Pain and what's underneath

I've been sitting on this story for quite sometime.  I've been avoiding sharing the details out of fear or self preservation or a list of other excuses.  Today there has been an outpouring of acknowledgement of the shocking abundance of sexual trauma that women are forced to deal with.  So I want to share some bits that I'm learning to heal in the hopes that it inspires women with similar stories to get the help they need and to continue the awakening to the trauma that sexual abuse can create.

Over 4 years ago now, I made the move to California.  Gold country, the place where dreams come true.  I was leaving behind a career that had become wholly unsatisfying in a few demeaning ways, a slew of broken and abusive relationships and a past that I was trying hard to forget.  I chose to retire from modeling as I had gotten propositioned for sex work more times than I am willing to admit. The desire to stand up for myself broke me down and I quit.  Knowing that deep changes in my patterns and beliefs had to occur to create the life I envisioned for myself, I headed west where my heart had been calling for some time.

I've been an empath my entire life. Deeply feeling things that weren't necessarily my own.  I was never properly educated on what to do with the things I did feel or to understand the difference between love, pleasure or pain.  In order to be a seemingly "well-adjusted" human I learned various ways to cope with the depth of emotions and messages that I received along the way. Unfortunately the coping mechanisms of my mind tricked my body into not actually paying attention to a lot of the things that I actually was feeling.  A master trickster, I learned to lie to myself so proficiently that I completely blocked out pieces of my past. Assuming that dark holes in my childhood were normal or that I just had a bad memory, I didn't bother to ask and I lost the desire for curiosity. 

The past two years have been a transformative and meaningful dive into all parts of who I am.  Diving deep into my shadows, my memories and disbanding the stories that have shaped my life to find out the truth.   Excavating the pieces that I want to keep to reveal the person that is fully ME.  

What do you do when you're digging into three decades of pain, frustration and hurt to find out that what lies underneath is deep and utter sadness and grief? Where do you turn when you find out that what you've been lying to yourself about for most of your life is more dramatic than the scariest truths?  

I've been haunted by this memory in a tent for quite some time.  This place where innocence was lost and my mind decided it was best to protect me.  Misplacing the details and trying to force myself to believe that the offender was just a twisted memory.  I created a deep rooted pattern of not trusting myself because I couldn't admit the truth of this tormented place in my mind. 

I've been working with a collection of powerful coaches, healers and shamans to peel back all the layers.  It's been a challenge to boldly admit what you hate about yourself and then to figure out why.   Diving into a lifetime filled with shame and finding that the rewards are endless.  In this journey of self-discovery I've been guided into adventures that have taken me to vortexes around the world.  Places where I was more open to experience, to let go and actually accept the full range of feelings.  

I spent most of my adult life in front of the camera, creating a list of characters and accessing a range of manufactured emotions to fit the project I was hired for.  The further I grow from that self, the more I try to challenge how I show up for the camera. 

The real ME.  The true essence.  The genuine emotion.  

This summer I went on two deep excursions, one to the Amazon in Peru and the most recently to Bali, a spot that my soul has been calling for quite some time.  In part of my healing I captured deeper parts of my hidden self that I'm finally sharing with you now.  To say this is vulnerable is beyond understatement.  I'm no longer afraid

perurage.jpg

With the help of my beautiful friend and mentor Amanda I was able to access the beast within me.   I was witnessed in my deep suffering and pain and let the agony, frustration and pure rage reverberate off the depths of the woods around me.  The scream was so loud and fierce that I lost my voice.  The cries were so real and deep that I was able to help heal the little girl in me that had been denied for so long.  I hear you.  I know you now and can feel what you felt then.

Months passed and I kept my story to myself even though the desire to help others heal theirs was burning inside of me.  I still had more to heal before I can help.  

Last month, I went to Bali.  A place that has been on my bucket list for some time.  A place that has held a magical wonder for me since the first vision quest that led me there.  I was not alone, I was held specifically by a a wonderful guide and teacher, Cory.  In my room, the week I spent alone there, I learned to really access all of my pain.  The neglect, the abandonment, the rape, the isolation, the molestation, the lack of love, the list...

In the shadows of that room, I let myself cry.  Days of tears and I felt like Alice in Wonderland, drowning in the pool of her own sorrow.  In the decade plus of modeling, no one has captured true emotion from me.  This is something I had to do with myself, for myself.

Depths of the pain to actually Release

Depths of the pain to actually Release

It's been quite a process and an in depth journey but I'm here, whole and feeling all that I can. 

So to the man who stole my innocence, I forgive you.  
To the many men who assume that nudity is an invitation for sex, permission is always necessary and respect is something that should never be questioned.

To the many women who have similar stories and haven't asked for help, there are many resources available and many skilled professionals that I would love to recommend.  You deserve to be heard, seen and cared for.  The goal with this share has multiple layers.  Firstly, because finally I can.  I have access to the story, my truth, all pieces of who I truly am.  Secondly, because this type of abuse is rampant and without a spotlight on the issue it will continue to get swept under the rug and ignored.  The next generation does not need to suffer.  Things can change if we stay awake and communicate and educate more clearly and openly.  Finally, because you are not alone.  This is an awakening.  An opportunity to share your story and to heal the hurt.  

