My Healing Journey Part 2: My Sabbatical, My Sexuality and My Spirituality

Table of Contents

Last week I posted the first part of my Healing Journey, which, although a bit difficult to post because of how much I revealed about myself, was very well received.  I knew that I’d be opening up A LOT and really exposing some very intimate details about my life, and if you think the first post was revealing, I’m going to be sharing even more today as I’ll be explaining my year off of work, the start of my spiritual practice, and discovering and thus exploring my sexuality, all of which played a very pivotal role in my healing process.

But first, let’s pick up where we left off…

My Sabbatical

After we had ended our relationship, I finished 2008 as best as I could.  I was struggling with a job that was draining me, I was dealing with feelings for someone else that was confusing the hell out of me (I’ll be talking about this in more detail later) and I had an overwhelming sense of just needing a break.

My body was tired and my emotions were all over the map.  Since graduating from college, I had worked full-time as a trainer or manager without coming up for air, and the pace of this lifestyle was starting to catch up with me.  Quick.

By the beginning of February 2009, 6 months after the break up, after a failed business attempt with a friend, and an even worse idea to move to another state, I just couldn’t do it anymore.  Even though this section is about my yearlong sabbatical, the issues of my sexuality overlap this time period as well, as this is when I first started to honestly question in myself….”Hey, I think I might be gay…or bi…or, something.  OH SHIT.”

Gay pride.  I finally get it.

But, more about my gayness later on…

Between the break-up, the failed business attempt, the blunder of a move down south, and thoughts about questioning my sexuality, my health just kept getting worse despite all of the work I was doing with my diet.  At this point, I had lost all motivation to work, to workout, and pretty much do anything.

Even waking up was a chore; it was a very dark, lame, and depressed period of my life.  All I could think about was how to not think (or feel) about anything.

As issues revolving around my sexuality started to bubble up inside me, I decided that I’d just take the year off, relax, calm my mind and body, and try to sift through the mess that had piled up.  Fortunately, my family still lived in Japan where I spent a good portion of my youth, and for the next several months, I lived there – waking up late, eating sushi, and just really taking care of me.

While I was in Japan, I was able to focus on healing myself.  I was able to sleep deeply, I had access to good food, I felt support from my family, and I was able to get back on a good workout routine thanks largely to the gym on the air force base.

It was like a 4-month long retreat/rehab for me.  A much needed break, and my “Sabbatical” as I’ve nicknamed this period.  The slower pace of life in rural Japan did wonders on my body, my mind and my soul.  Living in a farming community, I was able to enjoy the beautiful landscape, and clear, fresh air without the neuroticism of trying to be “successful” and without the incessant drive to accumulate material wealth that is so predominant in Western culture.

It was here that I started to see just how out of alignment I was with myself.  Working around the clock, going at a million miles per hour, and not stopping to appreciate simpler things just wasn’t working for me back in the states.  It took the contrast of my life as a corporate manager set against the serene lifestyle of northern Japan for me to fully appreciate just how important rest is to healing the body.

After a few months of some serious R&R, I was ready to go back to the states and take the next step.  My body was starting to heal, my digestion was getting better, my skin was clearing up, and I started to feel that warm sense of hope that makes you smile to yourself for no reason.

All seemed very calm on the surface, but I was still dealing with one miiiiiiiiiiiinor detail that I purposely chose to ignore in the hopes that those feelings would just somehow, go away.

And in my case, those feelings were feelings I had…for another woman.

(dun, dun, dun….)

My Sexuality

Looking back at this all, I shake my head and laugh at how much of a big deal I made this out to be.  But at the time it was a huuuuuuuuge fucking deal. And anyone who has come out in any way, especially in regards to their sexuality, can relate.

Facing my own feelings and judgments about my sexuality was the heaviest weight I have ever carried.

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. OH. MY. GOD.

I think I’m gay. Or, something.

I remember sitting in my room, and even the thought of being gay in my head scared the shit out of me.  When I was alone, I would try to muster up the courage to even tell myself out loud, and every time I would mutter the words to myself “I’m gay”, I would forcibly negate it by shaking my head furiously from left to right, saying, “No, I’m not, no I’m not, no I’m not.”

Uuuuhhh, yes. I was.

