Tension.

I have been picking up on this pattern in a lot of my sessions from clients about this “in between” space that begins to happen when you are really in the trenches of healing. Walking through this in my own healing journey and hearing this confirmed over and over by so many different individuals has led me to feel that there is really something to this. When most people start therapy, I think there is this expectation of “feel good” healing. Maybe just a few sessions, pick up some coping skills, debrief on our childhood, and then we can walk out of the door a sparkly healed unicorn. Most clients are not always super excited to begin the process but there is always hope, always expectation, and always a general desire to “get better”.

When practicing EMDR Therapy with a client, we start to break down what trauma means to them, we look at negative core beliefs picked up from adverse life experiences, and then we start to reprocess those adverse life experiences to hopefully dissolve the negative core beliefs. It sounds great until we really get into the meat and potatoes of the work. Ask anyone who has been in this phase of EMDR Therapy. It then sounds potentially awful, and therapy starts to feel like a real part time job, because it takes an incredible amount of physical, emotional, and spiritual effort and energy to reflect in that deep of a headspace. But this “not feel so good” space is where true healing can very much start moving.

This space of really allowing oneself to feel the pain, embrace the inner child, be angry, be hurt, and wanting to scream at anyone who hurt you, that is the true work. So thus, we have tension, because we go on about our day after session, we continue living after confronting the MOST challenging things. We try to go grocery shopping, or maybe we go home to get something done before the kids get home, but our brains are still processing. We are constantly in transition once the work has begun, and it is absolutely exhausting.

We may logically know that this journey is going to be worth it, and that inner child is worth showing up for. We may logically know that it makes sense to take a look at what negative information our subconscious could be holding onto, so we do not have to continue going through life like puppets being operated by our fight or flight defenses. But guess what…it absolutely does not feel good. Healing is exhausting, it is scary, and is uncomfortable, and sometimes it just feels easier to stick to the old historical way of functioning. That might feel easier and safer to the brain and the body because it is what they have come to know.

The space between our logical hope, the belief that the healing is worth it, and the intensity or discomfort of the effort it takes to obtain the healing. That is the tension. As you grow, you then start to make those healthy choices more organically and it does get easier with time. But only after consistent repetition, and practice over and over. The brain and the body have to learn that it is safe to respond or behave in an appropriate way. Like any other skill that takes time, and it is learned, it has to be experienced over and over.

When in a conflict with your spouse or friend, your body may want to scream, and throw things. Your amygdala may want to switch on sending you in overdrive because historically that has kept you safe. But you stay calm, you respond instead of reacting. You use communication skills in the face of disagreement, and you maintain your balance. Although this sounds wonderful, it is not going to feel wonderful because your body is going to take a little bit longer to receive the message. Thus again, we have tension.

So, all of this to say healing is not easy, it physically is going to be hard and challenging. You are literally creating new pathways in your brain that will allow you to operate and function in a healthy and safe way. Even though you know this, you may feel like giving up and that is okay. Keep on in the battle because you truly are worth it. Every single day remind yourself that you are doing the most important work. You are undoing years of generational trauma, you are healing your brain, you are teaching you inner child that safety and security are possible, and you are honoring your story and experience. Keep going, keep holding the tension.

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What is Trauma?

What if our hurting brains are just like a broken bone? What if we have been getting it wrong this whole time, and what if we started to reconfigure the way we view ourselves, our adverse experiences, and our worlds.

So often it is felt that adverse experiences are the result of something that is internally wrong with the individual. If the person could just be strong, think more, make smarter decisions, or work harder this situation would not have happened. Then under that belief system, the said broken individual is expected to just toughen up, just get over it, just moved on, and shove the feelings down the hatch. We have made forward progress culturally in understanding the importance of mental health, and accepting the idea that emotions matter, but there is still a misunderstood and misguided expectation of healing that comes after the storm.

We can see this expectation of healing having good intentions, people you love want you to be able to live a happy and full life, supports want you to move forward. However, this expectation is misguided unless the individual has the right information, and the right resources to fully understand where and how the healing needs to take place. This can be seen in what we know about the brain.

When someone goes through trauma, and trauma can be anything, this information gets processed through the brain. Trauma could be losing a family member, witnessing abuse, a pet passing away, terrorism, hurt feelings on the playground, you name it. Trauma is subjective and everyone, every single person has some type of trauma.

