How not speaking my truth could've killed me
The truth about my messy in between is something I’ve always kept closely guarded. Being what I consider a recovering perfectionist, I grew up believing the only parts of life worth sharing or of any value to others were either the triumphant periods of measurable success and accomplishment or the mundane periods of just normal life. What I wasn’t ready to do when I first wrote Love Letter to Myself on my 34th Birthday was to be open during the messy, confusing, dark shadow period that followed. I’ve tried many times to live a life in line with my true feelings and desires and yet I continued to find a way back to my old familiar habits like avoidance and codependent behaviors. This truth caused me a lot of shame so during my lowest moments I hid.
Avoidance never works in the long run but I still found a way to bring mastery to something that did not serve me until my body forced me to stop by manifesting disease. During the time that I wrote the initial post, I was in the midst of experiencing various symptoms that in hindsight were very troubling though at the time I ignored them and kept trying to just push through as we are often taught to do. I would wake up from eight or more hours of sleep and would still feel exhausted. My peripheral vision was distorted so much it caused nausea when I walked around. I also experienced numbness and tingling that would radiate up and down my spine. I suffered with these symptoms for a few weeks and didn’t seek medical treatment until three days after writing the post. On the morning of 10/29/2015 I woke up with my usually perfect 20/20 vision doubled. I avoided seeking help until I was unable to because I could no longer drive safely.
That evening after going to work that day, (driving with one eye open) I had a colleague drop me off at the emergency room. I sat alone in the bed for the whole evening quietly scrolling through my phone while the doctors ordered tests. I was given an MRI that evening in the ER and within an hour I was given my results. Lying perfectly still in the MRI machine was not incredibly difficult for me. I have always been a pretty patient person. The radiology technician was pleasant and even took my requests for music during the over forty five minute procedure. Though I was able to lie comfortably still my mind was racing. As the machine loudly banged around me and 80’s Easy Listening played in the headphones, I was imagining myself in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy I just knew Dr. McDreamy would be coming in soon to diagnose me with some complicated medical marvel tumor. Instead however, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as shown on the multiple lesions on my brain scan. I had to be admitted and treated inpatient for four days with intravenous steroids.
MS is chronic, can be debilitating and there is a lot about the course of the illness that is unknown so, this raised more questions for me than answers. Though my diagnosis raised a million questions and brought up fears that I never felt before related to my health and mortality, it was also exactly the gift I needed at the time to change my life for the better. My illness brought with it death to my old way of living.
All that being said, while preparing to relaunch the Mindfully She website I was scrolling through previous content that I had unpublished. I had to decide what to keep and what no longer resonated with me and had to go. When I reread my first blog post I immediately felt called to share this “failed” launch attempt even though my ego was also immediately like “hell no” we aren’t sharing that. Part of my ego’s resistance to sharing these old posts is criticism of my writing. I kept the post as it was when I first wrote it because I wanted to be authentic and share my truth as it was then.
Rereading the Love Letter to Myself on my 34th Birthday this week, the message resonates so deeply now as I realize this was the moment where I committed to living a life of “enoughness”. This was the beginning of my journey back to me I just didn’t know I don’t get to dictate exactly what that looks like. The universe has it’s own plan and that plan is so much greater than anything I could ever imagine. Our own view of what is possible in our lives is so limited based on our own lens. If you have been conditioned to feel like less than enough, your view of what you can experience, achieve, and accomplish is severely limited. As a psychotherapist, I’ve been aware of how our own perspective greatly shapes our view of ourselves and the world around us but, what I didn’t realize is how much my own debilitating perspective of not being enough limited everything in my life. It’s interesting realizing one day the issues you thought you avoided are alive, well, and making making all of your important decisions!
When I initially wrote this love letter to myself, (just a month after ending a long and emotionally transformative romantic relationship) I thought I would be writing, sharing, and publishing regularly. While writing the letter in the midst of my first multiple sclerosis flare, I had no choice but to self-reflect about my life on a level of understanding deeper than ever before. (I had no choice! Have you ever tried to watch Game of Thrones with double vision? It’s not possible! You can’t focus!) What created my own suffering after gaining this awareness were the expectations that followed. This post was just the first step to my new life of being an artist. Publicly stating my intention to share my truth was one of the most significant steps towards my growth. I was not prepared for what the next steps would look and feel like. During this period of time I isolated not out of fear of being seen like in the past but motivated by an intense desire to protect my space and my energetic vibration. I felt a sense of duty to my wellbeing I had not previously felt and this led to me creating change in my life out of love.
My full time job became taking the best care of myself that I possibly could. I started investing in my health financially by joining a yoga studio, something I wanted to do but felt I couldn’t afford. (To be honest I still can’t afford it but I make it work in the interest of self care) I read and researched topics of interest not what I felt like I “should” be reading and I allowed myself ample time to journal and process what was coming up. Our higher self, heart, soul, intuition, whatever you choose to call it; knows what is best for us and when I finally slowed down and created space to listen to my heart’s desire and consciously decided to move towards those things, everything changed.
The ego loves to attach itself to expectations and mine kicked into overdrive immediately. I expected myself to start actively seeking opportunities to grow as an artist, writer, and musician. I wanted to connect with other artists and begin sharing, performing, writing and posting weekly about the process (As you can imagine the posting weekly never happened). I felt like I had wasted thirty four years already and now that I realized it, I didn’t want to continue to waste anymore time not really being who I really wanted to be. What I didn’t know was that there is no wasted time. That even the times when I feel like nothing is happening or even more anxiety provoking that I’m moving backwards. I have been shedding layers and healing the whole time. Sometimes growth is quiet. Sometimes growth is painful. Sometimes growth is isolated. Often times, growth is destruction. I’m finally learning to embrace all parts of the journey and for me embracing all parts means authentically sharing in the way that feels aligned with my soul because, through all the ups and downs I have never wavered in my calling to share my story.
Over the last two years with mindfulness and meditation practice I’ve become more aware of the thoughts my ego produces. I’m aware they come from fear not from truth so I make deliberate decisions to move towards those things rather than away from them. But, it doesn’t mean the fear is not still present. I can honor the fear by being aware of it but I allow my intuition and wise mind to guide my steps. What I do know is sharing this truth all embodies everything it means to be messy, mindful and whole and that is how I plan to show up in the world so here it is.