After the fall, Yoga Journal gets it right! #Bikram #abuse #healing

YJ_June15Cover_PaulaI was approached in January 2015 by seasoned journalist, Andrew Tilin. He was in the middle of composing a feature story for the June 2015 issue of Yoga Journal magazine. How did he find me? He found me through my yoga blog and was particularly interested in speaking with me after reading the post Mourning my Bikram Yoga practice in light of rape allegations. After all, the purpose of the feature he was writing was to highlight how the yoga community was reacting to criminal allegations against celebrity yoga teachers, in particular John Friend and Bikram Choudhury, and I seemed like someone with an opinion to share. He emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in speaking with him; I responded with a big fat YES!

We spoke over the phone the first time for almost two hours. He contacted me a few weeks later, and we talked for two more hours. On both occasions, Tilin asked me lots and lots of questions about yoga and later about my experiences with abuse. I freely answered all of his questions without hesitation (but with a few tears occasionally). I don’t think he was expecting me to be so talkative and so candid. He often asked, “Are you comfortable sharing this?” And each time, I thought to myself, He must not have read any of my other posts. Of course, I’m comfortable sharing.

I don’t think the editors at the magazine expected me to share as much as I did either, because before they approved the final version of Tilin’s feature, a member of the editorial staff called me to do some fact checking and to verify that everything I shared was okay to print. In addition to the four hours I had already spent with Tilin, I spent close to two more hours talking with the editor. Needless to say, I exerted a lot of energy talking about stuff that I’m more comfortable writing about. If you’re an introvert, you understand how draining that is, but I feel like the investment was worth it. The published article unfolded beautifully! Yoga Journal and Tilin got it right! I have deep respect for, gratitude to and appreciation of the thoughtful and professional attention the journalist and the Yoga Journal staff took with my story.

The article isn’t about me. It’s not even about abusive yoga gurus, although Tilin pulls in data and a few experts to explain why and how abuse at the community level often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. This article, at its core, is about the capacity of the human spirit to overcome and let the light outshine the dark and it reinforces the power of going within to find peace.

Follow this link to After the Fall: The Ripple Effect from Accusations Against Bikram and Friend or pick up the June 2015 issue of Yoga Journal magazine and turn to page 80.

Namaste!
Paula Carrasquillo
Yogi. Author. Advocate.
http://www.paulacarrasquillo.com

©Paula Carrasquillo and Love. Life. Om. 2015

Survivors Continue to Share and Inspire

Love. Life. Om. Survivor Newsletter – Volume 2, Issue 4

Alana (not her real name) submitted her story to me earlier this month through my online submission form. I attempted to respond and thank her, but the email bounced back. So I am sharing her full submission in this newsletter in hopes Alana sees that it’s been shared and contacts me…again…in order to properly thank her.

Also this month, I was contacted by another survivor and author, Holly, who asked me to share her book with everyone. Follow this link to Amazon to download Holly’s book, Escaping Abuse: An Autobiography about Love, Marriage, Abuse, and Perseverance.

Enjoy this issue and pass it along to your network of supporters, survivors and fellow warriors!

Paula Carrasquillo

“There’s something odd about that guy she’s dating.”

“There’s something odd about that guy she’s dating.”

I have many sisters who aren’t afraid to be direct with me. I have a mother who pays attention and asks questions. Despite this, none of them felt comfortable probing me about “that guy” while I was dating him or letting me know how they really felt.

Only after I escaped the sociopath did I learn about the numerous conversation my friends and family members were having amongst themselves about “that guy”. In the aftermath of the relationship, my mother and sisters confessed that his behavior was “odd” and “abnormal”, but they weren’t able to define exactly what it was about him that made them uneasy. This inability to pinpoint a tangible reason to explain their gut feelings discouraged them from voicing their concerns with me directly.

Even if they had approached me, I’m sure I wouldn’t have welcomed their criticisms and questions. I would have become defensive and made excuses and explained away his behavior. I was in both shock and denial while inside the toxic dynamic. I was unwilling to face the humiliation of choosing so poorly, so the more I pushed away the reality of who “that guy” was turning out to be, the less humiliation I felt on a daily basis. I thought I was preserving myself, when I was actually allowing myself to decay from the inside out.

Today, I can pinpoint exactly what it was about “that guy” that made my family’s skin crawl, because it made my skin crawl too, but I just kept denying what I was sensing:

A permeating presence of stagnant, low-vibrational energy, which revealed his 1) lack of authenticity; 2) lack of truth; and 3) lack of original thoughts.

