It’s a well-known teaching within NLP type life coaching that we get more of what we focus on, and Ana has found this to be true through teaching herself to focus on the blessings of her life, rather than her painful past. Despite having experienced violence and sexual abuse, Ana has emerged as a courageous and compassionate lover of life…
I grew up in post-communist Romania. Looking back it feels like I grew up with my feet in two different worlds. One foot firm in a past and an eternal present, and one in this world of the “future” that had suddenly taken over our lives. One foot in the beauty of our home, our garden, my books, the love of my parents, the astonishing nature around me, the fantasy and charm of my culture with it’s fragrant fairy tales, myths and legends. The other in a world of chaos and uncertainty, of parents struggling to make ends meet, of fights and crisis, anxiety and overwhelm with the hardships of life.
I rarely refer to the dark times of my life as “abuse” or “trauma”. Most times I call them challenges, just as my parents and their parents before them chose to call them. As I am writing these words, I am experiencing a deep sense of peace, gratitude and appreciation for these challenges and the way I learned to deal with them, as they have shaped the person I am today. Wise, loving, courageous and resilient. And most of all, deeply in love with life and the world around me.
And I sit here and wonder I how should write this story so that what you take from it are not the images of pain from my past but rather an understanding of the feeling of love and empowerment that these happenings conjured in me.
This story is a long one, my dears. A story long as time itself I sometimes feel. This I understood from a tender age: the long chain of pain. What I kept understanding after every beating or tirade of curse words thrown at me, was that as bad as I was having it, my mother, father and those before them had had it worse. Much, much worse. But always diminishing from generation to generation. As I write these words I am so incredibly happy to say that my family’s chain of pain ends here.
You couldn’t go easy on children in those days. It was their whole survival at stake. Mine and my family’s challenges taught me how to take a blow. And man, did it serve me well when life struck them at me.
The best way to take a blow is to soften. Soften in the body and soften in the heart. Let them absorb and neutralise the shock. My mother taught me that. No matter how aggressive she was towards me, I could never bring myself to harden towards her. And when I did, I was in deeper pain than when I didn’t. I could never bring myself to hate her. In fact, I only loved her more.
Being angry with her just didn’t make sense after all. Why would I harbour all those feelings when I could see plainly that she loved me more than life itself but that she was lost and in pain. When I could see so clearly that that the blows and hurtful words did not come from her, but rather from what a painful, traumatic past had programmed in her. How could I be upset with her when she’d come to apologise and explain what she was going through and how scared she was that if I did not succeed in life I would be condemned to a similar life of uncertainty and hardship?
I could not be upset with her when what I was actually feeling was awe. My mother and my family have been through some seriously tough times. Growing up they would all share with me stories of their childhood and later life. And I would ask to hear them again and again. I could not, and still cannot get enough of them. And I look at my parents, as I looked at my grandparents and I cannot help but wonder: “How can you be so full of joy and love of life? How can you laugh so hard at your own stories? How are you not crushed by all this hardship? How are you still so in love with the beauty of life and all that is around you?”
My family and especially my mother did not go easy on me, it’s true. But by god did they shower me in their love. They worked themselves almost to death for my delicious food and brand new clothes that they never had, for our bountiful Christmas, with bags of presents under a tree each year, that they paid for in bloody sweat. We would dance and laugh and sing together, we would climb hills and have adventures in wild forests. And they taught me how to love life, music and nature and all the beauty around with a fierce passion…
…So when the blows came, you see, I had no choice but to soften. Soften and learn. Soften and surrender to love and understanding. Anything else only meant invoking more unnecessary pain.
And when that sexual abuse came my way in my 16th year, I knew how to take the hit. I instinctively softened my heart and cushioned the blow. As I was watching that man, almost 3 times my age, I could see how lost he was inside and understood how much unacknowledged pain he was harbouring. Not to justify or excuse his actions. But to have the full picture of how we both got there.
Circumstances had it that I was travelling to a different country at the time, without my parents. When I went back home and I told my mother about it, she gave me another gift that I will always cherish: When I asked her, Mum, do you think I should see a counsellor now, she looked me deep in the eyes and said: Ana, my love. If YOU think you need counselling you only need to say the word and we’ll find you the best one around. But I know how strong you are and I know you can so easily recover from this. If you need mine or anyone else’s help I am here for you ready to jump in and help. But see how YOU can heal YOURSELF first. Everything that you need you already have within yourself.
What an amazing gift! It might seem strange to western standards. Outrageous even, that I did not receive counselling but was left to sort out my feelings by myself. But what my mother told me that day is the single most empowering thing anyone has ever told me in my life. And oh, yes, I healed. And in the process I grew strong and wise. I learned how to land on my own two feet and forge my own path in life. But most importantly, I learned how to love unconditionally.
As I am writing these words I can tell you this: My life is not easy. Nor would I want it to be. But not a day goes by without my heart leaping with joy at the sight of this majestic dance of light and shadows that we call life.
Every day I could choose to wear my hardships as a cape, show it to the world and watch it in the mirror, using it to shield me from love and fun and laughter, from trust in myself and my fellow humans.
I choose instead to do what my family taught me. I choose to dance my life with passion, joy, happiness and gratitude and most of all, I choose to love.
I was born in Romania 4 years before the fall of communism. Living there up I was deeply fascinated with my country, my people and our culture and was deeply frustrated seeing how the ravages that communism left behind, the corruption and poverty were rapidly destroying our land and our people. Ancient forests decimated, ancestral customs forgotten, a rich and vibrant culture left to disintegrate.
All of this inspired me to start traveling in a quest to learn about different ways of life and heal myself so that I can go back and start projects that will help heal my country.
Arriving in the UK and inspired by the values I grew up with, I began to teach green cleaning and to offer environmentally friendly cleaning services. I am convinced that if we learn how to care for our homes with respect, awareness and gratitude, we will naturally be inspired to care for and heal the environment.
However, my biggest breakthrough along the way was developing The Psychedelic Food Journey, a nutritional therapy meant to heal our connection with food by the practice of embodied eating. Through this Journey we learn how to connect to our bodies on a deeper, cellular level and appreciate food in the way we are truly meant to. We learn to eat from gratitude and inspiration and in the process we not only nurture our bodies, but also our souls.
Find out more about what Ana does now at: ana-dreams.com
Thank you Ana for shining your beautiful light in the world ❤
We will soon be gathering stories for our 5th (yes 5th!!) KindaProud book;
#Emerging Proud through Psychosis and Schizophrenia
Have you received one of these disempowering labels but choose not to live by it?
Please CONTACT US HERE if you are interested in sharing your story with us.