When the Divine Feminine Rises Up and Ruins Your Life
There I was. The poster girl for Pura Vida. Costa Rica’s sweetheart. A woman who had left behind the Western world after falling in love with the wild jungle, and ditched graduate school to share her stories of magic and adventure.
I had created a blog read by millions of people. I had written and published my deepest vulnerabilities, my greatest triumphs, and my most encouraging wisdom that inspired countless souls to follow their dreams of traveling the world, moving to paradise, and choosing their happiness beyond the collective fear that ran generations and generations deep.
A lot of people believed in me. I gave the world a fresh infusion of hope and belief in what’s possible. In a gray world of “have to” and “getting-by” I was a rainbow light shining in the distance pointing to the pot of gold that every human on this Earth has the right to claim.
But... there I was. After seven years of that lifestyle, despairingly lost and deeply depressed.
Worse. I barely knew how to function anymore. For months I had been debilitated with daily panic attacks that came on for no reason and every single reason. My crippling fear of setting them off caused me to incubate myself in the most extreme possible way. I could barely eat without the panic coming on. Exercise went entirely out the window. Even the most beautiful beach in the world began to agitate me. And gradually I stopped leaving the house, eventually my bed, altogether.
My descent into this darkest night of the soul began just at the turn of the new year in 2018. What alarmed me most was that so much light and hope preceded this plunge into the deepest turbulence I had ever experienced.
I had established so much self love the year before, launched my first online mentorship program The Freedom Tribe with fifty participants, guided the most transformatively beautiful sold out women’s retreat, earned more money as an entrepreneur than I did at the peak of my Marketing career in the states, and I had just unveiled the rebirth of my blog This American Girl, with every professional system in place and a team of women working to support me.
But beneath all of this beauty that I had created in the world, and beyond the abundance that easefully gifted me with its succulent fruit, there were truths buried under the surface, deep down in my roots, that until I decided to unearth, would always prevent me from blossoming into my full potential. Something would always be tugging down at my heels asking me to go digging.
Just before Christmas I released a BIG ask into the universe. Despite being the beloved traveling girl, inspiration to all unconventional women, and darling soul sister to millions of blog readers, since immersing myself into the jungle of Costa Rica and choosing an alternative lifestyle, I had yet to receive the love of a man.
No matter how much of the self love work I did, or how bronze my skin became in the tropical sunshine, or how angelic my sunstreaked oceanspray curls grew, or how enlightened I became through all of my spiritual seeking, he never seemed to arrive. Instead I was continuously faced with mirrors of rejection.
But the winds of change were coming and I could feel them. This seven year cycle of aloneness was reaching its conclusion and a fire inside of my being had grown strong. And on that sunny December day on the wild shores of the place I called my home for so many years, I shouted out to the universe, “I choose to be free!” I decided that I was willing to give up everything for the kind of soul mate love that my heart had longed for, for so long. I was willing to let go of every attachment that still tethered me to anything preventing this divine union and I proclaimed, “I’m ready! I’m ready for The One!”
Life always answers every prayer, just rarely in the way we expect.
And, life did deliver me a man... that very same night. A lovely man in fact, who treated me oh so briefly with the tenderness that I’d been starving for without even realizing it since ending my ten year stint as a chronic “girlfriend” and choosing adventure instead. This instant manifestation blew my mind and renewed my faith and belief in what might be possible for me next. After such a long dry spell and having all but given up hope, he was an unbelievable boon from the universe. I remember him asking me what love meant to me, and after sitting with the question I spoke these words for the first time, “Love means, ‘I choose you.’”
Then came the lessons, asking me to choose myself in ways I had never previously known how.
Life rapidly showed me all of the ways that I was actually NOT ready for “The One” beginning with delivering me every single trigger imaginable through the vessel of this man. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to choose him, but because he didn’t choose me in the way that I longed to be chosen, I collapsed into freak out mode. Unexpectedly repressed memories, buried sexual trauma from my teenage years, and lifetimes old wounding rose up to the surface to meet me. A well of buried emotions exploded like a clogged pipe finally being released and centuries of backed up anger, sadness, confusion, and panic began to flow.
