Back then you didn't take on the world's problems You knew they were there And set out your worry dolls down on your windowsill at night Sometimes you were visited by an elf Who squeezed your hand tight and Told you bad things. But you also played It settled you At day you explored and refined At night the worries surfaced And you knew what to do. If life is about balance for you Where is the play now? ~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
my mom greets me like a small child. Her eyes light up and she is filled with such love for me.
This is what flowed beneath the layers of suffering that was my mom- that was our relationship.
I hated her a lot. And I believed she hated me the same.
We must be careful who we deem unworthy of love but worthy of hate and abandonment. We must not dismiss a family as dysfunctional or a person damaged and leave it there as if it/they held nothing else.
I really know this.
For there were many necessary years I felt anger and betrayal- sometimes rightly so- and the only way I could function in our dysfunction was to protect myself.
And yet, now…
I feel I am a good daughter for sticking with her- for staying in the process, the journey that is ours.
I understand I needed to love her but couldn’t and wouldn’t and instead exchanged vulnerability for codependency (unknowingly of course).
I continue to play this out within my marriage.
And yet, now
I see the possibility that what flows beneath the wounds of my suffering might redeem me
Maybe not quite now but eventually.
Tell me how much you love him
Tell me how much you want to leave him
Tell me how he hurts you
Tell me how he loves you
Tell me why you’re afraid to stay
Tell me why you’re afraid to leave
Tell me why you fear you’ve been replaced
Tell me what you still want with him
Tell me how hard this has been
Tell me how this love affair began
Tell me how he holds you back
Tell me how he lets you drown
Tell me how you hold yourself back
Tell me how you let yourself drown
Tell me how you suffer
Tell me everything until there’s nothing left to tell
Tell me everything so we both understand and can move on.
~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
Did adults teach love or fear?
A few mornings ago, a deeply rooted fear approached the surface of my awareness— it may be a major source of my anxiety— the fear of adults.
Adults— these taller, authoritative and not always welcoming figures who literally, and often figuratively, look down on us when we are small. I guess it is one reason why it has been weird to be one and why, in many cases, especially in parenting, I got it wrong.
Who taught me to adult, and how was I taught?
I tried QNRT (Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy) recently and the practitioner asked— what happened between ages 9-11? Searching, mostly I came up blank, as though this entire span of my life I blacked out. However, what I do recall, an image that also came up in an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy session: little me is standing in line outside Ms. Odegard’s 3rd grade classroom. This image of my small self, being towered over by Odegard, folds inside of itself head first, as if choosing at that moment to go some place no one else would see me— EVER. Odegard was a mean, witchy-looking woman (more witch of the west, not south). She scared me, and away, inside myself, I went and stayed. Early experiences of bullying only solidified my existence there, with the added compounding affect of: I’m ugly and weird. I’m too much and I bother people just by being me. But it wasn’t me— I mean maybe the vulnerability of me likely made me a target, but it was also what I wore.
My mom gave love through buying me expensive things. She didn’t have a lot of money, just credit and expensive taste. Let’s just say I was the first person in 6th grade to have Guess jeans— the infamous triangle on the back pocket I exposed by keeping one part of my shirt tucked in at the back. Every bullying event was around something I wore from the barrettes that were pulled out of my hair and stomped on by dirty blonde-haired Allison, to the pink hat that matched an entire pink outfit that was snatched off my head by Jessica. The next day she gave it back to me in a brown paper bag. My hat was in the bag and a big clump of dog shit was in my hat.
I easily learned it is not okay to “show off— ” as if that is what I was doing. I was wearing what I had and loving it, until that happened.
I understand that these stories aren’t about the scary adults, but about mean kids, likely acting out because of the scary adults in their lives. Which brings me back to them, and what they mean to us when we are little.
The source of (pretty much) everything is in these young, developing years, and all around us are adults, these taller people that are supposed to know more than we do. So, we listen to them. We watch everything they do and because we are so spongy during this time we absorb a lot. In a way, we absorb them.
We can absorb their unprocessed and unregulated emotions. We can absorb the actions, behaviors and words that are done and told to us. Therefore, depending on what we are absorbing, we can believe that we are good, bad, worthy or unworthy, not enough or too much….And we can learn patterns of behaviors and thought that protect us and then as adults, harm us.
