Browsing Tag

janet raftis

Abuse, Guest Posts, healing, Self Image

Divorcing the Voice.

December 20, 2014
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By Janet Raftis

I remember when I woke up, that sensation of feeling like I was falling down into my skin. For me, it happened not long after sobriety, and it was like a veil was simultaneously lifting as my body expanded outward in a way that allowed me to feel my skin for the first time.

It tingled and I think my feet touched the ground for the first time in my life. I don’t remember if I laughed or if I cried, and most likely it was both. I do know that it was overwhelming in the sweetest way imaginable. I actually liked the way it felt, even and in spite of the fact that I didn’t know what to do with it.

It was like a long intermission was finally over.  There had been this limbo state for me that lasted a few decades, in which I was separated from myself, dueling it out with this silent demon in my mind.

This Voice had gotten so good at cursing me and cutting me down that I had come to think of it as me. I had come to believe that the Voice I heard in my head was telling me the truth, and I allowed it to treat me far worse that any other person ever had.

It was crueler than my rapists, sharper in tongue than any high school girl, more vicious than any person that had attacked or robbed me. It was out to get me. And I was handing myself over to it without even a fight, head bowed in silent, frustrated submission.

The truth is I didn’t know that I was even in there anymore. I was a shell, bouncing around in a seemingly empty and echoing container. Even the happiness I experienced was overshadowed by fear and a sense of complete and utter isolation. I had so little faith in me that I couldn’t even believe in the sincerity of others’ feelings towards me. The Voice told me I didn’t deserve them, and so I kept an emotional distance from everyone for fear that their love would be taken away.

Finding myself again was a slow process that began unfolding a little over a decade ago and that has since found a rhythm that supports an often difficult but beautiful, constant and expansive growth. It was the love affair that I’d never had with anyone else, and the relationship that needed to be established before any other liason could ever take root.

First I had to get honest with myself. The reason I believed the Voice was because I didn’t believe in me. Gazing steadily at myself in the mirror, I had to acknowledge the fact that I didn’t really know anything about me. Who was beneath that reflection, and why had I been running from her? I’d kept myself at a superficial level of understanding because the thought of what I might uncover if I went deeper scared the hell out of me. But all of that stuff that I’d pushed down contained clues about me, and it was begging to be addressed.

I had to back up and open my arms wide so that I could open to the possibility of me. I had to give myself a break (sometimes even in tiny five minute increments), and I had to accept myself exactly where I was – all of it, even the self-hatred and fear. I had to acknowledge that I felt blemished and overlooked. I had to allow myself the space to accept every little bit of me that so that I could start exactly where I was.

As I started to notice and to actually feel my feelings, I began to witness a wonderful, albeit strange, occurrence. Initially, I spent a lot of time questioning my relationship with God and that led me right back to myself. I got angry and yelled. I got sad and cried. I got frustrated and acted out. But I followed each and every little thread to see where it landed within me, and as I did so, I began to finally understand myself. And as I worked within this new framework, and handled everything that came up instead of stuffing or hiding from it, I began to trust myself. It came in morsels initially, but the trail of crumbs eventually led me to a beautiful, delicious (gluten-free) cake.

I took little steps to work through my fear. Jen Pastiloff’s workshop showed me how to say, “Fuck it!” and give my fears a big, fat kick to the curb. I began to have more faith in the Universe and I began to understand my value. I started to fill up from the inside out rather than trying to do it from the outside in.

Actively engaging in my healing process has shown me that I can and do love myself. It has allowed me to create a bridge of understanding and connection to myself that has grown into a network of support and love, a wheel of light radiating from a center point, which is a (usually) fairly empowered me. As I learned to value myself, I started to attract others that honor me as well.

This has not always been easy and I’ve also called in a few folks and situations that I thought had my best interest at heart that in the end didn’t. Working through those circumstances has been difficult, but empowering. I’ve learned to trust myself even more and to recognize that when I give my power away, I don’t have solid ground to stand on. And so I have built an even stronger foundation based on self-trust blended with community. Most importantly, I know that regardless of how another treats me or how a relationship ends, I am still here, still standing, still the same person that I was only stronger and wiser.

No one can take from me what I’m not willing to give away.

