Mental health

Reclaiming my authentic self

Understanding who I am and making sense of the world around me has always been something I have focused on. From an early age, especially because of my intuitive gifts, I have been on a quest for “why”. I’ve had major breakthroughs and then some serious setbacks. What I’m understanding now is that life has a purposeful way of unfolding so that we can uncover our own truths.

I have regained focus on my journey to self discovery and made a renewed commitment to my own spirituality. Keeping my energy clear from toxic people and their emotional turmoil is a boundary I will not have crossed. It has become crucially vital that I must continue to cleanse, ground and balance myself in order to not only heal myself but to be present for those around me that I love and cherish.

On a larger scale, my goal and purpose in life is to help heal others by sharing my experiences. I must continue to heal my inner child, reframe my thoughts and challenge conditioned beliefs that no longer serve me in order to find meaning in my life.

Life has an uncanny way of unfolding just as it’s meant to be. I do the work, put in the blood, sweat and tears. Sometimes metaphorically and at times physically. I allow myself to feel the emotions I tried to cut off because they were unacceptable. Showing up for me and rescuing myself from drowning on a daily sometimes hourly basis from the emotional world I live in energetically can be daunting. It’s painful, not sexy and down right annoying at times. It’s also absolutely worth it.

Once again in my life I am reinforcing the desire of choosing me and I have no guilt about that choice. As an empath, I can easily get lost in other people’s stories and emotional lives while fighting the urge to “fix” and rescue those around me from themselves. As a woman and mother in our Western society, I believe we are falsely conditioned to deny ourselves our inner desires. We are taught to be people pleasers, to play nice and that leads to putting others needs before our own. Fear of being judged and cast off as “that girl” or being called a “bitch” because I said no to someone’s demands played an unhealthy role in my life.

Today I say, no more. I have drawn my invisible line in the sand. I have rediscovered inner peace and I’m not willing to let it go again for anybody or anything. My two greatest challenges in life are boundaries and balance. Recently so much has “clicked” and I finally can see that my emotional boundaries with others are vital to my sanity and survival. Maintaining them is crucially important to my wellbeing and are a non negotiable part of whom I choose to be in my life these days.

A supreme awareness and understanding of how as children we are all conditioned and taught to give up our authentic selves to appease others, fit into other’s perceptions of how things should be and conform is now so abundantly clear to me. Few humans become self actualized. Therefore we continue wounded cycles into adulthood because certain necessary needs were not met.

I’ve written before about my love for Maya Angelou’s quote, “do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”. This quote has always spoken to me because it allows for self acceptance, growth and the belief that change is possible. Now that I am consciously aware, I can change. I have all the power. It is a choice that is within me. I’m continuing to awaken, become enlightened and evolve. I have reclaimed my power.

It takes practice and humility. Denying my ego to completely take over so that self may emerge unfiltered. I was emotionally stunted because I allowed my conditioning and the confusion of feeling other’s emotions so intensely that it derailed me and my ability to be successful in other areas of life. I became paralyzed by over analysis of myself. I can honestly say that I am proud of myself that I can recognize my progress. As with everything it is a work in process as I choose how much or how little to show up for myself by making myself a priority.

My fellow INFJ’s and empaths understand what I’m saying here I’m sure of it. I’ve not chosen a major career and financial security has always eluded me up to this point. Those two things used to make me feel less than because I was comparing myself to others. That tactic has proven self defeating because what I have chosen to chase down in this life is a deeper understanding of me and who I really am.

It’s the path less traveled by most. The majority of us go through life with blinders on, half dead to who we really are on the inside and just going through the motions. I tried that throughout my 20s and even into my early 30s. Now I’m 41 and I’m finally seeing clearly for the first time. My behaviors and maladaptive coping mechanisms no longer make sense. I want to live my life more aligned with my spirit. Shedding the past by embracing each moment!

It’s taken a village! Over the years establishing a support system, putting some tools into daily practice and discovering what works and what doesn’t for me. Taking time for me and making myself a priority sounds simple but I did anything I could to not focus on me. Me was too fucked up and uncomfortable. I used to sometimes say that it felt like my brain was at war with itself. It left me in a cycle of pain dissociated from myself and the world around me ultimately feeling so lost.