When there is a problem, there is not something to do, there is something to know.Dr. Raymond Charles Barker
Many seem to be returning to this childhood time, realizing this is the source of the pain, the repetitive and protective patterns and habits, the suffering. Once understood, which is a process, the more pure, real parts of ourselves can risk showing up and we welcome in a new experience of adulthood. One where, instead of feeling tight and constricted within ourselves, we feel more spacious and free. It is from this spaciousness that we present as an adult that won’t scare and shame away the smaller people.
Thanks for showing up,
~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
Who protects the children? Who shelters the sacredness of childhood?
This duty falls upon the parents/caregivers.
And yet, as the quote above states: It is in the homes and in childhood that the wreckage of human life begins. I would say it is also in schools and religious institutions.
I come out strongly suggesting this because this wreckage is what I care passionately about. My passion was reignited last week as my daughter shared an experience she had. It triggered experiences and emotions still unprocessed from my childhood.
A family member had compared their daughter to mine, and not in a positive light. This has happened before when another family member did not want their daughter to be around mine because they believed she was a bad influence. I recall the time, as a young teenager, I was forbidden to step foot in my friend’s house because her parents believed I was a bad influence because I dated black boys. I remember how this hurt me, and it wasn’t the first time. It was a reoccurring theme that somehow something in me threatened the adults and they didn’t want me rubbing off on their kids. Absurd!
I can say that now, but at the time I felt like a defect. I felt ashamed. I felt judged. And, I felt angry. The anger I felt was about the injustice I was experiencing. These parents who judged me did not know me. They never asked me questions. They did not spend time with me. I was instantly forbidden fruit based on a few choices and behaviors.
My daughter is being judged in the same way. The family members who chose this behavior do not know her. I’ve yet to see any of them sit down with her and ask her questions about who she is or how she is. Or have they sat down with me and asked about what is was like to raise her or how I raised her. And somehow, as parents, they believe they won’t deal with the behaviors they think they know about my daughter and if they do, they rather it be due to the negative influence of my daughter. How ignorant!
What is forgotten, what is not done is to look wider and deeper at the reasons behind so called negative behaviors and influences. Why might someone act out with “negatively”? Why might a child/teenager self-harm? Use drugs? Do we think they are just a defect or do we just blame the bad influences? Or do we consider they are acting out unprocessed traumas that occur within our own homes? Our own toxic environments? Acting out the wreckage of their childhood? Not usually. Instead of adults putting this together, adults project their fears, ignorance and their own unprocessed traumas and emotions at the children and make them the problem. How unjust!
For example, say a young girl lives in a home where a parent abuses alcohol. I know this home. My mom was an alcoholic. It sucks. It damages a child. It creates patterns that can destroy a life. The child might point out to their parent that they drink too much. Instead of the parent listening, the parent feels disrespected. They believe the child has lost their rightful place in the family hierarchy- to be seen and not heard; to respect their elders. All non-sense!
Why should a child not be able to claim their childhood? Why should a child respect a parent who is not protecting their childhood? Why should they not proclaim: I matter. My childhood matters. Why should a child not plead to their parents to protect the sacredness of their childhood? More sad, why should a child have to?
Kahlil Gibran on children said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
We cause the wreckage when we see them as our possessions and believe they are less than. We do them a great disservice when we do not see them as souls, as a spirit within a body that have their own path to follow. When I was judged, yes, I felt hurt, but I also knew there was nothing wrong with me. I sensed both my humanity and my spirituality. I understand we are dual- both material and spiritual. We are made up of our childhood environments and our larger society that create our psychological experience and we are spiritual- of spirit- composed of high vibrations of energy that are constantly evolving.
I have no doubt the vast majority of us who are parents are going to fuck up our kids. I thought I was a good mom because I didn’t abuse alcohol like my mother did, and provided a mostly stable environment, but I brought them other traumas. This is bound to happen because we have unconscious realms of darkness within us that hold old conditioning and beliefs. But, there is hope. We can protect childhood!
Here is what we can do: We can 1) commit to our own inner, self-reflective work and practices. We can and must commit to our own healing. And 2) repair the harms we have caused with our children. To do this, we must be open and respect their experience enough to openly listen to them. We must give them safe space to air out their grievances. Recently, my kids sat down with my husband and me and told us what it was like to grow up with our marriage. It was brutal to hear. But it was and is my duty to listen, to repair and commit to healing.
It is time to end fearful, ignorant parenting based on a hierarchical mindset and unconscious psychological patterns. Instead it is time to begin conscious, mindful parenting, which is a combination of reparenting ourselves with honesty and compassion and our children the same.