The more I learn to honor myself the less I’m willing to part with. That doesn’t mean that I can’t give to others – I do and it now comes from an authentic space of not needing anything in return. It means that I’m more discerning about how I give of myself and with whom. I’ve learned that I can share more when I’m standing strong.

Silencing the Voice is an on-going process, one that I expect will never completely end. But it doesn’t control me anymore and I’m not afraid to tell it to shut the hell up these days. Standing up to it is standing up for me. And that feels pretty damn good.

Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, Sex

Conscious Celibacy Vs. Not Getting Laid.

June 20, 2014

Conscious Celibacy Vs. Not Getting Laid by Janet Raftis.

Something strange is afoot.

I don’t want to have sex. I mean, I do, of course; sex is awesome. In fact, I’d love to have sex. The difference is that the type of sex I’ve used as a crutch in the past just doesn’t sound appealing anymore. And that’s not to say there was anything wrong with that and I am in no way judging or condemning casual sex. It has definitely served a wonderful and fulfilling-in-many-ways purpose in my life. Some of the best sex I’ve had has in fact been outside of a formalized relationship. The reason that it doesn’t attract me anymore is completely beyond the scope of a kiss or even an orgasm. It has to do with me.

For many years there was a part of me that didn’t feel like I deserved to have it all. I would allow in bits and pieces but I would never permit a full consummation. So, if I really liked the person and the sex was great, there might be a level of emotional unavailability involved. And if the person really liked me, I might not want to be fully available. The dynamics could shift, but it was never all-inclusive.

Many of my trysts were mostly secret because the element of covert affections naturally dictated that the level of emotional involvement remained safe and stunted. I found safety in clandestine affairs as the very secrecy itself worked as a shield over my heart. I really didn’t have to risk a whole lot, and risk in love was a very scary idea to me. If I “lost”, my shame would be public and it would prove my lack of self-worth in a very open forum. That was not something I was willing to deal with in most cases.

For me, I had the whole sexual empowerment thing wrong. The reason I say “for me” is that I believe each woman and man to be different and what doesn’t work for me might really work for someone else. I believed for many, many years that casual sex – fucking – was empowered sex, and that was because I was very disempowered when it came to the experience. Even before I was raped, sex was confusing to me. It didn’t come from my parents – they’ve been mostly happily married for almost 50 years, but it was present from a young age. I imagine that it comes from growing up in a society that objectifies women as sexual objects in powerful forums such as media and print ad. Even before adolescence I equated being desired by another as validation and power. And I was not attractive as a young girl. I had really puffy hair and braces and acne. I was an insecure mess and all I wanted was to be desirable. I believed that to understand how that fit into the sexual game was the necessary key to being a bigger and better me.

After being raped, I cried my way through sex with men that I cared about, completely shut down and disassociated from my body. I remember once thinking that I had reached the point of raping myself every time I engaged in sex. I would watch from above as my psyche betrayed me. It was much easier to not have deep feelings towards anyone. By remaining emotionally distanced from the man, I could attempt to wield a power that I felt I didn’t have. It was a clumsy attempt at not feeling vulnerable. If the sex was casual, I could have perceived control in the situation. When there was hurt because emotions towards the person later arose, as can happen when being intimate with someone, I would choke them back and deny them with all of my heart.

If, God forbid I did like someone from the outset, I would unconsciously create some sort of distance between us. This typically manifested with men that were emotionally unavailable. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t have them because I just couldn’t have them. Then I could have some sort of control over the lack of control. This often manifested as a variation of the covert affair situation. There was a sense of security with respect to my self-worth within that configuration, as it shifted the responsibility from me to someone else. I was not aware of this at the time – this has all been learned as I’ve done the work to really get into my subconscious programming in order to liberate it.

This is not a reflection of the men out there. I’m sure that there are plenty of good ones. The truth of the matter, though, is that I haven’t been able to find one that is good with me. My story with the unavailable type tended to go something like this: I would find a good man who would tell me that I was awesome and great and that he couldn’t believe how wonderful it was that he met me. He would tell me that I was pretty and sweet and that he loved spending time with me. He would touch me and hold me and say nice things to me and draw me in. And then the shoe would drop, and I’d find myself on the outside looking in.

