StLSass

Posts Tagged ‘love yourself

The mind is a fascinating place. It can create a world and a life that is heaven on earth, just as quickly as it can trap you in the depths of its mental despair. The differentiator? I’m not sure anyone is really sure. The value we place on our own sanity perhaps? The strength of our spirit to overcome the mind? Genetics? All of the above?

Coming from a family with deep mental health issues, I am no stranger to the dark side of the mind. I have a sister that lost her mind, I suspect, to due guilt and grief after she was involved in a tragic accident that resulted in the death of her best friend. As far as doctors can diagnose, they have labeled her as schizophrenic, but I’m not totally sold on that. My sister was incredibly smart, and sharp minded, and after the accident, she just seemed to check out of life. She couldn’t face her pain, and the guilt that she felt. Slowly, over the years, I believe those emotions have manifested as all kinds of mental ghosts in her mind that are always haunting her.

When you’re in the middle of it, and the terrible pain around you seems so real, how does one overcome those demons?

That is a question I have spent the past few years trying to find the answer to. My verdict? Love conquers all.

Throughout my life, I too have wrestled with my own emotional/mental health demons.

Three years ago I started doing stand up comedy. I was not great by any means, but my raw vulnerability had a way of connecting with the crowd that was I think just very real to people. It was exhilarating, and when I went on stage it was a rush like I had never felt before.

Somewhere around the end of my first year of doing stand up… I lost my ability to be vulnerable. I had gotten into a relationship, and slowly, I lost my confidence and started becoming very insecure about everything.

At the time, I knew something was going on. I knew I was losing myself, but I had no idea why or how to stop it. Sure enough, as the months went on, I subtlety became someone different. Someone that was not quite the Christine that I once was. I looked the same. To the unknowing person, I probably seemed the same, but to those who loved me… to the man I was in love with… I wasn’t the same person anymore… I was a slightly less version of the me that we both knew was possible. A slightly dimmed down version of my amazing self.

At a certain point I left the relationship, because I was so lost. What I knew, but couldn’t quite put into words, was that I wasn’t okay being me any more. I wasn’t comfortable opening up and being real with people. When this all started, it was about three months into my new relationship. Right about the time when one would typically start to open up on a deeper level. Except I had never shared my depths with anyone before. I had never even really looked deep at my depths myself. Perhaps because subconsciously, I knew the demons that lived there… and I was terrified of them.

Instead of facing those demons head on though… I retreated in fear. My best self, my mind, decided it would rather be less, than to have to share my shame with the person I loved the most. My mind, my emotions, told me that he couldn’t possibly love me if he knew the real me, and so without even realizing it… I submitted to those thoughts and locked my best self away for “safe keeping”.

My soul, on the other hand, was not content with this lesser version of me. My soul could not sleep, could not eat, could not function at the thought of living the rest of my life in this place of fear. My soul is what pushed me forward and compelled me to fight the walls of the mental prison which were keeping my beautiful self locked down.

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you might be familiar with some of the demons that I am speaking of. Alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, and one I haven’t quite figured out just yet, but that I’m working on, which is a highly repressed sexuality. The side effects of all of these equaled low self worth, low self esteem, depression, anxiety, insecurity, distorted thinking, grandiose fears, and overall inability to cope with life. Before I confronted and dealt with the sexual abuse, and my repressed sexuality, I was a ticking time bomb of mental anguish. I had successfully masked my pain with drugs and alcohol for most of my adult life, but when I got into a real relationship, and my true self was mirrored back to me (as real love tends to do) there was no hiding from it any more. My soul saw what my mind had been hiding. The broken pieces of me that I always tried to pretend weren’t really there were front and center for my soul to see. At first this was quite frightening. I was frozen a bit in fear.

The hardest part of all of this was that what little self love I had built up for myself throughout the years, was suddenly completely gone. I was so angry with myself. I hated who I was. I hated that I wasn’t strong enough to not let this situation get so out of control. I hated that I had seemingly lost not only myself, but also this person that I loved so much, the first person that ever worked his way into the true depths of my soul. As a perfectionist, the worst thing that could happen was happening. My imperfect self was ruining my chance at a happy life. These were the thoughts my mind convinced me were real.

Slowly, what my soul began to see was that this was my purpose in life. These were the traumas I was given to overcome. Slowly, I stopped being so afraid of these demons, and I began to go to work on myself.