I witnessed myself use every single sabotage strategy in the book to create an absolute mess of what had begun as such an innocent romance. THIS was not the soul mate experience I had signed up for. What I couldn’t fully see at the time was that his fear and avoidance of my intensity was a direct mirror of my fear and avoidance of my own intensity. My fear of my own sexuality. And of course, my fear of my own power. But those realizations came much, much, much later. I had to go through a lot more hell first.
Eventually I found myself in a state beyond what most people could handle being around. Sleep was my only solace from my own madness. To my absolute shock and dismantling, my spiritual practices that I had cultivated with such devotion over the years no longer worked for me. Mostly I’d wake up and immediately want to scream and cry, so I’d put in my headphones and blast death metal because at least that vibration felt honest and validating. It was like all of the true heartbreak I had avoided in seven years of single-hood came rushing in to meet me to say, “Hey you, remember me, that anxiety ridden co-dependent woman you used to be before you ran away to the jungle and became a world inspiration? Yep, I’m still here. Deal with me now!”
Looking back I can see what was happening inside of me. It wasn’t just my pre-travel life that was coming to greet me, it was eons upon eons of feminine repression, finally awakening in every cell of my body like a volcano erupting upon an Earth that had been asleep to her power for far, far too long. She could no longer be ignored.
So, I started paying attention. Beginning with digging up my past. I remember one rainy Caribbean morning choosing to stay in bed the entire day, something I had never done before unless I had the flu, and writing out every single year of my life as far back as I could remember. I recounted some of the most shame ridden stories I had all but forgotten and looked into the eyes of the many aspects of myself that I feared the most. I started becoming intimate with the darkest shadow I once called “that crazy girl,” the side of me I was terrified of accidentally revealing in front of a man, and I decided that it was time to start loving her.
The next day walking on the beach amidst the fallen almond trees and scurrying sand crabs, I actually felt her with me. And there were others too. Aspects of me from so many ages and times in my life, and while I often felt afraid walking alone in the wilds of this dark land, holding hands with me, me, me, me, and yet another me, I felt safer in my own skin. I felt more powerful than ever before.
But soon came the adrenal fatigue.
This sudden exhaustion that smacked me out of left field brilliantly halted my ability to go for my usual escape of world travel and excessive outdoor exercise and hula hooping and ecstatic dance, and writing on my laptop worked for about ten minutes before I’d immediately need a nap. It was like the more I allowed myself to feel depressed and tired, the more depressed and tired I became. The more I surrendered to this unstoppable recalibration that had been happening inside of me for months, the less I could seem to do anything else.
As I let this unstoppable force take over more and more, I began to quietly sit with the ways I had expected men to save me all my life, beginning with my father. The ways I had blamed and judged them, and the ways that I had failed to choose myself and projected that rejection onto them. It felt beyond me. It felt collective. It felt like the wounding between the feminine and the masculine asking to be healed through my own tumultuous inner turning.
The more I surrendered and let go of needing someone outside of me to instantly make it better, the more I realized that beyond any kind of soul mate love I thought I needed, what I really desired most was to feel safe in my own body. Which required me becoming the safest vessel for me to reside within, by choosing myself and no longer sacrificing myself in an attempt to get a scrap of love in return. Even beyond that, I desired to be so safe within myself that my presence also made others safe. I wanted to live in a world where everyone felt safe to choose love. Whatever that meant for them.
Shortly after crossing that new threshold of surrender, the panic attacks arrived.
Perfectly timed because the adrenal fatigue had so fully stoned me at that point, I really couldn’t run away to avoid them. That’s not true, I did try to run to avoid them by running on the beach every morning and unleashing my anger in midday tropical heat with a kickboxing coach, but the combination of extreme exhaustion and my shortness of breath quickly brought those strategies to an end.