When trauma is experienced in the brain this happens in the amygdala, which is your lizard or reptilian brain. This is what is often referred to as your fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response. This part of our brain is a wonderful thing when put into a survival situation. If you run into a bear in the woods this mechanism is going to be incredibly helpful for you to tap into survival mode and follow that fight or flight instinct. This instinct can be frustrating when it turns on maybe as you are sitting in class, logically knowing you are safe, or sitting at you work desk. Although you may logically know you are safe, if your fight or flight response if turned on, your brain and body are going to tell you a different story.

The brain stem and limbic system is where trauma is experienced and stored. The limbic system is also where your brain processes emotions and sensory input, such as smell and taste. This is why often times when an individual goes through something traumatic it is difficult to recall the length of time the event happened in, or factual statistics about the experience. It is easier to remember the felt sense, and the sensory input that came with the experience, such as the smell. There is also no time in this area of the brain, so it may feel like a car accident lasted for hours. When really the accident lasted less than 60 seconds. Certain sensory input may be specifically triggering to individuals who have gone through trauma because of this. The brain remembers trauma through senses. This is the way our bodies were created.

Our bodies were also created to self-heal, think about the physical model of getting a scratch on your hand. Generally, a small paper cut will begin to heal on its own because the body is created to restore itself. The brain is the same way, it desires truth, safety, security, and ultimately healing. As stated earlier if we could start to understand individual pain and suffering from a more physical perspective then we could really be able to start supporting true healing rather than putting a band aid on a bullet wound. Trauma reactions and stress are just physiological responses from the brain and body pushing the individual into overdrive. Once we understand this, we can really start understanding trauma and how to get people the help that they need.

Choosing No.

As the New Year has come and went, I have reflected on making goals, looking ahead, planning out next steps, and thinking into the future, however this year even thinking in that way feels like a burden. It feels like the healthiest thing I can resolve to do is just saying no. My “New Year’s Resolution” is simply to “not”, to “don’t”, to say “no” and “let go”. This language is clearly not aligning with the positivity we so often have to swallow online this time of year. As much as I absolutely value the art of creating goals and following through with them, it is no longer that season for me.

Last year was a year of hard therapeutic work, striving and pushing ahead to get on a deeper level with myself. This year just feels like my body is telling me that it is truly time to take a break. If I do not have the energy for a task, choosing not to do it, if I do not want to make plans, staying home instead. In small tasks and big tasks, just choosing my body first and saying no as a complete sentence.

This could start to sound negative and almost like an unhealthy place of feeding into negative emotions and giving up endurance, which there is a time and place for. I will say that it was only after an intense year of hard work, EMDR in therapy (more to come about this), and constantly processing my emotions, my family dynamic, and triggers, that I truly feel like I can let go. It was like last year everything came to a head, the wound was undone, all was unraveled, and now my body is grieving the loss of what once was. My body is grieving the loss of toxic stress hormones that are no longer there. My body is grieving the loss of generational trauma, cycle healing, and emotional pain. My body is learning how to physically function now without being thrown into survival mode around every turn and without codependency hijacking my state of mind.

Through doing the hard work I can now truly say in a healthy space of emotional awareness that I need to be in a space of slowing down, letting go, and honoring my heart because for the first time in my life I believe that I am healthy enough to do so. Slowing down and setting boundaries looks good on paper, however I don’t think it is easy to truly get there until you have gone into the emotional trenches of your soul and dug out the coal that has been sitting there for decades. I think two years ago I would have declared that I had emotional awareness and peace, but it was all still veiled. We can only know what we know.

So this resolution of completely letting it all go comes from a place of not having it all figured out, or being so enlightened, but a place of clarity, seeing it all unraveled, and just honoring the work that was done last year. It feels like falling back into a trust fall, knowing that as I release my hands, everything else will take care of itself. The wounds will continue to heal, the emotions will continue to rise, but I can prevail through choosing no. I can prevail by letting it all go and not holding on to any of it anymore.

There’s Another In The Fire.

What can you say as you drive up to the scene of an entire dream, a home, a vision being burnt to the ground, turning to ash. There are no words that can console the loss of treasured memories, items and toys that have been saved for years, and the home that was just built from the souls of two individuals that taught you who you are. Everything was lost, it was all gone, it was all burnt to the ground. There are no words to console this loss, but there is a Consoler that can heal any loss and pain.

