It’s been a while. I designed it so. If you’re in a hurry, skip to the 39sec video summary. Otherwise, cuddle a warm cuppa and enter a wonderland of fire palming, story shards, and surviving one’s own gift.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I never dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur or writer. I never dreamed, period. I never knew that “having a dream” was even a thing! “Hmm, that must be something white people do,” I chalked it up to. So then why would I carve out 6 uninterrupted months solely for devotional memoir writing?
The convergence started over a decade ago, without my knowing of course. In my late 20’s, I was so desperate, DEFCON-5 desperate, to be anything other than invisible. To be seen, to be heard, 9 nanoseconds would have sufficed. But no. I had no one to see me. I had no one to hear me. Completely irrelevant, perpetually inadequate, and thoroughly insignificant I was.
A tiny fistful of well-meaning humans tried, but they didn’t have the EQ or communication skills to meet me. I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to. No safe place. No safe person. (It’s not random that I became “the safest place on earth to remember who you truly are” for others.)
So I confided in tree pulp. Unlike the sapiens*, paper doesn’t retaliate. Paper met me. Every time. Paper kept my secrets. Without fail. Paper held the splats of my ink dissolving acid tears, never demanding anything in return. Paper became my only amnesty, where my pain would not be used against me in a court of law. I burned every journal entry before the sapiens could use my truth to burn me at the stake.
What was my crime? Existing. What were my secondary charges? One count of: Failing to be the best white man I should have been. And one count of: Failing to become a 7-figure ATM dispenser by age 24.
* “The sapiens” are, you know, the morons, assholes, critics, and predators that crawl the earth in mass unconsciousness.
Around 32, after a wretched Saturn Return, an inner volcano blasted in a desperate wish for deep, deep meaning and vast, vast impact. And it wanted it done not just yesterday, but the day before yesterday. (Sigh. So much desperation, and often…) The shooting magma felt as if I’d been given a terminal diagnosis and 7 months left to live. It was a matter of life and death. I just didn’t know what “it” was.
By then, I had been marinated in the whimsical fantasy of the 4-Hour Work Week (time + financial freedom), stewed in the industry reality that you are nobody without a New York Times bestseller, and peppered with delusions of authorship.
I bewitched myself into believing that authorship would generate invitations to partner up or be featured, at a time when marketing felt like molasses crawling up Everest during an avalanche. I’d never been included before. This could be it, my only chance to be wanted. I bewitched myself into believing that a large readership would generate a thick “love moat” to safeguard me from the sapiens. I’d never been protected before. This could be it, my only chance to be safe.
So I sat down for “it,” my first summer of writing. Ugh, it was the worst 3 months of my professional life! Writing knocked all the wind out of my business pursuits and siphoned all the oxygen out of my social life, travels, love life, and hobbies. I felt flicked off the face of the Earth untethered and had to claw at ambling protons to doggie paddle my way back from outer space.
So naive and delusional. So why, oh why, would I do it again, for half a year no less? Masochism? Meaning? Madness? Genius? Read on… you’ll pick up wisdom on how to survive your own genius/madness combo. 🤪🥊
The yearning for meaning and impact kept spewing magma with a ferocious, “You have no time left. Make a difference NOW, you mother f*cker!!!” (It would be 7 years and 7 months until I could name that voice in 5 letters.)
As I kept tumbling around the entrepreneurial washer and dryer, I static clung to a few oddballs and playpals. “So this is where us lost socks end up,” I marvelled. Namasocks! We co-worked together in cozy spaces. It felt like cashmere to my bone chilled Lone Wolf. We co-wrote together alongside tasty teas and treats. It felt like “carbonated holiness” (– Anne Lamott) to my parentified Skyholder. Joy, never heard of such a thing. 🤷🏻♀️ Fun, what's that? Connection, that's a thing? Who knew?!? Certainly not me.
One of my co-socks introduced me to The Artist’s Way. My gawd, life forever changed. Especially on “Empath down. I repeat, empath down!” days, I wrote Morning Pages by hand, until I was expunged of all tears, vacant of all thought or jilted by a hand cramp. Morning Pages power washed my mental driveway, sometimes up to 7 pages long, and met me with a therapeutic silence, stillness, and clarity on the mirror lake of “I got this.”