Over the past two years, I have worked my way through the world of jilted emotions and false realities that my mind had created which swallowed up my best self. It was not pretty, it was not easy, it required professional help, a new level of spiritual understanding, and a lot of asking the Universe to please help me figure this thing out, and then learning how to listen and look for the signs that the divine universe was sending.

During the past few years, I knew my stand up wasn’t what it once was. I wasn’t trying. I didn’t have the energy to be funny when all I felt inside was dark. I didn’t put in the effort that it needed, and every time I went up I didn’t get the same rush that I once did.

However, last night I sat down and I started writing. I wrote a new five minutes on my messed up mind. As I was writing, I noticed that I wasn’t holding back. I wasn’t afraid to address the crazy, I was raw, I was real, I was vulnerable. I wasn’t afraid any more. I had conquered my fears, and was finally in a place so good that I could look back and laugh at my crazy fucked up thoughts, rather than cry about them. When I finished writing, I sat there in an overwhelming state of peace and gratefulness; much like Andy Dufrane… I felt like I had tunneled my way through 500 yards of shit, but came out clean on the other side.

I performed my new five at an open mic, and for the first time in a long time… I felt that incredible rush that I used to get. For the first time in a long time… I felt like my best self.

The mind is so incredibly powerful. Whether you believe you can, or you can’t, you are right. Fear is also very powerful. Stronger than fear though, is love. The hope for love is what kept me going the past few years. The knowing that I could never have love until I conquered my fears and faced my depths, is what pushed me forward every day. Because you see, the man that I was dating… I loved him more than I have ever loved any other soul. It was the pure love that I had for him that made me able to see my depths so clearly. Any time my mind tried to make me forget about working on myself, and tried to tell me how everyone else was the problem, not me; that man would come to my mind, my love, and I’d remember the truth, I’d remember my lost self. I’d dig deeper, and I’d continue forging forward through all of the pain. Love was the lighthouse that saved me during the storm.

Life is a constant balance between Love and Fear; heart and mind. There is no easy button to overcoming the pain and the trauma that we each have to go through, that is a battle we each have to figure out for ourselves. The mental strength that is required to do that though… is only found when decide to chose the heart over the mind. Love truly does conquer all.

My advice to anyone going through their pain, and hurt, and suffering right now?

Follow your heart. Find your love. Face your fears. Be your best self. Every. Single. Day.

No matter how long you have to fight for it, keep going. You are worth it.

Much love and light to you all,

– Christine

 

 

 

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Today is my birthday. Maybe it’s the week I’ve had, but I can’t remember a birthday that I have been less enthusiastic about. Thirty one. No glitz. No glamour. It’s just an age now. That part I’m okay with. I’m not dismayed by age. I am quite intrigued by the thirties and excited for how they will see me grow.

I think my disappointment with this year comes on the slight feeling of having failed myself over the past year. You see, since my birthday is in January, every year I set a goal for myself of something I want to accomplish that year. In the years leading up to thirty it seemed my ability to achieve said goal always came in the final hours. I’m a procrastinator by nature, so the pressure to make something happen doesn’t really hit hard until the deadline is fast approaching.

My goal for myself for thirty was to buy a house or property. Anyone that knows me, knows I’ve been working hard towards this goal this past year. I even moved in with my parents mid year in order to meet the monetary goal I knew was truly necessary to be serious about buying a place. Many people also know that over the past two months I’ve put several offers on places, even had one accepted only to fall through shortly after. To say it’s been challenging would be an understatement. I know internally I became more frantic about buying a place in December only because I knew my birthday was rapidly approaching and the thought of failing myself seemed out of the question. The Universe seems determine to not let me achieve this one.

However today, as I look back at the year that I have had, the challenges that I have faced, and the growth that I have achieved over the past 12 months, I see that my failure was not in the fact that I didn’t buy a property this year. No, my failure lies in the goal that I set for myself. You see my goal this year was wrong from the start. Before I could achieve the things that I want in life, I needed to get real about the things that were holding me back in life. That’s what this year taught me.. that in order to move forward, you must first admit to what is holding you back. What was holding me back? My ability to take care of myself… my ability to be healthy… physically and mentally.