Exactly a week before Christmas, we watched as the firemen attempted to put out a fire that would keep burning in all of our hearts, a fire that could not be put out with water and foam. As our family continues to process the loss of my parent’s home last week, feelings continue to arise, and what I know about trauma becomes less of a lesson I teach in therapy and more of a personal experience.

In therapy I have shared my therapeutic knowledge of trauma with clients over and over.  I have explained triggers, the apparent loss of time, the loss of memories, and how we experience this in our bodies. The therapeutic wisdom I once possessed has become more of a reality over this last week. The first few days after the fire felt like it lasted for months. Each 24 hour day felt like weeks.

My family members and I experienced memory loss, time lapse, shock, and absolute exhaustion. Later in the week celebrating Christmas with family was too difficult, laughter about meaningless objects caused pain, because it was something that burned in the fire. You can’t fake being okay when your entire body can feel the weight. And it is something that you just cannot look away from, you have to look, you have to walk through.

I have never experienced something so surreal as walking through the house that my parents built, burnt to ashes and seeing their precious treasures buried in rubble, it is like walking through a bad dream. Except you open your eyes, a migraine makes it’s appearance from all the chemicals, and you smell that it is real, the white and black color scheme in front of you is really happening. It’s an image sketched into your memory bank, the smell stuck in your nose, and the eery quiet of loss sits heavy in your ears.

There are no words that can console this loss, but there is a Consoler who can. Through this process, even the afternoon of the fire God has continued to be present and remind us that “there’s another in the fire”. He has continued to remind our family that in the ashes, in the broken beams, and the smoke stained fabric, He was already there and He already saw that day. He already had a plan for each need to be met, and He already had an army of His people, and army of believers on stand by, waiting to move faithfully, waiting to serve His kingdom, to just show up, and to cover this tragedy in tangible, real, and practical love.

The night of the fire there was hotel room booked, clothes bought, toys and food donated, and whisperings through texts and calls of God’s kingdom moving into action. God is not a old wise tale that lives in a dusty book. He lives and is alive and showed us that day that He is tangibly here and living through His people. Three days after the fire my parents were in a new home, surrounded by undeveloped land, trees, and birds.  A house with space and room to grow. The house was deep cleaned the next morning by women willing to serve their time, towels were donated, bathroom mats supplied, and furniture was making it’s way.

The next day, meals started to be delivered, Christmas presents thoughtfully picked out and wrapped. Deliveries from Amazon, sensory items brought to our door. Financial gifts, scripture, and words of encouragement started to arrive. Each gift directly from God, and each gift meeting a specific need that was taken away. He already knew, He already saw it. He saw it all and He provided each need and even more in abundance. So much blessing that it has been overwhelming, and unbelievable that we would be the recipients of such tangible and raw undeserving grace.

I write this because God. Is. Real. He is the reason that we are okay, He is the reason that my mom can do laundry, and my brothers have a bed to lay down on at night, and in this tragedy He literally showed up at the doorstep. He is alive and He is the reason that we will overcome this challenge. This is only now a piece of our story as we move forward even stronger in our faith and belief that Jesus is real. Even more deeply believing that He knows us by name. Nothing is guaranteed besides Him. Not our safety, not our homes, not our comfort, or security, or our family and friends. But we have chosen to put our faith in Him, and He was wildly blessed us beyond all measure.

If you see anything from this fire, see that God has covered our family and has fearfully loved us with grace. We will never be the same, and we will rebuild, but it is because of Jesus that are able to move forward, stronger, and healing, standing in the light of who God is, our Father, our Healer, our Protector, and our forever Friend. There was another in the fire and our story is not finished yet.

Story.

The day after I was born, my father committed suicide. After 26 years of knowing this fact about myself I am just now braving the wilderness of discovering more information about the day that forever changed who I am. As an adult mental health therapist, I am hyper vigilantly aware of my emotions, my communication strategies and the impact of my childhood on my heart. However, just recently this piece of my story has truly and genuinely started to settle in.

