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

Freedom is key: Reaching a place of strength and acceptance in order to let go #personalstory #healing #yoga

Nicole opening her heart in Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana.

Nicole opening her heart in Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana.

(The following was written by Nicole Polizois and is shared on this blog with her permission.)

FREEDOM IS KEY

This is a story about domestic violence, not the type on the news in recent days, not flashy sexy TMZ worthy blows to the face, and not the COPS version assuring braless hysteria.

This is a story borne out of an early childhood fantasy, one that lingers with me even now– about appearing perfect so I could be rescued by a man.

I found many men, but I married George. An abusive man, in other words, but not just any abusive man. George was the handsome, charming and successful man who declared his love for me on our first date. He always called, sometimes 35 times a day.

A child of Greek immigrants, abandoned at age ten by his abusive father, leaving George and his brother alone with a depressed and helpless mother. His childhood memories blank, too brutal to recollect. He grew up on food stamps and worked as a busboy. He had a paper route. He went to college on a full tennis scholarship.

He didn’t knock me unconscious in an elevator like Ray Rice did to his fiancé. However, he did spit on me in an elevator while I was eight months pregnant with his son on our way to Lamaze class (a waste of his time).

He spat in my face and then came the usual rhetoric:  “You’re a waste product.” You’re a shitty wife.” “You’re a piece of shit.” “Aren’t you embarrassed to go out in public looking like that?” “You look disgusting.”

Nothing I didn’t already feel.

No blow up preceded this incident. No alcohol or drug use. This was just George with no cameras to see, I had no evidence. No one would believe me. George kept his demons for only those who could never leave him. Everyone loved George, including my father.

The story is textbook. It escalated from there as it always does. It doesn’t ever get better. It doesn’t go away.

George would say, “I don’t have to OJ you, I’m going to get you to kill yourself.” I heard this so many times, as if recited out of a manual he carried along with his secret cell phone. His threat, if I voiced thoughts of leaving him.

I know why women “don’t just leave.” He picked me because I needed him like a drunk needs a drink. I needed him to take care of me. I believed him when he said, ”no one else would ever want you.” “You are going to be homeless.” “I’m going to take your son away from you.”

I am a statuesque blonde. I am educated and cultured. I have traveled. I speak languages. I roam with the best breed of cattle.  I have appeared on the cover of magazines.  We lived in a home overlooking the Pacific. I practiced yoga. The Harbor Day room mom. Stella McCartney’s top client. I drove an oversized black Benz. I helped raise millions for Oceana. I attended the lunches and Galas for Human Options. It didn’t matter.

There are few resources available. The law enforcement officers explained, “The Burden of Proof”–so unless the abuser is foolish enough to leave his handprints or is video taped, there is nothing they can or will do. Restraining orders are tough to get, and even when I had one, and he violated it, I was the one who begged the officer not to do anything. The last thing I wanted was to get him in deeper trouble. I still wanted to protect him. Attorneys, even the ones that advertise to be experts on Domestic Violence, will do nothing without a large retainer. They don’t, or won’t understand that the abuser has the financial power. The only accounts my name appeared on were the one checking account I had before our marriage and the $1 Million line of credit he extracted from our house.

His threat to leave me destitute was carried out, and no one could stop him. Forensic Accountants are a joke. The Family Court system is a dog and pony show.

FREEDOM IS KEY.

The moment I let that seep in, I really started to let it all go. I sold my belongings. I ached for the loss of my Mercedes, I still cannot drive by my former home. I remind myself it’s okay. It’s only stuff.

FREEDOM IS KEY.

I have discovered who I am without all of the things that hid or I thought was my identity. I became more than a fancy address and apparel. I stayed on my yoga mat even on the days I thought I couldn’t breathe. I started teaching again.

“Always fall in with what you’re asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it over your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever’s going on. Not against: with.” ~ Robert Frost

While I practiced my yoga on a hot September morning two years ago, George lay on a garage floor. He shot himself in the head.

It isn’t the typical ending of a fairy tale, but my son and I are at peace. I am proud of my life now. I have a story I feel obligated to share. I held on in order to let go.

FREEDOM IS KEY.

by Nicole Polizois

“You come from a good family, Paula. How did you let this happen to you?” #sociopath #abuse

“You come from a good family, Paula. How did you let this happen to you? Why didn’t your family do something to help you?”