Healthy means many things. For me, this past year it has meant finding an exercise that I enjoy, and pushing myself to do it everyday. I love biking. This year my love for biking saved me from my depression. It got me outside on days when I didn’t want to get out of bed. It got me in the heart of nature where I could connect back to my soul. It made me feel alive again. Not to mention it helped me lose 50lbs.

I got my eating under control. One night as I was staring down at the bottom of a bag of donuts, eating my pain away, I stopped and I asked myself… what emotion are you eating instead of feeling right now? That was the first night I admitted to myself that I was using eating to hide from my real pain. Once I admitted that to myself, it became a lot harder to sit and eat a whole bag of donuts and feel okay about it.

I should also mention Juice Plus+ in there, but only because I know it made my struggle against food so easy. When I started taking Juice Plus+ and flooding my body with good things, suddenly I didn’t crave sweets anymore. I craved salads. I don’t care how many emotions I can conquer, for me to actually crave healthy food… that is a miracle. Juice Plus+ was my easy button for nutrition, both the capsules and shakes, made getting nutritious food in my body so easy, and for one less struggle that was not so much a struggle… I am so thankful.

Then came sobriety. This was the hard one. This was the truth I wrestled with all year pretending it wasn’t really necessary. Pretending it wasn’t impacting my life negatively. You see alcohol wasn’t affecting my life to a point where it impacted my job, or my ability to function. Drinking wasn’t even something I felt the need to do every week. How could it be a problem if I wasn’t even drinking that much?? How could social drinking be so bad??

It was bad though. It was bad on the nights when I drank and then I let myself text an ex boyfriend. It was bad when I drunkenly drove myself home. It was bad when I didn’t get up and go to meditation class, or go bike, or go do the things that I truly wanted to be doing. Drinking took away my own power from myself.

I guess that’s what this year taught me really. It taught me that the only thing that can get in my way… is myself. It taught me that the only person that can hold me back from greatness… is me. It taught me, that even when I want to pretend to that I can make short cuts work out… that I can’t, and that I’m only postponing my own happiness by trying. This year showed me the value of listening to myself.

That may not be the goal I set out with… but it was the goal that I needed. As I sit here today and think about that… I could not be more grateful to life for stepping in to rearrange my goal this year to something far more valuable than buying a house.

Funny how if the Universe had let me get a property this past year… perhaps I would have missed the real value in that realization of real lesson I was meant to learn through all this. I love when the universe hands you beautiful moments like that. (Although, now that I’ve realized it, we can go ahead and make one of the properties I’m viewing today work out, right??) :p

Thirty was a beautiful year. It was a year of tremendous growth and learning. It was a year that led me closer to who I really am. With that, I have to say I can’t wait for what 31 has in store. I am set up for greatness. I am set up to make my dreams come true. I cannot wait to see where the Universe takes me a year from now… and what wonderfully hard lesson I will finally come to learn before I turn 32. 🙂

Cheers to goals, new directions… and life! ❤

– Christine

    2016 has been what I would refer to as a transitional year for me, and while it has taken me awhile to accept it, it was exactly what I needed in my life. The year started on a rather low note, as I was in a state of heartbreak and despair after ending a relationship with someone whom I loved very deeply. It was unlike other breakups I have been through where there was a clear reason why it didn’t work out. No, this break up was amicable, and at the same time it was so gut-wrenchingly painful because I knew, and he knew, it wasn’t that we didn’t care about it each other, it was actually quite the opposite. We both cared so much for each other, yet, despite all that love, we couldn’t for the life of us figure out how to make one another happy. During our time together I had slowly turned into someone who even I hated, and I was so frustrated because I had no idea how or what had caused that transition within myself, but I knew it was toxic, and at a certain point, I knew I had to walk away to save myself from myself. I gave up on the greatest love I’ve ever experienced because I couldn’t handle it. I was devastated.

      So after I spent most of the month of January either curled up in a ball crying my eyes out or out drinking away my sorrows, I topped it off by turning 30. 30 and Single. Every woman’s nightmare according to society. I combated my depression that night by throwing myself a kick ass roller skating party, because if there is one thing that always cheers me up it’s the opportunity to be the hostess with the mostess and any occasion where I can appropriately wear my purple go-go dress is just a bonus. To further commemorate 30, I also went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans a few weeks later with a few girlfriends. More heavy drinking, just what my depressed self needed. Mardi Gras was fun, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of utter emptiness while I was there. In fact, being in a sea of other lost souls drinking their hearts out, only made me more hyper aware of the fact that I was self-medicating with alcohol pretty intensely and pretty regularly, I knew this was a problem, but I wasn’t ready to face it yet. 

