**trigger warning. Strong content that might be upsetting to some. Mention of sexual abuse. Strong language.
By Lockey Maisonneuve
“Thank you to the people who built me.” Jen Pastiloff read these words from an essay she wrote at Kripalu last weekend during her Manifestation Retreat®.
Thank you. You didn’t break me.
I was tingly when I heard these words. Why? Because Jen created the space for me to powerfully, and without anger, share my gratitude and flaunt my resilience to the people who built me.
We were invited to write a Thank You letter to everyone we ever met, the loving, supporting people who showed us grace and dignity, the people who were careless with our heart, the people who bullied us and those who showed us beauty. This letter was best described by Angela Giles, a retreat participant. She called it a Thank You/Fuck You letter. “Thank you releases it, while fuck you holds it in.”
When I started writing my letter, I wasn’t sure who would receive the thank you or the fuck you. I just started writing, and thanking and fuck-youing. It all came together in one beautiful, colorful, abstract, authentic, thank you/fuck you landscape.
After I wrote this letter, I was shaking. All over. My legs, my arms, my chest, my fingers, my heart. Then I was asked to read my letter aloud. Really Jen??
I trust her. So I read the letter.
I stood there reading, not even realizing what I’d written until I tried to speak the words out loud. There was no time to prepare them for what they would hear, no time to make self-deprecating comments, or a joke to avoid being present to this moment. I just had to stand in the uncertainty that I could be vulnerable and would not crumble into a pile on the floor.
As I read my letter I realized I was getting exactly what I came for. I was being vulnerable. I was standing in uncertainty. I did not use my humor to deflect the situation like I normally do. I was authentic. I was raw. I was humbled.
My audience held the space for me to express things I’ve never said out loud. Once again, I made it through. I did not crumble. I am whole (and kinda awesome.)
I am forever grateful to Kripalu and the amazing space they provide, Jen Pastiloff for being the space of transformation for the planet, and everyone of the women I hugged, laughed and cried with. I am in awe of every one of you.
My Thank You/Fuck You Letter inspired by Jen’s essay and assignment (click here to read it.)
Thank you to the kid who poured breadcrumbs on my sister before school. Thank you to my sister for pushing me away. thank you to my family for telling me repeatedly “She is the strong one.” Thank you to Andrew for hiring me as a bar tender and telling me during the interview that he knew I was lying about having experience as a bar tender. Thank you to the rapist who punched me in the face. Thenk you to the man who pulled me out of the shower after sneaking in to the house. Thenk you to the man who held me down, thank you to my father who laughed as he counted the money men paid him to rape me.Thank you to the lady who worked in the bakery who bartered babysitting services in exchange for free breakfast. Thank you to me for my ingenuity at the age of 12. Thank you to my children for teaching me how to love unconditionally. Thank you to me for getting up every time I fell. Thank you to cancer for allowing me to see that “someday” is a myth, the time is now. Thank you lululemon for making yoga pants mainstream. Thank you Jean, for saving me. Thank you Ed for firing me, I hated that job. Thank you personal training career for teaching me that I do have something to offer.
PS. As a public service announcement, if you are planing on attending a retreat with Jen, which I highly recommend, don’t bother wearing mascara. It will be gone by the end of the first Elton John song and for the rest of the day, you will be wondering if it’s all over your face. 🙂
Lockey is a yoga instructor and survivor of cancer and child abuse. Sharing her story and practicing yoga saved her life. When she let go of both the cancer and the secret of abuse she was able to heal in both mind and body. Lockey openly shares her cancer and child abuse experiences to help others in what ever they are surviving in their lives. Lockey has been profiled in Shape Magazine WABC-TV, News Channel 12. She is a montly contributor for PositivelyPositive.com. And writes blogs for SheKnows.com and MindBodyGreen.She is featured in The Ultimate Guide to Breast Cancer by the Editors of Prevention Magazine. Recently she presented a vidoechat for the GE Healthcare Breast Cancer Mosaic. She is a monthly contributor on PositivelyPositive.com.
Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Be prepared to go deep if you go sign up for a retreat. And also to laugh! A lot.
Wow. Thank you for sharing that moment with us!
Wow. That is a great “thank you/fuck you” letter.
Do these happen at all the retreats?
yup. of course not everyone has dealt with rape and cancer….
I just meant the opportunity to write the letters (and not necessarily to share them).
I just read this again, in a more focused setting. I imagine that this activity on the retreats might help the others get a new perspective on their shit (hearing OTHER people’s letters might, I mean). Because it is easy to pity yourself (wallow in your own suckery) when you don’t know what other people have gone through. And I think that is a good thing – not a judgmental thing.
Also, exposing stuff to the light is just… powerful. I wanted to say amazing, but it’s not amazing when you do it. It is scary. Being vulnerable and raw and authentic is scary – but powerful.
I really admire this person for writing the letter… for sharing it at the retreat… and now for sharing it with us. That speaks volumes.
The great thing about Jen’s retreats is you get to go as far as you want to or are ready to. It’s an amazing space of transformation, community and support.
Lockey (and Jen),
I don’t know how these pieces find me exactly when I need them but somehow they do. Thank you, universe, for that.
Last night I had dinner with my dad, stepmother, and 60-year old brother who sexually abused b/w the ages of 6-10. I’d not seen him for three years, and only recently shared my childhood experiences with my dad and stepmother who advised me to “get over it” and “move on”.
What I experienced last night FOR THE FIRST TIME was what your piece just put into words for me. “THANK YOU. YOU DIDN’T BREAK ME (Mother F***er).”
I also realized for the first time the reason I’ve suffered anxiety my whole life. Not important to go into the why’s of that here, only to say, that last night I was able to be an observer of my family and the dynamics for the first time EVER. I literally felt like I’d come out the other end of my abuse. FINALLY. After 41 years.
Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for not being broken in your brokenness. Thank you for saying what I felt when I woke up this morning but could not put words to. Thank you for sharing your humanity. Thank you for being a life-affirming kindred spirt.
Blessings, good health, and love.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I shared with Jen that I was shaking when this blog was posted. I was so scared I went too far, shared too much. Then I read your comments and realize I shared it for you and every other person who is grappling with sharing vs. holding their secrets in. Thank you so much for having the courage to become an observer in your life, and finding your own way on to the other side of your abuse.
Thank you for your kind words. We support each other in that when Jenn let me know this post went live, I was shaking. I was so scared I went too far, shared too much. Then your comment reminds me why I share my story. Thank you for becoming the observer of your life. xoxo
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