning how to trust, love and empower themselves. My work is fueled by helping others hear their inner voice. I let go of the nutrition and lifestyle focus I had as a coach in my twenties. What a shift! The clients who showed up were heaven-sent, including the ones talking about food. Every conversation was deeper. They taught me so much. They clarified my deepest conviction and the full circle of this story. Thus, my new business name was born- Mud to Majesty.
Mud to Majesty is the journey we each take when we trust our true self and become sovereign in our life. It was the hardest journey for me. And yet, I would not change a thing. Now I get to point out the true Royalty YOU are. Nobody does it better or knows better than you, dear. This is your life. Take it. I raise a glass to never giving up. To US! We who have spent some time crawling in the mud. Here is to standing up. These crowns look good on us. Huzzah!
You are sacred beyond words. Your unique path and answers are inside you. Your brilliant kingdom, reign and legacy, are encoded deep in your cells. No one else can claim it, take it from you, tell you what is best for you, or how you should proceed. No one has the right to say they know you better than you know yourself.
“Raise your hopeful voice
you have a choice
You’ve made it now.
sing your melody
I’ll sing along.”
PS. If you know someone who needs this story, please pass it along!
3/21/2021 04:41:02 am
Beautiful to feel you here Erin. Always beautiful to see you.
3/21/2021 09:51:36 am
3/22/2021 10:09:11 am
Erin, thank you for sharing your story!
3/22/2021 10:30:14 am
Dear Erin - You have been on this journey for as long as I have known you and you have had that something special inside you for just as long. My heart rejoices to know you are well and that you continue to heal and grow. I look forward to catching up with you in less public setting very soon. I've thought of you so often over the years and am happy that YOU are finally happy. Sending all of my love. Auntie Christine xoxo
3/22/2021 09:12:50 pm
yes, yes, and YES, dear warrior and shining soul, erin!! 💜🙏🏽🌞☘️🎉💜 you have always been a gift to this world and now beautifully get to share your healing gifts and joy with others. majesty, indeed! huge hugs!!
5/6/2021 12:40:20 am
Well Done Erin!
6/19/2021 08:50:51 am
Erin, that you for your courage, tenacity, and generous share. I am so grateful for you and happy learn you are once again dancing in the kitchen.
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