When I think back to these words he screamed at me just before I escaped, “I don’t know why you’re getting so upset now after all this time. You knew from the beginning that this is who I am,” I realize he was right. Even before the name calling, blocking, pushing, grabbing, pinching and down-right dirtiness of his actions and words, the ugliness of the sociopath was always present, hovering like a phantom and lingering at the threshold of the foreground and background. And he never tried to hide it. He actually believed he was as normal and as healthy as the next guy.

1. Lack of authenticity – This was ever-present but especially noticeable to me when we were with others in a group. I immediately picked up on his false gestures of friendship and camaraderie. In the beginning, my body would only slightly react…a tickle in my throat…at the sound of him talking about how happy he was for someone. He wasn’t happy for anyone. Who was he fooling? He only said he was happy because he thought that was what he was supposed to say. He didn’t feel happiness for anyone on any deep level. I sensed this lack of genuine emotions early but was too naive to understand the depth of what it meant about the true nature of “that guy”.

2. Lack of truth – Closely connected to his lack of authenticity, his lack of truth expanded beyond simply lying when recounting stories from his past and present. I never sensed a solid truth in anything he said, chose to eat, buy or acquire. In every relationship, we share and tell our stories with a combination of the words we use and the things we choose to surround ourselves, from the books on our shelves to the pictures we carry in our wallets. When we are in the presence of an honest and truthful person, everything that person says and everything surrounding that person, from their clothes to their friendships to what they eat, makes sense, folds into each other and further solidifies our personal idea of who that person is. With “that guy”, there were too many contradictions flashing before my eyes, making it impossible for me to form a clear picture of who “that guy” was. Unfortunately, because my intuition was not well-primed, these contradictions caused me to feel confused and restless about the emotions and sensations they conjured within me. I fought the contradictions and attempted to explain them away: “Oh, he’s just complicated. He’s just really in touch with his feminine side. He’s just very masculine and that’s why he’s super jealous. He’s just not used to kids. His just needs more time to understand my family.” The excuses were endless and only served to hide the truth about the lack of truth within “that guy”. I couldn’t form a solid image of his persona in my mind, because he wasn’t standing in truth. He was perpetually acting and switching roles depending on his audience and based on what he thought would garner him the most control, reward and attention. I see that now, and it’s twisted.

3. Lack of original thoughts – This was one of his most aggravating qualities. He liked regurgitating the thoughts and ideas of others and claiming them as his own. I considered this the equivalent to stealing, but I honestly didn’t think he actually believed his own delusions until I caught him claiming my thoughts, skills and ideas as his own. Some may call this gas lighting, but I knew the truth and never questioned my truth as he spewed it from his lying mouth. This wasn’t a matter of forgetting whether or not I knew something that he was trying to pass off as his lesson to me. This was a matter of me stopping myself from vomiting all over him due to my uncontrollable disgust at his arrogance, disrespect and lack of integrity. He wasn’t fooling me. But he was. I didn’t speak up and say, “Don’t use my knowledge and my words to establish your false sense of superiority over me.” Instead, I let the anger and disgust fester, while simultaneously trying to convince myself that he didn’t mean any harm. After all, don’t they say imitation is the highest form of flattery? Hmm? I don’t think so either. It’s just thievery and a little creepy.

Looking back, I used to feel ashamed at myself for remaining inside that low vibrational and toxic relationship for so long. Today, I realize my intuition simply wasn’t evolved enough to figure it out calmly and quickly. I reacted from a place of high-sensitivity without understanding why I was reacting from that place. It wasn’t because I was too sensitive or unstable. It was because my sensitivity was right on par. It was “that guy” who was unstable.

Namaste!
~Paula

Pre-order “How To Do No Contact Like a Boss” by Kim Saeed

Pre-order your copy today!!

If you’re thinking about going no contact or are currently struggling to maintain no contact, Kim Saeed’s new book will serve as an invaluable tool for your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being and growth.

Order your copy today!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00RM9QV9Q/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1427556744&sr=1-1&keywords=No+contact+like+a+boss

Just say “No!” to sociopath oppression and possession

“Have patience. Wait until the mud settles and the water is clear. Remain unmoving until right action arises by itself.” ~ Lao-tzu

The sociopaths we escaped were jealous of us. It’s that simple. They saw our strengths and knew we were stronger, which is why they made every attempt to demean and devalue us with words, suggestions and actions. Misery loves company, after all.

