acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, healing, Self Acceptance, Self-Love, Speaking our truth

Forgiveness: Looking Back with Compassionate Acceptance

When we choose to forgive it is incredibly healing, but the only way forward is to look back into our past.

Forgiveness is something that I have been confronted with time and time again. On the list of people to forgive are ex-boyfriends, ex-friends and even bullies from my school years, but my mom is the person that I have had the most difficult time trying to forgive. It has only been until recent months that I have been able to shift my perspective and see everyone who has ever slighted me in some way, through a lens of compassion. I have come to see these people as my teachers. Each and every one who I have felt in the past had done me wrong has taught me invaluable lessons about myself.

The saying “forgive and forget” really triggers me. In fact, I completely disagree with the idea. Having gone through a total shift in perspective myself in the timeline of “before” I suffered from my postpartum mood disorder to “after”, I truly believe that I have had what some would call an awakening. There was a moment as I was coming out of my darkest hour, where I decided to dedicate my entire being to heal myself, so that I would become completely whole again. Over the past year, I have been doing a lot of inner-child work, as well as Teal Swan’s “The Completion Process”. Teal’s school of thought is that we need to reintegrate the aspects of ourselves that we abandoned long ago. It is when we suffered from trauma in the past that we separated from our own being and in turn, fragmented ourselves. Now as an adult, we need to look back in the past each time we are triggered in the present in order to reintegrate all of these aspects of ourselves.

Since actively following Teal’s process and doing inner-child work with my psychologist, I have found that looking back into my past has been an integral part in my recovery. With the compassionate lens that I now look through to see into my past, I can now see that the people who have hurt me, have suffered from their own trauma and this is likely why they did what they did. I have even begun to make progress with forgiving my mom. I have been exploring an exercise where I imagine her as a child and this helps me to see that she was once innocent too. She had a difficult childhood and her parents weren’t able to provide her with what she needed growing up. I have also realized that this is actually a problem that has been passed down from one generation to another, in my family.

For me, the idea of “forgetting” after forgiving someone who has hurt me feels like I am abandoning myself. It feels like I have to swallow it down and forcefully make peace with someone who has caused me pain. The pain that I have felt isn’t something that is easily forgotten. I would absolutely consider these past instances to be traumatic and therefore they have visceral affects. In fact, some might argue that your neural pathways have been altered as a result. So, for me when I am going through the process of forgiving, I need to allow my past “self” to feel what it had felt like in that past moment in time. Since it isn’t until we reach adulthood that our past childhood memories surface, a grieving period is neccessary to complete the forgiveness process. Most of us have learned how to stuff down our feelings and as a result we have lost memories, but they will always resurface into the present so that we can deal with them. So being able to grieve something that happened in our childhood, is an important step in this process.

Another part of the process is coming to a place of acknowledgment and acceptance for what has happened. This doesn’t mean forgetting what has happened. In our minds-eye we can visualize ourselves standing with our past ‘self’ in that traumatic moment and let that ‘self’ speak to us about what happened and invite them to tell us what they need from us. If you allow yourself to come into a meditative state and ask yourself these questions, you will have to trust the inner voice that is providing you with the answers. This is when we can truly heal and reintegrate the past. After this process, we can become self-compassionate and we are able to see in a whole new light. We find ourselves being able to forgive more easily and we can begin to move forward and let go of the past. In no part of this process are we forgetting what has happened. We use our past experience to reclaim our power.

When we choose to forgive it is incredibly healing, but the only way forward is to look back into our past. We pick up the pieces and put ourselves back together. We learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. We take all of this back into the present moment and give gratitude to these moments that have shaped us into the people we are today.

Sending so much love and support to each and every one of you reading my posts. xoxoA woman thank God

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Autism, High Functioning Autism, Parenting, Personal Experience, Speaking our truth, Special Needs

The journey begins with our son and HFA

My son has recently been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (HFA).

