Updated: Nov 28, 2020
I love spiritual work and I love steamy romance novels. Viewed on a surface level, these two go about as well together as do oil and water if you leave Tantra out of the equation. And this is what blocked me most in my getting ahead professionally, as a romance author and a spiritual healer and Goddess coach. It seemed, when I concentrated on one, I neglected and lost my audience and followers of the other side and vice versa. I was wrecking my brain how to combine the two.
After running everything parallel to start with, I made the decision that I would refuse from then on to be shamed into always denying, hiding or at least keeping separate, one aspect not only of my work but of who I am as a person and what I am passionate about. In an act of defiance, I created a website that incorporated all of it. put everything on one page, in one group, on one account. The result was, I completely lost engagement. I worked harder, created more content, worked longer hours and still…nothing.
The equation Success = Hours x Work Intensity does not work. So together with some challenges in my private life and massive existentialist fears finally overwhelming me, I headed straight for train wreck, a.k.a. burnout. I ended up mentally incapacitated and emotionally raw. It took me a year to work my way out of a half year stint of daily medication and into a space where I could think analytically and creatively again. My journey was scary, to say the least, but it made me stronger and I learned so many valuable lessons from it.
As I came out the other side, I met people who were genuinely kind, non-judgmental, supportive, helpful and emotionally open to let me e these things myself in return as well. There was a flow, give and take wasn’t always balanced, it wasn’t always “instant payback” but there were trust and a willingness to help and receive help where help was needed without always tallying up in minute detail what’s owed from where, when and by whom.
I found a group of people, headed by the awesome Stephanie Behrens, photographer and author, who individually are very different in personal taste and style, profession, background, faith and politics but we all believe in that one thing that together we are stronger than the sum total of our individual parts and to build a great team, it takes not only effort but also love, compassion and acceptance.
I feel that all I’ve got from this group, I will never be able to repay in full and I strive to do my best to get my own work done and find a way to incorporate these amazing individuals because I don’t have the energy nor the skills to big them up the way they deserve on top of everything else I already have to do.
As I was seeking ways to combine my own ends with that of the other group members and sharing more of myself publicly in the process, I noticed a slow but steady rise in my social media stats as well. But by that time, marketing and gaining a wider audience wasn’t even my primary goal any longer in connection with this group, although Stephanie Behrens had founded it for this purpose and we are working towards this on a daily basis.
By helping each other with a combined marketing effort within our group, I not only got to know the individual members better but I also got to know myself better. Parallel to this development, things started to ease up on my private life. I was able to let go of a lot of emotionally crippling pain, although there is always more, of course. Healing is an ongoing process.
I won an energy reading by my amazing friend Stef Ventura, the Psychic Soul Alignment Coach, and received the most profound, concise and clear messages on the questions I had. I won’t go into detail here but at the core was the statement I had hoped to avoid but knowing as a seasoned spiritual healer myself that you cannot ever avoid it if you want to create lasting change in your life, I had to heal deeper layers of my psyche and the outside would fall into place as well. I had hoped to avoid it out of fear of having a relapse into emotional instability and mental brain fog.
A year of being intellectually completely incapacitated had been the scariest part of my burnout. Not the initial all-consuming panic attack, the occasionally recurring anxiety or even the fact that my body weight had spiralled out of control. My greatest fear was of being “stupid” again. As silly as this sounds, for a nerd and, I have to be truthful here, a bit of an intellectual snob (yes, I’m only human, too), not being able to retain anything I was told or that I read and process it intellectually, was the worst that could have happened to me.
It was also the best that ever happened to me because it forced me to concentrate on the only thing I could still make out, my own feelings which I had buried so often so deeply under intellectual pursuits, adult responsibilities and the need to function always because I’m the only parent my children have and the only spiritually aware person in the family to be able to give them guidance in creating their own lives (see the book I wrote based on a conversation I had with my then 8-year-old daughter Tarini, my youngest, How Picasso Makes You a Genius).