I get questions like this occasionally, and appreciate them. I know it’s not easy to understand sociopath/narcissist/emotional abuse, and for someone to actually ask me, to come right out and ask me, takes courage.

Questions like these indicate that people really want to understand. Questions like these should not anger or hurt our feelings. These questions give our voices permission to be heard.

How would you answer these questions? How have you answered these questions?

Namaste!
~Paula

“The Eagle” – a film about surviving domestic violence through the empowerment of yoga

20140619-144922.jpg

I was contacted today by Veronica of Odyssey Film, Ltd out of the UK. She found a link to my site as a result of the OM Yoga magazine story “Fighting Back” that featured a blurb about me and my book.

Odyssey Films, Ltd’s first film project, The Eagle, sets out to shine a light on surviving domestic violence through the empowerment of yoga. Odyssey Films is creating this short film to help raise awareness, not to make a profit:

Short films are completely non-profit, no money is made; we are doing this for the experience, we are doing this to lay a foundation to build our company; WE ARE DOING THIS BECAUSE WE LOVE IT.”

Please consider “liking” their page on Facebook and donating to their fund to see this project become a reality!

Shifting gears and getting down to more awareness business

20140108-153722.jpg

Thanks to many factors and revelations over the course of several years, my life has come full circle, and it’s heading into another orbit as I write.

I feel stronger and more confident today than I’ve ever felt in my life.

I’m no longer the frustrated and fearful person who lacks the confidence to speak up when I initially feel the urge to speak up:

1. If I don’t want to do something, I’ll let you know now. I won’t wait until I’m in the middle of doing it and break down angry and upset for having been “forced” to participate.

2. If I don’t appreciate how someone is speaking/addressing me, I’ll let them know, mid-sentence if necessary.

3. If I sense someone is not being truthful, I’ll ask for clarification on the spot, in the moment.

4. If I like you, I’ll tell you.

5. If I don’t like you, I’ll tell you but only because I don’t want you wasting your time thinking I like you.

6. If you tell me you like me, I’ll let you know how thankful and grateful it makes me feel.

7. If you tell me you don’t like me, I’ll respect your reason and try to learn from any mistake I made that led you to your opinion of me.

Some will recognize this list as an example of how I plan to use and maintain my boundaries. I’d agree.

However, boundaries mean nothing if there isn’t a solid foundation of self-acceptance. My foundation, I must admit, is still wobbly. It’s not as earthquake-proof as I’d like it to be.

I feel like the boundaries I have built are quite vulnerable considering I struggle sometimes accepting who I am and where I’ve been.

This blog and the support I get from it have definitely contributed to a more stable foundation, but I can’t rely on this blog alone to reach a higher level of self-acceptance.

Fortunately, I have devised a plan (sounds good on paper!) that might help me reach the level of self-acceptance that my beloved family and friends deserve for me to have.

The first part of my plan is to say “Good-bye” to JUST writing about sociopaths. I started this blog before I ever believed in sociopaths (hehe!), but I admit my experience with a sociopath definitely propelled the popularity of this space.

(I doubt the growth of my blog traffic had much to do with my grasp of grammar or my writing style as much as it had to do with the morbid curiosity surrounding the subject matter of Sociopaths, Psychopaths and Narcissists…oh my!)

It’s the simple truth: The sociopath writing I publish gets more people to my blog and allows me to interact with more people than if, instead, I wrote a blog with a focus on…yoga!

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you will remember that I tried transforming the focus and attempted to transition away from writing about sociopaths a few months ago. Fulfilling this desire (and letting go) has proven to be one of my greatest challenges, regardless of all the yoga I’ve done.

“Just let it go, Paula. You can do this,” I keep telling myself.

How do I let go of something that has brought me so much cathartic healing? That has introduced me to a world of knowledge I never knew needed to be known or passed along? That has provided me with more love and friendships than I ever dreamed would be a possibility?

Plus, I am human, and I like the attention. I like the interaction. I like the validation.

But I also recognize that trying to increase my blog hits each month, to help everyone who comments and to respond timely and accurately to everyone who contacts me privately was causing me some stress, anxiety and took away from my ability to help myself and continue to grow and succeed.

I was stupidly putting too much pressure on myself to be more than I am capable of being.