~The Soul Reporter
Many years ago, at a retreat, I had an intentional encounter with a horse. I timidly walked toward the horse. Within me was all the anxiety and doubt of my struggling and unprocessed traumas. I stood with the horse for a few moments and then it led me to a pile of shit. I thought: of course. Of course this horse would bring me to a pile of shit. Only me….At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. Then, it became one of my more profound lessons: it’s just shit.
Which brings me to now~ A quote that keeps running through my mind:
This is a time of divine fulfillment. The fruits of my labor and purpose of my life now unfold in a clear, harmonious way.
This quote is a favorite of my mothers. I will forever associate these words with her and today they ring true for me. I can’t help but wonder if this was her gift to me, not just the words themselves, but to have the experience of the words.
To experience is the shift I have made, where the words I have grown up with, surrounded myself with, and those that live within me come alive— and it’s absolutely splendid.
As I write, on my vision board are these words: The rebirth of Awe. And….
- Finding real
- Second wind
- Instructions for life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. (Mary Oliver)
- Born to write
- Join the thousands of people around the world who are opening up, digging deep, and transforming their lives!
It is very possible I have known all along what I am up to. Yet, for many years I had doubt, insecurity and practiced indecisiveness as if it were an appreciated art form.
The words, so many words, are coming alive right before my eyes!
It is also very possible, that as I earlier said to my father in conversation, that the signs and mystical experience I seek, are all around me and have been with me every step of the way.
All of this to say, and most importantly, experience the turning of an important corner where the fruits of my labor and purpose of my life now unfold and where I live in the energy of Congratulations!
This is where I am. And it does not come without some old guilt-ridden programming. The kind of guilt that needs reminding such as: Nikki, you have worked diligently for 32 years to know and understand yourself. You have opened up to your desire to get through “your shit” sooner rather than later. You have dug deep, so deep to the literal “big mother wound” of neglect and abandonment. You have been twisted and turned through many dark crevices and have come out the other side only to be taken in yet again. You, dear heart, have transformed your life AND you’ve earned every minute of celebration and awe you now experience.
Own it. Stand in it. Experience it. It’s yours. And if and when you feel ready, share it.
This is where I find myself today. It is where I have been for the past few weeks and because it was such a new experience, I did not have the words to express what it has been like. But the words come now, through my own voice, but mostly through the voice of others who have come before me. I relish in their generosity. Especially from my dear poet friend, Rumi. This, what Rumi writes, is on the other side of the shit we must all travel through. Bless you dear hearts as you journey through yours.
You have fallen in love my dear heart
You have freed yourself from all attachments
You have given up both worlds to be on your own
The whole creation praises your solitude
Your disbelief has turned into belief
Your bitterness, into sweetness
You have now entered into Love’s fire, my pure heart
Inside the Sufi’s heart there is always a feast
Dear heart, you are celebrating
My heart, I have seen how your tears turned into a sea
Now every wave keeps saying
O silent lover, seeker of the higher planes,
May the Beloved always be with you
You have struggled hard, may you grow wings and fly
Keep silent my dear heart, you have done so well
~The Soul Reporter
What’s this selfie for?
In the hopes to be admired.
I want to be admired and I also fight against it. The fight against it has mostly won. And, has come at a price. I hide. I have been stingy with sharing and passive/aggressive about it. I have silently said to readers, followers and potential ones:
look at me dammit. Pay attention to me. Admire my face and my insights. So I show off.
And then on the flip side I’ve said:
forget you. I know you won’t notice me. See I knew it- no likes. Another post of such great words (I mean I have the best words) and no one cares. So I shut down.
This has been my dance with all of you (and my nearest and dearest ones). It’s dysfunctional and toxic and not how I want to show up in the world. Therefore, I have mostly remained hidden. This is also unhealthy because the truth of me, and all that I’ve come to realize about life and myself, wants and needs to be exposed.
The truth is I’ve reacted to all of you, which is really just my own battle with myself that I’ve drafted you all in, and it comes out of a conditioning that came from my upbringing.
Essentially, I was ignored. I longed to be deeply seen. I know now it wasn’t personal. It was the impact of being raised by those who did not see themselves.
Until we see ourselves we cannot and will not see another.
If the desire to be seen, and essentially deeply known and valued, is not identified and satisfied, this desire becomes increasingly toxic. At its worst it becomes the dance I have described- on one end a compulsion to be admired, which can be as extreme and defined by a narcissistic personality disorder. And on the other end, a complete erasure of self characterized by self-neglect.