I was recently granted the opportunity to view this pattern completely. At the time it really hurt and I felt completely out of control with respect to the situation. When the familiar scenario began to play itself out, I realized that it was time to be done with these old worn out patterns; they had far out-stayed their welcome. I’m grateful for it, painful as it was. I had been doing all kinds of healing work to get to the point where I could finally have a mutually uplifting romantic partner experience. I was healing and growing and rediscovering myself in a new way, and so when this pattern popped up I was at least in the space to recognize it. I could actually see and feel that it was not in alignment with who I really felt myself to be. I saw myself behaving in ways that were no longer comfortable but that I almost couldn’t avoid. Through detached eyes I was able to see that this was an unconscious pattern that was stuck on the repeat button. I saw the dominos tracing back through time and decided I was ready to topple the stack.

I sat with the pain and did my best to communicate through it. I still fumbled, but with each stumble, I checked in with myself. What I realized was that if I want to have a wonderful, actualized, mutually loving, communicative, and uplifting relationship, I needed to do some more work to get there myself. I could only attract to the level that I was at or below, and what I wanted was vibrating a little higher than I was. It was time to get serious.

I realized that I was going to have to spend some really good quality time with myself. It was time to explore my terrain as an independent and empowered woman, to dig deep, to open and expand. I needed to do this before I got into relationship with someone, and sex from a disempowered place can confuse things for me. I want a relationship that has it all – a partner that I consider a best friend who is also a delightful lover. I want a man that knows what he wants and is living his soul purpose. I want a man that is so confident in himself that he has no doubts about us. In order to have all of that, though, I need to be all of that. And I couldn’t find that while looking for validation or a false sense of bravado through sex. Until I am fully and authentically empowered, sex cannot be fully and authentically empowered. I need to create space and then respect the space to learn and understand exactly what it is I want so that I don’t forsake it and therefore myself. Already I’ve been granted the opportunity to be tested, so to speak. I’m grateful to myself that I did what I needed to do to move through it while maintaining alignment with my current personal ideals.

And so I was lamenting to a dear friend my plight, which isn’t really a plight except that I have had less sex in the last year and a half than I have in the last many and that was feeling a little grim to me. And she asked me if I felt that conscious celibacy might feel a little better. Well, I’m still not getting laid, but yes, conscious celibacy seems like a much more empowering choice. The moment I stepped into that circle felt like a breath of fresh air along with a gentle and loving nudge of personal accountability. This is a space I can hang out in for a while.

 

Happy Bio Pic

When not running around with her 11 year old son or chasing after a member of their menagerie, Janet Raftis plays as an energy healer, psychic medium, and wellness coach. She focuses on helping women to break through fear and trauma that is holding them back from expressing their true selves and from finding their authentic and empowered voice. Writing is one of the tools that she has used to heal herself and to reach others. She has been featured on Manifest Station and elephant journal, and she maintains a personal blog as well.

Janet has a new website under construction (janetraftis.com), but until that is up and running, you can still reach out to her at either totemguidance.com or through her personal blog happilyyes.wordpress.com.

 

 

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It's magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It’s magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

 

 

Contests & Giveaways, Forgiveness, Guest Posts

Forgiveness by Janet Raftis.

February 12, 2013

I had no idea the response for the Forgiveness blog contest would be so overwhelmingly large. There were so many great ones ( I got over 100) that I will publish one every day this week. I love you guys. 

This essay is by Janet Raftis, an inspiring life coach living in Atlanta. Janet has taken a few of my workshops in Georgia at Hazard County Yoga and she is fantastic. Please get to know her. Offer her a comment at the end or connect with her on Facebook. Also, here is a link to her own blog which I suggest you check out.

Click to connect with Janet

Click to connect with Janet

Forgiveness by Janet Raftis.

I spent years punishing myself. I punished myself for things that others had done to me and for things that I had done to others. I did it by systematically beating myself down, abusing my body and numbing myself out. I punished myself for not being good enough, and sometimes I did it for being too good. No matter what I did, or how I acted, it was never right.