Lately I feel so alive, renewed, refreshed and reborn. I have read about my astrological trajectory often through the years and it always stated I would be a late bloomer and come into my own later in life. Boy is that ever the damn truth. I have regained trust in myself, belief in myself and most importantly I have maintained my hope and faith. Now I am free to set my intentions and manifest my own dreams into becoming a reality and that not only feels possible but truly amazing🙏

Mental health

This is my watershed moment

I have spent the past month in the grips of an extremely disruptive and emotionally charged reckoning with severe trauma from my childhood. A flood of feelings and upsetting memories I thought stuffed down so long ago have come floating actually erupting to the surface of reality. I’m riding an emotional roller coaster from moments of sadness to rage and confusion. I also at times don’t feel anything but complete numbness. I haven’t felt like doing anything at all, this past week I have been especially depressed.

My mind is constantly vacillating from what I can control and that which I can not. In my past I would’ve made a rash, spontaneous and emotional decision to do something that was not in my best interest in the long term but that would’ve allowed me to escape my uncomfortable emotional state. This time however I can recognize and give myself some credit in choosing to ride out this emotional turmoil. Sitting in it, enduring every moment. Recognizing I only have control over my response to these uncomfortable feelings.

I was reminded recently about the concept of a watershed moment. Google’s definition is the following:
A watershed moment is a turning point, the exact moment that changes the direction of an activity or situation. A watershed moment is a dividing point, from which things will never be the same. It is considered momentous, though a watershed moment is often recognized in hindsight.

My life right now is in the midst of this exact shifting. In the first two weeks of attempting to get a handle on my intense emotions and memories I kept thinking about how content and perfect seeming my life was. Why did I need to remember and acknowledge this life changing traumatic event from my childhood now? My therapists reminded me again of the onion. Life unfolds in ways that allow us to learn even when we think we have dealt with all of our “issues”.

It’s within these times, moments of crisis and inner turmoil that we are presented with an opportunity to dive deeper, evolve more and yes learn some major life lessons. In this case, I am learning more about myself and why I have made the decisions I have throughout my life.

A few sentiments I have reflected on and which truly define my actions are as follows….

Courage is not the absence of fear-Courage is being afraid and anxious and showing up anyway.

80% of life is just showing up.

Don’t wait until you are perfectly recovered to be happy and enjoy life. It’s OK to be happily imperfect.

Finally this statement really rings true for me and something I have unfortunately let drive my decision making throughout my entire life….. When we make decisions out of fear-they are usually not in our own best interest.

I have attachment issues stemming from my upbringing. Attachment to anything positive or negative creates suffering. I am also someone who wants to run away from my emotional problems. Whether I self medicate, cover up or actually run away from my problems all of these choices have resulted in some very undesirable consequences for me and the ones I love.

Wallowing in my perfectionism, I have two modes. Trying to keep the outside looking pretty and good while on the inside I am shaking with fear and grappling with the rage aimed towards myself for the missteps I have made. Both are counterproductive and aren’t beneficial to my life in the long run.

I had another energy clearing session too. I was advised to manifest grounding by visualizing myself as a tree. Immediately my favorite tree and the one we had on the corner of my childhood home sprung to mind. I adore weeping willow trees. After my session I painted a picture of one I call, “Enchanted Willow” and I wrote this poem.

For now, I will do my best to stay grounded by actively working on recreating some inner peace so that I can let go and move on. Baby steps 👣

Mental health

Little Ms. Perfect

What is perfect? There are two separate definitions. Using it as an adjective means this, “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be“. When used as a verb, perfect means “make (something) completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible”. Either way it’s used I have suffered from perfectionism my entire life. In psychology, perfectionism is described as a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

My Mom has told me that when I was younger she used to find me obsessively organizing my room. I loved to neatly arrange my books, toys and knick knacks. Cleaning and straightening a room, tidying up things brings me a peacefulness and calm that’s hard to match by other activities. It’s also something that has made me feel strange and weird.