Add to that the trickle of heartwarming feedback from you on my shared stories (way more than on my teaching tools). And add to that my desire to build consistency muscles, via a weekly blog regardless of content crappiness, published in dingbat font for all I cared. And I acquiesced my butt to chair for a second summer of writing.
This time, I secured an oxygen mask and belt buckled to Earth by pairing up with two different writing buddies. Over the next 2 years, my writing drifted at sea, bobbing on the curling foam of “I don’t got this.” Searching for a book structure was like sliding down a parmesan grater butt naked, sometimes head first. I just couldn’t find the red thread to string my writing (or my life) together. Ugh, how I envied Christmas trees, with their garlands of popcorn, popcorn, cranberry, popcorn, popcorn, cranberry. Structured. Threaded. Simple. Hmph.
In my mid-30’s, a move to Spain unexpectedly led me to plant medicines. (Or did The Universe plan it all along? 🤔) Never even heard of such a thing until 6 months prior! Over 3 consecutive full moons and 10 ceremonies, stories spewed out of every orifice. My popcorns and cranberries fireworked all over my inner circle, who cried from shared grief and/or laughed from sheer absurdity. I called it craughing (crying + laughing), very wet all around!
Never had I ever experienced the raw power of storytelling with me as the storyteller. Nom, nom, nom, hmm, addictive… So I bought Scrivener, which made me an official writer, I convinced myself (ha! as if). Over another 2 years, I sobbed my way through transcribing 3 full journals from those 3 full moons.
After folding in heaps of unpublished Gdocs and blogs, I yielded 1.08 million words. I wanted to die. Not because writing forced me to see how devastatingly broken, exploited, violated, preyed upon, used and abused I was. But because writing forced me to see how I kept breaking my own heart. One million and eighty thousand shards of heart shards.
I never imagined I’d need therapy for my therapy. Oy. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that:
Whether writing drowned me in grief, roasted me in rage, whirled me in anxiety, or buried me in depression, I kept going for you. You were my “someone else.” I did it for you. I did it all for you, mother f*ckers!! Wait, did Ellany just call us a mother f*cker? Why, yes, yes she did.
In early 2020, while on trial separation with Spain, for irreconcilable bureaucratic incompetency and assholery, The Universe blew me like a feather in the wind to Buenos Aires (which literally means “Good Wind” I'll take it, Universe!). Then, wabam! A global pandemic, 6 straight months of lockdown, and almost 2 straight years of border closure.
All projects were shot, especially writing, because this empath was drafted as an air filter, to inhale the terror, rage, grief and smog of humanity and exhale fresh peace. I know how you feel, Amazon Jungle, it’s an invisible, perennial and thankless job. I never consented to be part of a 10-pack of disposable air filters, discarded once grimey, and replaced by the next shiny empath. But hey, we don’t always get to control how the sapiens use us or how The Universe summons us.
A year later, in January 2021, when the worst blew over (ha! as if), I saw an exit ramp, “This is it, my chance to quit writing!! I’m done cutting myself with shards of my own grief. I’m done. Done, done.” But… The Universe wouldn’t let me. It pecked at me like a ravenous woodpecker after a bender. Have you ever been pecked at? Owie.
Alright, alright! You win, Universe. You. Win. Since it was finally socially acceptable to hermit at home, encouraged even by global Heads of State, I decided to rip off the bandaid and finish a goddamn manuscript by end of 2021, dingbat font and all.
Still no red thread, I kept making random snow angels on a frozen lake of shards, popcorns, and cranberries. Doing something was better than doing nothing. Months and months passed. Then oh! I noticed two types of stories. So I tagged wounding stories (of trauma, neglect, abuse, etc.) on a blue post-it and healing stories (of antidote, reclamation, triumph, etc.) on a yellow post-it.
