I absolutely LOVE to tell stories. It is my belief that our stories are the most powerful and connective tool we have as human beings. I invite you to take a moment to enter my world, to share in my experiences, and to connect to my own truth.
Come with me as I tell you a story about a girl who lived in the shadows hidden away from the light. Like a ghost she traveled her world in translucent fashion only to be seen when sought out. Never did she stick her face to the sun when others watched for fear of what they might see. So she lived her life in fear, in pain, in the dark. She was a beautiful little girl although she would never allow herself to see it. Instead she lived to survive. Her aim was always to get by, to make it through, to not make too much noise. Inside her lived the roar of a lion but on the outside she was quiet as a mouse. She carried enough pain to fill up a mountain but no one would know. She was so very careful to not make a mistake or step out of line. The shadows were her home. It was better to be safe than found in her faults.
For 26 years this was my life. I was careful not to make too much noise. I lived in fear of being seen for what was lurking underneath the surface which I was convinced was bad. I hid from the adults around me for fear I would be yelled at. I lied and snuck around. I said yes when I really wanted to say no. I cried myself to sleep at night in despair and sadness. I suffered to stay quiet, be perfect, and hide everything away. I told myself I was trapped and there was no way out.
I was born into and raised in a religious cult. It was started by a woman who was a type of spiritual medium. The cult had a hierarchy and those at the top made all the decisions for those at the bottom, including where all money that came in went. We lived with multiple families in one house. We had our food delivered in Kraft trucks. When something was needed such as a new pair of shoes, your name went on a list and you waited until your name made it to the top. Everyone knew everyone else's business. There were no secrets, or so we thought.
On the outside it looked like everyone was working together and making a way for a new way of living, but the inside was laden with negativity, manipulation, secrets, lies, way too much alcohol, and whole lot of yelling. Yelling is what I remember the most from my childhood. I can’t tell you how many times I remember waking up in the middle of the night to hear my mother being screamed at by someone. “You’re lazy and a slob. You deserve to live in a trash can. You’re disgusting. You have no heart.”- You get the picture. To this day I can still feel the stiffness in my body and the sadness in my heart from hearing my mother, the person who birthed me into the world, verbally destroyed time and time again like that.
As most children do, I identified and looked up to my mother when I was little. She was the foundation of my world but as I continued to hear the horrible things they said to her and about her around me I began to reject that part of myself that was like her. I can actually remember the exact moment I changed from looking up to my mom to living in fear of being associated with her, and I acknowledged the belief that there was something wrong with me that had to be hidden.
My family environment was extremely overbearing, strict, and controlling and I was never encouraged to use my own guidance to make my way. Instead I was told to always check in and get permission for everything. I was told who I was to marry, how I was to look, who to relate to, and how to be. I was yelled at and criticized, humiliated to the point that I was ashamed of who I was, and convinced that there was something wrong with me. I had my first identity crisis at the age of thirteen. I can remember walking into my mother's room and collapsing onto her bed in tears because I didn't know how to be who everyone told me to be.
I was scared of what that meant for my life and obsessed with looking, being, and acting “perfect” in an effort to make people happy and keep myself safe. The truth is that a big part of me just wanted to completely disappear.
By the time I was in my late teens I had mastered the art of hiding. I was struggling with a negative body image, poor self esteem, obsessive food thoughts, and an “I’ll live life once I get everything perfect” mentality. I over-analyzed and criticized every move I made. I would look at others and compare and despair that I would never be as good or look as good as them and I shut down my heart, my desires, and my authentic voice in an effort to “fit in”. I lived in constant stress and anxiety and craved the love and support I never felt I had as a child. I convinced myself there was nothing really special about me and had no idea what I really wanted to do or be in the world.
Now looking back I can see the long list of issues replaying themselves again and again. Take a look and see if you can relate to any of these:
- Needing to feel perfect to be loved
- Feeling convinced I was never “good enough”
- Living in fear of being exposed for that darkness that is lurking underneath
- Striving to change myself to “fit in” with those around me
- Dismissing my feelings as “wrong”
- Obsessing over my body size and weight
- Developing an eating disorder to cope with self hate and disgust
- Feeling uncomfortable receiving and asking for what I want
- Always feeling like a victim to life’s circumstances
- Hopeless to my life and my past- feeling like I would never truly be healed
- And the list goes on….
