“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
As I sit here in a chair by the window simultaneously trying to type, sip my coffee and rock our youngest baby back to sleep, I’m still in awe that right here in this moment is where my life ended up. Two wonderful kids, married to a great guy, the most amazing, loving circle of people in our lives, and finally pursuing my passions and dreams. What more can a person really ask for? I’m exhausted yet fulfilled, and most importantly I’m strong, happy, and healthy. But when I use the term ‘healthy’ I don’t mean it in the physical form, although that’s something to be extremely grateful for, of course. What people don’t understand or cannot/chose not to talk about is the importance of mental health in regards to our general well being. For me, stabilizing this part of my life was THE game changer in my journey to true happiness, and what took me from being a wounded, angry and lost little girl to the self reflective, introspective, honest and open woman and mother I am today. To look at my life currently and talk to me you see a joyful, loving, silly, open, friendly and nurturing person who would do anything for anyone who deserves it. But life was definitely not always like this for me – not even close. It took some really bad things to happen in my life to finally seek help, followed by years of counselling and opening a pretty big can of worms. There was intense self reflection, a lot of honesty, facing of hard truths, and a TON of letting go. But once you learn how to do it, emotional baggage is truly the best weight a girl can lose.
If you’ve lost someone close to you or gone through a terrible experience, being told “everything happens for a reason” right away it is the most misplaced, stinging comment a person can say. It just isn’t appropriate at the time, when it’s fresh and someone is devastated and going through the grieving process. If it all happens for a reason, why? Where the hell is this damn reason? And why is that reason happening me, and not you? It’s so hard when bad things happen to us to push away the clouds and darkness and see that we can learn from it, and that eventually there will be light again. For myself, the darkest time of my life was when a family member who helped raised me died in an awful motorcycle accident. I was 24 years old and my world was shattered and flipped completely upside down. The swiftness that a person could be taken from this earth, in such a violent way rattled me to the core. Sleep and eating became scarce; the anxiety and realization of my loved ones mortality set in, and I even stopped having a period from lack of food, sleep and being in a constant state of stress. Finally I dragged myself to the doctor, quite unwillingly. After giving me a pregnancy test (as if I had any kind of sex life) and other blood tests came back negative, the Dr. suggested that perhaps something else was going on with me that could be the reason for my monthly irregularities…. and I crumbled. Tears flowing, I started to unload on him all that had happened to my family in the past 6 months. He looked baffled; he was a really nice man, but just that – a nice man, not a therapist, and seemed quite uncomfortable with my tears. At this point he gave me a very awkward pat on the arm and suggested that he’d like me to see a counselor they had at the office, and that she may be able to help me a bit more. Looking back I wish I could give him a huge (awkward) hug and thank him, as this was one of the pivotal moments of my life that changed my path forever.
The beginning of my counselling was spent dealing with the present issue – the loss of someone I loved, and who unknowingly was the strong and silent glue that had held my family together. As we slowly peeled back the layers of why (besides the obvious sadness and loss of a family member) this affected me so deeply and how I was dealing with the pain, we unearthed nothing less than a wasps nest of longstanding issues. What’s more disturbing was the detrimental ways I had been coping with and surviving them – using food and restriction as a method of control, since I felt so incredibly out of control in my life; partying way too much as a way to distract myself and numb reality, and the most damaging of all – closing myself off to anyone on the outside who ever tried to get close to me, in fear of more potential pain, hurt and loss. However these behaviors were not new, and had existed long before this traumatic event happened in my life. So from what experiences, which people in my life growing up, and how had I developed and learned all of these behaviors, and why ? Who’s fault was it really that I was dealing with life this way, and who can we blame? Accepting the answer to this was one of the biggest parts of my personal healing, because the answer to those questions is completely irrelevant. I choose not to be a victim. The things that happened to me, the experiences I had growing up and and way I was treated by certain people who were previously in my life was awful and unjust; I acknowledge and accept that. But what happened to me was in the past – I could not blame anyone for the way I was behaving presently, as an adult anymore. I was fully grown, capable woman who yes, had been through some shit over the years. Some pretty bad, really unfair shit. But I could not use my past as an excuse for the way I was hurting myself presently. Letting go of all that baggage did not come overnight, or even over a year. But eventually over time, hard work and acceptance I slowly began to realize that when I viewed everything I had gone through in my life as lessons and learning experiences instead of pitying myself and blaming others I could finally let go of the fact that they had happened to me, along with all of the pain associated with them, and start to live my very best life.
The only thing I can be weighed down by these days.
Phewwww… talk about therapy! This will be the beginning of a series of posts about my journey through counselling, self healing, and the path I took to become the genuinely happy person that I am today. Everyone’s experience is different of course, and situations going into counselling vary. The things I talk about are my experiences, opinions, and thoughts. They are not coming from a professional standpoint; just an extremely insightful and positive person who truly wishes the same transformation and happiness for the rest of the world. Misery loves company yes, but on the flip side – so do genuinely happy people. Writing and sharing my experiences with the world is a way to continue my journey of personal growth, and in sharing them I want to inspire others to look inward, seek help if necessary and give hope to anyone out there who is struggling. My recovery will never be complete; I will always push myself to grow as a person, challenge my thoughts, make decisions that are aimed in a positive direction, and most importantly behave in a way that is conducive to a mentally healthy lifestyle, for my family and I.
In finding myself, I definitely lost a lot. We must not attempt to ‘get over’ our pasts and shouldn’t, as what has happened to us helped shaped us into the people we are today. But if you can find acceptance in your experiences and let them make you better, not bitter, you can emotionally check the baggage, and let it become a reminder of how far you’ve come, where you are going, and who you are truly meant to be.
*1 in 5 people will suffer from some sort of mental health disorder in their life. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis yourself, or you know someone who is, please phone the 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Line: Toll-free 1-866-996-0991. ( https://www.crisisline.ca/) *