    By the time March rolled around I found myself in the most depressed state that I think I have ever been in. I was drinking every night, I had stopped eating, aside from drunken 3AM donut binging, and I was being reckless in all aspects of my life. I hated myself. I was giving up on life, and what’s scarier, is that I knew I was giving up and I was okay with that. I was ready to leave this world and all my pain behind. Meanwhile, very few people in my life knew anything about this. It is not within my personality to ask for help when I need it, instead I generally opt to suffer in silence for fear of being seen as weak. Instead I turned to alcohol to cope, which only served to fuel my downward spiral, and push me further towards the edge. 

    Luckily, God intervened and sent a few angels to help guide me back to the light. One day after a particularly hard day my Little Sister’s mom (from Big Brother Big Sisters) called me. When I answered she told me that I had just been on her mind and that she wanted to call and me to tell me she loved me and that she was praying for me. I broke down in tears on the phone with her right then and there. I let her know I had been struggling and that I certainly needed her prayers, that day and every day. We talked for a while, and then she prayed for me on the phone. It wasn’t until I broke down that day on the phone with her, that I realized that I couldn’t and didn’t need to go through all of this alone. That was my turning point.

    I stopped going out, I stopped drinking, and I just let myself rest and recharge. I had worn my body down quite a bit by that point. I was the heaviest I had ever been, and I was constantly battling digestive issues because my body couldn’t handle all the abuse I had put it through. That’s when God decided to intervene again. This time it was through an old work colleague. She reached out to me to invite me to a seminar on healthy living that she was speaking at. I agreed, went, and when I did, my mind was blown away by the information presented. The seminar was on Juice Plus+, a whole food nutrition capsule that contained fruits, vegetables, and berries, and had been shown to help people with all kinds of chronic illness symptoms, digestive issues, sugar cravings, skin diseases, the list went on and on. They had me at sugar cravings, as resisting a bag of donuts had become almost impossible for me at that point, so I thought, why not, let’s give this a whirl. What happened next, blew my mind. Within seven days my cravings for crappy food were completely gone. The thought of fast food disgusted me, and not even donuts seemed enjoyable anymore. On top of that, I had so much energy. I started riding my bike again, and spending my evenings in the park enjoying the beauty of nature. Something I had never realized before is the incredible healing power of plants, both inside your body, and outside in your surroundings. Life begets life. That was such a powerful realization to put together, and one I am so thankful to have learned. As March came to an end, I was slowly starting to see the light through the dark. 

     In early April I met someone who encouraged me to find out my Meyer’s Briggs personality type. I had heard of it, and even taken the test for a job at one point, but I had never put much thought or research into my personality type further than that. What stuck out to me though, was that this person, who wanted to date me, knew that his personality was best matched with a set personality type, and so hence, him wanting me to take the test. What I learned is that I am an ENFJ, which was exactly his type, as he was an INFP, however, in no way shape or form was I actually trying to date at that point so I thanked him for his insight and went on about my life. I was intrigued by his system though, and even more intrigued by the Extroverted/Introverted match of our personality combo. I had always thought the idea of opposites attracting each other was something that was not for me. However, the more I researched the Introverted personality (as I simply thought that meant a shy person until that point), the more I realized that my ex was indeed an introvert and that’s why the attraction between us was so strong. What I was slowly realizing as well was that an introverted person takes a long time to really to get to know and understand, and that dating them requires a lot of patience. Whaaaattt???? PATIENCE?????? Omg, I have never had patience, never aspired to have patience, and actually thought my lack of patience was kind of an endearing quality about me. No. Turns out, it is actually the reason why I had never been in love, because up until my last relationship, I had been scaring away any introverts that may have been into me, because I have no patience to get to know them!! I operate at two speeds, zero or one hundred, either you are with me or against me, in or out, we are either getting married or I’m onto the next… and here I was, 30 and alone, and just now realizing it was all because I have no patience. The only reason my ex had managed to get so far with me is because we knew each other for months before we started dating. He knew me pretty well before he actually made a move, a luxury no other introvert had yet been awarded in my life. This realization was life changing. I wasn’t 30 and alone because I was unlovable. I was alone because I don’t have patience. I could handle that. I could work with that. 

