Belonging

LIVING FROM YOUR HEARTSPACE

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I would like to invite you on a journey with me. While it is my journey, it is also yours :: this is our journey. We are the divine feminine, and our collective souls unite in the still frames of our lives through whispers and symbols, images, songs, and energetic vibrations.

Over the last five years of my life I have been called to recognize my soul. I was propelled by a process which I could not stop, something so much bigger than my previous life agenda, that I was unprepared to accept into my life. Over the last five years of my life I have died and have been rebirthed many times. I went through the deepest of lows to encounter a contentment and attunement with life that continues to awe me in every moment that I receive it. While the feeling is not ever constant, the glimpses sustain my contentment throughout my day now.

And yet, I live among the hustle and bustle of the city. An energy chameleon, I shift with the vibrations that surround me, knowing I am unchangeable at my core. I sway with the flow of the creatures I encounter and love openly, spaciously, without limits. I do not presume to believe I have reached some level of enlightenment or have the knowledge necessary to impart lessons upon you. I only seek to live genuinely and connect.

I want to share my experiences with you, what brought me here, my path, and where continue to tread. I want you to share your journey with me and to have a community in which we might open our hearts and soul spaces and resonate with one another. With the new year, I invite you to start to follow your heart and soul into the depth of feminine experience and towards your own freedom.

My intention is to unite weekly to we explore the feminine experience on all levels equally and free from judgement, the superficial of embellishing our bodies to the depth of existential questions. We will touch upon science and spiritual, as well as the intersection of the two. We will listen to the speech of our bodies as a catalyst for discussion and change. We will use image to explore and join with the collective feminine. And we will celebrate and honor both the ups and downs of the journey.

Please begin this journey with me by suggesting what topics you may be interested in exploring.

What does the New Year bring up for you in your heart, how does your heart speak to you with the start of a new journey and cycle?

Connect with me by email kim@yoursoultherapy.com for a free 20 minute phone consult.

In Journeying,

Kimberly Ottinger  MA, LPC, ATR-BC
Your Soul Therapy Associate

Why Badass Women Come to Therapy

In our private practice, we see some of the brightest and most ambitious women in Washington. They are well read, highly accomplished, and typically have checked off most items on their bucket lists. Outside of a deep wanderlust, what is missing in the lives of these women who know how to fully live? If you’re their friend, colleague, acquaintance, it looks like they have it all. These women would agree that most of the time, their lives feel amazing.

One might wonder why are badass women coming to therapy? Relationships.

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Whether they are single, dating, partnered, or divorced, these women don’t feel like themselves in intimate relationships.   They feel anything but badass.

Exhausted, Frustrated, and at times Heartbroken by a Never Ending Dating Process

Many single women have no problem dating, but they have not found the one despite many dates or relationships. A number of these women date the same partner twice, for 3 weeks, or things end by month 4.

Each time they meet a new someone, they continue to walk on what feels like the tight rope of dating. Should I be excited on the first date even though it probably won’t lead to anything? Maybe I should take a break from dating because it all feels like too much? They have no idea why they continue to get the same results.

They can’t understand why so many women around them are happily dating or partnered. They feel that something is innately wrong with them.

Women Dating Unavailable People

This often starts with dating the most charming, passionate, or promise-you-everything man or woman. The initial dating process is mind-blowing on many levels.

Then a shift happens. The women see that their man or woman is unavailable in one or more ways. The partners live in different countries and won’t move or meet in the middle. They may be workaholics and prioritize work over the relationship.   They may be in the pull me close, push me away dance with touch, play, interest, and intimacy on many levels.

Where there previously was all passion, spark, and play, there can be equal amounts of disappearing, confusion, passive aggressiveness, or anger. These women find that most of their partners are not just emotionally unavailable but are not wanting to make any promises or commitments.

They don’t understand why the continually find themselves with the same unavailable partners and burned at the end of the short lived relationships. When they dig deeper, parts of them don’t feel that they know how to be close to a healthy partner.