With the diagnosis it brought with it feelings of fear, guilt, shame, confusion. What does this mean? How do we share with our friends and family? How do we advocate for our son? All of these questions and feelings rushed in like a wave crashing into the sand with violent force. This is how I felt in the weeks after the official diagnosis.

My son has exhibited concerning behaviour since he was about 2 years old. He was obsessed with the garage door opening and closing, fans that go round and round. Each developmental milestone had been delayed up to six months, which some of my friends told me was because he is a boy and boys develop later then girls. It didn’t ease my mind, I wasn’t convinced. Other signs were beginning to emerge, for example; walking on tippy toes, rarely pointing to what he needed, increasing aggressive behaviour towards his baby sister.

After the birth of my daughter, my son did not welcome her with open arms, quite the opposite in fact. At the same time, I was rocked with debilitating postpartum anxiety. As my son grew more independent, he also lacked the vocabulary to communicate his needs. This equation equaled an incredible sense of irritation on my end. I quickly started medication to help me cope. As the weeks went on, I seemed to be coping well. I was committed to going to therapy twice a month, I was reading all of the self-help books and workbooks alike. I was participating in  group therapy along with other mothers for postpartum, as well as a group program called ‘circle of security’ for parents who need help understanding their children’s needs. I needed to get better in order to help my children.

When my son turned 3, I went to see our family friend and child’s paediatrician. I told her my growing concerns and she was the first person to suggest we go through the process of finding out whether or not we were looking at Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Our son was just 3 at this time and after a lot of debate the head of the ASD development center told us that he was severely anxious and did not have ASD. He suggested we find a child psychologist.

One thing that I would like to let other parents know is that you will need to meet several therapists in order to determine whether it is a good fit or not. Here is just a taste of how difficult ours was to find. The first therapist we met, I immediately felt a twinge in my stomach that something was off. She was young and had just graduated from school, it didn’t seem like she had any real life experience at all. Her demeanour was cold and she didn’t seem to have an ounce of empathy for our situation. Luckily for us, I followed my instincts and after the 2nd session, we never stepped foot in her office again. The next therapist we saw, we had a great meeting and we thought we had found our match. She never called us back and never returned our emails and we felt that she had cost us time that was wasted on waiting for her to return communication with us. Her lack of professionalism absolutely baffled me. Next, we discovered a therapist who told us that he didn’t need to meet our son as anxiety is anxiety, he knows where it comes from. Genetics. He told us to read up on Autism and that this would help give us strategies. It was like we were walking through a carnival and all of the therapists we met were a bunch of lunatics.

We nearly gave up hope until one of our friends told us that her little girl went to see a lady who really helped her. It was a private clinic in downtown Calgary and what we found was an answer to all of our prayers. I have nothing but amazing things to say about this woman. She was warm and welcoming and understood us as parents as well as our little guy. She suggested we register for one of the special needs preschools in and around Calgary. She also told us to apply for FSCD and Respite. We had no clue about any of this. Our son had been struggling at his regular dayhome and we were at our wits end. Now, our son is thriving at school and we could not feel more supported and understood at this point in our journey. Our child psychologist had suggested that we have a comprehensive assessment done from her colleague and rule out any possible chance for autism. As it turns out, he was on the spectrum. With that came a lot of ups and downs, but it made so much sense with everything that we have been going through.

Another term that our child psychologist recommended we look into was ‘Pathological Demand Avoidance’ (PDA). This is a term is widely recognized in the UK, but it is becoming more familiar in other parts of the world. PDA, as defined on Wikipedia: ‘Is a proposed sub-type of autism spectrum disorder. Characteristics ascribed to the condition include greater refusal to do what is asked of the person, even to activities the person would normally like.’

This term meant absolutely everything to us, it was exactly what had been going on for us. Our son avoided every single demand in the book. His anxiety was so big, he would avoid everything at all costs and then the meltdown would ensue. Here is an example of one episode we experienced a few weeks back.