The panic attacks were so all consuming that my entire life began to shape around them. My moment by moment inquiry became, “Who are you? Why are you here? What are you trying to tell me?” And quite often, “What the fuck can I do to make you go away?!”
Many realizations came to me through this questioning, not the least being how much pressure I had placed on myself for so many years. I got really honest with how often I robbed myself of the nourishment of my true innocent joy by forcing it down my own throat. I stared into the discomfort of the countless ways I had been living for the world a lot more than living for myself. And because myself was now screaming so loudly, all I could do was stop and learn to love her in a way that at the time I frankly didn’t know how.
The deeper I allowed this feeling and made my life a devoted meditation to understanding its message, the more my body began to react. I started gaining weight despite the fact that I was hardly eating, and I developed very swollen painful lymph nodes. I was retaining a lot of water. My digestive system was so disrupted I’d drink a smoothie and immediately feel sick. I was taking all of the supplements. Doing all of the cleanses. Fasting on water. Nothing helped.
By that time, I had already stripped away every spiritual teacher and practice I had once placed my confidence in. My mental anguish originally sent me seeking in every possible direction, but everything I read and listened to seemed to trigger me. Nothing brought me peace. Everything sounded like bullshit because nothing I had once believed in made any sense within the insane context I found myself in. My seven year delusion that being in Costa Rica would make everything better also unraveled as I found myself truly hating the place I once loved. What had been my Heaven revealed itself to me as a purgatory that I refused to leave because I was too terrified of what might meet me on the other side of unknown.
Despair hardly begins to cover the energy that drowned most of my days.
There was, however, one light moment of clarity in the midst of all of the sludge, when I felt the energy to finally take a sunset walk on the beach, and as the light fell towards the pacific and illuminated the jungle in gold, I suddenly began laughing. I couldn’t stop. It was the dawning of truth beyond all of the bullshit that had clouded me for so long. Out of seemingly nowhere, in the midst of all my despair, came the words “I don’t have the answers, and neither does anyone else.” That simple, and that profound. In that moment, these words were the freedom I had most needed to hear.
I had been desperately wanting something or someone to save me. To save me from my perpetual singleness. To save me from my fear of not being good enough. To save me from my own panicked breath. And meanwhile, so many people in the world wanted me to save THEM! To save them from the fear that comes with taking the bold choice for themselves and choosing to say yes to an inner calling that has never been done before and is consequently terrifying as fuck! Except... I was missing the whole point. Nobody has it figured it out. Nobody actually knows.
There’s a famous saying that if you meet the Buddha on the road of life, you must kill him. The phrase exploded inside of my cells as I REALized that looking for any answer outside of myself was completely futile and an utter distraction on the real path of love. As long as I looked outside for the answers, I could never access the truth of my soul.
At that point, six months in Hell since the turn of 2018, I started believing that I was dying. But beneath the death something else was emerging. This gentle almost imperceptible whisper telling me that this was my initiation into something I couldn’t yet imagine. That my only hope or saving grace lived within my complete and total surrender to Her and that these panic attacks were my ultimate invitation to be healed through my own womb. I had guided dozens of women on retreats and was considered an “inspiration” for many many women, yet I had no idea what any of this meant.
Something had to give. I had touched spaces within me that felt deeper than rock bottom and I had no idea how to get myself out, other than this quiet whisper of the feminine that didn’t give me logical guidance or any kind of map.
The panic breath had not stopped or changed and this gave me two choices: keep struggling or allow it. The panic breath did not change, but by allowing it, my relationship with the panic breath changed. I stopped looking at it as something that I had to desperately get away from and I decided to make it my guru. Which I realized, is what I had started doing the moment I began to question it. I let it be my ultimate barometer in showing me when I was pressuring myself, betraying myself, abandoning myself, dishonoring my needs, which according to my breath was happening... most of the time.
To temper the intense discomfort of this process I realized that I needed more love in my life through the medicine of pleasure. Pleasure, something that even in hell I still deserved. Pleasure something I so often withheld from myself, thinking it was a reward I’d receive once I earned my way to heaven.