     Over the next few weeks I continued to surround myself with smart women, who I happily shared my revelation with. I was so excited about it. As I continued to think about this and speak with other women about this, I slowly realized that my impatience was a defense mechanism that I developed, because my true problem was that I have a deep rooted fear of intimacy. Opening myself up and being vulnerable, is something I just didn’t do. As I researched more about the fear of intimacy, I read about how victims of childhood sexual abuse are infinitely more likely to have this fear, and to a pretty significant degree. As I read that line one night, I broke down and started bawling uncontrollably. Over the past 4 years I have slowly been facing the truth about an inappropriate sexual relationship that I had with a relative as a child. I had been seeing a therapist for it, I had slowly started telling close friends and family members about it, so that I could step out of the shame of it. However, what I had not yet realized was the long lasting, far reaching problems that this had created in all aspects of how I handle relationships. As I read that line, I realized the full weight of the pain which that event had truly caused in my life. I cried harder and deeper than I have ever cried before. My life’s pain of always feeling alone came out that night, and I finally realized that it wasn’t my fault. That night was dark, but the next day the sun was shining brighter than it ever had before in my life as I finally felt the peace that comes with understanding.  

    As summer approached, I was in a pretty good place. I was losing weight, spending ample amount of time in nature, and focusing on figuring out myself. I started to hone in on a lot of my flaws. I notice how controlling and manipulative I can be within my life. I noticed how secretive I can be with my true feelings and emotions. I noticed how I felt more comfortable telling strangers every nitty gritty detail of my life, but when it came to close friends and family I tended to censor myself for fear of being judged. I became very aware of many of my self-sabotaging and negative patterns that I subconsciously do that hold me back from true happiness in life. 2016 is the year that I finally became aware of myself as a human being that operates on one level, and an innately divine being of God, that operates from a higher level. 

    I started taking a class taught by a spiritual life coach that I had been to once before. The class was over the book, A Course in Miracles. What the book is supposed to help you do is to shift your mindset so that you can truly live in the present moment, without judging life based on your past experiences, but rather taking it for what it is, in the clear and present moment. It is a true mental shift, which is supposed to leave you in a state where you are constantly operating from your God self, vs. your human self. It’s not easy. It takes practice every day, and every moment, but I am slowly seeing myself operating more from that space. That space is pure love by the way. Pure love for everyone in your life, and most importantly, for yourself. 

    Self-love is where I have been lacking the most this year. I’ve had my ups and downs with myself over the years, but this year, as I slowly realized more and more faults and issues that I need to deal with, it became harder and harder for me to love myself. As the summer wore on, I found my drinking was starting to pick up again. Partially because I was traveling a lot, and attending a lot of social drinking events, but the deeper I dug into myself about it I realized it was mostly because I was truly struggling to love myself. 

    When I look back at my last relationship, and all of the realizations I have made about myself from it, that I had no patience, I had a fear of intimacy and inability to be vulnerable and communicate, I can also see very clearly that at one point, I stopped loving myself. I put my worth into someone else’s hands, and when I did, I slowly turned into someone I didn’t like. I was highly codependent. I cringe when I think back on it now. 

    Over the past few weeks I have been really working on my forgiving myself for the whole thing. While I can see so clearly now where things went wrong, what I must remind myself is that it was not all my fault, really no break up is ever one sided with fault. I simply didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I would have never known what I know now, had I not gone through the darkness of the past few months. I can sit and tell myself all kinds of things, but at the end of the day it comes back to my ability to learn and grow from my mistakes, and my ability to love and forgive myself, as that is what life is all about. 

    That is why I am writing all of this today. I know what I have been through this year, but writing it all out… has me realizing that I have been learning a lot more than what I give myself credit for. It has been a hard transitional year, but one that I would not trade for the world. At times it has been easy to focus on the negative, but when I look back on this year as a whole, and I see just how much I have learned and grown… I can’t help but to see the wonderful soul inside of me that guided me through all this darkness and fought my way back to the light, and I cannot help but to love her. She saved me. She is me. I am the light. 

   The day I ended my last relationship, I found this quote that I posted on Instagram:
“As I stand here in a puddle of tears, I give thanks, for without pain, I would not grow. – J. iron word
   Always give thanks for your pain, for it is through the darkness that you will find your way back to the light. 
Sending love, light, & happiness to you all, always,
Christine ❤