Mom getting ready to serve breakfast. Said child would like to eat a muffin. Mom lets him pick one out and he says they are too cold and needs them heated up. I take two out of the container (HUGE mistake, should have let him choose the two muffins).
Mom heat these up and he refuses to eat. He wanted to pick them out. The battle ensues. Kicking, screaming and yelling at me to “go away”, “Go to jail” (his new thing, not sure where this came from), “I don’t want to talk to you”. Mom needs space and goes into the home office. Child screaming “this is daddy’s office” Mom goes to go to another part of the house to have 5 minutes of peace and eat my breakfast. Things finally calm down as he eats and when he’s eaten two muffins, he asks nicely for two more muffins and eats the cold no problem. I am left reeling….

To some of you, this may sound like a normal 4 year old behaviour. But it is non-stop. The battles are at bedtime, in between meals, during meals, playtime, before and after school. It is non-stop. And every day we have to do it all over again. We are waiting for the help that we so desperately need right now. We need in-home sessions and breaks.

Unfortunately, with all of this, I am left feeling even more triggered. I yell (because I feel so powerless in these moments.) I feel like an absolute failure as a mom. I can’t meet my sons needs and I’m exhausted. There was a time where I felt like he didn’t deserve me as a mom, like he needed someone better then me, someone much more compassionate. During this time, I had been weaning from my anti-depressants and had been experiencing discontinuation symptoms. Here I was again with thoughts about not knowing how to live. Wanting to die, but knowing I couldn’t do that to my kids. I felt trapped. Luckily, my support system is beyond incredible and my therapist is a literal angel sent here on earth. I don’t know where I would be had it not been for her support and understanding. Off of the meds I went and here I am today, writing this blog post about my experience with my sons HFA. It has taken weeks to get to a point where I feel 100% committed to figure out how to support my son.

Even though we are just at the beginning stages of this journey, it has made me really have to think about who I spend my time with. I have zero capacity to take on anyone’s negative energy. I have realized that I need to surround my self with unconditionally loving, compassionate and supportive people. Even before this diagnosis, I have always felt like an outsider and have had trouble making friends. Now with the diagnosis, I have days where I feel completely isolated. I want connection, but I also keep my distance. I don’t want to get hurt by someones lack of understanding. In fact, I’ve already experienced this from a couple of close friends when we began opening up about our sons HFA. One friend just couldn’t believe that he was diagnosed with HFA and she kept comparing her own experiences for example “oh but my son did that. He was anxious too”, I felt completely powerless because I didn’t want to defend myself bu telling her to what extent the behaviour was that we were dealing with. I felt like she was questioning the diagnosis and it felt very invalidating to me. All I wanted was for her to say something like, “I am sorry. This must be really difficult for you.” I am sure that she was coming from a very loving place, but it hurt like hell and I realized that it was because I was letting her hurt me. So now I am trying to empower myself by learning all that I can about HFA and joining HFA parenting groups. I can’t let others affect me. I have to let it go or let them go. What I need to focus on is setting up my support systems and making sure that I am getting the self-care needed in order to be 100% present for my son.

I hope to continue to share my journey with you. It helps to share my experience and I hope that anyone out there who is going through something similar will comment or email me. I am right here with you.

Sending so much love and support your way.

xoxo

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My beautiful son, age 2.

 

healing, Self-Care, Self-Love, Speaking our truth

A List of Self-Care Ideas that Work For Me

I decided that I wanted to share all of the self-care tools that I use that have worked for me. Take only what resonates with you. We are all unique and what works for me, may not work for others. I just hope that this helps at least one person. Sending so much love to each and every one of you reading this. xo

Being able to say “NO!” / Honouring what you need / Boundaries
I truly believe that we have to look within ourselves and ask, “What are my boundaries?” By listening to our inner guidance, we can find the answers that we are looking for. The key is to practise reading the physical symptoms that we are experiencing. For example, sometimes a “NO” may feel like tightness in the chest, heaviness on the shoulders, difficulty taking breaths in and or a feeling of a pit in your stomach. By making a daily practise to check in with the self, and ask: “what / how am I feeling today?” helps us to get to know ourselves and what our needs are.

