“You did not fail, little one,” I said to my inner child, “You chose to soar!”
Life is about choices. Sometimes, they are conscious, and sometimes, we land in situations we would never think of choosing.
At age six, or maybe seven, I remember as a bright-eyed child, I was faithfully found in the backyard—messy hair, digging up worms, climbing trees, and wearing a bathing suit ready to be invited over to the neighbour’s pool.
Life had a sense of wonderment. The bedrock of my childhood was built off adventure, laying in the sun, calling on local friends, and anticipating delicious summer treats. Life was curious and free.
But somewhere along the way, this brown-eyed girl’s world collided with societal shaming. She began to experience the harshness of life and the effects caused by other people’s choices. Each experience was a layer of mud being slathered on for protection. Each layer came with oppression, shame, judgement, and limiting beliefs.
One day she realized, “I’m not good enough.” And the spiral of descent began.
At age seven, I moved and attended a new school, which meant making new friends. Children are unkind at the best of times but for some reason, I showed up with a target on my back. Apparently, I was fat? Who knew! Looking back on photos, I see a healthy, beautiful child, average at best, but I guess I was not current with the acceptable body image and thus began a life-long journey to be thin.
At age nine, I had my first thought of committing suicide. Things had gotten so bad the thought of leaving the earth felt like a far better route than enduring one more day of pain. Being a highly-sensitive child, the slightest negative experience set me back for days, if not weeks. I was in a constant battle to stay alive and to keep seeking out the beauty in the world—more so, in people.
I wanted so badly to “fit in.” I wanted to be normal.
In my desperation to feel loved and my body wanted, I dove full-on into diet culture and fads. At 16, I joined a lucrative diet program and within two months, lost over 50 pounds. I began to get noticed. Friends and family began to fawn over how much weight I had lost and how gorgeous I was.
Fanning my desperate flame, I began to seek out more and more attention. I wore tighter clothes, more makeup, and styled my hair differently. I was being invited out to social gatherings and getting attention from my male counterparts. I learned that with this new body, I could tease, flirt, and garner more attention. I began to get careless and promiscuous.
I liked it.
What I didn’t know then was that, deep down, I shed the weight but not the pain. The years of bullying, taunts, diets, and pop-culture deprecation of my body image had taken their toll.
Entering into my 20s, I continued to shed any existence of self-preservation. I turned to drugs and alcohol, late-night parties and clubs, dancing until the wee hours of the morning—all so I could, for a moment, not feel anything.
We don’t often realize how deep the damage is, especially when the wounding of trauma is internal. There were no physical wounds to show anyone, including myself, that something was wrong. But the physical wounding was self-inflicted as a method to cope with the internal turmoil I was living with.
As a child who lived wildly with nature—untamed, messy hair, and tanned skin; a bright smile and big, brown eyes—all I wanted was to be loved and to love others unconditionally. I wanted to lay on the warmest rock until the sun set, holding on to the days’ adventures. I wanted to discover how high I could climb a tree, and when I reached the canopy, what would I see?
You’ll be happy to know this story has a happy ending. I am still here. I am unpacking the trauma of life with resilience and a story I hope will heal. A story of hope, self-determination, and arrival.
My spiritual journey to rediscovering myself brought me back in—into the belly of the beast to face my shadows. You see, they may have tried to break me, but I always had a choice. I could inflict the physical wounds to mirror the words and experiences, or I could determine my own destiny.
I wanted my wild and untamed child self back! I wanted to show her that there is beauty in the world, that she has choices, and how to appreciate every single part of her mind, body, and soul. Life was not over—it was just beginning.
She reminded me of my deep reverence and connection to nature, spirit, and every speck of the Universe. She reminded me that we love to dance in the moonlight wearing flowing, vibrant dresses. She reminded me that she is excellent at bridging communities, problem-solving, creation, and finding the light when no one else around her could. She reminded me that the journey, while hard, is now a life filled with the most beautiful people, experiences, opportunities, and most importantly, her two children.
One day, I grabbed my inner child and said, “It’s time for an adventure!” She’s been with me ever since—messy hair, tanned summer skin, and wearing her bathing suit, ready to dive into whatever life throws her way.
I share with all those out there looking back on your child self, wondering where life went wrong, or how you may have failed.
You did not fail, little one; you are here to soar, and soar you shall.