I lay back in the snow and resumed angel arms, angel skirt, angel arms, angel skirt. Months and months passed. Then oh! Within healing stories, I noticed 4 types of knowing. So I tagged those stories by mind-knowing (cognitive understanding), heart-knowing (felt comprehension), body-knowing (lived experience) and soul-knowing (transcendent recollection). Whenever one story contained multiple types of knowing, I brought out the big guns and cement screws to keep my inner Perfectionist bolted in her coffin. As such, I tagged 301 stories up the wazoo.
Hmm… now what? Back to snow angels? Nah, I got a better idea! Let's tag each story by its level of juiciness. “Hmm, noted” stories get a stone sticker. “No way, wow!” stories get a blossom sticker. And “holy super f*ck!?” stories get a pearl sticker. Yessssss, the answer to wazoo is… more wazoo! 🎉
Was it insane? Eh, subjective. Was it hard? Nope, because the combo of my Overachiever + neurodivergent Gifted Adult + crucified Martyr + child of immigrant packrats (raised in cobwebs and black mold) + OCD + trauma Flight Response yielded a natural talent for organizing/tidying my stories and an aversion to actually writing/truthing them.
By now, it’d been 7 years and 3 months of tail chasing grind, since my first space clawing summer. I had 301 wazoos to the exponent wazoo. And I didn’t even want to be a writer in the first place! What. The f*ck.
Then one day, wabam! I saw it, the tip of the red thread!!! I saw how each blue wounding story had a magnetic pull to a specific Wounded Child archetype. What if, then, each yellow healing story also belonged to an archetype and served as antidote to its wounding. Huh 🤯. What if this is true for adult archetypes too? Double huh 🤯🤯.
Like a unikitty on crack, I pawed at the tip until the entire ball of yarn unraveled. In my fervour, I hung myself with the thread twice or thrice 😬. But hey, still alive.
I’d been working with clients on archetypes for fiiiiiive years. I knew my 12 Sacred Archetypes, light and shadow, like the back of my paw. I couldn’t believe that my red thread was right in front of my whiskers 5 out of the 7 years of searching. Starfished on the living room floor, I could have died of nirvana. Nir. Va. Na. Then as I melted through the floorboard like a Dali clock, I could have died of dread at the gargantuan work ahead.
To truly honour and cluster 301 stories by archetype, I’d have to actually read my own writing 🤢, no more skimming 🤮. And if there wasn’t much to read, I’d have to actually write it 😨, no more bypassing 😱. I did NOT want to rewalk on 1.08 million red coals. But for you, dear reader, I would walk through skyscraper flames (even though I called you a mother f*cker earlier, sorry about that).
So even though it felt like poison ivy on my tushy and a presistent sneeze that wouldn’t eject, I picked up each flaming coal, cupped it until I knew which archetype it belonged to, then placed it in its archetypal campfire. Nope, my hands never got burned, since there was no shortage of matafuego tears for this empath.
By November of last year, I was invited to give a talk. I weaved stories of fire palming and narrative medicine, with the 4 types of knowing. That spoken quilt made many people cry #sorrynotsorry. As I closed the talk with, “Fear not the flames, you are the fire,” I realized:
For the first time, I was not hung for speaking my truth.
I did not die from voicing my pain.
I am done being too much. I am done being not enough.
All this clawing, drifting, treading, filtering, angeling, and palming has converged onto an original masterpiece in-the-making. Who knew?!?
"She moves hearts," was the gift the audience told me they received that day. I certainly never knew!
December 30, 2021 rolled around. No manuscript, not even close. As if. That day, I finally woke up from the vulnerability hangover of the talk, and booked a next day flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Where better to spend the end of the year than at The End of The World. I booked a swanky waterfront hotel at $650/night, why not. Hours before countdown, I took my inner Victim on a boat ride and chucked her overboard off the coast of Tierra del Fuego 🔥🌎🔥.
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This trip was like spiritual CPR at 720 joules of defibrillation, shhh-tung! I didn’t even know I had flatlined. You don’t know you’re dead until after you're brought back to life. It was only after my inner Victim lay in her peaceful watery grave that I realized, though The Universe did summon me to air filter for a year, my inner Victim was the one who perpetrated extreme subservience to asystole.