Women Who Struggle to Believe that Their Partners Love Them

For many partnered women in our practice, they cannot believe that their partner could love them as much as they do. Their partners continually show up, believe in them, and love them even in some of the most challenging situations.

These clients struggle with receiving love from their partners.

No matter what they read or how hard they try, they don’t know how to let love in. They don’t know how to feel the love that their partners are consistently giving them.   They are blocked for many reasons from trusting themselves and the person that wants to be close to them.   Fear, longing, anger, and grief along with chatter laced everyday worthlessness can be some things that take these women down emotionally.

 

Partnered Women: Who Want More

These women are in relationships that aren’t working anymore. Often the relationship was what they needed for months, years or even decades.

In recent months or years, these women have experienced a deeper sense of self awareness about their needs and desires or may have even had a spiritual awakening. Their partners have struggled to pace with them or grow in their own ways.

These women are wanting more for themselves, their relationships, and lives. It is often complex because families, friends and even children are intertwined. Some of the women are torn between taking care of someone who isn’t fully able to emotionally care for themselves. The dance of overfunctioning and underfunctioning resentment is released with forgiveness and compassion with the work.

Other women are able to finally take a stand for themselves. They have learned that taking up space in a relationship is a brave and healthy decision.

Moving from the Fight to Being ALL IN

None of the decisions or paths is easy, but these women have walked through the one or more dark nights of the soul in their relationships and dating experiences. In our work together, they learn the meaning and purpose of suffering. They connect with themselves as not to recreate that path or dance as means of waking themselves into consciousness. They have taken their learning and stepped into deeper connection with life, themselves and the people they care most. This process of transformation is radical and subtle at the same time. Badass women might fight this quest at the beginning, but are all in by the end.

If you are wanting to be ALL IN in your relationships, connect with Kim@yoursoultherapy.com or Amy@yoursoultherapy.com

Should We Share Our Relationship Stories?

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Whether you are single in the city, dating, partnered, married, or divorced, you most likely are an expert storyteller about your relationship(s)or lack their of. With friends, some family members, and even choice colleagues, your relationship stories may be sprinkled with a mix of humor, sarcasm, and disbelief. While the laughter or shock factor keeps things light, this level of storytelling doesn’t reveal any fears about relationships, intimacy or you. Part of us holds onto the idea that “this (experience) will make a good story.” This notion protects one from feeling or thinking about why your relationship isn’t working or why you’ve been on endless OKCupid,match.com, Tinder, JDate.com, eHarmony, or speed dates without finding any lasting connections.

At some point during the ups and downs of being single, dating, or partnered, most of us will have had our fears about life, others, or ourselves exposed. Our inner dialogues, banter and stories about our relationships are most likely too painful to share.

Many people tell the story that all of the data points in their life reveal a singular – capitol “T” – TRUTH. The data points show that they are (the only one) not worthy of a being in or having a real relationship. Our inner stories are often not shared because we believe that everyone else around us has it figured out or is doing it better than we are.

When we want to reach out for real support, sometimes we are at a loss. What we are wanting is be met with empathy to be seen for our humanness. However sometimes, we are judged, blamed or shamed for our struggle or story.

Learning who has the right to hear our story is an invaluable skill. Below, I share a few tips of when to share or not share your story.

When Should I Share My Story?

Consider friends or family in your life. Out of this group, who takes you as you are, accepting or loving you for all of your strengths or struggles. Often, there may be 1-2 people in our lives, who fit this description. You trust them. These are the people, who are able to hear your story or your struggle and respond with empathy. When you do choose to reach out to them to check in about the inner story you are telling, you feel more connected because they meet you where you are. They may not know your specific relationship struggle, but they connect with you from a deeper place of knowing a painful struggle in their own life but they don’t make the conversation about themselves. The offer feedback when you request it. Their feedback is nonjudgmental. They are willing to sit with you in your struggle knowing they can’t take the pain away, but they share that they will there for you. Practicing reaching out to this type of person can be helpful to manage the pain and disappointment that comes with relationships. This takes both vulnerability and courage.

When Shouldn’t I Share My Story?

