The trauma of my childhood left an unresolved imprint on me well into my adult life. Life as I knew it had been ripped away from me when I was thirteen and all I knew how to do was pretend it hadn’t happened. This created an unstable inner environment and in an attempt to find safety my inner child, spirit, and soul retreated into the background of my life.
Doing deep inner work was not an option for me at that age, so I mastered ways of acting, feeling, and performing to dodge the shame I felt. My life was different than my friends’ lives. They had a mother and father living and supporting them in their homes and I did everything to hide that I didn’t.
Compartmentalizing was the survival tool I used to carry on through this difficult time. At that young age, I was not yet prepared to meet the devastation. The best choice for me was to store the emotions somewhere else, ignore them, and distract myself from feeling them. I was a master of making life look shiny on the outside to hide the desperate wounds I had on the inside.
In my twenties, I felt like a young wounded teenager who was still spinning from the loss of her beloved family. I dealt with the abandonment and losses of my childhood by storing away the sadness and anger in order to survive. But my emotional development suffered because I had not yet figured out how to open my eyes to my grief and anger.
Even though I did my best to pretend those wounds didn’t exist, the cracks started to break through. I had huge expectations for others and was constantly disappointed, I took everything personally, and most of the time I was overwhelmed with anxiety and sadness.
As difficult as life was at that time, I now look back with compassion on the habits I adopted to make it through. People do the best they can with the tools they have available to them, even when those tools are dysfunctional and harmful.
Ultimately, the discomfort I felt in my young life motivated me to find another way. I came to understand that I was the source of the disorder–this was an empowering first step toward healing. With this knowledge, I applied a practice of self-care to my life that drew me inside and opened doors of awareness to how truly sad I always was. This opened my eyes to the obstacles that blind sighted my healing opportunities.
Yes, life had dealt me a difficult card, but I had a choice, was I going to harbor my grief and anger for the rest of my life. I voted for a chance to experience peace and happiness in this lifetime and opened my eyes to my grief and anger and this changed everything.
I learned to build a foundation for great healing. I put a team in place to help me translate and understand the emotions and sensations that were finally feeling safe enough to drop into my awareness. Now that I understood the walls that I had put up to protect myself, I began to dismantle them, brick by brick, because they no longer served me and it felt safe enough to do so. I learned that I had to return to myself to heal, otherwise I would be aimlessly shooting darts, hoping that something outside of myself would save me, and nothing outside of myself ever can.
I reached a point in life where I was done striving and it was burning me out. I was done guessing and manipulating and controlling outcomes. I came to the realization that outcomes were the root of my stress and dis-ease in life. Even though I’d experienced my share of “unfavorable outcomes,” I also saw that my life had been blessed and that each “unfortunate event” was necessary to shape me into myself.
Through a life of trial and error and a spiritual practice rooted in several ancient and modern wisdom traditions, I’d finally shifted the focus from outcome to inner peace. And I was free.