We are all humans and as such, we cannot escape pain and suffering in this life. And this life is truly a journey full of ups, downs, and everything in between!
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 had avoided seeking help until I was unable to any longer 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.
Republished from 10/26/2015
Long ago you learned not to believe in yourself. Not to express yourself. You learned that your true self is something that needed to be hidden. Hidden from even the people closest to you. How sad that you learned that your true light was a potential danger and shouldn’t be allowed to shine. You learned that shining was limited to only those “special” people that possessed wonderful gifts and talents that you had not been fortunate enough to receive. You learned your role was to support the success and growth of those around you and provide the space for them to realize their full potential.
You threw yourself into this role wholehearted and even made a successful career supporting the growth and dreams of others. You skillfully put on the mask everyday of happiness and fulfillment but what I know Dear Soul is that on the inside you were lost. Lost inside your own prison of people pleasing, placating and keeping your thoughts and opinions to yourself. Always making your choices based on what you thought those around you wanted to see. Constantly measuring the expectations of those around you and learning to fit the role they wanted to see led to a frightening level of incongruence between the true self and the self you allowed the world to see.
Like your sign the Scorpion you felt comfort and safety living alone in the shadows ready to sting anyone who got close enough to catch a glimpse of your truth. But what you didn’t realize My Love is that you are also the Eagle! Like to eagle you have all the power within you to soar to heights you never dreamed of! To harness this power you must be willing to let go of everything you thought you knew and everything you tried to be. You have to take off the mask and proudly stand in your truth. By doing this you open yourself up to criticism and judgement from others as well as the possibility that people won’t like you. These things will happen and you WILL survive them! It is nice to be liked but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you must first like/Love yourself! You can and will survive others not loving you but you can NOT survive not loving yourself! And you are oh so lovable My Dear. I know that you learned early on in life that your true authentic self is not lovable. That you need to fit a predetermined mold in order to obtain lovability. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Your truth is LOVE. Your authenticity is LOVE, your heart is LOVE, your Soul is LOVE. All you have to do is live from that space and love will surround you. The hardest thing for you to accept is that vulnerability is lovable. We are all flawed and the more we can show our truth the more we connect and the quality of our connections deepens. You don’t have to hide your struggles from those closest to you for fear of rejection, you can put trust in loved ones to support you through the times of soaring like the eagle and crawling like the scorpion.
This is no easy task My Beloved but you are up to the challenge because what I know about you that you don’t know about yourself is your full truth. I am your Soul. I have always known your true depth and power. Happiness cannot be found hiding in the shadows. The shadows have been a place of regret, anxiety, and despair. A place where jealously resides triggered by continually watching others take the chances you have not. Watching others experience life in a way you have always dreamed of in your quiet moments but have never allowed yourself to actually live.
Please remember Dear Heart our time on this planet in this body is short. Turning 34 has definitely taught you this. If you wait your life will pass you by as it has countless others who have been ruled by fear. This is not a fate I can allow for you My Precious because I am You. We are one. I am the internal guide you have ignored, argued with, and numbed out these 34 years of our life. The promise I can make to you now is that I will no longer be ignored. I will not allow you to hide your light any longer. We are a whole beautiful artistic loving human and to rob the world of that light is something I will no longer accept.
This creative space is my gift you Sweet Soul. Accept it and use to to explore, grow, recover and shine! It’s time.
October 26, 2015.