Enough is Enough - How COVID19 forced me to get Naked with myself.
Have you ever had the courage to get completely naked with your fears, triggers and other uncomfortable feelings you might not want to face? The courage to be entirely alone? The determination to figure out WHY you keep sabotaging your own happiness? To stop finding distractions and spend time understanding your deep lack of self respect?
Have you ever been vulnerable and honest with yourself? Looked in the mirror, no excuses, no cop outs and admitted to yourself that there are some things you don't like about yourself that you want to change?
Or do you bury your emotions with the next distraction? Do you run in the opposite direction of discomfort and pain? Do you numb the feelings with alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, busyness? Does the idea of changing become so overwhelming that you turn away and push the thought out of your mind for "another day"? Does the idea of losing something or potentially missing out hold you back?
As I have worked backwards to untangle my messy (and beautiful) mind, I realised that no matter how much I do, how much I have, everything I've achieved; there was still a void inside of me that never seemed to get filled and I was always chasing the next thing for fulfillment and validation.
Recognising this has been the most painfully heartbreaking wave of emotions I have ever experienced. It hit me the hardest when I finished creating the Studio. I was looking at something I should have been so proud of, a dream that I had envisioned for almost six years. All the hard work that went into pulling it together and all I could think was, "Cool. Well that was fun." And immediately started distracting myself with the Opening Party.
My business. I couldn't sit in joy for one minute. I didn't think I would successfully own a business in my lifetime, nor have my logo on a wall and then see it become a reality and all I could think was "that was fun". I mean, it was fun to do but it was just another distraction. I couldn't sit in the joy of it for even a minute, I had to keep moving.
While I usually try to be an optimistic person, I have had to come to terms with the fact that joy is an uncomfortable emotion for me. Joy means there is the potential to be hurt and I tend to push this emotion away. So instead of sitting in joy and enjoying it, I tend to sabotage whatever has brought me joy.
So I went into a shame induced spiral as the thought hit me.. Am I ever going to be satisfied? Was I going to find some way to sabotage my business too? Will anything ever be, enough?
I began questioning this innate desire to be filled by things external and why I never allow myself to be fully connected to anything? I also wanted to understand what was stopping me from being in the present moment? And where this deep fear of loss came from?
The discomfort of processing a lifetime of patterns and coping mechanisms has been fucking unbearable at times. I realised that I have never truly let anyone get close to me or let myself get too close to anything or anyone. It's an avoidance coping mechanism because it makes it easier to run. Easier to move. Easier to hide. Easier to start again if I need to. There have been times when wrestling with my brain on this has been completely exhausting. Sifting through what is truth and what isn't. Sifting through a life time of toxic relationships. A lifetime of not respecting myself. At times I was so overwhelmed by my thoughts and why I do this that all I could think about was wanting to escape my brain.
I hit the bottom as painful memories flooded into my mind and as my mental health continued to deteriorate, I could see that I was doing it again. This would be the downfall of my business if I emotionally self destructed.
Enough was enough.
To even write that is so hard because I am still working through the guilt and shame I have attached to the abuse. From the age of seven I was abused. I told one adult about what had happened and they didn't believe me. It was very likely the first time I ever felt shame. I didn't understand what that feeling even was at the time but because I was so confused that I wasn't believed, I didn't try talking to anyone else. Why would anyone else believe me if the person I thought I could trust with anything, didn't? I convinced myself that it was my own fault and there was no point saying anything. So the abuse continued and my shame grew. It was here that I started preparing myself for a lifetime of running. As soon as I could, I knew that I wanted to be as far away from the pain as possible.
As a seven year old little girl, I was made to question myself and my reality. A little bit like being gaslighted I guess. To know your truth and not be heard is so painful. I lost trust, protection, assurance, confidence, safety. Living in a state of fear not knowing what was going to happen next was just normal for me. I felt like a failure for not being able to protect others. I no longer trusted myself or anyone around me. I built walls so high to protect myself and stuck two fingers up at anything or anyone that had a problem with me.