They hated us for liking ourselves and wanted to warp our healthy levels of self-love and self-respect into something ugly, grotesque and sinful.

They wanted to convince us that we were narcissistic and selfish. (Ironic, huh?)

So whenever we demonstrated self-respect by saying “no” to them and trying to maintain our boundaries, they’d degrade us, bring us down and convince us we weren’t as great as we thought we were. (Which is sad, because we simply had a healthy degree of self-worth that SEEMED inflated compared to their total lack of self-worth and self-respect.)

They wanted to convince us of what they wanted us to believe was true: that we were no better than them and that we needed them to learn humility and grace.

Pfft!

You can’t learn humility and grace from people who only understand possession and oppression. We are not in need of them. They are not people we want to aspire to be like. And there is no shame in believing you are amazing and have the right to your feelings, beliefs and personal interpretations of your experiences and ideas.

We don’t have to continue apologizing for being “normal” and healthy, a place too few are allowed to reach thanks to the sociopaths in their lives whispering to them repeatedly, “You really shouldn’t think so highly of yourself. It’s tasteless!”

The goal of a sociopath is to find the ultimate victim, someone who will take those whisperings to heart and permit those whisperings to lower their personal standards. Only a person who remains completely lost and oblivious to what the sociopath is doing can remain a victim whom the sociopath can get away with oppressing and possessing their entire life.

Be thrilled you escaped. No matter how long it took, you awakened to your power. Seize it and never forget it’s there and has always been there.

Namaste!
Paula Carrasquillo

This post was selected for The Great Sociopathic Abuse and Recovery Blog Tour organized by Joyce M. Short, author Carnal Abuse by Deceit.

(image by JD Marston)

Enter the Transformation Giveaway to win 3 FREE months of Health Coaching!

Paula Carrasquillo - yoga teacher and health coach

Are you ready to transform your life from the inside out? Enter the  Transformation Giveaway today!

I want to be your health coach. Tell me why you are ready and committed to take on a 3-month transformational journey, personalized to meet your specific needs. Even if you don’t win the grand prize, I’m also offering everyone who enters a 20% discount on my 3-month and 6-month programs.

The deadline to enter is April 3, 2015. Enter here. I’ll announce the winner on April 7, 2015. Good luck, and I can’t wait to work with you!

Paula Carrasquillo
Yoga Teacher & Health Coach

Victimized Narcissists

Grace for my Heart

It’s Narcissist Friday!   

If the narcissist is the victim, does that make you the abuser?

Perhaps, of all types of narcissistic abusers, the “victimized” abuser is the most difficult to get past. Some narcissists learned that they could get attention and control others by being victims. Their lives become one sad story after another and they find listeners and believers and helpers to manipulate. This can be a type of covert narcissism that is very difficult to understand and handle.

“Victimized narcissists” are masters at projection, among other behaviors. They can say any hurtful thing to you, but if you dare to say something back, you are labeled as abusive. They can call you any name, but if you challenge them, you are being mean. They can lie about themselves and about you and they sound so honest. And there will almost always be someone who will believe them.

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What if “50 Shades” was never intended to be what it has become?

What if “50 Shades of Grey” was intended to be the very opposite of what society has embraced it to be? Let’s imagine.


The author of “50 Shades of Grey” was in the middle of reading the Twilight series (pre-teen vampire romance series) and thought:

”Oh, this type of thing REALLY happens and it happened to me. It’s not romance; it’s abuse. Vampires are real. They may not suck blood, but they suck the life out of those they prey upon and control. Maybe if I wrote a human version of the vampire character, people will see how ridiculous it is for us to romanticize this type of relationship.”
This is love?
She took pen to paper and poorly wrote (purposefully) her novel filled with overt abuse, contradictions and obvious ironies about love and relationships. She even misrepresented the BDSM community knowing that THAT community is extremely vocal, more vocal than the DV community. (At least at the time she was writing.)

The book was published quickly as an e-book. Unfortunately, the book took off in a direction she never imagined. The book’s intended message was lost. People embraced it as a manual for better sex and improved relationships. It sold and sold and sold. A traditional publisher picked it up followed by an eager film production company. Instead of speaking out against the ignorant masses early, the author thought it best to sit back, collect her royalties and devise a plan.

