Despite feeling so insulted and so enraged, and so helpless to do anything about what had happened, I also knew I had to, could, and absolutely would, change How Things Were.

It Takes Two to Tango

After I got home from my sailing-across-the-Pacific journey, I spent a good amount of time cogitating about what I wanted next in my life. The kids were back home, school was starting, and I was back at work as a (not-very-good) sales rep at the art gallery in Kapa’a.

I had to acknowledge that, while things were OK, they were just that — OK. I wasn’t feeling happy, excited, enthusiastic, expanded.

I asked myself what I’d have to be, do and have, in order to say, “yes, I’m happy.” I realized that thoughts and feelings had to come first.

It isn’t ‘I have this, so I can do that, so I can be/feel a certain way.’

It has to be ‘out of who I am, I do what I do, and receive what I receive.’

It had to start with thinking.

And I was brimming with destructive thoughts.

I started stream-of-consciousness writing down some of the thoughts I consistently repeated throughout the day. Like,
• I’ll never make it
• I can’t have what I really want
• I’ll never have enough money
• I’m so scared
• I’m a terrible mom
• no one likes me
• no one wants my art
• I’m not good enough
• my art isn’t good enough
• no matter what I do, or how much, it will never be enough …”
and on and boringly on.

Shaking my head, I was astounded at how my thinking was so desperate and downward in energy. No wonder I felt so bad.

The ‘no one wants my art’ was a really hard one to acknowledge. I wanted to deny it and say, nah, that’s not true! People do buy it … sometimes. Only the ‘sometimes’ were so few and far between that if I hadn’t had that job, we’d have found ourselves right out on the street.

I was a notorious failure about talking about my work — how I do it, what it means, what it means to me, where I get ideas … the whole nine yards.

Fortuitously, our gallery owner hired a guy to came to the gallery to give us sales reps lessons about time management, handling and closing sales, talking to customers, and more. I lapped it all up.

But although I learned to sell the art of all the other artists in the gallery, could I even begin to sell mine? Nope. I’d freeze up, unable to say a word. I had to call the other rep on the floor to take over, abruptly retreating in shame to the back room.

Or worse, I’d get the customer who expressed an interest in my work talking about him/herself, where they lived, their vacation here in Hawaii … to the point they’d go away all happy about being heard, but without the piece they’d been looking at!

We spend our entire childhoods and early adulthood being carefully conditioned by parents, teachers, doctors, professors, and so on, so we can fit in, be good little workers and members of our society, and not rear up and be a bad influence or dangerous element.

Think about how much you sound like your mom or your dad at times. We literally take on our parents’ thoughts, their sounds, their energy. It’s how we survived — we learn to be like them so we don’t get punished, criticized, laughed at, shunned.

Sometimes as I hear myself laughing, I can hear my ma as she sat on the tall stool by the kitchen counter, the long twisty phone cord twirling in her hands as she laughed at whatever her friend said.

I made another list — what did my mother think about money? About selling her art? About kids? The list was scary.
• She hated talking about her work.
• She hated being the star when she had one of her rare exhibitions
• She’d get flustered and got people talking about anything else
Sound familiar?

I was the living, breathing mirror image of my mother’s thinking.

Then I made another list – how all that made me feel.
• Embarrassed
• Sad
• Angry
• Like giving up
• Depressed
• Helpless
• Powerless

(And it was in those times when I was feeling so rotten that, of course, my kids would act up. Right? Energy feeds energy….)

Well, I was 35, my boys were 8 and 5. We were all still young — we had a chance to improve in a big way. I decided to have hope — so I sought out more classes on self-improvement.


I think the Universe was conspiring to get me off the island, because my previously sweet boyfriend got himself hopelessly addicted to cocaine.

He started acting crazy, yelling at me, telling me I was worthless, ugly, cheating on him with his brother (wha’???), told me I was too fat, hopelessly broke, and I’d never get free, and that my kids were rude and turning into juvenile delinquents — you name it, he yelled it at me. My poor shy Filipino neighbors downstairs heard it all. So embarrassing.

And yes, my kids really were rude to him — they never took shit from anyone, and especially not from him, once he started in on me. They saw clearly what I couldn’t see — that he was a nasty, selfish, gaslighting, misogynistic S.O.B. who was treating their mom worse than a dog turd, and they told him off any time they could. He tried hitting them to punish them, but I never let him get near, much less touch them.

He semi-lived with us, keeping some clothes in my bedroom, and some stuff in the freezer. Which was weird, but I never asked him about it.

So one day he comes by all upset and angry, face beet red, super frowny, herky-jerky movements. He glares at me, gets his clothes out of my bedroom, yanks all his stuff out of the freezer, and goes to rush out again.

I held out my hands to try to stop him, saying, “hey, slow down, are you OK?”

Me the Nice Guy, trying to help, trying to give him a hug.

He screamed, “get out of my way, bitch!’ and pushed me down.

He pushed me down!

Although I was shocked at being shoved, I was still Being Nice. I got up and followed him out, yelling at him, “don’t you ever do that again!”

He just cackled like an evil witch, and as I ran alongside his car, trying to pull open his door, he swerved and tried to run me over.