Four months ago, I started reaching out to family members about this day, about the details, seeking out any extra facts I could find to gain more knowledge and wisdom about my seemingly ghost infant-hood. My family has always tried to protect me from this day due to this being a significant traumatic event in their remembered life, and so going into these hard conversations felt like entering a wild landscape of mystery and unknown.

Through this fear of finding out more of who I am, I walked into the unknown. I always thought that my biological father took his life impulsively, and without thought. With his childhood being emotionally traumatic, and neglectful, my understanding until this point was that he decided to take his life as an impulse. A way to escape the pain. I learned that this was not the case. I learned that it was planned out, there was intent, and there were plotted steps taken to see this plan through.

While this plan was unfolding, my mother and I lay in the hospital, unaware of how our lives would be changed forever. I think the fact that his suicide was planned makes it harder for me to process as an adult. It makes me angry, it makes me sad, and it makes me feel like I was not enough. The negative thought runs through my mind that I was not enough to make him stay. Of course this is not true, but a lie I still fight to keep at bay. To this day, I still struggle with codependency in my marriage, fear of loss, and the need to have fierce attachment and connections with others. I believe these areas of potential growth come from his suicide, and the aftermath of that day.

From that point forward I was the baby of the family, I was loved, and rocked to sleep, coddled, and cuddled, loved by my mother’s family while my mother entered the season of grief that she never expected to come. Through all of this pain, I have become who I am today, it is my story, and I want to find ownership over that rather then running away from who I really am. I have started to go to therapy; I have started to talk more about this with my family. I am going to spend time with my mom going over the details, looking at pictures, reading the letters of condolences.

I write this for anyone who may be running away from his or her pain. I write this for anyone who may be trying to escape their story. I believe that if we can brave our pain, the fear, and the trembling, then we can find a greater piece of ourselves. We can discover more of our identity, a more whole picture of what our hearts hold onto. In the midst of the discomfort, I would encourage you to seek out help. I would encourage you to see that you are enough to be known. You matter enough to be seen and whatever it is you are holding onto may not be yours to hold onto anymore.

Adulthood

I haven’t wrote in a while, and I deleted my social media. I feel like I’ve taken a step back from all of it just to really tap into myself and get back to everything good that truly matters for me. Yesterday I went on a college tour with my brother in law, who is 16. It happened to be his first college tour, and it was just the two of us. Also this happened to be the university that I graduated from, the Ohio University. It was an amazing day.

At first I was not looking forward to the experience, completely just based on my own experience there. This is only due to the fact that I was an absolute hot mess for the first three years of college and even my senior year after I met Jesus. I tend to avoid places, people, and things, negatively associated with my past like the plague. But God is slowly teaching me that isn’t the way. Pretending like the past is not there, is not the answer. Assuming the past was all bad is a lie that I can believe to protect my heart. He is undoing me, in the most beautiful way.

God is showing me, there was beauty there, there was joy. There was long nights, and good times, there was risk taking, and youth, my wild heart. There is laughter in my past, even in the midst of absolute brokenness, wandering, and intoxicated downfall. There was life all along. We walked through campus, which of course was absolutely beautiful. Perfect weather, birds singing, blue skies. There was literally a deer having an afternoon snack right in the middle of campus, two feet away from our tour just hanging out, like okay God I get it, you see me haha. With each step I took, I just felt like God was saying, “You did this”, “I brought you here, and I brought you out of here”, “Well done”, and “You have overcome it, you don’t need to protect yourself from this anymore”.

There wasn’t anxiety, there wasn’t pain. There were flashbacks of walking home at three in the morning with no shoes on, however, still in that the Lord was saying “There is beauty in this, this place is a piece of you, this was your home”. I felt like this tour was a symbol of reversal and acceptance for me. A symbol of coming back to the beauty, coming back to what it all meant and what it means now. I remember walking home in the middle of the night down Morton Hill, home to my apartment after partying all night. And here I am walking back up with my brother in law, exploring his next steps into the future. Bringing it all full circle. Learning to accept myself and my story.

It is so crazy how these moments creep up on you. I was not looking for this day to bring me spiritual healing, or inner confidence again.  I wasn’t searching for something to be rewritten but yet it came anyways. It all came back together. I also feel like God was showing me “You did this, you graduated college”. Maybe I undercut that for myself sometimes, I discount all my effort, I forget how hard I worked. Just the clarification that I can accomplish anything if I put forward the effort was very encouraging.