The point of me bringing up sexuality in this post is 2 fold:

1. This was an area of my life that I purposely ignored and hid, and which caused further confusion since I was in a straight monogamous relationship. And in doing so, was one of the main culprits to why my health started to deteriorate.

You see, this was something that I knew, deep, deep down inside existed.  It was an aspect of myself that I did not accept or pay any attention to.  And because of fear (fucking fear), I chose to turn my head and to bury it deeper and deeper inside me.

But, I think we all know, that doing that just doesn’t work.

The shit we hide will start to fester and grow, and before you know it, the monkey on your back grows into 400 lbs. silverback gorilla.  At this point, Jane Goodall wouldn’t even have gone near it.

When we ignore an aspect of ourselves because we think it’s “bad”, we are not only telling God, or whoever created us, that she messed up, but we are also backstabbing ourselves by saying that there are only certain parts that are “good” and worth being shown to the world. All the other stuff we consider “bad”, we end up hiding in the shadows.

By throwing away one aspect of ourselves we are essentially throwing away our whole being; we are not whole without ALL of our parts. Even the ones we don’t like.

2. Another reason why I bring up my sexuality is the fact that when it all boils down to achieving optimal health, e-v-e-r-y l-i-t-t-l-e part of you counts.

From the food you choose to eat, to how you workout, to the thoughts you think, the words you say,  to who you hang around.

And, yes, even your sexuality.

All of that makes up who you are.  Right down to your bones and your DNA.  Living in alignment with who you are naturally creates a state of ease and flow within your body and within your life.

As trainers, the saying, “Form equals function” is very analogous here.  If you think about it this way:

If you’re kyphotic and have rounded shoulders, your push-ups are going to suffer, and thus the exercise becomes less effective and takes more effort, and creates more strain.  However, if you fix these muscular imbalances the push-ups get easier.

If you have spiritual or emotional imbalances, life takes more effort and creates more strain and anxiety.  Address these spiritual and emotional imbalances and life gets a hell of a lot easier.

So back to the story…at this point, I had developed very strong feelings for another woman, and needless to say, I was soooo confused.

Do I tell her?

Do I stop being friends with her?

Do I enter the witness protection service and change my identity?

As I said earlier, it was all a much bigger deal in my head than it was in reality.  And when I finally did tell her, I felt a tremendous amount of weight lift off my shoulders, and I thought to myself, “Geez, that wasn’t that bad.”  It’s like when you psych yourself to get on a rollercoaster and then afterwards are like, “let’s do it again!”

Although the outcome of me telling her my feelings wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, it did open up a new door and new possibilities for me.

Basically, after spilling my heart out in an over 8 page letter (front to back a la Rachel Green in Friends), my feelings were not reciprocated.


Talk about misreading signals!

After facing the biggest demon in my personal hell, I spiraled down further into the chasms of depression. The deepest, most hopeless and isolated time I’ve ever experienced. There would be 4-5 day stretches of time that I wouldn’t leave the house. Like, not even walk out the front door. Thoughts of leaving this earth happened several times a day, and I incessantly questioned why I was even alive.

Reflecting back, I truly believe that I had someone, some divine source, an angel, something, keeping me afloat, as I don’t have any other explanation for being able to pick myself up and glue the shattered pieces of myself back together again after this experience.

Shitty as it felt, I learned a great lesson.  Many lessons.  And it was through this time, what I now know is referred to as a “dark night of the soul”, that I started to develop a spiritual practice.  And, it came at just the right time, when I needed hope, and a glimmer of light, the most.

My Spiritual Practice

In the midst of my queer-madness, I was introduced to a form of energy healing called Reiki, ironically, on a double date with a friend of the boyfriend of the woman I was secretly in love with.

If you are not familiar with Reiki, you can find more info on the practice here.

In a nutshell, Reiki is a Japanese form of stress reduction that uses light touch or no touch at all on a person to bring life energy throughout the body.  It’s even used throughout hospitals and hospices to help patients recover from surgery.

I’m going to assume that you are familiar with “chi” or the Chinese term for “life-force” and basically, Reiki is way to bring balance to our energy, or chi in our body. In yogic traditions, this energy is called prana.

It was through Reiki that I started to understand the basics of energy healing, chakras, and our auras and how they play a role in our day to day life and in our health.  After receiving a Reiki treatment, I felt so relaxed and at ease.  It was as if someone was telling me, “It’s OK.  You’re going to be OK”, while I would get a treatment.