I barely jumped out of the way, falling, and desperately sliding on my butt backwards into the garage. Thanking all that’s good that my kids weren’t home.

He drove off, still cackling, his open driver-side door flapping and banging like a broken wing.


I sat there on the cold, concrete floor of that empty garage a long, long time. I just couldn’t move. I felt frozen. Paralyzed, inside and out. So many feelings erupted and exploded within me — humiliation, regret, rage, fury — white-hot — and then, after a while, the icy cold streams of helplessness, despair, defeat.

I considered suing him. But with what evidence? He was from a huge, influential Hawaiian family. For sure this little haole* girl would be laughed out of town if I ever had the nerve to press assault charges.

*Haole — this is the word that, originally, in Hawaiian, meant ‘foreigner,’ when the missionaries started encroaching upon the native Hawaiians. Its meaning has since narrowed down to mean white people.

It finally dawned on me that I was with him because I so desperately wanted to be touched and loved and comforted. But it was very apparent I’d put my energy into the wrong man, because being touched and loved and comforted were the last things I got from him.


I could see that instead of trying to fix the past — especially with him! — I had to see and forge a new way forward.

I decided that, although in the past I’d have believed I deserved such terrible treatment, I knew — KNEW — that I most assuredly did NOT.

And despite feeling so insulted and so enraged, and so helpless to do anything about what had happened, I also knew I had to, could, and absolutely would, change How Things Were.

One thing I knew for sure was that I would never, ever, allow anyone to be that cruel to me again.

Day after day, night after night, I asked myself what I had done to attract such a character into my life, and what could I do to change that.

In truth, there is no answer to that. It wasn’t anything I had done. It was HOW I was being that attracted the inappropriate men. They mirrored my own energy.

I decided to move from the boonies out on the west side of Kaua’i to Honolulu, on Oahu, where there were more people, more activity, more chances for deeper education, and to meet people with expanded thinking.

Because I’ve always been deeply intuitive, and interested in metaphysics — the Old Masters, astrology, the Tarot, etc. — I dived into workshops and trainings on self-healing, metaphysics, HUNA, spirituality, channeling, Reiki, all levels — whatever I could find that seemed to expand my intuition and ability to help others.


I took mentoring from a guy who taught me how to do Filipino psychic surgery, and wanted me to make that my life mission, accompanying him on his world tours.

It was exciting to be able to impact people’s lives as much as I was now able to, with just using my internal skills. So I almost did it — I was certified and everything.

But during my advanced training, I found that I didn’t like it that people thought it was OK to call me at all hours, complaining and expecting me to fix them. That’s not how I wanted to live my life.


Within the context of that training, and other deep-diving workshops, I was forced to face and heal massive holes in my energy caused by my negative thinking. Turns out that you can’t run your hands over someone intending healing when you’re all caught up in ‘I’m not good enough’ — it just doesn’t work.

I attended multiple workshops and trainings, and even a couple of 10-day retreats where we all shared our deepest darkest fears, secret wishes, and what we had thought were impossible aspirations.


In time, I got to see, again and again, how my thinking was the core that had to keep changing, keep changing, keep changing.

I also saw that even if I changed my thinking, if I didn’t address how I felt as a result of the new thinking, and take different steps, things wouldn’t change.

I could repeat to myself all day long, “I love myself and my work, I’m making sales hand over fist!” But if I didn’t feel it enough to take concrete, real-in-this-world, action steps to actually create whatever it was I said I wanted or aspired to, nothing would happen that was any different from how things were before.

I had to feel and practice the preferred new way of being. So…

I made up a this-is-the-way-I-want-to-feel list:
❖ I enjoy feeling calm and full
❖ I love feeling relaxed and grateful
❖ I am inspired and inspiring
❖ I like being delighted with my life
I feel like am doing my life Right 

I want to live and feel every single moment — even when that means being in pain sometimes, or silent and in the background, or resting, or simply receiving — it’s not always about being productive, creating, making, being “out there” and assertive.

So that’s my task, every day. Be. Live. Feel. Create. Be.

As an artist, I have always believed that it’s literally my job to channel the amazing, vast, mysterious ocean of joy and love and All Things Good through myself and my work and my life, because the world needs every bit of it it can get.

If I’m all down on myself, how can I do that? Impossible. I had to change from the inside out, and become that very thing I wanted to channel. What a task.

People love being around us when we live our lives feeling great. 

It gives all of us hope, inspiration, and real, live permission to do the same, so we can live a fabulous, unhindered, open and completely delightful life.

That’s what it’s about, right?


Thanks so much for reading my story. I hope it lit you up. Or maybe it inspired you, or gave you a new perspective with which to view and appreciate your own life. That’s my wish.


Image: It Takes Two to Tango
text and image © Angela Treat Lyon 2021–2

This is an enhanced version of a story from my book, INSIDE SECRETS, Stories I’ve Never Told Anyone, Volume II. Illustrated with my artwork.

The images in Volume II are all from original pen and ink drawings done in Japanese Sumi ink on heavy watercolor paper. If you’d like a print of this image, please contact me.

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