Adulthood is actually insane if you think about it. After you graduate college, you are expected to be 110% independent, with a plan, a job, an income, ability to pay bills, handle relationships, maintain stable mental health, pay off your debt, work hard, play hard, take care of yourself, and also pursue your dreams. I think when I start getting overwhelmed in my daily life now I need to reminisce on this. I need to sit on all that has changed, and all the transition I have been faced with.

In the last four years I have graduated with my Master’s degree, started a full time job, got married, moved into an apartment, worked, played, traveled, attempted to take care of me, moved again into a house, got my independent social work license, got two fur babies, worked, played traveled, started my own business, all while trying to pursue my faith in Jesus, practice kindness, give love, and seek wellness, and wholeness. Like what the heck…turning into an adult in our culture just feels absolutely insane to me. Maybe I’m the only one, I think it’s freaking nuts.

Just the idea of all of that, and knowing that all happened in the last 3-4 years is mind blowing, scary, and very reassuring all at the same time. I know that I could not have accomplished any of that without my trust in God and his forever freaking faithfulness to me in the midst of internal chaos. So yesterday was a day of healing for me, of clarification, and encouragement for endurance and dream chasing. When I start to feel internally pulled, when I start to feel like I’m not “there yet”, I can remember.

I can remember the hectic transition that adulthood is now. I can remember how good my faithful God is, how he carries me through, how He has a plan for my life, and how He loves me. There has been so many transitions in the last few years of my life, I am allowed to feel burnt out some days, I am allowed to be broken. I am allowed to fall apart. And I keep walking, I keep pushing because I know I am capable. I know that I can, I know that He has always been faithful to me. It will all come full circle again and I will continue to grow. I will continue to seek out growth in the midst of change, and beauty in the midst of ashes.

Therapy.

I recently decided to start my own private practice as a mental health therapist. An absolute opposite to my previous experience as a counselor. I knew it would be a financial risk,  a process, and most importantly an emotional risk. I felt like I was putting everything I have known for the last two and half years on the line to follow what I know is my next step, but in a place I have never known before. So long story short for the last two months I have been in an extreme place of growth, vulnerability, and coming back to myself.

With all that being said, I realized that I wanted to start going to therapy myself. I wanted to have a place to process all the changes that are happening. A place of encouragement. A place to word vomit my emotions, a place to be challenged in a safe way. I want a place where I can go and be authentic and real and struggle, and overcome by being me. But then I was like, “Oh crap, I can’t go to therapy I’m a therapist”. People are going to think I’m not professional enough, or wise enough, or best excuse of all…I have issues. Which makes me laugh because we literally all have issues. Hence my need for some really good therapy.

I don’t think I realized how scary going to a therapist can be until I started looking for a place to go to therapy. For weeks I had been hearing this whisper to look for a professional I could process this transition with. And fear held me back, this fear that the instant I look onGoogle, a phantom stigma wizard would appear in my living room, shaming me for needing a place to vent, a place to heal. Or someone would find out, someone would know.

Then I found  a psychologist online that looked amazing, a wellness center that was nearby. But that fear of judgement still held me back. And then I called, left a voicemail asking about scheduling an appointment. Still fearful, still afraid. And in all of those moments I gained so much respect and awe for each of my clients and each individual that I have got to sit across the room from and hear their story.

I think because therapy is my normal, it’s my office, my daily grind, my hustle I forget the bravery that it takes to even walk into the room. As a therapist, I have become acclimated to my back to back schedule, my files, my next client, I forget the gravity of the situation I am in each hour of the day. I forget that I get to witness moments that could be life changing. Not because of me, but because of the other person in the room being brave enough to share their pain and share their heart. Making that first phone call can be filled with terror. Scheduling that first appointment can be filled with fear. But these scary things are the first steps to wholeness, wellness, and ultimately finding ourselves. It is such an honor to experience that in my job every day.

In the words of Brené Brown, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” So I just want to offer encouragement to anyone who may be thinking about reaching out for help, that in the midst of that fear that says no, you can make the call. In the midst of being seen, you are fighting for yourself in a battle that goes on daily for your mind and your heart. You can schedule an appointment to defy anything holding you down, to defy judgement, to defy stimga. You are not crazy, you are a human being. By reaching out for help and placing your heart in a vulnerable and courageous place, you may find hope and you may find victory.