Inner-child work
Meet your inner-child. Ask what she needs from you. Everyone has suffered some form of trauma as a child. For example, getting a new sibling is traumatic for a child. The more we get in touch with our inner child, the more we will find out what our adult self needs. https://lonerwolf.com/inner-child-work/
https://tinybuddha.com/blog/7-things-your-inner-child-needs-to-hear-you-say/

Sleep / Rest
As a mama of two, I have realized that my expectations needed to be brought way down and the housework can wait… it is just going to be messy in a few hours… I’d rather relax with my babies, instead of stress clean… Well, I fall in the trap when I stress clean and I am yelling at the kids… so it’s a learning experience for me.

Working Out
Do something that makes you happy. Don’t push yourself to do a work out you hate. Be gentle with yourself and do what makes you happy. Yoga, restorative, cycling, workout at home.
Wanderlust TV for yoga at home: https://tv.wanderlust.com

Choosing Foods that Nourish
Bone broth, Green Smoothies, a great cook book is: Oh She Glows by: Angela Liddon

Supplements
For me, Vitamin D, Magnesium & adrenal support has been top of my priority, but please speak with your GP or Naturopathic doctor to see where you’re

Meditation
It doesn’t have to be sitting still for 1 hour. There are so many ways to do it. For example, body-talk and visualizations. Every night before bed, I begin relaxing each part of my body, from toes to the crown of your head. Then visualize: roots coming out of your feet and growing down into the earth. Imagine that the earth is nourishing your body with its nutrients. Then imagine a white light at the crown of your head and send it down to your toes. This will allow your mind to settle down and you will feel rested and relaxed with this exercise.

Therapy
It is so wonderful to have a person to check in with once every few weeks. It also helps you to build tools that may be helpful for when you’re not in a good place in life.

Creativity
What did you used to enjoy doing as a child? Was it painting, colouring or baking? We all have many talents and we can use these talents to cultivate self-care. Whatever it is, it is taking time for you.

Asking for Help
No matter the reason: depression, being a mom, overwhelm. We just can’t do it all and sometimes we need to ask our friends, family and neighbours for help. There is no shame in asking for help.

Facebook Support Groups & Pages
I would like to suggest some pages and groups that are inspiring me today:
Soul Sister Tribe, Women Who Run With the Moon, Wild Woman Sisterhood, Global Sisterhood

Spirituality
This looks different for different people, but all does the same thing, as long as it is serving your highest good, we can use spirituality as a way to care for ourselves.

Gratitude
When we are in a state of gratitude, our mood shifts to become more uplifted. You can use a gratitude journal to help remind you to list what you are grateful for. This can be a daily practise, weekly etc.

Journaling
Sometimes just writing out your feelings or emotions can help you to release and let it go of what you’ve been holding onto.

Bath
Surround yourself with candles, incense, crystals, plants add Epsom salts, Himalayan salts, bath bombs, allow this time for you.

Aroma therapy

Reiki & Chakra balancing

Positive Affirmations
The key is that you use affirmations that you actually believe in. For example, if you have an affirmation that says: “I am so full of love with myself”, for some, this might not feel true. So we can alter it for now and work up to the “love myself” affirmation. Like: “I like that I am kind to my friends”, “I am worthy of love” can bring you closer to loving yourself.
Here you can find more examples: https://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/

Self-Care During Menstruation
During this time of the month, our bodies are going through so much and we may feel exhausted and or emotional. We must learn to honour ourselves during this time. It is a chance to give the body and mind more rest and nourishment. This is a chance to embrace our womanhood and feel empowered.

Be Gentle with Yourself
We are human and we can be really hard on ourselves. Once we get rid of the negative self-talk i.e.  that we aren’t good enough, I could be better… We can move forward into a kinder self-talk i.e. I am doing the best that I can do at this moment in my life. I am enough.