The desire to be admired is a trap, part of the psychological mindset, which creates dysfunctional and protective patterns and behaviors. In the age of social media and a particularly exaggerated version of an admiration-seeking U.S. president, we are afforded the opportunity to really look at the deep inner wound of neglect and abandonment. In doing so, we can limit the toxic interplay it does create and instead tease out the toxins and understand, and most importantly feel the hurt of not being seen.
This post is part of my own teasing, a confession in a way to make the dysfunctional dynamics known and to state I want to now come to all of you, readers and followers, and to my family and friends, in a more authentic and whole way. To share only to be admired comes from the smallest of self and truly not worthy of any of us. This way of showing up is also not sustainable and will eventually come back to haunt us us in one form or another.
We may never be able to be truly seen by another or by our primary caregivers. But we always have the opportunity to heal the wound and to fully see ourselves. The more of us that do this, the more we will see each other. Only this will bring the kind of shift so many of us desire in the world.
~The Soul Reporter
This is me sophomore year in high school. I’m in photography class (the only class I liked). I see a contemplative person. A deep well doing my best to function in superficiality, knowing there’s more, and feeling my way inward.
I am still this way except I am beyond doing my best with superficiality. I have moved to that deeper place and I’ve discovered so much about myself.
The journey so far has been intense and this is because I set a clear intention- maybe around the time of this picture- that I would get through my stuff sooner rather than later.
This “stuff,” is the trauma and neglect of my childhood. It’s the alcohol and mental illness from a primary caregiver. It’s the bullying and feeling left out in school. It’s the why I’m codependent (now in recovery). It’s all of that and more, and how it creates deep psychological conditioning, which creates disruptive relationships dynamics, behaviors and moods.
It is my sense we are in a great battle due to the wounds of our upbringing. These wounds create psychological conditioning that impact our everyday lives, experiences and relationships. Many of us do not realize this is the case and just assume: this is who we are. But these attitudes and behaviors, that come from this psychological space is not who we are. We are more. And, we can be restored to who we are. Some of us are waking up to this realization because it is time. It is time to evolve and advance, and break the cycles of trauma and neglect.
At 47 I feel I am on the other side of the psychological conditioning and making my way toward everyday, every moment consciousness- one glimpse at a time.
As I become more awake the desire to externalize all that I have learned also awakens. This is why I have started a new page on social media called A Daily Glimpse. The intention is to share, in a digestible way, the often complex and challenging experience of personal and spiritual transformation. There have been many who made the shift that came before me and helped me along the way. I now notice others coming forward to do the same. Sometimes I wonder, am I too late?
The ego says: why bother then. Well- because this shift in higher consciousness is bigger than my ego and I choose to be a part of the change and that is why I want to offer the messages I have to give. If you’d like guidance and support in making the shift from our psychological conditioning to expanded consciousness follow @adailyglimpse.
Hello. How is June unfolding for you?
Earlier in the month, I wrote about the energies of this month. It was about paying attention to subtlety as a way to be a conscious participant in the changes around us and within us.
Personally, I feel I like I can tune in even more. I can do this by slowing everything down and being present. When I do this, I instantly receive information that tells me what changes are occurring within me.
One of the changes occurring was triggered when my daughter, who is an esthetician, asked to do eye make up on me. I told her to do something bold and bright— something I’d never do on myself. Here is the result:
At first, when I looked in the mirror, I had a two second identity crisis: who the hell am I? When I woke up the next morning, having removed the make up, I felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life. I realized there is big, full life out there for me to experience. Creating a new look on my face helped me to see how much I play myself down in order to not be seen. And this made me feel it is time to grieve the way I’ve been playing and let it go.
Sometimes what we think is our personality— the who we think we are— is actually a product of deep insecurities and fears. Once faced, processed and understood, we begin to see that beneath this—who we thought we were— is not really who we are.
What I am coming to understand is the person I thought I was expressed from an old tape of fear and neglect. Who I really am expresses from a divine intensity inside of me. She is a whole other person who lives, laughs and loves with that intensity— and maybe even wears bright make up.
To end, click on my video I posted today. I came out with no make up giving shout outs to those of us working real hard expanding our consciousness and self-awareness and finding the hope in that. Click here to listen.
I’d love to hear your comments and questions. Leave below or contact me here.