Think about the people in your life you have been sharing either the internal version or external version of your story. If after sharing either version of your story, you were met with unsolicited: feedback, solutions, advice, sympathy, sarcasm, judgement, blame, or shame, you may want to consider not sharing with them in the future. Those responses are disconnecting on many levels. We feel disconnected from the responder, from ourselves and even at times from our sense of worthiness. It often time unsolicited feedback and responses further fuels the data points that detail our inner story, tapping into our worst fears around feeling unlovable or that we will never belong. Learning to set clear and healthy boundaries is essential. This will support you in not sharing your story or struggle with people who judge, blame or shame you.

Between the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell others, navigating relationships can be challenging. I highly recommend the following books to support you on your relationship journey.

Beattie, M. (1987). Codependent no more: How to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself.

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York: Gotham Books.

Chödrön, P. (2000). When things fall apart: Heart advice for difficult times. Boston: Shambhala.

Johnson, S. M. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York: Little, Brown & Co.

If you are ready to create a new story around relationships or need help navigating them, call Amy at 202.540.076 or email her at amy@amytatsumi.com for a psychotherapy free 20 minute consultation today.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost – J. R. R. Tolkien

I have always been a wanderer.  From an early age, I wandered in the garden and forest.  By my late teens, I began traveling to many places inside and outside of the US seeking a myriad of things.  Through my 20s and early 30s, I continued to be a seeker of sorts in my personal and professional life.  Throughout that period, I didn’t know what I was seeking (even with lots of amazing adventures or thoughtful sessions with my own therapist), but my heart longed for something I didn’t know how to name or even imagine.  It wasn’t until I started to learn how to wander inside of my life and story (not matter where I geographically lived or worked) that I knew what I was seeking.

So what does belonging look like now for me-professionally? Until 2 years ago, I would have never imagined standing before my colleagues, mentors and well esteemed experts in my field presenting on my perspective because belonging felt so evasive an inaccessible to me.  Last week at the American Art Therapy Conference in San Antonio, I co-presented with Megan Robb and Lisa Thompson-Gibson on Building Relationships with Authenticity and Vulnerability from a theoretical lens (Relational Cultural Theory & Shame Resilience Theory) and in practice with clients and supervisees.  Presenting on vulnerability and sharing a part of my story and perspective with colleagues felt (by no surprise)  incredibly vulnerable for me.   How did I get through this presentation?  I was able to anchor myself to my sense of belonging.  I belong to my professional community even if what I was sharing was different or even radical.  It mattered because I was offering opportunities for relationship building for therapists with clients, supervisors with supervisees, and for therapist outside of the therapy room.

So many of us have a wanderlust or longing for something deep in our souls.  Most of the clients that I see have been wandering for much of their lives – wanting confirmation to know that they matter and are worthy of love and belonging.  Their studies, research, careers, love for travel, or relationships have taken them to many places.  Their intercultural experiences have transformed them, but no matter how much they enjoy the journey – they struggle to know how to really belong.

How do we learn to belong?  Some of the keys to trusting ourselves around  knowing how to love and belong can be found in cultivating practices of vulnerability and authenticity.  As adults and even teens, we have often lost touch with knowing how to trust our selves or what it means to be real, vulnerable and authentic in boundaried and meaningful ways with people that we care about most or even how this might look in our professional world.  Learning to trust ourselves through boundaried vulnerability and authenticity can be taught.  In learning how to trust ourselves, we can also learn how to belong even to our own hearts.

As this time of year lends itself to wandering, you may want to take time while you are wandering or at home relishing in your travels by journaling or making art to notice:
~Where your sense of belonging is (does it live inside or outside of you and your story)?
~How you are trusting yourself on your journey or in your relationships?
~How do your boundaries allow you to be more or less vulnerable and authentic?
~What are small steps you can take  or clearer boundaries can you set to support your sense of belonging?

Whether you are wandering or at home this summer, make time to navigate back to your own heart and sense of belonging no mater where you may be.

P.S.- If you’re looking to dig deeper this summer, I’m offering a 2.5 day weekend intensive on belonging.