I don’t even remember what it was that constituted the first betrayal, but once the ball was set in motion, it snowballed. I found ways to hurt myself and I found ways to hurt others. The punishment increased. I smoked, I drank heavily, I took drugs. I neglected to eat properly, and I gave up athletics. I took to drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee to bring me back up during the day, and the cycle of emotional binging and purging continued.

The self-hatred was carefully disguised, and I never would have believed that I was intentionally harming myself. I admitted to being a little insecure, because that was acceptable. At some point, I realized that I was seriously harming myself – and others – and I sought change. But I didn’t know how to do this. One by one, I dropped my habits of destruction, but the more I shed them, the worse I felt. I teeter-tottered amongst them, searching for balance and never being able to achieve it. I felt naked and scared. I felt isolated and alone. I would drop one vice and then pick up another, each slightly less dangerous than the one before, but harmful nonetheless.

Around four years ago, I formally quit drinking. This was my first lesson in forgiveness. I took a sincere step to do something loving for myself. I started to listen to what other people were suggesting, and I realized that if they could be happy, I could be too. But how? I still felt pretty bad, and I still felt really angry. I had a few resentments that could make my skin crawl. People told me that I had to forgive them. They told me that to not forgive them was to continue to hurt myself. I wasn’t ready to give the resentments up, though. I had a lot of self-righteous anger gnawing at my core. They had hurt me, dammit! They should feel my wrath!

The problem, though, was that they didn’t feel my anger. In some cases, they had no fucking idea, and in others, they just didn’t fucking care. And I was sitting in the corner, stewing in my own muck, feeling hated, alone, unworthy, and violated. Life wasn’t fair! How could it be that those assholes got off scott-free, while I continued to feel so much hurt inside? How was it that I was so raw that even an off look from another could re-open every single wound that I had?

I wasn’t willing to let go, and so I let it sit there for a while, and I worked on cleaning other parts of myself up. The first step in doing this required that I practice acceptance. I had to be willing to accept that I had done some pretty lame things. I had hurt others, either through selfishness, stupidity, or ignorance. I had to see my part in my resentments, and I had to acknowledge that I had done the best that I could do in any given moment with the growth and understanding that I had at the time. It happened the way that it happened, and so there was no other available outcome possible. I had to accept that I am not perfect, and that perfection is not a requirement (nor even really desired) in this lifetime. I began to understand where I was operating from, and that I was not a bad person. I may have been lost, scared, or lonely, but I was not bad. Once acceptance of who I really was set in, forgiveness began to flow naturally.

For the first time ever, I realized that I was a spiritual being having a human experience, and that a huge part of this lifetime is learning to relate and interact with other humans. I was able to see myself compassionately, and this opened a huge door for me. Finally, once I could see myself through the lens of compassion, I could see others through it too.

Some of my resentments just melted away. Once I saw my role in everything, I realized that some of the stuff I was holding onto was just out of sheer self-flagellation. I couldn’t even remember what it was. There were a few things that I had to work at a little harder (and still do at times). I have to constantly go back to compassion. Yes, what this person did hurt me. Why? Is it because I am feeling insecure, lonely, frightened, or unloved? Okay, nix it. Is it because this person was acting from a place of insecurity, loneliness, fear or feelings of being unloved? Okay, forgive it. They are doing the very best that they can.

I have a particularly difficult relationship in my life that I have to maintain. Because letting it go is not an option, I have to practice forgiveness on an almost daily basis. Sometimes I can let things go immediately. I remember that he is not trying to hurt me; he is trying to protect himself. At other times, I have to dig down deep, and pull up every ounce of compassion I have. It can reduce me to tears. I have to remember over and over again that I have played a part in this, and that I still do. What I can control is how I react to it. I have to recall that we are each doing the very best that we can at any given moment. When I can do this, I can find forgiveness. And once the forgiveness comes, I can find gratitude. That is the nugget, right there. The most difficult situations and people that I have had in my life have offered me the greatest moments of growth. They have provided me with the seeds that I want to nurture and grow, and they are the reason that I want to reach out and help others. Learning to love and honor myself enabled me to offer others the same that I would want for myself: compassion and forgiveness.

forgiveness

 

My next workshop at Hazard County Yoga outside of Atlanta is Sunday April  28. They sell out quickly so please pre-register and pay by clicking here. See you then.

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