Where life is messy, grammar is far from perfect and healing is priority.
The thought of typing this blog entry is causing immediate pounding in my chest. I realize this entry will come as a shock to so many people. More than that writing out all these moments and thoughts seems to be more difficult than I realized. Maybe it’s because I know this will not end with an answer. This is not a clear-cut journey or a list to self-love…If someone has one of those let me know…There is one thing people forget to tell you when you decide to begin a journey towards self-love and healing, it is far from easy. My journey has been messy, terrifying and quite honestly, I have thought I’ve lost my mind many times. I’m still not completely sure I haven’t.
My nights are filled with night terrors and my days are filled with exhaustion just counting down the hours until I can sleep again. It’s a repetitive cycle that is filled with confusion and grief. One that makes you question everything. Healing isn’t sunshine and rainbows.
When we begin our healing journey, life doesn’t stop. Life continues to flow around us. All the ups and downs. Loss, gain, fear, changes and everyday tasks still require our attention. The problem that occurs when we are faced with these tasks while trying to navigate “sitting in our pain” survival mode kicks in.
The tasks that need to be complete like washing dishes, putting away laundry, cleaning the house, cooking meals and everything in between can become overwhelming. Even a shower will seem like a marathon during the most difficult days. Those tasks stay undone, because it would take more mental energy to complete the task than we may even have available. This is not one of those “push through it” moments. When you realize what a healing journey truly is, you know that nothing else can stand in the way of it. It becomes your life line and the most important mission you have ever had.
My healing journey has always been a constant roller coaster. I have been in therapy since a very young age. Throughout my life and as you can even see throughout this blog, I am always willing to discuss “What happened.” I truly believed my ability to share my story was where my strength resided. It wasn’t until a recent EMDR session that I realized sharing my story was what I did to protect myself from truly being vulnerable. Sharing what happened to me and where I came from has always been my “protection.” It allowed me to show in a sense how strong I wanted to appear. All the while I continued to fall apart on the inside.
It would be impossible to count the number of times I have been told “Just push through it.” “Just move on.” “That’s in the past.” “You don’t forgive me if you keep bringing it up.” “Forgiveness is an inside job.” These phrases each time I heard them echoed in my mind and they only allowed me “proof” that I at my core was not worthy of love or acceptance. How could I have so many feelings and emotions when others said I should just move on and forgive. Why did I still feel so upset and sad when I tried to love myself? Why did it seem like an impossible task? The truth is because I didn’t know what it meant to heal. Little secret, its not about “pushing through.”
We are told to love others as we would want to be loved, yet we degrade those who show love to themselves. We raise our children to believe you really have made it in the world if people know your name. You’ve made it if you constantly strive to help others. The truth is “making it” in societal terms leaves us lost and searching for our true purpose. We forget that we can find joy in the small things like dancing or singing at the top of our lungs. We focus on how we are viewed by others rather than what it truly means to love ourselves.
I wish I could tell you that I have the answer for loving myself already, but that’s not what this post is about. I want you to understand what its like to sit with those broken parts of you, at least from my perspective. Along this journey thus far I have learned one thing: Who you have become does not belong to what happened to you. Yet, what happened to you defines how you sit with those painful parts of yourself and put together the broken pieces of your foundation to allow a space where self-love and appreciation may grow.
I am not grateful to have been hurt. I am not grateful to having been abandoned by people who were supposed to love me. I am not grateful for any of the bad decisions that led me too where and who I am today. Had you asked me last year, I would have told you I am so grateful for all of those things because they made me who I am today, but that’s actual bullshit. I made me who I am today. The prayers of people who loved me and showed me love are what made me who I am today. The sadness, the loss and the pain. They didn’t create me.
Now I am truly on my healing journey. Its not about anyone else or how I hope it will help others. Although, if you acquire something that helps you see your own beauty through my journey, it will be an amazing blessing. I had to take time away from the blog and everything else to allow myself to figure out my WHY. I now know. My WHY will change through my life, but right now my WHY is to because I need to allow those parts of me time to heal. I am grateful, that as I have the privilege to “sit” next to my younger self and working on proving to her that we are worthy of love, I have found some of the most beautiful parts of the world, all from this side of the door.
Why all from this side of the door? I began seemingly stuck in my bedroom “on this side of the door” after a terrible flare of RA.
As you read through what it has meant in my own personal experience to be on a healing journey, please remember somewhere in these words is a woman who is doing more than just trying to heal. Children, husband, family, friends and work still exist. Even though, it may seem as if I have not been present for quite some time. I am sure that someone reading this has had a similar path and I want you to know that its ok to be stuck. It is ok to be sitting with your trauma until you can fully grasp your worth. Ignore those who have opinions about what you’re not doing, they have no idea the strength it takes to heal. That’s why so many people say “just move on.”
I wish I could tell you that I am healed, but the truth is I am far from. I spend many hours in my room on my days off especially. My body aches from the RA and just recently I finally found relief from the headaches I was having for so long. I thought this would be a changing point in my life. In a sense it was, but then life continued to happen. I never factored in the grief from the loss of my father. COVID for myself, one of our sons and now our girls. There was a part of me that believed “You’re healing, you’ve done this before. Just keep smiling and just keep going.”
Sometimes, sweet friend, you can’t keep going. Sometimes your body and your mind team up to tell you that everything you want to do while you’re on your healing journey is just too much. For once in your life, you must stop striving for the next goal and focus on where you are right now. If you ever want to change your world, if you ever want your story to matter. You must show that young child, young adult or adult traumatized part of you that you are worth sitting still for.