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Self-Care Bath
healing, Self Acceptance, Self-Care, Self-Love, sharing our story, Speaking our truth

My Practise in the Art of Self-Care

First of all, I want to credit a lovely and inspiring women named: Kori Leigh. I took her course called: A Ritual in the Art of Self Care, and it really propelled me into my journey of sharing and speaking my truth on this blog. If you are interested in her work and her courses, please visit her site: http://www.korileigh.com/cultivate-wellness-8-week-telecourse/

In order for us to begin the practise of self-care, we must first explore the concept of self-love. When we lack self-love, we carry the belief that we are not worthy and therefore we do not feel like we can care for ourselves.

For me, I grew up in a dysfunctional home. I became a people-pleaser and developed the core belief, that “Everyone else’s needs mattered more than my own.” I went through many experiences that created my lack of love for myself.

My Postpartum Anxiety & OCD experience was what really propelled me into a journey of finding myself, accepting myself and loving myself. I went from hating myself and drowning within, to realizing that I needed help. I needed to figure out some way to live with myself and that’s where I decided to find compassion and that I needed to begin to love myself.

My introduction to practising self-love, was from a woman named, Louise Hay. She developed a practise called: Mirror work. Mirror work, is a technique where you look in the mirror and you tell yourself that you love yourself. The first time I did this I cried. I cried because I felt like I was lying to myself.

This is where my journey began. It expanded into doing inner-child work. I had to look deep within in order to get to know myself. I figured out that I needed to go backwards and visit my past traumas in order to heal. I also needed to give my child self a voice. I found out that she needed to be acknowledged. All of the emotions that I was trying to escape from were a signal to me that something was wrong, and I needed to address it.

I realized how fragmented I was. There were so many aspects of myself, the more that I acknowledged these fragmented aspects of myself, the more I felt put back together.

Later on in my journey, my sister gifted me with Kori Leigh’s virtual course called: A Course in the Ritual of Self-Care. (http://www.korileigh.com/cultivate-wellness-8-week-telecourse/) She developed a facebook group that gathered like-minded women and taught me and reminded me of how important it was to to cultivate and keep practising self-care for myself.

With all of this work and practise that I’ve been doing, I began to experience an actual sense of compassion for myself. The little girl I used to be, is still me. She needed to be healed. I have slowly begun the act of self-love. And little by little, I believe that I am worthy of it and that I need to care for myself.

I want to share my experience with you in case any of you are feeling the same way or have gone through a similar experience as me. You may have never asked yourself if you really truly loved yourself and maybe, like me you are having trouble caring for yourself.

I believe without self-love you cannot work towards self-care. If we set our intention to learn to love ourselves, our ability to provide a self-care practise will evolve and grow.

self-care word abstract in wood type
self-care word abstract in vintage letterpress wood type
Speaking our truth

Inner-Child Work, Really Works!

I love the innocence in this picture of my daughter. She put her boots on the wrong feet. I look at it now and I think, it’s a great reminder to think of ourselves as young children. We were all this innocent once.

I think we need to acknowledge our child-selves more and embrace that innocence. It is a reminder to find compassion for our adult-selves and to not be too hard on ourselves.

Especially, as parents. We tend to be so hard on ourselves and we put so much pressure on ourselves. We then fill ourselves up with guilt/shame when we make mistakes or lose our tempers.

When we treat ourselves, like the young children we used to be, we become compassionate and understanding towards ourselves. We then find peace within and begin to love ourselves again. I promise you, it’s true.

I’ve been doing a lot of inner-child work and I have to say that I am seriously beginning to treat myself with kindness. My negative self-talk has lessened. I bounce back after a shame/guilt spiral much faster then I used to before the inner-child work.

Confession Time: I can be very impatient with my two young ones. I lose my temper, lose it like an adult child who doesn’t know how to control his or her own emotions (I never learned how to regulate, growing up in a dysfunctional home). But ever since I began the inner-child work, I have gained more compassion for myself. I don’t lose it as often on my kids. I still do, don’t get me wrong, but not nearly as often as before.