 

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Writing.

I was looking at my books today deciding which ones will have the honor of traveling on an upcoming trip. I flipped open one of my books by an author I recently read. I’m examining to see if this may be the one for this particular trip. Will this be the book that gives me some type of self realization or teaching? I flip to a page and inside is a printed picture of flowers. Daisies. The page behind it is entitled “Writing”.

From an outsider, this experience would mean nothing, but this book was previously owned by one the most beautiful women I have ever known. She loved fashion, hearts, books, and creation. She stood for self love, exploration, and individuality. As a child, she wore fur coats and high heels to my unfinished basement art shows, and she always cheered on my creative abilities. As I grew older I failed to see what a beautiful example she would be to me as I aspire to be half the woman she was. I failed to make time for her at coffee, art museum visits, or eating dinner overlooking the city.

Now I am sitting in such a transitional period of my life, struggling with emotions, change, and identity. Having a hard day, crying for no reason, and feeling crushed by the present. I am preparing to go away for a week, in a hurry, racing by the seconds until I can just get on the plane and fly away from it all. Now I open up to this picture and it just feels like she sees me. It feels like she is looking at me. It feels like she is saying, “Stop and just be here”. “Be in this moment, be here with yourself and be quiet for a while”. “Look at the flowers, breathe it in, and don’t miss this life”.

It feels like she sees my internal chaos and is telling me to just wait in it, to grieve, to scream, to cry, to just be. To step out and be still. It is so crazy how someone can make their way into a moment of your day once they are gone. She told me to write in that moment, to draw, to color, to sing. Somehow she knew that I needed a message to just come back to myself. Somehow she knew that I was swaying away from my roots and foundation.

I try to imagine her in this moment. I imagine she has a fabulous outfit on, covered in jewelry, perfect hair, just looking at the flowers and calling me to  do the same. I imagine her rings, her necklaces, her earrings all opposing each other but somehow perfectly fitting in. I feel like she would be smiling, sipping a cocktail, totally contentment, total confidence in where she stands.

Daily she inspires me to dress up, to live my life to the fullest, to walk confidently, to tap into my inner artist, and to reach for the rainbows and stars. So I think I found my book for this trip, and maybe I already had my moment of reflection before it even started. Maybe it’s not even my place to write this, but I feel like she would have wanted me to. I feel like she told me to. This may not have a theme or even makes sense. But if you see me Barbara, I want you to know I see you too.

Practice.

This last year I have pushed and pushed towards an uncertain goal, and recently the goal has unsurfaced. I have came to a place of transition, a place of healing and moving forward. This year I want to allow myself to be, allow myself to feel, allow myself to process, mend, and take care of me. After next week, I am going to be transitioning to a new work schedule, and working towards practicing what I preach.

Monday through Thursday I provide counsel to people from all walks of life, how to find identity, practice self care, nurture healthy relationships, and find mental clarity and wellness. I share positive coping skills, and breathing techniques. I facilitate therapeutic conversations between broken family members, and offer a safe place for children in crisis, and products of trauma. Then I leave work, and I break down, and my day spills out in my safe place, in my home.

This past year has taught me that I cannot internalize any more social work without nurturing myself first. I cannot keep pushing without applying my own advice and utilizing the techniques I know work to manage tension and stress. I have pushed for so long without applying boundaries and without putting myself first. I don’t give myself time to process, and I don’t give myself time to grieve. This year I am working on me.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite in my work. I don’t want to give my clients the leftovers of what’s left in my survival mode thinking. I genuinely want to start practicing what I preach. This means taking time off for me, without events or things to fill up that space. This means having boundaries with my new work schedule and not taking on more then I can handle, just because I can handle it. This means leaving work at work and not bringing it home with me. This means nurturing my body and my heart like a child. This means eating well, sticking to a healthy lifestyle, and exercising.

In all aspects of my life, I want to start practicing what I hand out all week. I want to start taking care of me. If I am in a healthy place emotionally, I can be present in my marriage, I can show up for my friends, and I can love my family well. My natural instinct is to push myself and continue dragging along just because I know I am capable, but i am learning that just because you are capable of continuing on, does not mean it’s a healthy choice to continue on. It’s healthy to take a break, make a change, and shift into something new.

