Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hello my name is...

"Alisha, what's wrong?"
It happens every time he says my name. I pause for a minute, as if I need a moment to recognize who he's talking to. He calls me all these other things, and I answer to them without a second thought, but when he says my name...
I'm writing my way through this month's #thisisagoodbody challenge over on instagram. I'm getting real and honest about the things that hurt, and by holding space for them I am, hopefully, eliminating their power.
And it's hard work. The work that was supposed to be just about eliminating shame from my body has leaked over into other areas of my life, and this little project I joined just for fun and the desire to join one of the monthly yoga challenges has turned into this thing that's changing me.
Opening up the can of lies I believed about my body means opening up and digging into the past. I thought the shame would be localized to one area but instead it spread. The shame I held in my body was the shame I felt about abuse, addiction, death and every other trauma. The feelings I had about my body weren't just specific to my body but also the body of Christ.
I've written and cried and practiced and danced and groaned my way through this month, reclaiming freedom. My heart, finally open, has begun to feel and I find often I am weeping for reasons I don't fully understand.
Jodi Picoult says in one of her books that you can tell when a person loves you because your name sounds different on their tongue.
Years ago, my name was spoken in a way that wasn't loving. That sound, the way my name was said, what follows, it rings in my head. And I never really noticed it. I would complain about not having a nickname, lay in bed at night and dream about trying on new names: something exotic and fun and different, a new girl without a story.
I'm in the process of reclaiming a lot of things in the name of freedom, but one thing I'm just realizing I need to reclaim is my name.
My name comes from the name Alice, meaning noble. That's what I've always been told, but I always kind of squirmed inside the meaning of my name. Noble felt too big, too clunky a meaning to pull around with me anywhere.
So, like I always tend to do, I did some research.
Alisha is also a Sanskrit name, meaning 'Protected by God.'
I saw this meaning and tears filled my eyes. I could blame it on my overactive tear ducts lately but I'm not totally sure that's it. Something about this meaning hit me in the heart.
Protected by God.
Even then, in the dark days haunted by abuse and addiction.
Then, in the moments when I forgot how to cry and even my name sounded like a threat.
Then, when I stood over a grave and wept for the forgiveness that felt stuck inside of me.
Protected by God, even when I lay prostrate on the floor, crying to a God I wasn't sure I believed in anymore, so severely wounded by His body, ready to give up all hope and end it all.
Even then, even now, protected by God.
When the man I love says my name, beautiful and safe in his mouth, it takes some getting used to. It reminds me of all the hurt and pain that for so long was and still is attached to that name. But in the process of reclaiming it, claiming my identity, when he says my name I reach for his hand. I am safe. I am loved. I am protected by God.
Then, now, and always.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"even my skin held memory"
For the past few years, August has felt like a cool breeze. It's a moment of breath, of reprieve. I live quieter in August, pondering in my heart everything I've stored up in the months past, and this August is no exception.
This August, I'm participating in a project hosted by Morgan Day Cecil called #justbeherewithme. The intention is to be more present in our lives by logging off social media for a day, a week or the whole month of August. I've dedicated my Sunday's to being social media free, and while my fingers crave the familiar scroll of the smart phone, I'm finding much more room to be present.
I'm learning to be present with my story. Continuing the work I started at the end of July, I'm taking a break from the public sector of blogging and documenting my personal story in my journal. Some days its hard to even scratch the words out, despite knowing I'll be the only one to read them. Some days writing them feels like a cathartic release.
"I think you need to speak it. I think you need to be as specific as possible and allow the space to empty on its own"
Writing these words, adventuring through my past, it feels like building monuments. "Thank you," I whisper to each segment as I finish with it, "But I no longer need you anymore." And by doing so I'm slowly undressing the layers of shame and guilt I've worn for so many years.
I'm finding the memories of the past are so deeply a part of me that even my skin holds the memory. My body remembers, even when my mind forgets. Which means this month has also meant hours laboring in pain as I ache to give birth to this story, practicing yoga, having honest conversations with the people I love and letting them help to begin building something anew in me. Every positive touch, is wiping over the old pathways where love = pain and rewriting it with the message love = love. The brave act of letting others hold me in my story is turning out to be one of the most beautiful things I've ever done, and the giving and receiving of this love, this medicine, is an honor. I'm also learning to keep some of this love, this medicine, for myself, as I'm finally in a place of speaking words of love over myself.
In August, I'm participating in a yoga challenge called #thisisagoodbody over on instagram (with the exception of Sundays, of course, which we're all taking off to find a few sacred moments). We're getting honest about things like shame, and this vulnerability is changing me. By combining honesty with movement, my heart is transforming. I'm discovering just how much negativity and shame I held around my body that I didn't even realize was there, and I'm beginning to work through that.
This season, which technically began in late July, is so healing and powerful. I've been hesitant to write about it, not only because it is so achingly personal but because finding the right words to convey the tender places of my heart lately is a seemingly impossible task. I'm finding freedom in places I never expected to find it. I'm stretching my heart wide open, going back into the past so I can move forward into my future. I'm speaking up and saying what for years I kept silent, using the voice that for so long I let others take from me.
I'm being present and honest with this moment, with the people I love, with myself and my story. And I proclaim over all of it goodness.