I took my time coming back. I celebrated the big 4-0 in February 2022, got my coaching clients settled in, and carved out a 6 month long Memoir Devotional to get this f*cking baby out of me!!! I front loaded it with a weekly therapist and back ended it with a whale of a trip, literally!
I swallowed the frog and tackled the last 5 stories I kept avoiding. I knew holding them in was like food poisoning, but barfing them out felt like bone marrow extraction of all the self-hatred injected without consent by the DWG (Dead White Guys). Ayyyyyy!
Then out it stormed: 255 words, the last story never told. Not even to myself. It was the epicenter of rot that lead to every exploitation, violation and predation. I don’t understand. How could one story, barely half a page, have enslaved me for foooooorty years?!?
It rained. Grief. It poured. Grief. Lightning. Grief. Typhoon. Grief. Earthquake. Grief. Tsunami. Grief. Why the f*ck am I doing this?!? Because The Universe won’t let me off the hook. Because I want to be free of the hook. Some go on great quests to find their calling. I want off the searing merry-go-round of mine. (Be careful what you wish for.)
I’d been playing chess with The Universe for years. I made my move, now your turn, Universe. ♟
Universe: Grief is loss.
Me: I know.
Universe: Name what you lost.
Me: Like overall?
Me: Like for every single story?
Me: All 301 stories?
Me: Uuuuuugh. You suck, Universe!! 🖕
Universe: I love you too.
Long ago, I lost my belief that the world is a good place, that humans are good. I lost my innocence, and my appetite for life. I lost things I didn’t even know I could lose, like my humanity, my right to be a person not an object, my identity other than ATM dispenser.
Does it count as a loss if I never had it in the first place? I never had a childhood. I never had any worth, relevance, or dignity. A voice, belonging, permission to be, how do I grieve that which I never even had? How do I file a police report for theft of self-trust, rape of sacredness, or murder of will to live? How many wake up feeling, “Awwwwww, crap. Still here. God dammit!”
So yeah. That’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while. I was toe tagging every story, every tear.
Here’s what I learned from my half year “Memoir Devotional”, aka “Dredging my Psyche for Bodies.”
1. It was THE most miserable 6 months of my entire life! NEVER again. It felt like a long coma I couldn’t wake up from… You don’t know you’re in a coma until after you wake up.
2. Living is faaaaaar easier than writing about it. I get it, why people don’t write and why writers become something-holics.
3. Writing kills off anything that is not itself. Not dissimilar to… cancer. Or is it that writing exposes the cancer for narrative medicine to heal? 🤔
4. Word count is horseshit.
5. Paying and paying and paying for hundreds of healing stories to watch them antidote one wounding story hurts like a bitch to the power mofo.
6. “Whatever pain you cannot get rid of, make it your creative offering.” – Susan Cain, Bittersweet
7. How do you move a creative mountain? Start shoveling. Shovel too heavy? Use a spoon. No patience, no harvest. If it took 10 years to cultivate the seeds of your masterpiece, would you? If it took another 10 years before reaping the harvest, would you?
8. Memories that used to eject pulmonary snot out of my ears now only make me blubber. Memories that used to make me blubber now only make me shed a dew drop. Memories that used to make me dew drop now make me scoff… sigh… chuckle… laugh… lol… pee my pants. I still live an all around wet life, but can now enjoy long walks on the shards rubbed smooth by oceanic tears.
9. Do not assume to know the depth and vastness of another’s pain. You can’t even come close to guessing. Heck, you might not even know the depth and vastness of your own pain. So please tread lightly.
10. You are always the last to know of your sublime gifts/genius. Why? Because they require conscious hearts to mirror them back to you (which are rare) plus integrated mind-heart-body-souls to receive the reflection (which is even rarer).
Manuscript, nowhere in sight. But what do you think, who won, me or my genius? 🤪🥊🥊
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May these reclamation stories and liberation tools inspire and guide you to navigate time, identity and creativity, gracefully and joyfully. xo, Ellany
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