It’s a relief, I never envisioned myself as a mom who lost her temper all of the time. Before I had kids, I imagined myself to be a compassionate, kind, maternal, loving kind of mom. The reality after having kids, was that they helped to resurface all of my childhood trauma and the negative beliefs that I held about myself.

In my most turbulent times, I felt so out-of-control. When you have little ones they do what they want. They’re their own being and they’ve got their own personalities. You really can’t control them, nor would you want to. But I would find myself desperate to control their behaviour, especially in public, but they have their own agendas and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It was a huge learning experience for me. I’m sure all of you Type A personalities and micro-managers, can relate to when I say the kids have taught me to loosen up and It has been liberating for me.

I have begun to work on myself more than ever, I feel it is so important for me to dive deep and challenge my negative belief system. Look at the things in my life that I am doing that doesn’t serve me anymore. I don’t want to make the same mistakes as my parents did to me. I am still working on my relationships with my mom and dad. I’m still very angry and resentful, but there are days when I can look and find perspective and think about how they were raised and how they didn’t know what they were doing. They grew up in a time where you did not express your feelings. You put on a smile and you didn’t dare tell the truth, not on your life. At least, I know this was the case for my parents.

So back to the inner-child work, I have been reintegrating several ages within me (for more information on reintegration, I highly recommend Teal Swan’s book: The Completion Process) I feel that I don’t self-hate as often anymore. This is a huge step in the right direction for me. I used to hate myself and tell myself that my kids didn’t deserve such a horrible mom like me. I actually believed this for a time and I was miserable. I was grumpier with my kids; because I believed that I was so terrible at being a mom, that I should just give up. I’ve left this negative black hole within me now. I am so sad for the person that thought she was undeserving and unworthy of anything good. When I think about my child-self, I begin to cry. I was once an innocent child and that part still lives within me. I am fragmented. There are many aspects within. So for me as a 35-year-old mom, to speak to myself with such hatred… it breaks my heart.

So if anyone out there is self-hating right now, I encourage you to look deeper, within. Look to the child part within you. Speak to him or her. Imagine cuddling that child and speaking kindly and quietly towards them. Help them to regulate. Tell them it’s okay to be angry and sad. You are now with them, as the adult part of you.

I promise you, once you begin this practice you will be so surprised to see the results. The kinder and more compassionate you will be towards yourself.

Good luck on your inner-child work and I am sending you so much love and support. I am with you on this journey. You are not alone. Self-hate, no more!

healing, Self Acceptance, Self-Care, Self-Love, sharing our story, Speaking our truth

Accepting Myself on My Healing Journey

During my journey into healing, I have been practising how to accept myself exactly as I am and allow myself to be exactly where I am supposed to be on the journey. This is no easy feat and there are loads of times that I can’t.

I am trying to practise asking myself: What am I feeling right now? What is it that I need? Am I being trigged at the present time, by something from my past? I have been learning to sit with how uncomfortable it is. Allowing myself to become fully immersed no matter how badly I want to escape it. My mind will fight with me and tell me how horrible I am, but another voice in my head will disagree and most of the time I all of a sudden I feel a sense of love for myself. This process has taken a lot of practise. It is not easy.

Doing the healing work has made me feel raw. I find myself becoming more reclusive. I crave the time to reflect. I’ve been trying to get to know myself and figure out what my emotional body is trying to tell me. While in this place of reclusion, I have realized that I have an unhealthy relationship with boundaries or rather, a lack-there-of. This lack of boundaries has left me feeling powerless which in turn has ignited the feelings of anger that I’ve carried over from childhood.