I had already given up on my yoga and dance meditations since they triggered the panic breath like mad, but I began exploring my body in a new way. Slow dancing to soft feminine voices and allowing a sensitivity I hadn’t touched before. I gave up entirely on eating and drank coconut water and melted cacao with coconut milk all day. I began creating elaborate love altars on my livingroom floor and covered them with the names of all of my beloveds, my sisters, my brothers, my parents, the wild elements of nature, and every man I had ever loved while listening to a playlist I titled “Romance Me”. I started delicately stroking my entire body with the tenderness of my most romantic lover, and soon after attracted a gorgeous French surfer with crystal blue eyes and thick dark hair who touched me in literally the exact same way.
Looking for a greater source of inspiration on this feminine path, I started passionately journeying with the Goddesses and their wisdom in my oracle card decks, and loosening up all of the masculine constructs that had once formed the foundation of my spiritual practices and beliefs. To strip away the adrenaline fueled pressure I had placed on myself for so many years, I stopped expecting myself to do anything and gave myself complete permission to not commit to any plans, work, or even friendships. This asked me to really get comfortable with a word I had avoided for many years: “No.”
When “no” felt too uncomfortable to stomach, I frequently hid from the world in my garden bathroom during the day and watched the tiny red poison dart frogs birth up out of clusters of bromeliads. When night fell I’d blossom open like the reina de la noche flowers that grew abundantly in the jungle and released their perfume after dusk, and I’d dance in the garden and tell all of my worries to the stars.
In honesty, all of the delicious cacao in the world and all of the sensual women’s music on Spotify and all of the beauty of nature and kisses of sexy French men, didn’t make my horrible panic attacks and mental anguish go away. But regardless of all of that, a deep well of compassion reminded me over and over again, that no matter how shitty I felt I still deserved to dance my dance of ecstasy and to sing my radiant heart’s song. Beyond my masculine desires to “get somewhere,” to “fix myself,” and to find a “resolution,” I was still here, a woman, alive, learning how to do this endless cyclical dance across the thresholds that often felt like death.
And then one evening in late July, I did die.
Well, my ego did anyway.
The demons came unexpectedly and yet without any surprise. Deep inside I had known that they were coming for such a long time. They had stalked me for most of my life, always wondering when or if or how they might appear, and finally they arrived literally on my very own doorstep. I say “they,” but really, it was Kali.
Kali. The fierce mother Goddess in the Hindu pantheon most famously depicted dancing atop Shiva’s erect body wearing a necklace of skulls and unabashedly offering her large red tongue. The mother of all mothers willing to destroy anything and everything that blinds our egos from seeing all the way into the truth of love. The black one who barrels in without warning and asks the “small me self” to die into the great void of the infinite oneness. Yes. That Goddess arrived. Kali.
She came in the form of two men in the darkness who surprised me from behind, restrained my body, covered my mouth, and dragged me onto the floor. In this moment of sheer full bodied terror, Kali asked me with a roar to choose myself, to choose my freedom, to choose my innocence, to choose my own power, to choose my own LIFE, in a way that I never thought I previously could. She asked me to face her by becoming her, in all of her ugliness and rage, to dissolve my own fear that love could ever leave me.
And in this moment, that could have lasted three minutes or thirty, my body restrained and my mouth covered by a cloth, nowhere left to run to, no man coming to my rescue, no ability to make a sound, and every single terrifying thought you can possibly imagine running through my mind, I also knew without question that I was not alone. Beside the voice inside of me that screamed “is this really happening to me?!?!” I also knew all the way down into my bones, beyond any concept of the mind, that love had not left me. In my greatest moment of primal fear, the highest most Divine Love was not only still there, it was orchestrating what was happening.
This momentary realization will last me my lifetime and hopefully many more beyond this one. It is the Grace of the Divine Feminine that one can never ever forget. It is the ultimate truth that no matter what we think we’ve lost, no matter how hellish our reality, no matter what we fear we may die to, Love never leaves. Love. Never. Leaves.
