Breaking the cycle means facing the cycle.
It means seeing the cycle, which is not a painless or kind process.
It means crawling through deeply painful memories, thoughts, and feelings on your hands and knees. It means unraveling them, seeing your own patterns, seeing your Self.
It means facing painful abandonment wounds. The kinds that include, most of all, the ways in which you were taught to abandon yourself and all the ways you probably still are.
It means exposing your wounds to the fresh air so they can scab over and heal. A process where they often are ripped wide open, time and time again, until they are finally ready to close.
It means learning how to put yourself first, when the very prospect induces terror. Because you’ve spent your life placating others as an act of actual survival.
It means facing the voices of the abusers in your own mind, long after they are gone from your life. Summoning the courage to challenge their lies, one by one. Inevitably realizing that you have been the one carrying out the dirty work for them, all along.
It means falling back into the cycle, making mistakes, and feeling like a failure again. It means periods of deep rest, during which it feels like the lights may never come back on and the world is a hostile and terrifying place.
It means releasing the behaviors that once kept you safe and alive. Waking up to reality and facing the deep denial of trauma bonding that you once depended on for survival.
It means learning how to fight for yourself, and at the same time, ending the war within you that has been raging and destroying you all along.
It means learning to love yourself when that act would have once meant death. Finding your inner voice amidst the chaos of your long-held, protective, false belief structures. It means beginning to follow its wisdom, maybe for the first time in your life, no matter what the world around you says to do.
It means ending the psychic and physical addiction to chaos, which is probably so familiar by now that it feels more “normal” and comfortable than peace and safety ever have.
It means learning how to value your gifts, instead of apologizing them away to stay small and make others comfortable and less threatened by your brilliance. It means stepping into yourself and learning to accept all of you—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful—with equanimity.
It means being in alignment with the real you, the one buried underneath all those protective layers of self-deprecation and fear. It means starting to let go of the people who are out of alignment with this real you, which may mean periods of isolation and loneliness.
It means choosing people who you actually want to be around, who support your greatest good. And that means opening your heart and learning how to trust yourself and your own judgement, perhaps for the first time in your life.
It means having no f*cking clue what it’s even like to be loved or treated properly. It means learning how to trust your deeply buried inner voice, resurrect it, and follow it no matter what.
It means dropping judgement and learning discernment, which takes great practice and patience. It also means screwing up, as you are human and make mistakes on this path, because you can’t always get it right.
It means learning to stop trying to save everyone around you, and to start focusing on saving yourself. Facing the terror of this act that would have once meant something bad was going to happen, because how dare you!
But, above all, it means that good things like joy, happiness, and love start to flow into your life. And this means learning how to allow that to happen without devolving into patterns of self-sabotage again.
Because getting comfortable with a peaceful, healthy, balanced life—the one you’ve always said you wanted—may be the greatest challenge of them all. And as you face the sharp edge of contrast between the life of hell you once lived, and the beauty of the life of your dreams, the wounds can re-open themselves and leave you bleeding all over again.
It means letting the tears flow freely when you get home from spending time with a truly good person. One who treated you the way you should have been treated all along. It means grieving as you now realize how abhorrent the behavior of the people who said they loved you really was.
It means realizing how alone you have been, perhaps for your whole life, as you begin to be surrounded by people who reflect your new inner self-love and worth.
It means choosing these people anyway and facing the pain of the past, letting your precious heart break wide open and heal itself, acknowledging the sobering reality of the nightmare you went through.
It means, sometimes, missing the old chaotic and toxic loves of your past when this new reality gets too painful to bear. When the peace and quiet and beauty of your new life overwhelms you as you learn to settle into it.
It means learning how to truly love, both yourself and others, and ending an often generations-long legacy of self-sacrifice and resentment, as you learn how to forgive the unforgivable and set yourself free.
It means learning that good things happening in your life doesn’t always mean that bad things are about to come next. It means reminding yourself, over and over again, that you are okay in the now, no matter what story your mind is spinning from the past.
It means trusting yourself to protect you and make good choices now, and forgiving yourself for all of the bad ones in the past.
But most importantly, no matter how confusing or hard it may be to accept, it means that you are free.
Free to choose the life you really desire, whatever that may look like for you. Free to make mistakes without dire consequences. Free to succeed and thrive. Free to step into a life of peace, serenity, and true inner freedom and happiness.
Free to settle into a life that can and will only become better and better because you know, deep within, that you will never go back to the old one.
Free because you faced the darkness like the warrior you are and set yourself free when you realized that you were the only one who could ever save you.