I would watch romantic movies and fantisise about being rescued. I romaticised the idea of this grandiose love and being saved, being seen, being understood, that I would as little as make eye contact with a guy and think that he was it. He was the one, he was the start of my romantic novel. Boundaries? What boundaries? Love hath no boundaries. Lol.
Feeling seen/chosen made me feel worthy. Feeling like I was the only person in the room that a man was looking at made me feel valued. Having a man validate me gave me self worth. And when they stopped seeing me, I would very quickly turn back into that little girl who wasn't heard and would begin the excruciatingly painful fight to prove myself. To try and fix whatever I had done, I would blame myself and destroy myself internally because I had wrecked finding real happiness. Eventually I would get to the point where I would give up, push the pain deep down and shut my heart away again.
I failed to realise that chemistry doesn't equal trust. Chemistry doesn't equal depth. And chemistry most certainly doesn't equal love. I just longed to be rescued.
When you experience trauma, your neurosystem is activated causing you to go into fight or flight mode. A surge of cortisol (the stress hormone) floods the Pre-Frontal Cortex (the parent of the brain). In the Pre-Frontal cortex, the cortisol overwhelms the brains decision making (which is often why there is no rational behind our actions) when we are in this panic state. The cortisol is then delivered to the hippocampus and overwhelms the memory function of the brain, often why our memory of a traumatic event is fragmented. It ends in the amygdala where we either respond to the threat (fight) or we freeze. Oftentimes with significant trauma (this can be verbal/physical abuse, loss of a relationship, loss of a loved one etc) we fight first and then freeze.
When we freeze our nervous system can become stuck in the freeze zone and if we don't process the pain of what we have experienced, our bodies become a threat detection machine anticipating the next thing that is going to hurt us (enter depression and anxiety disorders).
Unless we can sit with why something hurt us and be truly honest with ourselves, we will never move through it. And often will find ways to escape or numb what we are really feeling. You don't want to appear weak so you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, push the pain (shame) down and move on.
And every time we get hurt the process repeats.
It's fine for a while and you build really high walls and a nice thick skin and everyone thinks you're tough as nails. But we bury our pain and insecurity so deep that not even we know where to find it when we go looking.
And all the while, we keep piling more and more shit on top of this messy foundation. Dragging that mess around with us, wondering why people won't take the time to understand us? Honestly, how much crap do you expect a person to dig through to get to you?
Without moving through pain and understanding what/who hurt our ego and why we feel wounded/rejected/betrayed, you cannot heal. You cannot heal if you keep pretending that you were never hurt. Your pain will always find you. It will sabotage love, intimacy, friendships, jobs, your true desires and your unlimited potential.
This is why so many of us long for closure. We believe that closure (validation) from another person will be the thing that changes us. Closure will give us the strength we need to move forward through a new door and finally start living our best life. But closure cannot be external. Closure is an internal job. Closure is not going to get you off your arse and into the drivers seat of your life. CHANGE is going to do that.
And change hurts! Change takes patience. Change is an action, it is a discipline. Change doesn't take place overnight. Change is the beginning of growth.
It is the act of getting naked with what is really going on. Facing your ugly patterns, facing what you're holding onto so tightly and why, unlearning unhealthy coping mechanisms. Unlearning hating on yourself. Unlearning being a people pleaser. Unlearning that your value doesn't come from others.
It is learning to love yourself and know your worth. And if you feel worthless, why???
Change requires learning to set boundaries, it is creating healthy and safe spaces, friendships and connections. It is being discerning and being ok with not replying to every message. It is taking time to get to know people and taking risks that not everyone is going to hurt you. It is allowing yourself time. To heal, to be completely content with yourself without avoiding/numbing the feeling of being alone. It is NOT jumping on Tinder or any other apps when you feel this discomfort. It is allowing yourself time to reflect. To sit in the ugly truth and be at peace with it.
To get real with what you are currently bringing and what you want to bring to your relationships.
It is getting to know yourself. So you can really get to know others.
It is hard work. It is not for the weak. It requires forgiveness and lots of it. Mostly it requires you to forgive yourself.
Your vulnerability and authenticity are the ultimate gift to those who can receive it.
Don't run. Be still. And please don't abandon yourself.