The story of how I came home to myself, my winding 13 year path of healing (that led to this work), and how I was led to learn: healing doesn't have to hurt, there is an actual time-tested process to learn to love yourself, and the greatest journey we can make is within.
what have you yearned for in your life?
I know my answers:
To be truly deeply loved
To matter in this world
The hidden jewels of suffering. A treasure buried at the bottom of the sea.
Sometimes our deepest yearnings hold our greatest wounds.
The things I was truly searching for in life, left me open to deep vulnerabilities. The things I wanted the most in life, left me searching in all the wrong places. The things I wanted, had me constantly searching which meant I was more easily able to get hurt because I was so eager to find them and be home. And be sure. And be loved. And be safe. And to matter. My greatest desires I would come to find out, held both my greatest gifts and greatest wounds.
Where do I begin? There is a reel of tape in my life that plays out my twenties. The things I know now if maybe I knew a glimmer of them then.
My path in Vegas started as both a blessing and a curse. Graduating in 2008, the job market evaporated. My dream fashion job suddenly non-existent.
In a summer, it was poof, gone, no contract, no options. So I fell into retail, and casinos, and marketing. (They each hold jewels for me but that’s another story.) Point being — I was never where I was “meant” to be, I was never satisfied, I was always asking questions, and searching for more, for fun, for meaning.
By the time the universe kicked me out of my last job (the universe always has a way of making sure I stop making sacrifices, by well, eliminating them), I knew what I wanted to explore next. I booked my week-long conference in Chicago and attended my first World Future Society conference. It was love at first sight. I had found my people. The photographic evidence I sent home of this, was me and four or five of my grey-haired seniors. My friends thought I was nuts. I was intellectually alive.
That all sounds brilliant, and beautiful. And there are many key things that conference spurned in me to start looking at change from the outside—the scope of humanity, our lived existence and history on this planet, our possible futures—in. I lived that powerful journey, and that work is very much a pillar in my life and the foundation of my thinking.
But that is not what this story is about. This story is about the pain, the bruises, the papercuts I replayed in my mind each time, almost every day, recounting how I was a failure, the comparisons with my college classmates building businesses, achieving corporate success, financial and education accolades. And every moment I gave my power away, waiting for someone to tell me I mattered, to see I was brilliant, to tell me I would be successful, to see the hope and shining light I could not see for myself.
Oh, and there were so many of these moments. As overachievers (though often we all do this in some way), we look for external reassurance and validation that we’re smart, we’re doing good, we’re valued—that we matter. We grew up on a steady diet of this stuff! A conversation for another time, but it is the finite definition of being told you’re smart and not wanting to lose it each day. And, it just so happens being valued is a core human need.
BUT—when you get to the real world, there is none of that. NONE OF IT. Unless you’re playing the game. And oh boy, I was not born to play by these rules.
How long, how long, it took me to see the wounding, and rewounding, and the scared, defensive animals in each of us playing out in our relationships, our workplaces, our homes. (Not to mention now on social media, it makes it so much easier to do it to ourselves.)
I had to learn all the lessons of how the world “actually works.” How people don’t really say what they’re thinking. Or are threatened by how you present yourself when you just walk into a room. How when you do say what you’re thinking, that’s not really appreciated or accepted or allowed.
I got knocked around, a lot. Each time, was a new cut. A new hole that I never closed up. That I would show someone asking them to heal, and they wouldn’t even look at it or see it. Maybe they’d just pour more gas on it. It wasn’t theirs to heal necessarily, and they had their own open wounds too that they had little idea how to hold.
Part of what was happening here—in my “relationships,” if you can call them that (this is the era of hookup culture after all folks), in my workplaces, in my looking up to my bosses and next to my coworkers—was that I was giving my power away. I said look at my wounds (maybe not consciously, but energetically and emotionally it was there), tell me I’m worth it, help me know this, help me “heal” (I doubt I really knew I needed to heal back then). Help me be sane, help me know I’m special, help me know I matter. I did this to / with everyone. Bosses, coworkers, boys, club dudes and douchebags, every small and slight interaction, I was evidence seeking to know that I was special. Sometimes I got good feedback (YAY!) and often times I didn’t. Sometimes (three times) I got horrible feedback—the universe kicked me out and I got fired.
These were phenomenal blessings in disguise, but at the time I did not see this shit back then.
At the crux of this, where did all this suffering come from? It came from me.
It came from my deepest yearnings, my deepest wishes, my most beautiful and profound gifts in life.
It came from me looking in all the wrong places for the things I needed and wanted most. It came from me trying to live a life I was not built or meant to live. My inner child now gently reminds me that I wonder why I could be successful or happy in a path that was never my own. (She’s wise beyond her years, clearly.)
Could I see any of this then? Absolutely not. Could I see how I perpetuated and recut open and held open these wounds? Nope. Could I see what I was doing to myself again and again? Not at all.
The rewounding, the playback, the unhealthy self talk, the self doubt, the despair spirals—those were all mine, baby. I owned my reels and I owned my pain, and I had no single clue that I both owned and caused it. All of it. My suffering, my reels, my wounds and rewounding, my searching, my seeking, my deepest desires held open to the world for anyone to fill.
So what was really going on here? I had never learned how to heal. I never learned how to hold myself. I never learned how to tune into what my inner wisdom was shouting to get out.
So what happened? Sign up below to read the next chapter: How I learned to take care of myself.
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