On a deep, deep level, I could see that even these men were an expression of love, challenging me to do the one thing I hadn’t yet been able to do. For the days following the attack, as I slipped into visions triggered by the trauma, I remember clearly watching the event as an outsider, seeing this bright spotlight upon me, and these two men as my angels dressed up in costumes. These men were not just men, they were an outward expression of the way I had been smothering myself on the inside, trapping myself in a place and in a life that was no longer true for me. How serious did it have to get in order for me to finally take a stand, face my own death, and choose my own life?
Surrendered to the insurmountable power of love that I simply could no longer deny, I became more terrifying than even my own demons. My Kali rage trumped anything they tried to stifle or smother within me. With a broken lip and a black eye I raised victorious and sent them running into the night through the power of my own voice that I relentlessly fought to free no matter how much bigger or stronger they may have appeared than me. The stream of uncontrollable cursewords that flowed between my lips tasted like sweet medicine for not only myself, but for all women everywhere since the beginning of time. The intelligence of my own body, when allowed to respond without any control of my mind, absolutely astounded me.
I used to think that freedom meant being able to travel and live wherever you pleased, but that night I understood that true freedom came through trusting every single experience, no matter how horrifying, and choosing to stay present in the body.
I went into my bathroom, shaken up but more lucid than ever, looked my broken and bloodied face in the mirror, and the words that came out were simply, “What the fuck?”
Then I noticed something more shocking than even what had just taken place. The chronic feeling of panic and all of my shortness of breath, had suddenly stopped. Gone. Away. Just like those two men who disappeared into the night. I even tried to trigger the panic or bring it on, but all that was there was calmness. Something inside of me had been freed.
After that moment there was simply no hiding anymore. No pretending left in me. No ability to be unbroken to what I had shattered open into. I survived what so many people consider extreme trauma, and yet my heart felt more open than ever in my life. I could no longer close because I knew in every cell of my body what was true. The veil of any delusion of separation between me and love had dissolved.
So there was nothing left to do but to let go. Of...everything.
That night, with the support of my sisters, I packed up all of my belongings, and I left. I said goodbye to anyone I ever thought I was before that moment. I surrendered into the black night sky of not knowing, ready to begin a new journey called trust. I thought I had discovered the Goddess seven years ago when I fell in love with the jungle and became a “free woman”, but that night, in the blackness of my own being, with nowhere left to go but deeper inside of myself, my path with the Goddess truly began.
Over the nine months that spanned between that night and this one, on the magic shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, in tropical islands in Thailand, and among the mythic temples of Bali, I have been on the deepest most profound healing journey of restoring the light of the Feminine within every cell of my being.
Through choosing to bring an end to the blog I had placed at the center of my world for nearly seven years, leaving behind the place I once called home, going offline for several months, being willing to not know what was coming next, and getting extremely vulnerably naked with myself, I allowed my own death to complete itself so that I could be reborn.
This journey has been nothing less than a soul retrieval, a time of powerfully reclaiming every aspect of my womanhood I ever disowned or denied. Of finally redirecting all of my energy back inward, to weave the landscape of my wholeness back into being. Every single fragment of my innocence, one painfully ecstatically loving embrace at a time.
On that path, with so many incredible guides supporting me, I became my own midwife, mother, sister, lover, wife, best friend, shaman, and every source of love I never knew I so desperately needed.
Facing the feminine archetypes of Queen, Orphan, Whore, Virgin, Witch, Bitch, Seductress, and so many other labels of a woman’s consciousness, I radically elevated my own relationship with all aspects of myself.
Journeying into other realms during my three week breathwork facilitator training I traveled through my ancestral lines, met with the Goddess Brigid, saw my soul’s lineage, and understood with crystal clarity what I came here to do in this lifetime.