What am I capable of?

I can write, and I am willing to share. I write blog posts about my experience with someone I believe is pathological, highly narcissistic and sociopathic. I write about how I’ve fallen flat and how I found the faith and courage to continue despite accepting the ugliness of my past. I can also write on many more interesting topics, too.

What am I not capable of?

I can’t be responsible for guiding everyone in the right direction who asks for my help. I wish I could, but I am not a counselor. I can’t help everyone with just words who privately contacts me. I don’t have a magic pill or solution.

Because I have learned healthy boundaries, I recognized how I was allowing my blog to control and dictate my sense of worth and accomplishment. So I took a healthy break the last few months from writing as prolifically as I had been writing. I took that time to map out some goals and determine how I’d like to challenge myself in the coming months and years.

I don’t want to let anyone down by pulling away from my original subject matter, but I’m antsy to go to new places and explore new possibilities, in my writing, my life and my relationships.

>> I want to write more for my Washington Times Communities column on relationships, yoga and health, all from a mindful perspective. I’ve been more fearful to put myself out there, up to this point, on such a public forum as opposed to my personal blog space. It’s safe here. It’s not there.

>> I want to dedicate more time to my anatomy and yoga studies, so I can be fully confident and ready to teach the students who could benefit from my experience at the time I earn my 200-hour yoga teacher training certification later this year. I want to teach yoga to trauma patients and volunteer to teach yoga in community corrections and shelters.

>> I want to dedicate more time to editing all of the personal abuse stories submitted to me last year, so the second book I publish is one we can all be proud to pass on to our family and friends and strangers in need.

>> I want to highlight more success stories on my blog. I think this community reads enough about struggles; we deserve some feel-good pieces with more focus on aftermath success.

>> I want to organize a conference (no matter how small or cramped) that will bring us all together in a room, so we can give each other real hugs and not just virtual ones! (((Hugs)))

All of these things require time, organization and dedication. I believe 2014 is going to be a time of further assessment.

But I also sense 2014 will be the year the global foundation surrounding the importance of narcissist and sociopath awareness becomes more solid, making all of us better positioned, emotionally and mentally, to stand proud and spread awareness about emotional abuse wider than just our blogs, Twitter feeds or Facebook pages.

Regardless of what I write and share on my blog moving forward, whatever it is it’s most certainly related to how I continue to mindfully heal and grow.

My life is consumed and driven by the desire to never stop growing.

And I’m not just talking about healing and growing from the toxic relationship in which I found myself with the sociopath. I’m also referring to healing and growing from years of not thinking I was good enough.

I want to share all of the good stuff I learn with you in hopes you’ll continue sharing your successes and periodic struggles with this community.

I’ve been too fearful to be me in the past. Thanks to this community (which is continuously growing!) I am ready to spread my wings and take a few risks. What do I have to lose?!? What do any of us have to lose!?!?

Namaste!
~Paula

(Image source: http://blogs.worldbank.org/psd/shifting-gears-capitalism-and-the-logic-of-competitive-industries)

Accepting Another Invitation to Talk About Sociopaths on TV

destiny old womanSince becoming aware of and accepting the reality of what struck me when in the relationship with the sociopath, the boy in my story, I try making decisions related to telling more of my story based on what I may or may not regret.

So when I was contacted this week by a researcher interested in interviewing me and learning more about my story for a new show on relationships to run on A&E’s Biography Channel, I hesitated to respond:

A.) I needed to run the idea passed my husband. He is ultimately affected by every decision I make related to telling my story. If he worries it will affect us negatively, I worry too.

B.) On the heals of my HuffPost Live appearance, I was feeling defeated and couldn’t help but ask, “Is continuing to speak out worth the stress and regret when I get it wrong or when I do a half-assed job of trying to express myself?”

C.) Can I really do this? Do I have the resources and the time to dedicate to something like this? Just a few weeks ago I was writing about not writing as much about this subject matter.

I immediately texted my husband. He immediately responded with, “Go for it!”

So I am going for it. I have a phone interview later next week and will be provided with more details. Once I am able to share more, I will.

In the meantime, please let me know some of the major focus areas related to sociopaths and recovery from pathological relationships that you think should be touched upon if the show allows.

If it were not for the support of my family and friends and all of the wonderful people I have had the privilege of meeting through this blog, I wouldn’t have the confidence and motivation I have to keep trying.