I had never felt so free of tension or anxiety than I had after a Reiki treatment (even more than a massage), and after a  few sessions decided to take the next step to become a Reiki practitioner myself.

After about 3 years of Reiki practice, going through various attunements, and working with a Peruvian Shaman (yep, a shaman. And he’s bad-ass) I began to take my spiritual practice more seriously and immersed myself in personal development and spiritual/religious texts to get a better understanding of the life energy we all share, and the human consciousness.

It was through my spiritual practice that I began to ask myself what I really wanted in my life and what really mattered.  I would find that after going to a Reiki session, I would sleep deeper and my anxiety would go away.  When I would get on the treatment table and completely relax my body, I was able to let go of what was bothering me, and in this I realized…that I could let go of that anxiety any time I wanted to!  How brilliant!

Reiki helped me realize that most of my stress, worry and anxiety was all in my head.

I didn’t have to be anxious if I didn’t want to be.

I didn’t have to worry about shit if I didn’t want to.

Most of my stress (like how big of a deal I made my sexuality) was all in my head.

This was a huge revelation for me, and since then, I’m able to see my life and my circumstances with a much calmer and clearer perspective.

As my good friend Phyl says, “Reiki helps shut off the crazy in my head.”

To me, my spiritual practice is far more than just meditating or sitting in my bed playing with my crystals.  Yes.  I play with crystals.  It’s become a much bigger part of who I am and how I work with people.  My spiritual practice and dealing with my sexuality, were two missing pieces to the puzzle of trying to heal myself.  I saw some results getting rest and working on my nutrition, but it was not until I started to accept myself for everything that I was, and developing my spirituality that I started to see more lasting changes.

For my life up until then, I was driving on the highway at 65 mph with the e-brake still on, wondering why life was so hard.  Adding a spiritual practice to my life was like taking the e-brake off.  Life has become soooooo much easier and enjoyable since I’ve been real with myself and since finding Reiki and my spirituality.

You may start to see a recurring theme here in these posts that health isn’t just about what’s on the surface.  When you get down to it, its never about what you’re lifting, how far you’re running, or what diet you’re on.

I believe that true health is achieved only when you are in complete alignment with yourself.  And sometimes that means, facing some very scary truths about yourself, which, in the end, aren’t that scary at all.

I hope that through my story you find the hope, courage and inspiration to continue on your own path and to have the strength to live a life that is in alignment with who you are.  In the next and final post, I’ll talk about how achieving true health sometimes means taking 2 steps forwards and 1 step back, and how you can use my experience to help you along your own journey.  Thank you again for allowing me the space to share my story with you.

My Gratitude:  As I’ve gone through this journey, it is only necessary that I take the time to express my gratitude and appreciation for two of my mentors in my spiritual practice.  First is Diane Gelinas, my Reiki Teacher in Candia, NH and Pierre Garreaud, my Peruvian Shaman Bad-ass.

To read part 3 of the series, click here.

41 Responses

  1. I’ve been searching for answers on certain aspects of my current situation! One that stands out more then the others is Holding on. I cant seem to let go of things and searching for answers I found you! well… not you but Tiny Buddha. Anyways I’ve read multiple blogs, stories, quotes, but I never cared about the author. No matter how much I enjoy the article, the authors never interested me. right, wrong, or indifferent they just didn’t matter. Either way I read your “4 Simple Mantras to help you stay positive and happy” and then ” 10 ways to turn around bad day in 10 mins” I JUST HAD TO KNOW YOU BETTER!!!! your’re great and thank you for sharing!!!!

  2. Let me first start by saying that on a normal basis, I do not write comments about what I read. But I have to tell you, Sirena, that this blog is powerful in so many ways. Not only because you found your true self in regards to your sexuality but that you found peace within your self by accepting your whole self. Finding your self seems so very simple but in reality is very hard. Accepting that this is who you are and being ok with it is such a great and powerful thing. I am so very proud of you for putting your journey out to the world so that maybe someone else can realize that although the journey may be a long and hard one…the outcome can be the most fulfilling thing in the world. Allowing others to know that everyone is vulnerable and weak at times can help someone find their own inner strength and be at peace with it. Bravo Sirena…Bravo!!

    1. Hey girl,

      Thank you so much for your comment, I really appreciate your support!

