I don’t really know how it happened… but I lost myself along the way. Piece by piece, one little act of self abandonment after another – I forgot who I was. I lost the essence of my soul. All the things that once lit me up, excited me, and loved doing, I fell away from and they no longer called to me. I couldn’t bring myself to do them anymore. Music use to be what kept me sane. Singing, playing music, writing lyrics, listening to the anguish and pain in an artist’s music brought a sense of comfort, a sense of not feeling so alone and misunderstood. Writing poems and journaling use to be a habit. Now I find it so difficult to sit down and do it.
Over the years, these pieces of my soul – how I expressed myself – slowly disappeared and I had nothing to replace them with. I had no way to express myself or to connect to my emotions and feel them. This snowballed over time into a giant ball of major anxiety and depression. Then add in an intensely dysfunctional, toxic and abusive relationship with a sociopathic narcissist and Voila! Complex PTSD.
I use to have a fire about me, even through a lifetime of loneliness and sadness; there was still something there. Other people tell me that I have a fire about me – I feel like I’ve lost it. I don’t have the drive and high ambition I once did. I feel lazy, unproductive, and unmotivated most of the time. I procrastinate the things I know I need to do. Maybe I’m just exhausted. Not the kind of exhausted that a week worth of catching up on sleep and rest will cure, but exhausted from my nervous system being pushed to the max and staying in that state for years, years of dealing with unresolved trauma and going through it all alone. Not having the support system I needed from friends or family. Friends belittling or invalidating what I was going through, ignoring me, or acting like their problems were worse and my feelings didn’t matter, or poking fun at the symptoms I experienced such as short term memory loss. It’s amazing how soul crushing that is and how much more it fucks you up. It just isolates you even more and silences you, essentially freezing you in that state. You can’t heal, you can’t feel, and you can’t release those trapped emotions until you are aware of them, acknowledge them, validate them, feel them, and feel them in your body if you can.
It’s so heavy. I could feel the heaviness in me. People would tell me all the time to smile. I especially hated it when they’d say, “You’re too pretty to be sad.” Ummm…. first of all – fuck off. Secondly, I’m not sad cause I feel ugly I’m sad cause I have real fucking problems, and no one seems to notice or care. I hated that shit. You really have no clue what people have been through or what they’re going through. Don’t tell people to just paint a smile on and everything will be ok. It won’t, and that is invalidating their feelings and their experience, and will only postpone their healing. Instead, make space for them: listen to them without judgement or criticism. Ask before offering advice or trying to fix it. Support them emotionally. Let them feel heard and seen, accepted and validated. This is so important.
Fast forward about a decade…. I’ve done so much work on myself. A ridiculous amount of work. I’ve made it my life’s mission to heal and release all the crap that has dragged me down for so long.
I’ve learned that:
>Healing isn’t linear. It’s like a 2 year old’s drawing. – it’s all over the place; it’s a shit-show.
>Healing isn’t all crystals, burning sage to magically release the negativity, herbal teas, peaceful meditations where you feel incredibly zen, yoga, setting boundaries everyone respects, friends accepting the new you, and answered prayers.
>Healing sometimes means: writing unfiltered letters to parents, friends, or ex partners letting out years of built up pain, hurt and frustrations that you probably end up burning afterwards.
>It’s losing long-term friendships because you no longer align and they don’t accept a healthier version of you. They still want to see you how you use to be cause it best serves them.
>It’s learning to set boundaries and have people bulldoze them that aren’t use to you respecting and loving yourself.
>It’s crying yourself to sleep and getting emotional and teary from the littlest things.
>It’s forcing yourself to sit with yourself in meditation. It is physically and mentally painful. Your mind is racing with what feels like the dumbest thoughts and you think you just aren’t cut out for it. But you do it anyway, and keep doing it. You start to give yourself the attention you’ve been giving everyone else your entire life. It feels deeply uncomfortable at first, but gets better.
>You start to learn self awareness and notice your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, thinking patterns, negative beliefs, limiting beliefs, and how you interact with others.
>You become so self aware it almost feels like a curse and you overanalyze everything from the last point. ^ (Just me? Oh…)
>It’s seeing the progress you’re making and noticing improvements in yourself, your life, and your relationships.
>It’s unlearning who society, your parents, teachers, past lovers, etc. taught you to be and remembering who you actually are.
>It’s embodying your true self.
>It’s being that person completely and unapologetically and loving that person.
I may have lost that fire years ago, but it’s slowly burning hotter and brighter every day. And it’s scary. I’m sometimes afraid of that fire inside me. I don’t know what she’s capable of and I know she wants to burn down my comfort zone and dance on the ashes and that’s terrifying. I love watching netflix in a baggy shirt, shorts and fuzzy socks, cozy in my bed, and scrolling social media before bed. I love procrastinating the things I need to be doing to move to closer towards even figuring out what I truly want – but it also makes me feel shitty for not being productive. I have some ideas, but still feel like I sometimes don’t have a clue! But then I know that’s also bullshit. I know it’s music, it’s singing, dancing, it’s writing, it’s sharing the beauty of this natural world and inspiring people to get out and experience it for themselves, it’s helping people heal, and sharing my experiences and knowledge I’ve gained in my own healing journey. But that all still scares the shit out of me. I feel deeply scared and unworthy almost of being seen and heard like that so loudly when I’ve spent my whole life in the shadows. There’s definitely also some imposter syndrome – who really cares about what I have to say? It has probably already been said by a million people way more qualified to talk about mental health and personal development.
The truth is – we aren’t lost and we do have an idea of what our purpose is. And as Cathy Heller says, “I don’t believe the opposite of depression is happiness, I believe it’s purpose.” That’s where our fire lies and the more we run from ourselves, distract, detach, abandon, and ignore, the smaller that flame gets. We have to make ourselves do the thing, whatever it is, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, no matter how much we fight it and run from it. Our brain’s job is to keep us safe – in our comfort zone!!! Comfort zone = safe to our caveman brains. So we literally have to go against our human nature to start seeing changes, to start seeing progress, to start feeling better. We have to take action to gain clarity on what to do next. The universe will guide you where to go next; we just have to listen and keep showing up.
The thing is, we all have a story, important lessons we have learned and something important to say, that someone needs to hear right now. That’s what motivates me. Maybe that’s you. I don’t know. What I do know is we all have a medium we are naturally talented in. That might be music, writing, dancing, drawing, painting, sculpting, woodworking, photography, cooking, etc. Get really honest with yourself and use your medium to express yourself. Use it to say what you need to say, that maybe others need to hear too. That could be your purpose. It’s worth a shot. Whatever it is, follow your excitement, that will lead you where you need to go. Do the thing that scares you most, because that’s where your fire is hiding.
Remember the fire is not lost, same for you. It has been within you all this time. It is your job to uncover it and allow it to burn baby burn!