To begin my practise in creating boundaries, I’ve had to begin saying “NO” to things that make alarm bells go off in my inner guidance system. Asking myself “By saying yes to this, is it to make me happy or to please someone else? Does it bring me joy to say yes to this? What I struggle with the most is speaking face to face with family and friends to convey my true feelings. Through my many years of people-pleasing it has prevented me from speaking my truth. It has also prevented me from identifying with my true self. I have only recently come to figure out what I am all about. During these conversations, I am so consumed in worry with how they are doing, if they are comfortable, I abandon myself in the process. This is especially true when it comes to speaking my truth to my mother.

When it comes to creating boundaries with my mother I feel completely paralyzed. I often ask myself why do I continue to let her hold power over me? I am filled with so much anger towards myself. I am unable to tell her my true feeling and our relationship is one that is built upon lies. What I want to express to her is how deeply her drinking has hurt me. I want to tell her things like “You weren’t there for me. You constantly lied to me. You said hurtful things that you can never take back and sometimes I am filled with so much hate towards you.” But when I see her in real life, I see a frail, weak old woman and I feel sorry for her. I am also reminded that she is ill. Sometimes it is so difficult for me to differentiate the disease from my mother.

I still carry a broken heart from everything that her disease brought with it. I suppose it is the disease that I need to express my feelings toward.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to speak with my mother about her disease and how it has impacted my life and or make peace with my childhood while she is still here on earth. This disease is tricky and makes her live in full-blown denial. It often feels like a waste of energy to have a real discussion with her, when only one person is being open and honest.

I know that I need to change the way that I interact with her. I need to be brave and express my boundaries. It has been difficult since having children. I have allowed her to watch them once per week. But with that, I have also allowed her to infiltrate my life. I have given her power over me. It is me who needs to wake up and change my behaviours. She will always be who she is. I need to be who I am. It is incredibly challenging and I find that I easily fall down a self-hate spiral while working on this.

I want to express my intentions to you right here, right now in the hopes that you will join me on my journey. If you are struggling with the same issues as I am, please read the affirmations I have listed below. Together, may we take back our power and rise up and move forward.

I create boundaries with ease.
I am confident in myself to know what is right for me.
I have come to terms with my past and I allow myself to move forward.
I am exactly where I am meant to be on my journey into healing.

Sending so much love to each and every one of you who is supporting me on my journey and on their own journey into healing. xo

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hoto Credit: Mark Eleven Photography
awareness, healing, sharing our story, Speaking our truth

Learning to Be Authentic and Showing Up as Our True Selves in Relationships

There are many people who know me, that think that they have me all figured out. They think that I am just a “nice” girl. I want to share some insight into why they are completely wrong about me and how you may be able to relate.

In the past, when attending social events, with certain friends, I’d often feel like I was too boring to be around. I didn’t have anything to talk about with these friends. Aside from the debilitating social anxiety that I was experiencing, I felt like there must be something wrong with me and that was the reason why. At the time, I didn’t know it yet, but it was because I didn’t show up as myself, I showed up as the person I thought that they wanted me to be. I was being, in essence, completely inauthentic.

For the most part, I would describe myself as being the friend who will ask only how you are doing and deflect at any time the conversation turns over to me. I would become so uncomfortable when we would discuss ‘me’ because I was unable to see past the mundane things that I was doing on the daily & never thought that anyone would be interested to hear about my experiences with depression or anxiety and how this was affecting me. How my past had a significant part to play in all of this. I believed that if I shared my experiences, it would expose all of my flaws and this would ultimately bring my friends moods down, so I thought, why bother telling them any of this? Just show up as the happy, positive friend, that they needed to have, right at this moment.

There have been people who have tried to take advantage of me, for my inability to say no to them and or whatever they were asking of me. I have to be very careful about who I give my time to now and that has been a hard lesson learned.

During a time, when I had just become a new mom, a friend warned me that I was going to have to become a disciplinarian and that it had to be shared between my husband and I. My husband shouldn’t be the only one to take in that role. I remember that this really bothered me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to express this to her. I just thought to myself; Wow, she really doesn’t know me at all, and how could that be? We’ve known each other for almost 10 years now.