There was a period in my life when I literally couldn’t sit still or overlook a piece of lint on the carpet without having to immediately stop whatever I was doing to pick it up. After the birth of my first son, I found myself in a perpetual state of motion, always wiping a countertop or vacuuming a room that was already spic and span to everybody else’s eyes. I got caught up in routines that kept my in a “loop” for hours. So many routines and rituals had to be achieved compulsively and repetitively. Some days I got so stuck I didn’t even leave my house. Looking back those were dark days.

I’m a shift supervisor at a Starbucks and at 41 this is the first time I accepted a management position. In the past, I had been offered/recommended this role but I always turned it down due to my overwhelming fear of failure. Truth be told my perfectionist ways have plagued me throughout my life. Recently at work my manager challenged me to stop working like a superwoman. She asked me to examine my leadership skills by holding others on my team accountable for certain tasks. At first it felt awkward delegating the things I have been doing alone without help. Lately however I can feel an important shift taking place.

A favorite quote of mine by Maya Angelou is,”Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. Boy does this sentiment ring true in this regard!

I’ve always been an analytical thinker, wondering why things are the way they are and trying desperately to make sense of the world around me. I had this book as a kid called, “The book of why” and I loved it. I’ve especially been intrigued by my own emotions and the emotions of others. That intense curiosity has sometimes kept me up at night.

A former therapist once told me to disengage myself from the outcome of a certain problem I was having a difficult time finding a reasonable solution for. My perfectionist ways and drive to control a situation can leave me breathlessly spinning my wheels. Despite my efforts I end up feeling exhausted mentally with no end in sight.

When I start to feel my old ways creeping back into my daily choices, I try and recall his words. Letting go of the outcome and maintaining an open mind sounds logical enough but my heart stands stubbornly doubtful.

Establishing a connection within myself has been key to easing off my perfectionist attitude. Grounding myself really quiets my mind and eases my fears. Whether these fears are real or hypercritically blown out of proportion, I can often find myself overwhelmed and grasping for my idea of perfection. I’ve learned I’m only hurting myself when I put this kind of pressure on myself.

For there is no such thing as perfect my dear reader but perfect imperfections throughout life. Try shifting your perspective taking a closer look at yourself. Deepening your own connection within your soul. Becoming your own best friend, saving yourself from yourself. Like Shakespeare said, “to thine own self be true”.

Mental health, Spirituality

Learning to see the forest for the trees

I’m a highly detail oriented person who naturally takes everything in without a filter. Certain things come easy to me while others are more of a work in progress. Emotional intelligence is an area that I have worked hard to understand and master at a young age and I feel is crucially important to one’s well being. Seven years ago while I was in the thick of dealing with many complications from Complex PTSD, I took part in an outpatient therapy called DBT or dialectical behavioral therapy. This psychotherapy is the creation of psychologist Marsha M. Linehan. I enjoyed it so much and (needing reinforcement) I attended it four times! I fondly refer to it as emotional college. I was in a classroom of sorts in a separate wing of the psychiatric hospital I did many inpatient stays at for an entire week, 9AM until 5 PM with only a break for lunch. Our class was small, only 6 or 7 other ladies. We had reading assignments as well as homework. After completing that week I was invited to join an aftercare support group for an entire year.

In many ways those ladies saved my life, helped me learn some tough life lessons about myself and aided me in realigning my mindset, body and soul. Taking an introspective look at oneself is difficult and the desire to change one’s behavior takes lots of patience and practice. At first it was confusing and awkward but after my fourth time going over the educational materials, reading some self help workbooks focused on DBT and spending 2 hours every Wednesday evening with my support group I reemerged with a fresh outlook.

I learned that my intense emotions can sometimes drive me into certain behaviors that are self harming and self defeating. Continuing down that path creates more suffering. Learning and incorporating DBT principles into my life has changed the game!

Like everything in life, it only works if you work it! Over the past few years I like to open that workbook up and give myself a refresher. The main principle that I work the hardest at is definitely Radical Acceptance. DBT uses both behavioral science and Buddist concepts like acceptance and mindfulness to teach better coping methods for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. It has proven highly effective for many mental health disorders as well.

This is Google’s definition of dialetical behavioral therapy:

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy tries to identify and change negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive behavioral changes. DBT may be used to treat suicidal and other self-destructive behaviors.