Receiving the stories and reflections of dozens of Divine Feminine Goddesses, Saints, and “Ordinary Women” who chose to remember their inherent worth, I remembered my highest potential as a human being.
Giving myself permission to receive the absolute best of the best, from eating the most beautiful food to staying in the most beautiful sanctuaries and treating my body like a Queen, I stripped away the old backpacker facade and realized what I deserve beyond any of my fears and judgements around lack, even when that meant trusting into credit card debt and taking out a “self love loan.”
Water fasting and detoxing from social media helped me access my most uncomfortable repressed betrayals, fears, and beliefs, and come face to face with my deepest core wound, to finally clean it out and realize than anytime I suffer it’s because I’m forgetting that I’m the One.
No longer feeling safe or able to return to Costa Rica, the place that I had once considered my “quick fix” paradise, I learned how to use the medicine of grief, forgiveness, sensuality, and presence to settle more deeply into the residence of my body as my one and only home on Earth.
Diving all the way into the epigenetics path of The Gene Keys, I understood the true power of shadow work when we embrace the sacred potential hidden in our darkest spaces and choose to penetrate that suffering with the light of our infinite awareness.
Working weekly with a shamanic energy healer I did countless soul retrievals, ended a million karmic contracts, and reclaimed so many parts of myself I never even realized I had abandoned.
Awakening the Mary Magdalene heart womb energy inside of my body through vision questing for months on end, I discovered the true meaning of Beloved, as an essence that has always belonged to me.
And most importantly of all, I fully realized and met with the light of my own soul, not through transcending my human suffering by through diving deeper into it. I discovered, beyond any illusion of separation, the truest love in existence, and the only thing any of us are actually after in the beginning, middle, or end.
All of this has taught me, that beyond any ounce of doubt, each and every human experience is sacred. Our wounds are our greatest teachers. Our power and our magic live in the places we often fear most. And beyond any aspiration I had ever had for my life, my deepest desire has always been to be whole.
Wholeness is the ultimate reward for those courageous enough to midwife their own shadows, which is precisely what my panic breath asked me to do. To dig all the way down into the roots of my wounding and discover the gems that lived in the fertile untended soil. What so many of us have forgotten is that these dense energies are actually the source of our power. Our willingness to face them determines whether we become a victim of them or a master of them. The dark space is the fertile space. The shadows are the base metals that we can churn into gold. And pain and fear are the ultimate teachers guiding us to truly live in our bliss and joy.
It took a long time, a lot of patience, and more self love than I ever knew I was capable of accessing to fully arrive here, ready to integrate my learnings and show up again as an unconventional voice, teacher, and guide in this world. While this cyclical human journey is far from over, I can confidently say that just like seven years ago I crossed my greatest threshold of no return by choosing to follow my heart and move to the jungle of Costa Rica, become a blogger, and travel the world, today I have crossed my next biggest threshold of no return by choosing to follow my soul, to face my true purpose, and to trust in the truth of Love as my one and only guide. No matter where she chooses to take me next, I live my life in service of Her. Every day. One surrendered step at a time.
Inspired by this tremendously life shifting journey I have been on for the last year and a half, I created a sacred map for other women longing to return to the wholeness of their own soul. It contains the many diamonds of wisdom I discovered along the way and an accessible entry into the many many mysteries and stories of women that have been hidden from us for centuries. This wisdom took me sixteen months, three mentors, numerous healers, multiple trainings, countless online courses, hours upon hours of reading, meditating, and self study, and tens of thousands of dollars, to discover, and I have crystallized it into an affordable online women’s immersion that lasts nine weeks. I’ve named it Whole Woman, and would be honored for you to join us.
Thank you for receiving my words, for honoring my unique path, and for simply being the essential thread of you in this great monumental tapestry of life. Whatever you may or may not be moving through, may you be endlessly blessed with the love of your own soul. A love that no matter what may be arising, no matter what we may ever think we are lacking, no matter what inside our outside of us may be dying, never, ever, ever, leaves.
*photos by my brother and fellow butterfly Daniel Sun*