This was the first time, in a long time that I felt like I really needed to examine my relationships with others. I had to ask myself, why did it bother me so much, that she was so sure that she knew what I was all about? I must be presenting myself in some way that makes others feel like they’ve got me pegged and figured out. I was presenting myself in such a way: that I was a simple-being, too nice and I had no depth. I had always been agreeable. I would never offer my opinion about anything. I played it safe. If I agreed with everything you were telling me, then you would think I was a nice person and I would have secured you as a friend. Upon reflection, it seemed as though I was being manipulative…

The truth is, I’ve never allowed anyone to know ‘who’ I truly am inside. My dysfunctional upbringing shaped the way that I presented myself to others. How I showed up in relationships. The fact is, I threw-away ‘who I really am’ a very long time ago. As a child, I was trained to be a good girl. I was taught to be the bigger person, when other children would bully me. I was taught to listen and to obey. This was the beginning of a core belief forming, that I didn’t matter. As long as I was well-behaved, I wouldn’t get in trouble. This all had to do with the fact that my mother suffers from alcoholism and I feel like she loved me conditionally. So, from childhood on, I didn’t really know who I was.

I am beginning to find myself though. I am opening up and sharing my experiences, the good and the bad. Sharing all that I’ve been learning, for example, how I’ve been taking care of myself. Sharing anything that I believe, could be helpful to others, going through similar experiences.

During my experience of healing myself, by finding out who I am authentically, I’ve come to realize that maybe I don’t know others, as well as I think, just as I feel like they don’t know me. I’ve had a very difficult time cultivating relationships, beyond a surface level. I now know that it is because of my lack of trust in them. One of my core beliefs that I am working on, is that if I open up too much, they will abandon me. They will not like what they see and leave me. Therefore, I must not share who I really am, in order to protect myself from being abandoned. The funny thing is, I had already abandoned ME, in the process. It has taken me a lot of therapy, to realize this about myself. (Yet again, this belief is a by-product of my upbringing.)

As my awareness grows, now when I interact with others, I can see myself in them. The people who seem to have it all together. All done up, eating healthy, working out, managing a job and the kids, flawlessly. I find that most often these are the people, that really don’t have it all together. Especially, the way that they present themselves on social media. It feels like a lie and it feels this way to me, because I too, was once, this way. I would show up and present myself as that nice, happy person. But, I was wearing a mask. I hid my true feelings. It was all a lie. I feel like the people that I am describing may not even know this about themselves (or be able to admit it to themselves), but I can sense the sadness within them. All I want to do is, give them a hug and tell them that they can drop the act. They don’t have to put up appearances and be the person that they think everyone wants them to be. It is okay to share your vulnerable self.

I truly believe, that when we show up as our true selves and share our difficult past and show that we have flaws, we become our most authentic self. (If you haven’t read Brené Brown, I recommend that you read her books. She describes what it is to be your true authentic self, like no other.) We begin to get to know ourselves to a degree that is so deep, within the core, that it hurts. It hurts because of how much we suppress ourselves, when we act a certain way for others. When we decide to show up as ourselves we can cultivate deeper relationships and more meaningful friendships. We build trust in others, as well as build trust within ourselves.

The purpose that I intended for this blog post, is that, I want people to realize that it is okay to be you. Simply, unapologetically, authentically, you. I encourage you because just as I have found for me, I believe that you will find the freedom you seek, when you show up as ’you’ in relationships with others, as well as showing up as ‘you’ for yourself.
You. Will. Become. Unstoppable!

Now all we need to do is practise! I am in the process of doing just this. It scares the hell out of me, yet I am filled with excitement. I’m challanging my beliefs, putting myself out there and I am beginning to reap the rewards. I am no longer ashamed of who I really am. If the people that I am surrounded with don’t like my authentic self, then they are not meant to be the people I surround myself with anyway. Simple as that!

I am sending so much love and gratitude to each and everyone who is reading this post right now. Thank you for reading and for your support. Big HUGE hugs to you all xo

Be Authentic written on desert road