The burnout was a blessing. It was a painful breaking away of layers of old, dysfunctional patterns and relationships but it was also the beginning of greater self-awareness, taking my own needs more seriously and not always stuffing them into the bottom of the pile of things to do. I learned to clearly state what I needed, what my boundaries were and what I was able to do – and what not. This required that I had to learn to determine what that was in the first place to be able to communicate it clearly.
As I learned to say no, I created room to say yes to myself. I still love helping others, being part of a team, working for something greater than myself, but I also gave up on my helper syndrome where I would run on empty and stop looking after me in order to put someone else first and give when I had nothing left to give. I learned that it’s not just theory that you can only be of real help to others from a position of strength, not of weakness. I found greater balance and, in the process, a lot more self-love.
But, as Stef Ventura told me during our reading, although I had shed layers of pain, limiting beliefs and other blockages, there were still deeper layers of pain and trauma I needed to access and heal if I really wanted a positive change in my life. It wasn’t that I didn’t know because I did, although often we need to hear things from someone else for them to sink in, it was that I didn’t know how. No amount of meditation, Reiki and other healing modalities had helped to succeed in that. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried. But my subconscious had continued to stubbornly cling to those old things I intellectually knew I had no more use of if I wanted to lead a happy, healthy and prosperous life. So now, the elusive and sporadic “one day” had become an ongoing active search for a way to access this.
I wrecked my brain and then I started to watch the high school musical TV series Glee with my now 13-year-old daughter Tarini. Over the weeks, the more we watched, the more I cried from one episode to another. My first thought was that music does this to me in general, evoking strong emotions within me. Then I remembered experiences from my young adult life where I had witnessed deep emotional trauma and pain in others and feeling for them brought on these tears.
Until tonight. For a spiritual coach with thirty years of studying and exploring other religions, old spiritual and new age teachings and quantum and metaphysics, you could argue, I have to have a thick skull for it to take so long for the penny to drop. But it’s not about analytical deduction and intellectual knowledge, rather than the coping mechanism I had cultivated in my childhood and youth to survive the onslaught of emotional trauma and pain I experienced at the time. I had buried that pain under layers of living everyone else up to ensure no one would ever have to endure the kind of pain I had lived through that derives from being rejected, mentally and emotionally violated and being unloved.
Yes, that’s a noble thought and motivation for my work as healer and coach, as well as a cornerstone of my self-image as a mother and friend, but it also stopped me from giving that unconditional love to the one person who needed it most: Myself!
Projection and deflection are powerful tools in suppressing pain and numbing it to the point where you are able to “function” despite it. They are crutches, drugs, and it is no wonder, a series aimed at teenagers was the trigger I needed, combined with music, most of which called up memories from my past as well because the deepest cuts I sustained happened in my childhood, teenage years and young adulthood.
I released my 29th published book, Ria, the second novel in The Milf Diaries series, on my dad’s 80th birthday. He doesn’t know because we no longer have direct contact. It wasn’t an act of defiance I needed to symbolically slap him in the face with to say, “You said I was never good enough for anything but look at what I achieved.”
I no longer need his approval that has never been forthcoming, anyway, to validate my self-worth. I did it for me, as a symbol of inner liberation and a testimony to my inner strength that made me rise above adversity and succeeding despite it. I didn’t let my dreams be crushed. I didn’t let my spirit be subdued. I didn’t allow the rejection to make me hard and bitter. It taught me the value of unconditional love and even though it took me nearly half a century, it taught me to love and trust myself every day a little more.
You could argue, Glee was a coincidence. I call it a miracle. And if it takes a bunch of ancient Goddesses and a modern high school musical series to break down my walls, so be it. God works in mysterious ways and so do the manifestations of the subconscious. Between Netflix, late-night chats with Stephanie in Texas and feeling too exhausted (two weeks of flu can really take it out of you) to do any work, it did the thing.
Who am I to judge? Only to discern which is, incidentally, the true root meaning of the word, not sentencing, punishing or viewing and treating with prejudice. Linguistics is a whole other topic that is so worth exploring in relation to how we talk to ourselves and others, how we use language. I won’t digress further into this here, merely giving you a nudge to do some research of your own to create greater awareness if that’s what you’re after.