While accumulating millions of dollars from the entertainment-hungry masses, the author made a wish-list of programs to create, programs and services traditionally not funded for victims and survivors of abuse:

1. Neuroscience and behavioral research studies focusing on the effects and varying classifications of PTSD during and in the aftermath of emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, and physical abuse.

2. Lobbying efforts to influence a change in the laws and penalties for non-stranger intimate partner rape and assault, child abuse, financial fraud, rape by fraud and a myriad of crimes associated with control and torture.

3. Education and awareness programs to assist and inform police officers, advocates, social workers and other service workers to clearly and effectively discern between perpetrator and victim.

4. A foundation dedicated to providing food, clothing, cars, money, hotel rooms and housing, counseling, integrative treatment options and support to victims and survivors and their families, children and friends.

5. Yearly conference of like-minded people and professionals interested in putting an end to the needless suffering of millions struck by abuse – emotional, psychological, financial, sexual and physical.

The book’s film version launched on Valentine’s Day 2015 (another intended irony in hopes of “awakening” those still asleep at the wheel).

On Monday morning, following the release, the author held a press conference revealing the book and film’s intended message. The book was rebranded and marketed as intended. Sales continued to rise and the wish list was made a reality.

…and we all lived happily ever after.

I know — “Wishful thinking, Paula.”


Paula Carrasquillo
Yogi. Author. Advocate.
http://www.paulacarrasquillo.com

Believing in your abilities = a meaningful life + meaningful work

Three years ago, I began actively writing and purging myself of my story (which even I found hard to believe at times) on this blog. My healing journey has brought amazing new friendships and passions into my life, from becoming a yoga teacher and health coach to connecting with men and women across the United States to men and women in the UK, Canada, Australia and other continents. I wouldn’t wish changing anything about my story if it meant losing all of the knowledge and friendships I’ve gained in these few short years.

Today, I find myself at a major crossroads. The Universe has presented me with many, many options – all of which have the potential to fulfill my life. Unfortunately, I am finding it difficult to make a decision about where I best belong and how to get there.

I am connecting with more and more passionate advocates and light workers than ever before. There is so much work we can accomplish in partnership. And now is a pivotal time to speak out, because it seems those in power are listening.

I want to join forces with others and write another book, open a wellness center, facilitate community nutrition workshops, bring more yoga to those in need, host weekend retreats and create educational material we can distribute for free in different languages.

As the collective energy and vision of the awareness movement expands, my career opportunities are also expanding. I’m being called upon to teach more yoga classes (both at the salt cave and at corporate HQ) and to contribute more to my day job as a web content developer.

Although I seem to be juggling everything with relative ease, I’m not. There are never enough hours in the day to do everything I set out to do. Plus, I want to spend more time with my family. I want to spend more time taking care of myself. I also want to spend more time doing meaningful work.

But I understand explicitly how the real world works and doing meaningful work doesn’t exactly pay the mortgage, the insurance and the food tab. At least not immediately. Making a living doing meaningful work sadly seems outside of my grasp today, but that hasn’t stopped me from considering how to make the transition gradually over time.

I can’t just throw caution to the wind and quit my day job today to pursue my dream of creating a wellness center for survivors of abuse and trauma. I must be realistic. This doesn’t mean abandoning my dreams. It simply means slowing down, prioritizing my time and creating an action plan.

Three years ago, I would have been frustrated being faced with such uncertainty and being without immediate solutions and answers. Instead, I feel blessed today, because not knowing the solution or absolute outcome is okay. I’m surrounded by people who love, respect and honor me and who won’t judge me or attempt to sabotage my progress. My mistakes are my mistakes; my success is my success. No one is standing over me waiting to attack me or shame me or tell me my ideas will never work. Does it matter if they might not work? No, of course not. What matters is that I believe in my abilities to make my ideas work…eventually.

Here’s to you believing in your abilities and being okay with not having all of the answers before setting out on your transformational journey of healing and creation.

You are destined to heal. All you have to do is believe.

Namaste!
Paula Carrasquillo
http://www.paulacarrasquillo.com

With a mix of hope and skepticism, I digest the latest No More PSA

when-its-hard-to-listen-700x422Read my latest CDN story: Super Bowl domestic violence PSA: Listen and speak up

BETHESDA, Md., February 2, 2015 — The No More public service announcement (PSA) that aired during Super Bowl XLIX seeks to accomplish what no other domestic violence campaign has been able to do: to educate, incite action and shatter myths in hopes of ending the epidemic of domestic violence. Continue reading…

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