The thing about actually applying what I teach is that it’s hard, it’s terrifying to significantly change my job, it’s scary to allow myself space to and time to heal. It makes me respect my clients that work towards a goal, applying what we talk about in session and coming back next week ready for more. It is not easy to really sit in reflection and apply what you know to be true in your deepest gut and in your soul. Some clients I see do that week after week. If anything, I have learned more from them then the other way around.

I want to be a therapist that practices therapy in my own daily life, that lives it out holistically, speaks from experience, and walks out what they know to be true. I cannot keep pushing, and I finally can give myself permission to let it go, press pause, and breathe. This year is going to be about me growing and letting go of my need to endure, have control, and constantly  maintain for everyone else. Praying that I can walk out what I dish out and that I can truly grow to find myself again and revamp what I really believe.

Mexico

This is going to sound like the lamest thing of all time but I really truly believe that going to Mexico taught me a huge life lesson. I already learned that I am not meant to drink tequila in college. It murders my soul. I’m more of a Pina Colada girl. I mean like a real life lesson. I love traveling because it makes me feel like I can truly be me. I’m not going to run into clients, I’m not going to see someone from my past, or someone that I kind of know but not really and just stalk on social media.

When I am traveling I can truly 100% just be me without caring what people think and letting go of my insecurities and people pleasing tendencies. So when we recently traveled to Mexico, I was so looking forward to letting all of the stress of the last few months go. As I have previously wrote about, I have a lot of insecurity that I carry around and battle feelings of anxiety daily. Mexico had a way of letting all of that go and unwrapping my layers I have been holding together so tightly. You may be thinking, well duh when you are on a beach with a drink in your hand it’s easy to feel good about yourself. Yes, absolutely but this was like a wow moment for me and a week of clarity about who I am.

At the resort that we stayed at there is an “entertainment crew” that does games through out the day, puts on shows, and basically just spreads fun like a virus. They are awesome, and weirdly fit. Every morning they do Yoga and Zumba on this dock in the middle of the ocean. This dock is surrounded by people swimming in the ocean and everyone sitting on the beach. They announce it on a giant speaker and then start playing music super loud to start the vibe. I watched the first day in awe of all the brave souls shaking it to Pitbull and getting a workout at the same time. Also side note I freaking love Pitbull.

The second day I just said screw it, probably because they played Pitbull and I went on the dock and did Yoga and Zumba back to back in the middle of the ocean. This might seem super dumb to anyone who regularly works out. But I have not worked out at all in a few months and really have not been taking care of my body as far as nutrition and fitness in a long time. I knew that before this trip my self care was really going on the back burner. So getting on a dock in front of a ton of people including my husband, and doing a Zumba and Yoga class with a small group of people from around the world that I have never met was a big deal for me.

I had so much fun, all by myself, surrounded by a group that primarily did not even speak English. I literally just laughed out loud to myself because it was absolutely ridiculous. After that I just had this moment of clarity like who the heck cares? Why do I care what people think about me. Like so much of the stress and worry and insecurity I have, I just bring upon myself because I think it matters to care what other people think. Meanwhile I am doing Zumba next to people who are older then my grandma shaking it like a salt shaker. And they are so full of joy, because they just don’t care.

Is God the absolute most important thing to me in this life? Yes. Do I want to glorify Jesus Christ? Yes. Do I want my confidence to come from Jesus and Jesus alone? Yes. But I also realized that I don’t think that God created me to be small. I think he gave me my creativity and passion and energy for a reason. He did not create me to have a small spirit. He did not create every single fiber that makes me me to hide it away and wrap it up in a pretty box that everyone agrees with and makes everyone smile. He did not create me to shuffle around my feelings to meet everyone else’s needs. He created me to be me. And I just don’t care anymore. I was created to be confident in Christ.

I will defiantly still continue waging war against my insecurity on the daily. And I am sure I will have days when I just am a hot mess express and can’t even throw my hair in a bun. But I just don’t want to care anymore, I am exhausted with trying to fit the mold. I am exhausted with working so hard to make everyone else happy. After God, I am putting my husband and myself first! I am putting my self care first, and I am ready to work at it. I am ready to work at loving being me. Maybe it was the hot air, the sand under my feet, or all the Pina Coladas I drank, but regardless, Mexico taught me how to love being me.

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