One day soon, I wholeheartedly believe, the words sociopath, psychopath, relational harm and pathological love will be understood by the majority and not over-used or misused like they are today.

Namaste! Peace and love!

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/46302702388466751/)

Have you hugged a sociopath today?

Sociopathy – Psychopathy – Pathological Awareness – What does it mean to you?

20130429-123528.jpg

If the sociopath knew he were a sociopath, do you think he’d make any of us aware?

There is a growing number of people who think society should be more accepting of sociopaths and that we should classify and consider them the way we do individuals born with autism or Down’s. After all, they were born that way. They can’t help themselves.

Personally, I think this is an insult to individuals with autism and Down’s and an insult to the people who spend their entire lives dedicated to caring for those with autism and Down’s.

I also believe that in order to accept a sociopath, we need to know exactly what we are getting ourselves into. How many sociopaths are willing to admit they are pathological? It’s their nature to manipulate and con. If they were to disclose their tools for conning people, they would have no purpose.

And even if there were a genetic marker and test to identify these people, do you think they would be willing to disclose it? HIPAA would protect them from responsible disclosure:

By the way, I was born with an inability to empathize, communicate effectively, and take ownership of any of my misdeeds, mostly because I don’t think I commit misdeeds. Knowing this, are you willing to accept me and allow me to control everything you do, say and think?

The first step to receiving understanding from others is in admitting you have a problem. A sociopath would NEVER do that.

Problem? What Problem? YOU have the problem.

I think the better route is continuing to educate people on how to spot these fools so we can make more informed decisions about pursuing relationships with them. Or not!

We, the non-pathologicals, remain in control for a change.

What do you think? Should we pity and understand the pathologicals among us? Or should we reserve our understanding and acceptance for those who won’t exploit our understanding and acceptance?

~Paula

Don’t just dress up this Halloween. Dress up for a cause.

My first Washington Times article:

WASHINGTON, August 17, 2012—National Domestic Violence Awareness month is October, less than six weeks away. October is also, of course, the month of Halloween. Neighborhood stores are already displaying bags of candy corn, costumes, and treat bags.

The decision of what to “go as” is quickly approaching.

This Halloween, dress up as Red Riding Hood. Who doesn’t know the story of Red Riding hood?

Read the entire article…

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/living-inside-out-loud/2012/aug/17/domestic-violence-and-red-riding-hood-project/

Teens, senior week, and domestic violence

http://parentingteens.about.com/od/travelwithteens/ss/teen_vacation_7.htmIt’s not domestic violence awareness month, intimate partner violence awareness month, or date rape awareness month, but it should be. Young teenage females heading off to the beach alone and unchaperoned are entering the perfect environment to become victims of one or all three of the above mentioned crimes.

When I was 18, I graduated from high school on a beautiful Friday night in late May. By the next Friday, I had been beaten, kicked, threatened, and verbally assaulted in Ocean City, Maryland. My abuser was not a stranger. He was a boy who I had been dating for approximately 5 months. He was a boy my mother trusted to treat me with respect and care. He was a boy who many people in the community loved and respected. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He was a preditor 22 years ago and remains a predator today.

Why am I sharing this? Because anyone can be a predator and any young woman could be a victim. It does not matter if your daughter or niece or granddaughter is the valedictorian of her graduating class, homecoming queen, a scholarship recipient, or a basketball star, she could be a victim. And predators come in all shapes and sizes, too. He could be the MVP of the football team, the class president, or the boy who sits with you and your family at church every Sunday. As a parent or guardian, you can’t trust the facade of anyone when it comes to the safety and protection of your young daughter.

So what do you do as a parent or guardian? It’s simple: stay connected. Ask questions. Listen. Get to know the boy’s family. Demand your daughter adheres to her curfew. Use Skype or FaceTime every chance you can. Use GPS on her phone to track her every move. Ask the boy not to go to the beach the same week your daughter goes or go with them. Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa can be there without ever being seen or without causing too much embarrassment for their children. What’s worse? Temporary embarrassment or being assaulted, kicked and chased on a deserted beach late at night, being smothered in your pillow, and begging for your life?

Stay safe. Have fun during senior week. Protect yourself. Protect your children.

Namaste!

%d bloggers like this: