I am warning you now that this is probably going to be the longest post I will ever write, and it is going to get quite vulnerable. My story takes a number of turns before I start to figure out what I really want, what is in alignment with my true purpose, and start taking action to help me get there. If you find yourself in a place of complete confusion about the direction your life should take, maybe in a dark emotional space not sure how to get to the other side, or focused on healing from past wounds to create a better future for yourself.. stick around and you may gain inspiration from my story.
Growing up I always enjoyed reading and writing, to a point where I even attempted writing a novel in high school about a vampire in love… it was the time of Twilight if you couldn’t tell. For a long time I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, and that flip flopped a bit into adolescence.
[Fair warning, this is where it starts to get real personal!]
It was when I experienced a sexual assault the summer after grade 10 that my commitment to that field really solidified. I wanted to be a prosecutor because it would enable me to make a difference for others who had been victimized by helping to bring their abusers to justice. This was unconsciously driven by my emotions surrounding my own situation, and not feeling as though I’d gotten any kind of justice or emotional support with the pain.
I fumbled my way through grade 11, formerly a “goody-two-shoes” type suddenly resorting to substances to help me dissociate from the internal pain that I was repressing. As a result of those habits, I started having vivid night terrors. This was a terrifying time in my life, and I was barely sleeping for months. I wasn’t sure what was causing the night terrors, all I knew was that I needed to make some drastic changes because I couldn’t keep going like that.
In giving up the substances, the night terrors went away. Looking back, I now see this as divine guidance… or more like a shove! Once I let go of the substances, I put all of my focus on my law goal. I also unknowingly transferred my dissociative habits with substances to new ones – emotional eating and binge-watching TV in isolation in my free time. As a result, I gained a significant amount of weight, my confidence plummeted, and I felt alone no longer connecting with my old friends.
Once I began my undergraduate degree, right out of the gate I focused every class I took in the Psychology and Criminology space. I was obsessed with the show Criminal Minds, so my goal shifted from law to becoming a Criminal Investigative Analyst (Canadian version of the show’s BAU). I even met with a woman in that role to learn more about it! I was told this unit was competitive and I would need to start out in high crime areas to get more exposure to the more extreme cases.
After two years without any substances at all, I caved to the culture and started drinking socially again. This ultimately led me down a path where I found myself sexually assaulted once again. Based on the last experience, this time I kept it to myself. I felt responsible for putting myself in the position for that to happen again, and I simply continued on with life and tried to pretend it didn’t happen.
After my 3rd year of classes, I got into health and fitness because I realized I was about to step into my graduating year once again overweight, isolated, and with very little confidence. I didn’t want to miss out on the grad events this time around, and I knew for that to be avoided that I needed to get control of my health. Once I got going, I found that if I shared all motivational and positive things on social media to inspire other people, it made me feel better too. This is where I started falling into toxic positivity and (spiritual) bypassing. I became a health and fitness coach and started running monthly challenges to help people lose weight, be healthier, or simply be more active.
Suddenly I wanted to do something with that, or perhaps my new passion for makeup, rather than something in the legal space. In my mind, if I continued down the path I was on professionally, I would be forced to see horrible things. I would be around people who had been seriously traumatized, and I wanted to focus on the fun and the positive. I can see now that I was just worried that if I saw those things or interacted with people who had been victimized, it would force me to confront the pain I’d been avoiding for years. As humans we have a tendency to push away anything that reminds us of our pain, even if we’re not consciously aware of it.
What we resist, persists.
Fast forward to the year following graduation:
I’ve got my Bachelor’s degree and not a clue what to do with it. I had no clear path in mind, so I applied for the RCMP and went through the motions. I passed the written test and potentially could have launched in that direction for my life had I decided to continue. I couldn’t decide if it was what I wanted, so I did what the old me always did in moments of indecision… I did nothing and made no choice, which I know now IS a choice.
I considered doing a Master’s program, and even went on an excursion to visit a school that I was considering in another province. I had two potential routes, one more focused on the criminology side coupled with my passion for travel and another focused on the psychology/mindset side coupled with my passion for fitness. Again, I didn’t know which was the “right” path to take, so I took neither and remained stuck.
In 2015 I ended up getting a job at an eLearning company with a role in Business Development, where I stayed for a year and a half. I transitioned into a Customer Success role in 2016, and that was when I really came into my own with the company and felt a bit more in alignment with who I am. Suddenly I felt like I was doing more of what I enjoy – writing, strategizing, coming up with ideas, helping people, etc.
This role means you get to coach learning and development professionals with the management of their organization’s learning program, understand their strategic priorities and program goals, and help them chart a course for achieving success. It’s been several years and I am still enjoying that role, now as a Senior Customer Success Manager. I realize now that I’ve been doing what I aspire to do in the future for the past several years and I didn’t even know it, only instead of working one on one with individuals, I am working with corporate leaders.
Where this story takes a bit of a turn is the beginning of 2020
This is something I think most people can probably relate to given what happened across the entire world when the pandemic hit. I ended a relationship that had been toxic for the both of us due to incompatibility, conflicting needs/wants, and childhood wounds. I had been in school part-time working on my makeup artistry license while working full-time during much of the time we lived together, and I had reached a point of total burnout. I was emotionally drained and completely shut down, and I became very overweight, unhealthy, and depressed yet again. I knew I needed to leave so I could get myself and my life back on track.
Once I was back in my hometown, I got back into my fitness routine and started feeling better gradually as my physical and mental health improved. In the spring, I decided to try dating apps and put myself back out there. I talked to this one man from an app every day, morning and night, for several months. Initially, due to the pandemic, we literally didn’t have the option to connect face to face with the restrictions in place. Then when the restrictions lifted, I tried to initiate a meetup. He started to pull away and things fell apart when I addressed it, leaving me drowning in intense emotions.
I didn’t understand why I had such strong emotions for a man I’d literally never even met. I know now this was the result of an emotional trigger. I stumbled onto an ebook that focused on inner bonding, which contained a wealth of journal prompts about your childhood, your emotions, unconscious thoughts and beliefs, etc. I started journaling about each and every prompt over a period of several months, making connections I’d never realized before about my childhood and how those experiences were shaping my current behaviour and emotional reactions.
As I was beginning that process, an old friend entered my life. He lives on the other side of the country, so again spending time together face to face was not an option. Much like the last man I’d been in contact with, he and I started talking morning and night every single day. He made me laugh and feel good, and I became addicted to that contact. After about 5 months of this with flirting ramping up, I realized after 15 years of friendship that I had real feelings for him. When I brought this up with him, he immediately started pulling away. The panic sets in with a past where those things indicate ultimate rejection/abandonment, and you assume it’s about to happen again. He insisted we were fine, though I could tell that things had changed.
I cared deeply for this person and couldn’t separate the emotions from the friendship. I needed more authentic communication, so it was painful to accept when the video messaging and meaningful conversations significantly decreased and shifted to low effort text communication. I’d been conditioned to look for signs of things going wrong and had an automatic response to try to fix it, and this change in consistency had all of my warning bells going off. After a month or two of experiencing a roller coaster of emotions, I decided to get a bit of external support. I recognized that this had become a pattern, and I needed to get to the bottom of it and put that to an end because it was extremely painful to keep repeating.
As you’ll see in the next chapter of this story, what I find really interesting about therapy is that you often go in with one problem and find many more you weren’t consciously aware of to finally process. That process of self-discovery and awareness is what really helps you move forward.
I started seeing a local therapist at the end of 2020. I spent 8 hours with this therapist, and ultimately decided to stop the sessions. It felt more like venting to a friend and having them agree with everything that I said more than it did actual therapy. Rather than throwing in the towel, I decided to go through BetterHelp to continue my treatment.
To be clear, I am not in any way affiliated with them, though I do recommend them!
Due to the in-depth onboarding questionnaire, I was placed with a therapist uniquely qualified to help me with my personal traumas. I started seeing immediate results after the first session, and I saw her on a weekly basis for many months. She gave me exercises to do to further my growth and self awareness, and through that process I started gaining better awareness for myself, which resulted in improved understanding and compassion for other people.
Side note – If you’ve ever tried therapy and found it unhelpful and/or unproductive, I encourage you to try again. Sometimes we have to try a few different therapists to find one with the experience we need to create a trusting and open relationship where you actually feel supported. Talk therapy doesn’t work unless you are able to be vulnerable and actually open up. You also get what you put in – most of my breakthroughs came in the work done outside of my sessions, and we talked through them when we met.
As I began working with the new therapist and started using the tools she had given me, I came to many realizations that were painful to accept. I gained more awareness about my own behaviours and beliefs, which I was able to tie back to my upbringing. It often feels like 5 steps forward and 3 steps back. I’ve learned this journey is not linear and you gain awareness to new things, take a brief reprieve to sit in those emotions and process, then get back at it.
This can also be an isolating process because as you become aware and communicate what you’ve learned, others around you may feel blame or judgment from your vulnerability. This can often lead to them getting defensive and/or pushing you away rather than supporting your growth. It is important for you to know that this is not your fault.
It is a result of their own unconscious shadow parts, which are being mirrored back at them as you heal and shine light on what they don’t want to face. The shadow work part of this process is probably what I struggle with most. Nobody likes to acknowledge the more unhealthy aspects of themselves because it really can be painful. Plus once you are consciously aware of them, it requires effort to consciously change, which is something not everyone is ready or willing to do.
My new therapist helped me get to a place where I understood why I was having these intense emotional reactions to the men in my life pulling away, getting distant, being inconsistent, or “ghosting” me. She helped me start to heal those parts of myself so that I could stop being so afraid of abandonment or rejection and actually communicate what I needed regardless of the outcome. Of course this meant I ultimately ended up losing that connection with the friend of 15 years, even though he had admitting to having feelings for me as well. That said, I know that in the long run I gained a better connection with, and respect for, myself in the process of finally setting and standing firm in my own boundaries and needs.
Was it painful? Oh HELL YES. It was excruciating.
It hurt to risk losing that relationship and accepting the loss that followed, and I did it anyway because I knew if I didn’t that it would only hurt longer. I have learned that we can’t ignore our needs to keep people in our lives that don’t want to be there fully. If we do sacrifice our needs to keep someone in our life just because we don’t want to lose them, we ironically reject and abandon ourselves, which deepens those unconscious emotional wounds and causes us more internal pain and suffering. This means that we’ll only end up worse off in the long run because those needs are not going to go away, and we’ll only grow more hurt and resentful over time if the person we’ve kept in our lives is unwilling to meet them.
Skip ahead to one year after I started doing the inner bonding/shadow work:
I attended a free 6 day conference called Own Your Future with Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi to help shift my focus and gain momentum in my career. I gained an incredible amount of information and inspiration to really shift my life. I watched Tony’s Netflix special “Not Your Guru” and signed up for his Unleash the Power Within (UPW) conference in June.
The UPW conference changed my life. I shifted to a plant based diet, I started focusing even more on my spiritual practice, I gained more awareness of myself and both what I wanted and what was holding me back. I also got introduced to KINRGY Expanded Fitness, which has been a huge blessing. The most significant thing that I got from this conference was an understanding that I needed to come back to my roots, and I needed to stop drowning in indecision and allowing myself to stay stuck.
Because I had all of these different passions – makeup, fitness, helping others, psychology – I had been scared to pick a route and choose “wrong”. At UPW, Tony showed me you don’t HAVE to choose a single passion and you can do something that ties those passions together. I started getting genuinely excited for my future because I saw a way to do everything I wanted to do simultaneously.
I’d been focused so much on healing myself, and I’d come so far! I decided to invest in a certification program that would enable me to become a coach, and I am so excited for the day that I get to embark on that next chapter and start working with clients. Right now I am focused on getting myself completely to the other side of my own mess because I recognize that I still have some work to do, and I am fully committed to getting there!
While I focus on my personal growth journey and my education, I want to share what I learn. As I continue down this path, I want to bring you along for the ride in hopes my journey might inspire or assist you with your own. If anything, I hope it helps you feel less alone if you find yourself in a similar dark place trying to find your way back to the light.
I will be sharing a mix of my own personal journey along with reflections and things that I learn through the books, podcasts, coursework, and anything else I do that can add some value. If you made it to the end, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read my story. I hope you found something here of value, and would love to hear from you if you did! Please drop a comment if you can relate to any of this and let me know what takeaways you may have.
With love and light,