      It is a never ending journey, and this phase of my life was like peeling one layer back of many. My only hope for the posts was to inspire and to help other people and by sharing that there’s more to life, and to not be afraid of who you are.

      Again, thanks for your comment, much love 🙂


  3. Hi Sirena- Amazingly enough I have gone through a similar experience as you did. About 3 years ago my life was beyond stressful, and I couldn’t pick up the pieces. I broke out in a rash that looked like chicken pox, and it traveled all over my body within the course of two months. After a referral from a friend to a Naturopath in Quincy, I too was put on all sorts of balancing blends and herbs to get back on track; I also had the egg, and gluten removed from my diet (eggs are now back in, thank goodness, but I’m 3 years strong with no gluten). These days I have about a once a year flare ups of hives, and itches and etc. variations. Usually it’s when work/life collide too much and my body just says it needs a freaking break. I’m also a Level II reiki student; though I’m not always consciously utilizing such techniques, I’ve overall found that it was a true blessing to learn and understand.

    So, thanks for posting your story, and for passing on multiple messages including one I have to keep learning … you have to put value in quality time for yourself.

    1. Hi Kate,

      Sounds like we have a lot in common! (experience, reiki, food, and Massachusetts!). Good to hear that you’re doing better. Reiki has helped me tremendously, and whenever things are going nutso, I know my spiritual practice will always be there, its like my home base.

      I’m curious. How did you stumble upon the blog?


      1. Hi Sirena-

        Tony Gentilcore was a big advocate for this entry, and I’m pretty consistent with reading his blogs.

        Weird/cool how things line up and you meet people sometimes, huh? 🙂


  4. Sirena,

    I read this blog and thought to myself.. Damn this is deep. Becoming true to yourself and lifting so much weight off your shoulders.. I remember writing a blog that expressed a lot about me, my trials, and tribulations. But damn it was no way as deep as this.. It was very pleasant to read and very spiritual.. I loved it.. Keep up the great work.. Looking forward to part 3.. Do your thing girl..

    Edward Holland Jr

  5. Sirena you are so enlightening. You and my pastor today helped put some things on my heart to get into perspective. Cant wait to read PT3 and to be able to sit with you. We’ll figure it out. Stay strong and blessed.

  6. I first encounter your blog on tiny buddha website. I can’t remember what the article is about but i remember the honesty and openness of the author. I went to search for your name on google and FB and luckily i found and requested you to add me on your friend’s list. I didn’t even have the chance to thank you for adding me partly because i didn’t want to connect personally. But after reading this blog, i thought i’d let you know my appreciation for knowing you virtually, for sharing your knowledge, your thoughts and your soft side . I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for adding me to your friend’s list.

    I read somewhere that vulnerability brings out the kindness in people, that vulnerability attracts people who want to be good, who want to help, who feel generous. And those appear independent-invulnerable–miss the kindness and don’t see the soft side of others( I should be telling this to myself). I guess i’m one of those people who wants to be good, to help and feel generous. But true healing hasn’t take place as i have not learned to forgive and let go. Reading your blog is slowly helping me pursue the path towards enlightenment.

    Thank you for your honesty, thank you for showing your vulnerability and thank you for being an inspiration to many.

    I wish you the best of life:)

    1. Hi Mila,

      Yes, I remember! That was actually last year around this time. I really appreciate your feedback, and really liked what you had to say about vulnerability. So true!

      You are on the right path, keep your focus on healing yourself and don’t ever give up girl.

      Best to you,


  7. Yup, I’m back! I have one long word . . . YEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! I am so happy to see you are all good and healed. As I said I got where you were coming from on the first post. Even though it wasn’t Reiki for me it was learning about the law of attraction. Learning about who I was and what I wanted. I wish you every success life can offer. These were superbly open and honest articles! With thanks and appreciation. Me x

    1. Yaaay! Glad you made it back. Learning about the Law of Attraction was also a big turning point for me too, and isn’t too far off from Reiki – it’s all energy 🙂

      Thank YOU for your comments and support. It’s very much appreciated!

      Sirena 🙂

    1. Hey Sylvia,

      Thank you so much, not only for your comment, but for your constant support in myself and my business. You are a wonderful client, and I’m so grateful to be working with you.

      I look forward to seeing you soon!

      Your coach,


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