My passion for my work comes from my personal story.  I believe that all women are beautiful and deserve to be seen in their unique radiance.  My mission is to help women to really get to experience the magnitude of their own power, access the depths of your beauty.  Maybe not with this amount of rawness and vulnerability but if that is your story, all is permitted.  

More about my mission and purpose at www.theessenceproject.com


If you are seeking guidance and want support with changing your relationship with yourself, these are my top resources and highest recommendations for you.  You don't have to suffer alone, regardless of what your pain is from.  
Amanda El'oesh- http://www.eloesh.com/
Cory Center- http://www.corycenter.com/
Jessica Neideffer- http://agadaenergyhealing.com/

 

Never Enough

A few of my favorite moms, Jenn-my beloved sister, Nan- the eldest mom, Mama- the one who raised me right

A few of my favorite moms, Jenn-my beloved sister, Nan- the eldest mom, Mama- the one who raised me right

Today is Mother's Day.  A day to tell your mom you love her, take her out to brunch and make sure she gets that massage that she's needed for the past 4 months.  My Mom is on the other coast, so instead I took some time to write about the gifts I've received and how proud I am to be her daughter.

I sit quietly with a bowl full of words in my lap

the combination of all those things you've taught me throughout the years, the things I received just by watching the proud and fearless woman that you are, the lessons that have shaped me, the words that inspire me to be my best self, the words that you gave me to guide me in to who I am today

power, courageous, resilience, loving, nurture, wonder, strength, guidance, care, determined, capable, prowess, selfless, dedicated, brilliant, strong, faithful, loyal, passionate, driven

this bowl full of words

mixed with all the things I've never said that I wanted to and the words that I've said out of anger or fear and the words that seem bigger than I can say out loud and the words that have taught me to follow my own curiosity and seek my own magic 

all the words

I sit today with my bowl full of words you've given me, and pull out some of my favorites to give back to you Mama

gratitude, pride, encouragement, strength, compassion, love...

There will never be enough words to say how  blessed I am to have you as my Mom.  

 


To all the powerful, loving, selfless Moms in my life, I thank you for giving endlessly, caring deeply and living proudly to be the examples that we need for our future.  You are LOVED.

My Life is a Holiday!

Chichen itza

Chichen itza

Everybody has a story, and if you take the time to write it down, it's probably pretty epic.  

I lived a solid decade of my life globetrotting, meandering and creating art in the most glorious places. The title of my never written memoir was to be "My Life is a Holiday!"  and in reality it was.

I created a world that I could pick a place and go there, get most or all expenses covered, and leave with a wealth of satisfying memories and a bag full of money.  Life was good.  I earned a handsome living while adding 15 country stamps to my passport and I think I paid for maybe 2 of those flights.  I worked hard, I played harder.  I had amazing friends all over the world and a legacy of co-created artwork that shall live longer than my physical body.  

But as the story goes, all good things must come to an end...  

or in my opinion, lead to something better.  

I didn't realize the tremendous benefits of the life I had created until I got burnt out, needed a big change and had no exit strategy.  I had become accustomed to all the amazing attributes and ignored all the negative side effects.  The bad began to overshadow and I could no longer see the good.  Time to change what wasn't working...

My partner and I were creating a beautiful life together in NYC and Woodstock.  He came home one day and said "Do you want to move to California?"  Just as I was in swimming in the awkward place of "What do I do with my life now?!#$@" in walks the idea for the perfect reset button!  Seemed like divine timing.  I was ready for all the changes.  Starting fresh with all new everything made sense and I didn't have to do it alone. Bonus!


Change is inevitable in life (or at least the life I want to live).  The goal is to be ready to ride the wave when it hits you.  Swimming is way more fun when you have the comfort of seeing the shore and the skills to keep your head above water.


That's a tiny sliver of my story.  I've been firmly planted in the Bay Area of California for 4 years now.  I've taken 4 holidays as an adult that weren't work related.  Two, with my love, for the sole purpose of just being, not doing.  One journey to Tulum that was at the beginning of my journey in to deep personal work and where I created "The Essence Project", my mission and this life's purpose.  And then this last holiday, back to Tulum for a reset, to reconnect to my creative inspiration that sometimes tends to wander off all on its own.  I realized recently that I've been 200% dedicated to building this new business in a different way and ignoring my desire to seek my dream.  You can't tame a wanderlust.  

It's taken me a few years to realize the photography business that I want to create and it seems rather obvious that I'll never give up my desire for adventure and love of the beauty and grandeur of nature.  It's where I find my magic, my peace, and my sanity.  These are poignant elements of my being.

I found this great quote that makes it all make sense...  

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"- Helen Keller

I went to Tulum with a list of intentions and am returning home with the same list undone, but a deeper connection to the life I want to create and the business I want to create in it. 

All this to say that I will be incorporating my love and need to travel in to my photography business and am looking for inspired and passionate wanderers to join me! 

First destination: Sedona.  

 

June 19-24th :: 

I'll be creating magic in the red rocks and am inviting 3 amazing women to join me.  As a super, crazy bonus, I have deals on travel and accommodations as well.

 It doesn't get any better!   

More details, click here: 

https://candace-smith-yook.squarespace.com/sedona-application

 

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes" -Marcel Proust