These issues continued long into my twenties. I had convinced myself to just keep searching and that somewhere out there the answer was waiting for me. My salvation would come as long as I kept digging deeper and trying more and asking for help and searching for solutions. I was down so far I was halfway to China before I finally realized the game I was playing with myself and the price that winning was costing me.
BUT here’s the thing! One day I woke up (more like the universe shook me awake) and I realized it was time to choose something different for myself. So I did something that forever more changed my life. I began seeing a professional to work on my relationship with myself. For the first time in my life I opened up to someone who was outside of my circle of friends and family and she did something for me that changed my life. She listened and she validated and that was what I truly needed at that time. She held the space for me to dig down into the truth that was living below the surface and it gave me a freedom I had never felt before.
I had spent so much of my life stuffing my feelings down and keeping quiet. When I finally started to understand that everything that I had thought and felt wasn’t wrong, it shattered the very ground I stood on. I learned how to give myself permission to say no and I stopped making myself go places where I didn’t feel comfortable. This meant that I was finally able to say goodbye to the unhealthy family structures I grew up in. Possibly one of the hardest things I have ever done was to walk away from that part of my world. It was what I had always known. I was scared. I was extremely sad. At the same time, I was the most relieved I had ever felt.
Although I had taken a huge stand for myself by leaving, my real inner work was just beginning. I still carried with me all the beliefs about life I had learned there. I had no idea who I was, what I truly wanted or how to find peace in myself and the choices I had made in my life. So the wars within waged on. I turned all of my insecurities, my self-hate, and my extreme lack of connection to my power in on myself. I tortured myself over my body to avoid the pain and discomfort inside. I over exercised, I binged and purged, I starved myself. I was a chronic over achiever. I worked two jobs, doubled up my masters program, and made myself as busy as possible. It was all I could do to avoid being alone with myself. I avoided relationships with men as I never wanted to let anyone in that close and I was convinced I was too broken for a relationship anyway. On the outside I was surrounded by a cloud of sarcasm and negativity. I resented life. I was convinced I was broken and would never mend. I severely doubted my ability to be happy and I was literally drowning in a sea of my own unresolved heartache and pain.
I so desperately wish I could tell you that there is some magical pill I took to heal it all. As much as I wanted all of my pain and past to fade away into a distant memory, it was there for a reason and the longer I ignored it the more I suffered. So I began the deep process of unraveling my life. I had to let it all go so that I could rebuild it again. I hired life coaches and healers. I asked for help. I had to learn how to dig deep, look hard, and let go again and again. I continued to seek within and find the pieces of myself I had shut down or given away. I learned how to redefine my truths and make my own rules so that I could let my own happiness in. I opened myself up to my gifts and began to connect to my true passions.
What I have learned is that all of life is a healing process. It is a continual roller coaster of ups and downs, ins and outs, and integration and release and there is no way around it. You have to go through it and most of the time you simply just can’t do it alone. I had to learn how to open up, be honest, and let it all be okay. I had to let it all fall apart so I could find myself again. And ultimately, I have to stay present to let it get better and better and know I deserve it.
My path of healing has led me to my own intuitive gifts, realizing my inherent self worth, and ultimately allowing myself permission to fully be me. I am now the center of my world and I am deeply connected to my whole self- body, mind, and soul. I know my power and am finally able to feel peace about my childhood and see my story from the power and strength in it. I am happily married to a man I am madly in love with in every way. I can let it be slow, sit with myself alone, and enjoy the abundant beauty the world has to offer. I literally have a life I would never have thought possible four years ago. Every day I learn more about myself, I connect deeper, and I remind myself that it is okay to be exactly where I am.
I understand the strength it takes to watch the walls around you crumble and I know the difficulty of rebuilding your foundation from a healthy space. I understand the guards we put up when we have been misused and abused. I also know the profound transformation in letting the world around you go so that you can begin to build a hospitable home for yourself inside. When we live our life by rules and structures that are given to us from others, it suffocates our soul and leaves us feeling confused, unhappy, and hopeless. Sometimes life has to break us down to open us up to realizing who we really are and what we truly want. If you connect to any of this I want you to know I have been there. I don’t know your story yet but I want you to know you are not alone. I also know that there is power in your pain, purpose in your truth, and possibility in your desires. If nothing else, I hope that reading my story gives you a glimmer of possibility for yourself and your own healing. If you want to learn more about my services and how I might be able to help you release the rules you are living by, come to peace with your past, connect to your power, and finally know without a doubt who you really are, please click below.