~The Soul Reporter
Below is my mental health article published in The Volk, Spring 2019
Mental Health: Living Deeper
By Nikki DiVirgillo, MSW, LGSW
When I was young, I looked through a telescope and viewed the stars in the sky. The expansive night sky with its twinkling lights told me I was special: connected to a great force and intelligence. In my early twenties I lived my life from this acknowledgment and my desires manifested effortlessly. Then, one night as I wrote in my journal, I made a profound connection. It brought a vital link from childhood experiences to what I was beginning to experience internally, which was anxiety. This discovery led to the opening of my Pandora’s Box where I made one childhood connection after another, throwing me in to what some have called a dark night of the soul. The details of this long, dark, night are irrelevant in light of the lessons I learned and the growth that followed.
The main lesson, from which all the other lessons fall under, is that if we want to become more of who we really are, if we want to “live our best life,” and experience calm within ourselves, then we must live deeper, and then once we do, live deeper still. Many of us work at the surface of life; we are conditioned this way. We begin in a family, however that looks, with adults who are often existing at the surface of life. Then we fit our tiny bodies into a school desk with bodies taller than us telling us what they think we need to know to live a successful, fulfilling life. We move on to a job to pay for the lifestyle we think we should have. Through all of these stages who asks what we want? What we think? What we feel? At what point do we wonder, where are we? Who are we? And, is this all there is? If we don’t, at any point, stop and ask ourselves these questions or listen to those who might be asking us, we will continue to work at the surface level until our bodies and minds break down. Sure, some will earn what we see as success working at the surface, but will they be fulfilled? Will they be living an authentic life?
What we know is there is a mental health issue (more likely a crisis) in our country. According to the NAMI website (National Alliance on Mental Illness) “1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.” What is also clear is that mental illness is on the rise for our younger population as well. There is no truer sign of a culture’s overall well-being than how its children are doing. According to the 2018 Children’s Mental Health Report from the Child Mind Institute, anxiety disorders have increased 17% in the past ten years. From my professional perspective, I have also seen an increase of students in school diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Something is not right.
My personal theory of what’s not right is that we’ve lost touch with who we really are because we primarily work and function at the surface of life and the surface of ourselves. When I looked up at that star-filled, night sky I was tapping into expansiveness, into space, into mystery, truth, and cosmic order. When I wrote in my journal and made childhood connections, I was digging in beyond the surface to a deeper part of myself, an unconscious part, just as vast and mysterious as the night sky. This space was filled with beliefs, memories, trauma, and emotions stemming from my upbringing. This “stuff” has to be processed, and often our first que that we are ready for this inner work is the experience of anxiety and/or depression.
To listen to our emotions, seeing them as a signal to slow down and check in with our selves, is not something that comes naturally to many of us. We weren’t taught this. Further, to listen and be curious enough about what’s happening inside of us, will open us to change. And, change is frightening, especially at first, because we have only known the surface of ourselves. The surface can lure us with its comfort and safety, but the real value is going beneath our surface. We are more than what we experienced as children, and more than what the culture tells us now. Therefore, when something prompts us to live deeper, like the stars in the night sky, there are points of light within ourselves that we must, and can follow to help us along this journey.
Here are my points of light for you- if you are going through a dark night, if you are experiencing anxiety, if you are feeling an urge to step into something more:
Find Space: this can be anything from looking up into the night sky, taking notice of the stars and the moon, and during the day, the clouds or shades of blue to clearing out a cluttered corner, closet or drawer. Space bring perspective and perspective helps us start to see possibilities and pathways that can bring depth and more internal satisfaction. Meditation is another way to find space.
Be curious: Once you’ve created space, it’s time to get curious- curious about you. This is time to self-reflect, be mindful and ask questions. Beginning this deeper work requires resources to support us. This is important because we may be processing traumas and feeling feelings we haven’t consciously connected with. Consider a journal and seeing a therapist as useful resources as you explore yourself and books!
Seek connection: What I have come to trust and understand is all of us, every single one of us, is looking for connection. We long for deeper connections with ourselves, with our experiences and within our relationships. One of the most important lessons I learned has to do with attachment theory. This theory states the importance of having a secure physical and emotional attachment to a primary caregiver. These attachment needs are present as soon as we are born and continue as we develop and grow. However, it is in our earliest stages that attachment matters most as this will shape our future relationships. If our physical and emotional needs are not met consistently, we will develop insecure attachment. Being insecurely attached will cause anxiety and create difficulties in relationships, along with a disconnection with ourselves. I recommend exploring attachment theory through books or the internet. You will find the four types of attachment and perhaps understand which one best describes yours. Through the process of understanding ourselves, and evolving from greater understanding we will find our relationships change too. Deeper connections with ourselves and others is possible!
These points of light begin the process of deeper work, the work that will eventually guide us to more clarity, wisdom, connection and peace.