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Easter weekend happens to be a holiday that shares an anniversary with two of my biggest life-changing moments.
I avoid language that feels dramatic to me, so sometimes I still whisper the word trauma. But that is the truth. These experiences were traumatic. They broke the way I viewed the world, the security, and safety I felt, even if it was a lie I sold myself on daily, and put my mind and body into a state of shock that lasted over a year.
For a long time, I felt like an observer of my own life.
This year represents my first Easter in a space I’ve created to cultivate life, self-awareness, and growth. And I am starting new traditions. In the Christian tradition I was raised in, Good Friday signifies the end of what was not working. What was unhealthy and impossible. It was a necessary day of death in order to establish a path to a new life free of shame, guilt, and self-inflicted punishment. There are things that still need to die in my life and heart.
I have decided every Good Friday and Easter weekend will be my opportunity to reflect on the things I will let die in order to flourish.
1. Misplaced compassion
I am deeply empathetic and often feel a sense of responsibility to ease another’s discomfort. If I am able to do so, I will. This is a powerful driving force that motivates my career choices, parenting, and friendships. I often forget that I need to give myself this same care and concern.
I am free of the responsibility for the discomforts you are experiencing as a direct consequence of your choices.
2. Protecting my abuser
It took me years to recognize the truth of the emotional, verbal, and mental abuse I suffered. I knew it wasn’t right, I justified that I was strong enough to not let the poor behavior bring me down, and I didn’t share any of it with anyone. It is isolating. And I continue to allow others to push on my boundaries and repeatedly drain my energy and health because they don’t know the full story.
My experiences belong to me. I will speak the truth for my healing, even if it hurts your pride.
3. Giving space to imbalanced relationships
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, I love your energy and how I feel around you. In action, this often translates to an energy vampire. Draining my emotional energy without refilling it or investing the same. I love investing in others and supporting people who are digging for truth and long for a flourishing, abundant life.
As I process my past to create a future of wholeness, I see a history of one-sided relationships riddled with inconsistencies between words and actions that filled my desire to belong. It made me feel needed, even if not wanted.
I am worthy of receiving the same energy I bring to a relationship.
4. Apologizing for my beautiful mess
My life is messy because I stood up for myself. I recognized my worth, created healthy boundaries, drew lines, and stuck to them. My life is messy because I chose not to give in to societal pressures. My mess is what has made me whole. It is a badge of honor, grace, and love. It is a major step in destroying hurtful and damaging generational cycles.
This ruble of past foundations built on by generations made way for my children to see a different path. An option that allows them to love themselves as much as they love others and know that taking up your daily cross does not mean martyrdom. It means facing challenges head-on, setting boundaries for joy to remain alive in your heart, and pursuing what sets your heart ablaze.
I will always lean into what is life-giving and cultivate a space for others to do the same.
5. Making myself small
As a child, I remember hearing that people would act mean or ostracize me because they were jealous. I was never sure exactly what they were jealous of, but I knew I didn’t enjoy their response. This is when I remember choosing to hide skills and abilities and retreat to the shadows. As a female in my church, the message was clear: we were not meant to lead, question, or doubt. Women were at their most feminine when humble, silent, and obedient.
In my workplace, I asked hard questions and desired accountability at all levels of employment. As a result, I felt rejection, neglect, and the weight of a “problem” employee title.
In relationships, the other was always stressed, walking through a difficult journey, or resting, and I struggled to find the time to share my thoughts and feelings. In order to accommodate others’ insecurities, schedules, preferences, or wants, I retreated into myself and found comfort in the margins. I took the spotlight only when asked to and adhered to a specific set of expectations to maintain a small stature. And every day I did that, a little bit more of me faded. Locked away.
I am skilled. I am bold. I am experienced. I will use my gifts to embolden myself and others to embrace the fullness life has to offer even if it makes you uncomfortable.
May this Easter be a reminder to us all that death can bring life, and we have the power to choose what remains alive in us.