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This past year was rough on me.
First, losing my dad and pieces of my childhood (good and bad) that came with losing him—I experienced trauma through the process of his passing.
I was also allowing people in my life to continually hurt me, yet not letting go. I felt like I had lost my voice in the world. I regressed in many areas of my life.
We all experience some forms of trauma; none of us escape this unscathed. Intense experiences can create hypervigilance and the need to always feel in control. It doesn’t feel good to live life like this, especially as a female.
Controlling every outcome leaves no space for flow, vulnerability, playfulness, or openness. My heart was closed off; I was in protection/self-preservation mode. I tried to control so much, and in doing so, I pushed people away.
I felt the shame from past decisions coming up, and I would distract it away. I’d make self-defeating comments like “I suck at this” all the time. I lowered my standards because, deep down, I didn’t feel deserving of amazing things, so I accepted less from people. However, that shame was just a part of me that needed some reassurance.
So I decided to love my shame. Every time shame reared its painful self, I said “I love you.”
My healing over the years has been messy and up and down. I learned the regression was there to fling me forward—kind of like a slingshot. We regress and fly forward. It’s a journey.
I felt pretty paralyzed, dark, and disconnected from the world at times. It was in those lonely places that I refused to distract myself with anything. Instead, I made myself feel whatever came up; it’s in this space where I finally learned what my needs were. I looked in the mirror with my hand over my heart, and I sobbed. I did this many times.
But now I’m learning to love and integrate parts of myself that I didn’t really like much. I knew the pieces of myself that I despised were what I judged the most in other people! So through acceptance of myself as flawed and human, I’m learning to open my heart more to others. It’s a process.
Older versions of me were paralyzed with fear—closed off, anxious, and stuck in self-defeating cycles. I continually allowed the wrong people into my space because I lacked boundaries. I would accept breadcrumbs from selfish people because I wasn’t fully aware of my inherent value.
My intuition was always off the charts high, but I would ignore it to meet other people’s needs. Knowing someone or something felt wrong to me but pursuing it anyway to appease my hypervigilant nervous system; I was always in overdrive.
I was addicted to my stress hormones. Many people are. When someone is raised in chaos, chaos feels safe and normal feels boring. Normal always felt boring to me, so I would seek out the roller-coaster path. Now, I’m learning that normal is beautiful and chaos is no good for my soul.
I was allowing others to define me because I didn’t have the level of introspection needed to define myself. Friends would try to tell me who I was, and I would play along with the role they assigned me. Meek? Yes! I’m meek. I’d agree. When, deep down, I’m one of the strongest people I know. But without a strong sense of self, everyone will define you.
I was holding out on sharing my truths for fear of losing people when my truths were burning me inside; I was so full of truth that I felt like a volcano.
I’ve learned that the way we show up for ourselves is how others will show up for us. Period. Without boundaries, those who have none will step into our space and steal pieces of us that we may never recover.
There are selfish and unfeeling people who will take and take. Without a strong and defined sense of self, people can become easy to manipulate. You will feel it but be unable to express it fully. As a result, I became paralyzed at times.
I’ve learned not to focus my energy on other people—ever. When we catch ourselves judging someone or comparing, remember this: we only judge others so we don’t have to focus on ourselves. Others need to hit their rock bottom and come to their realizations and face their darkness.
Everyone has their timeline, and it may not coincide with ours at all. So let. them. go. One cannot fix, change, or save people—only oneself.
It took a level of pain and self-abandonment that literally shook me to my core even to begin to do this work. Many never will. Many will continue to swim in the shallow end until they die because that is where they feel the safest. Let them! It’s their journey and theirs alone. But that’s not where we’re swimming anymore.
Allowing my voice to shine has been the hardest lesson for me yet—because I’ve always loved writing and public speaking but tend to hold myself back.
It’s okay to shine—to shine through others’ perceptions. To shine through their envy. Use your voice and express what matters most to you, even if it makes people feel uncomfortable. I’ve had friends and family refuse to acknowledge or support some of my endeavors. And because I loved them, I let this hurt me. I would take it personally, make myself smaller, and hold myself back. No more.
Outside validation will leave us feeling empty—every single time.
Shine, baby, shine.
Show yourself to grow yourself.
For many of us, it can take years upon years to learn what love is not before we understand what love is. And knowing ourselves and our needs and meeting them always always always comes first. Otherwise, we’re just filling from an empty cup.
There’s no timeline; I’m always learning until the day I die.
I have so much more to lean into and to learn, so much further to go. It’s a beautiful dance.
But this year, I’m only diving in the deep end!