The strong woman in me resisted being labeled a victim. If I admitted to that identity, would I loose the only power and dignity that I thought I had managed to hold on to? Or would I free myself and release the shame and guilt I’d been carrying around?
The scars of domestic abuse aren’t always visible, the emotional, financial, and spiritual abuse can sometimes go undetected for much longer, but it’s wounds just as real and painful. It’s taken 10 years to reclaim that final part of me that was beaten down and suppressed, and now, I’m ready to tell my story.
There is no shame in being a victim and there is profound beauty and power that can arise from the darkness.
At the height of the abuse my physical body was in tatters; I was a shell of my former self. The only time I would remember who I was, the only time that I would connect to that flickering light within me, was when I was practicing yoga. I would drag myself to class and arrive with puffy eyes. I’d try to hide at the back of class, not wanting to be seen or have any attention drawn to me. No matter how hard it was to get there, I showed up, and I kept showing up, until slowly but surely I started to feel stronger. After I’d step off my mat, my light would feel brighter. Over time I grew strong enough to leave. When I found out I was pregnant, I could summon enough courage to leave him and face the wrath of making such an empowered decision. What I had tolerated for myself for too long, I knew I was not willing to bring my beautiful child into.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I had completely crumbled and I literally had to rebuild myself from the inside out after a traumatic birth and a subsequent pelvic floor reconstruction. My physical body needed as much repair as my battered soul; yoga was my medicine and through it I became my own guru traversing from darkness (Gu) to light (Ru). I learned to reconnect to the deepest parts of myself that I had somehow forgotten and slowly reclaim my inner power. This commitment to my healing journey, ultimately would lead me to my greatest calling: sharing the medicine of yoga and awakening healing in others. We all have wounded parts, old scars—visible and invisible—we’ve all experienced loss to some degree, we are all trying to reawaken to our divine greatness. These wounds can be our gifts and offer the opportunity for radical transformation like an alchemy of the soul.
My story is not unique. It happens to too many women in various ways throughout their lives. Facing our darkness and fears is part of the human journey, but perhaps sharing my rawness will touch the heart of another and give hope that you can reclaim your wholeness.
I no longer hide at the back of class, I stand at the front and teach from my heart, I am a leader of change and I disrupt limited self-perception. The strong woman in me has risen, not as in the past with a hard shell exterior, but a complete, vulnerable, and open soul. Our wounds don’t define us; they leave a scar on the heart that the soul’s light must heal around. It’s how we choose to use that light and shine our brilliance from that day forward that defines us.
As Rumi says, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
Photos by Pete Longworth