In a nutshell it taught me that I can coexist between two mindsets, see both sides of an issue, be both comfortable and uncomfortable in any given situation. The definition of dialetic is this:

Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ; related to dialogue), also known as the dialectical method, is at base a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments.

For me the bottom line is that one principle I mentioned earlier, Radical Acceptance, is the key to ending my suffering. On most days I can clearly and easily achieve the understanding that even though I may not like something or think it to be ok, it still is. It is what it is. I have the choice to respond or react, always taking my emotions into account.

In this last week I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities. My fiance and I mingled with some A list former professional football player friends of his, had an overnight in a phenomenal luxurious lakehouse and on Sunday I met Mariel Hemingway at a small movie watching party and interview session.

I have admired her life and career for a long time. I even gave her my poetry book, “Emotional Musings” that she asked me to sign! A real “pinch me” moment that I will cherish forever. To be able to meet such a kindred and emotional spirit is so profoundly powerful.

Despite the years of psychotherapy, DBT classes, numerous sessions of EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) and reading shelves of self help books I still struggle with my core belief that I’m not good enough. I do however understand that I can chose to change that tape that plays relentlessly on repeat through my mind, unpack that emotion from that invisible backpack I wear daily along with the other intense emotions I cope with or I can suffer. Intellectually and logically I get it. Sometimes the disconnect is to my soul. The memories, the flashbacks and unfortunate nightmares that will plague me for life.

At the end of the day, I am growing and evolving everyday. I am blessed and humbled. I have people around me who love and understand me. I’m able to see the many miracles of humanity being an empath. Life is good ❤

Mental health

Writer’s problems 101

I have been so busy in the past two weeks that I fear my creative juices have dried up. I have been avoiding trying to write my next post on here for a few days now until I figured I might as well write about just that! Due to my hectic work schedule, I have fallen into this routine of writing on Sundays. This past Sunday I was definitely in a more soulful mood yet I just felt like cooking. I ended up pouring my heart into a wonderful meal for my family. Once I was finished with that, I felt my creative energy had vanished. This is the first time in a long time I have felt that my balance is off, my mystical energy is gone leaving me feeling a heaviness of heart.

Perhaps it’s the change of seasons, the weather or just my distracted mind. I’m probably putting unnecessary pressure upon myself to produce something fabulous without giving myself permission to be in a rut. All writers go through this I imagine. My mind moves so quickly normally, like someone is spinning a rolodex. Lately I feel numb and off somewhere in the background. I’m not engaged and focused, my drive is no where to be found. My head is in the clouds and my heart isn’t grounded.

These periods of restlessness do pop up from time to time. Living with my form of Complex PTSD presents these challenges of disorientation and dissociation. I can’t help but feel an episode is looming in the background. It’s been almost four years since the last debilitating episode that left me hospitalized. No matter what I do to counter them from occurring, the likelihood of one happening seems inevitable.

I’ve also been struggling with some female issues. My “time of the month” has always been irregular yet in February and March I bled everyday. Now that we’re in mid April I’m confused and concerned with if my time will arrive at all. I can chalk it up to stress but my hormonal changes are throwing me off and I’m not a fan.

Writing has always been an outlet, a release and the primary way I process my intense emotional energy into truth. Lately I just feel depressed inside and writing seems like a chore. I’m extremely proficient in covering my deep inner feelings about myself so I’m sure nobody in my daily life can tell something is amiss. This is me telling on myself right now, calling bullshit on the last few weeks of interactions with friends and family. I feel like a fraud with a painted smile on my face while inside is void of any feeling.

Ever since I can remember I have been hard on myself. My own worst enemy even. I have always had that internal dialogue deep down within me that is incessantly whispering “you’re not good enough” and “you’re nothing”. This voice had been silent for a bit but now I’m feeling its presence resurface.

It’s also been raining for the past two days which combined with my current mood creates a real feeling of depression. My sleeping patterns are not consistent which also helps cultivate these irregularities. I’m just off my game and I don’t want to do anything.

Alas, I will always retain my hope. It never dies despite these blue feelings. This too shall pass and I know I’ll be ok. I will adjust my crown and keep steadily walking my path. I may be a bit tired and dusty but I will overcome. Peace to you all✌