Throughout my life I have constantly pushed myself to succeed, no matter what the circumstance and no matter how happy I felt in the moment, I wanted more. Always more, always something better. Always more achievements. I believed having more would make me a better mom and would make me worthy of love. I remember many conversations with my children in their early years when I would tell them “Mommy is working more and going to school to make our lives better. This is for us. Things will be so great.” I worked, learned, parented and barely slept most of the time. Trust me when I tell you I have made up for the lack of sleep over the past year, from this side of the door. Those words I said to my children were so true, they were exactly what I believed and what I wanted. What I never did was stop to ask myself why and was this the only way I could do that for them?
Why wasn’t I happy with what I had? I was surrounded by my beautiful children and I had a great job, yet I never felt like it was enough. They were little, happy, smiling and I was the center of their whole universe. I was so focused on what I thought they needed it and what was enough that it caused me to miss out on what they really needed most which was just time with me. My children and I have a great relationship, but to say my expectations of myself haven’t affected them would be a disservice to their own strength. We truly talk about everything, which has been amazing and I know the events that have occurred in my life have allowed me to understand them a little better. What I didn’t realize is that those events also prevented me from truly understanding them. So often I was trying to give them what I thought they needed, because I had never given myself all of the things I needed.
It has taken me many years to realize that I tried to cover my pain through talking about what had happened to me and waiting for apologies I would never receive. I have spent many years walking down a path that never allowed me to be still long enough to realize the light guiding my, way was me. Everything always seemed so dark, because the light was within me. I had to realize this before I could even begin to believe, I am worthy. I am worthy, simply because I exist. Just as you are worthy simply because you exist.
When life feels as though you’re stuck in the dark, and yet those around seem to shine…I challenge you to ask yourself where the light might be coming from.
To find joy simply because we exist is the greatest we can give ourselves at the start of our journey. To take up space in the world because we are just as strong and powerful as those around us. We are worthy of love even when we do not see it. The moment you realize your own worth is the moment the opinions of others begin to fade. We are worthy of love EVEN after what happened to us.
Stop and consider that they didn’t hurt you or leave you because of you. What if they left you or hurt you because you brought them happiness and they did not believe they were worthy of happiness. You became their outlet for anger or sadness because of their own pain. It was never about you. Your pain matters, but more than that the moment you feel the pain is when you realize forgiveness was never for them. Trauma can continue through many people over many years for many families. It has to stop somewhere, why not with you?
I have felt sadness and pain over the past few years that I had never experienced in all of my life. Many days I still cry myself to sleep. Sometimes before I had the correct medications, I even wished I wouldn’t wake up. I used to pray someone would reach out to me, like they would know exactly what to do or say and they would just show up and fix it all. My friend, no one has come. In fact, so many people have left. A few amazing people have reached in and reminded me of my why. So many people have taken my silence as an issue with them. Some people have even discussed “What is wrong with her? Is she ok?” Without ever asking me directly. Its not because they don’t care and its not because they don’t want to help. Its because most people can’t find you in the dark after all not everyone always has a flashlight and even if they did, I know I personally don’t have a map to where I am most of the time.
On this side of the door, I have found different ways to bond with my children. We have laughed and cried. We have had so many conversations and afterwards I have prayed they would still love me even though I have ordered more fast food than cooked in the past year. Simply, because cooking was not only a mental task, but also a physical task. I have spent weekends in bed sleeping, reading or making plans for what I will do when I feel better. I have planned the best vacations and the best Christmas from this side of the door. I have been angry with myself and thankful for myself all in the same day. I have written letters, written in self-care books and even downloaded apps to help me journal. I have started blog entries and saved them without sharing out of fear of judgement. Even as I write this, I understand many people will be shocked and have had no idea that so much time has been spent in my bed.
I am still writing you from the other side of the door, but there is hope in my heart right now. There is hope that as I continue to heal and allow those broken parts of myself to be joined with beautiful strands of gold like Kintsugi Art I will eventually write to you from the outside. If you have been stuck on the other side of the door for what seems like forever. It it feels like you will never get out of this space, take a moment to thank yourself for knowing that you needed rest.
You do not have to be grateful for why you are on that side of the door, because lets be honest those reasons SUCK, but you can tell your body thank you for allowing you to rest. Even if it means that rest feels painful. It wont last forever.
When you are ready you can start healing. Reach out to someone. Write in a journal, find a therapist, pray, sing, dance and laugh. Find joy everywhere you can and know that sometimes the closer you get to joy the more this side of the door pulls you in. The warmth of joy and happiness can be terrifying if it has always been met with a pattern of loss or pain. You are not alone. You are worthy. Spend some time listening to people even on the internet who remind you of your worth repeatedly. These will be the same people that hear you the loudest when you are quite. You’ll recognize them because they are the people you never have to worry about saying a bad thing about you if they haven’t directly told you.
You can heal. Treat yourself as though there is a small child inside and that small child carries all those broken pieces. You may not believe it as most artist cannot comprehend the impact their beautiful work will have, but you are enough. Allow yourself to sit with those broken pieces. When someone begs you to leave the room and you’re not ready, its ok to say that. Spend your time gently putting those broken pieces back together with strands of gold to ensure your story is never gone, but you are whole again.
From this side of the door and with love, I hope you can see true vulnerability is terrifying, but it is necessary. You can change the world one person at a time, but only if you start with yourself. It will be dark at times. You may even appear crazy to the outside world. You will find out who cares for you, who needs you and who wants you in their life. These will be the people who save space for you. They allow you to heal without making you fear what they are saying about you. These will be the same people you see working on their own healing. After all everyone has a child inside. You’re not alone on this side of the door even when it feels as though you are.