I had landed myself in rehab. Sitting across from an older woman who was a few years sober, I listened carefully to her words. "I used to want the world to stop spinning, to get off this dang horrible ride called life, and for the world to just keep on spinning without me." A sigh of relief came- THANK YOU - someone knows how I feel.
Welcome to the start of my story. At 22 years old I found myself depressed, ridden with anxiety, in the depths of alcoholism, a seasoned cutter, and on the verge of suicide. Functioning normally on a daily basis was almost impossible for me. After a few years pass I make an even greater mess of things. I finally leave my cushy corporate job, move to a one-bedroom apt to live by myself for the first time ever and proceed to try and change everything else about my miserable life that I could think of. Because something had to change. And I was bound and determined to figure out what that thing needed to be. (Shhh spoiler alert: That thing that needed to change? It was me.)
I asked hosts of people, "What's wrong with me?" I wanted everyone else to tell me what I needed to do to feel better. I wanted someone to give me a pretty little answer wrapped in a bow. And here it was, "Oh Carisa, you just need to love your true-self. Plug into your solar plexus. Feel its energy. And figure out who you truly are."
Love my true-self? What's a true-self? What in the F is a solar plexus? And you want me to do what with it?
I could barely get out of bed, brush my teeth, feed myself or go a day without wanting to die. While my friends and peers were well intentioned (and their advice was phenomenal) I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. So I set out on a 10 year journey to figure it all out. Guess what- I'm still figuring it out - but I've learned a lot along the way.
The self-love model was born after my most miserable years had passed. But boy had I gotten a lot done in those years. I played the victim A LOT, cried a lot, prayed nonstop, hurt people, hurt myself, read a shit ton, joined a meditation sanctuary, became a yoga teacher and a Reiki Master and a Tantra coach and what the heck lets throw a Shaman in there too. I was seeking and searching and looking all around. And then I finally started asking WHY. About everything. And thats when it all came out. Or rather I went in. When I finally felt on the other side of my misery - aka a functioning person that actually brushed my teeth and knew what a solar plexus was - I realized I could finally sit in my house alone and be okay with who I was. I felt fulfilled and happy (most of the time ). Most importantly I didn't have a thousand reasons running through my head as to why I was the worst person on Earth.
Yes! I made it!! Phew. So naturally The Universe says, "Okay NEXT!" I decided to head to LA to do a last minute intensive Tantra training and ended up having a conversation with a brilliant and deeply self-aware film producer that led to a challenge:
"Well Carisa, sounds like you need to hack self-love so you can help others. Call me when you're done." I laughed "Hack self-love? Ummmm that's impossible."
But I knew he was right. So I went to the one person I knew would be able to help. He was a friend living in LA, a music producer, a genius, a left-brained logical mind to match my right-brain creative mind. I told him, "I need to hack self-love and I don't think its possible."
"Of course it's possible," he said. "Self-love is a concept. And every concept can be broken down into its individual parts and then built back up again." Thus began hours upon hours of debate, argument, research, hypothesizing, hacking, and deep metaphysical, logical, and meditative thinking. Many months later when we were finally finished, I knew we had created something special. Since then shamans, philosophers, creatives, mystics, spiritual gurus, friends, family and others have added their part, evolving the self-love model in a beautiful and profound way.
But the most important thing I've learned along the way is that there is no easy answer and no one else can find it except for you. YOU are the genius. And the knowledge that holds all the answers is already inside of you.
The self-love model does have a starting place and a path to follow for those as lost as I was. But at the base of the model is meditation and self-introspection. That's where the magic happens. You see my friends, the point is to get unclogged. Unclogged from all the beliefs, messages, ideas, foundational thinking that you were given over your lifetime that don't necessarily match who you are. When the unclogging happens, then your path becomes apparent. The things that work for you or don't work for you become obvious. You begin to understand yourself on a deeply profound level and explore life in a vastly limitless way.
Going inward isn't easy. But its the most rewarding thing I've done in my entire life. I've learned things about the way I work that I could have never found out if I had asked anyone except for myself. And by going inward I've enjoyed the outward so much more. Through my work with Psalm and Tantra I've learned to use my 5 senses to experience the world and to enjoy each moment a little more fully. I also know that I couldn't have accomplished anything without an amazing and wonderful tribe of people around me including my wonderful family who have supported me no matter what and a plethora of friends that provide unending, non-judgemental love. Key lesson: Your tribe is important.
I hope you'll reach out to me or join us at a gathering to learn more and to connect with other women. Build your tribe. Go inward. And love yourself. You might even figure out what your solar plexus is along the way....