Friday, December 23, 2016

Relfections as I turn 36

I wrote a post on Facebook and Instagram yesterday but hit the word count before my thoughts ran out. Realizing I only broke the surface of what I wanted to say about turning 36 this year, I decided to expand with a blog post.

Missed it? Here's what I wrote:

Today I turn 36. What a year it has been. It has been one of truth for me, unable to exist with the drapery of safety. I have been stripped of pride and cloaked in vulnerability. I have forced myself to keep an open heart when my entire being was desperate to contract into a small little ball, shielding myself from hurt. I have looked long at hard at the qualities I don't love about me and worked my ass off to change them. What a challenging year it has been but what gifts I have been given. What wonderful, beautiful gifts.

I think back to my life 20 years ago. I was a teenager then. And just getting out of a very deep depression that intermingled with eating disorders and various other self loathing acts. I struggled to enjoy anything and I couldn't stand the sight of myself. I hated many things about me - from my curly hair to my shy personality. I floundered through my days, feeling comfort in anything but my own thoughts and feelings.

I think back 10 years. Just 26 years old, I had buried my Mom 3 years earlier and was still reeling with grief. I would be married that year and assumed marriage just existed after the vows. I hadn't realized the work, appreciation and dedication it required every single day. I was afraid of everything back then and managed to find a quiet little bubble I could seclude myself into. Anytime I felt my anxiety approaching, I would step back into my comfort zone and be okay again. I shrank lots around this time and only wanted to do what I felt others wanted from me. I found my joy from morphing into the person I thought was expected of me.

At 36 year of age, I never imagined my life as it is. I never knew I could feel such freedom, both from living an authentic life and from just learning to love and be ME. I never imagined I could find so much joy from everything and nothing at the same time. I am filled with gratitude every single day. I enjoy silence and a hot cup of tea. I like my own company now.

I never would have such an appreciation and thirst for life had I not gone through so much. Grateful for my struggles that have lead me to this amazing life surrounded by soul inspiring people of all ages & sizes

36. Freedom.

Birthdays in the past have largely been spent in a great big funk. I've never been able to pinpoint the source of my discontent. I never knew if it was due to disappointment from expectations, or the fact that my birthdays would cause me to miss my Mom desperately. I would miss the over-the-top ways she celebrated the day I was born. I knew this day was more important to her than anyone. I selfishly miss that appreciation and love. Or maybe it was witnessing another year passing, further from my youth and knowing I can't turn back time to change the things I would maybe like to change, or learn faster, knowing full well that it was always my age itself that brought about that clarity anyway.

This past year as a 35 year old I have struggled. I have struggled with facing parts of myself I am not proud of. I have run hills so hard I've almost vomited, in an effort to face things in my past that have haunted me and that I have covered up through trying to be perfect. Some of the darkness I have carried inside could only be acknowledged if my body was moving hard. It felt more tolerable to me. I made a conscious effort to stop hiding. Stop pretending. Stop covering. I let my whole self come out to the world. My anxiety peaked, and I clung, white knuckled, to the armour I always so readily put on in the face of hurt feelings and vulnerability. But I left it all on the floor. It was me or nobody, I promised myself. I meditated on keeping my heart open. My yoga poses were all heart opening poses. When I felt the tug to close, I opened my arms wide, even when tears were falling down my face. I spread my body on the ground, taking up as much room as I could, promising myself I would not close anymore.

Have you tried this before?

Exhausting. Terrifying. So much work.

But on the other side of it all? Once you work through your crap and live with the fears, doubts and emotions rather than behind them?

Freedom. Joy. Peace.

And finally...after 36 years on this Earth, I have found things I have been striving to find my entire life.

I enjoy being alone because I finally like who I am and the company I keep.

I finally appreciate my quiet nature. Without it I would never be able to hear my inner voice, which has been loud and clear and so obviously guiding me toward great things.

At one time in my life, it served me well to shut down and stop feeling. I learned this year that that this response no longer serves me and I have discovered ways of living without that protection. And the quality of people that have walked into my life because of this willingness has more than been worth those moments of fear and uncertainty.

I can be soft. I don't have to be tough and ferocious and hard as nails to be appreciated.

I don't have to take on the world by myself. It's ok to ask for help. It's necessary even. It will save my sanity and allow others a piece of me that I so often kept under lock and key.

I don't have to be perfect to be liked. In fact, people who see me as perfect feel they can't connect to me on any level. Admitting my weaknesses and showing them to others in truth and honesty has created deep bonds and friendships that never would have happened otherwise.

Sometimes in life I just need to let go and trust. I'll never have all the answers. And if I wait to have them before I act, I will always be stagnant. This year I moved myself forward in my career and my personal life. Even as anxiety threatened my sanity.

This year I felt as though every tool I have developed throughout my life to feel safe and secure in this unstable world was ripped from my knowledge base. And I had to stand; bare, weak and beaten to the core, shroud in the hauntings of my childhood that were presenting themselves in different clothing. And all I could do was face it all, completely naked and swimming in vulnerability. I would choke and sputter and kick and protest. But eventually the strength and depth of the waves required me to surrender. If not, I'd never make it out alive. Surrender. Let go. Two themes that stood so prominently for me this year.

After all this, here I sit. I'm now 36 years old and peace fills my heart. I have finally reached shore after swimming through so much - my childhood, my fears, my insecurities, much loss.

And you know what?

I am okay.
I am more than okay.

I have faced all my fears. I have been torn down and have managed to build myself back up. I have accepted my responsibility for the areas of my life that I am not happy with and I have changed it all. I have faced massive resistance and finally threw my hands up in the air, telling the universe I was handing it all over.

I am free.
I am free to be me.

I used to hate being called stubborn. It's being stubborn that has allowed me to accomplish all the goals I set for myself, both big and small because I refuse to quit.

I used to hate getting anything less than an A+ on my report card. Now I take those less than perfect spaces in my life and learn from them. They excite me, because in them, I grow.

I used to look in the mirror and see every flaw, real or imagined, that plagued me. Now I can finally look in the mirror and smile at myself, feeling connected to ME, and feeling love and pride for the way I've handled my life.

I used to hate my body and would notice every ounce of "fat" it held. Even at 90 pounds and starving myself for weeks and months at a time. Now I honour it and appreciate it for all it has done for me - from carrying 3 babies to allowing me to move strongly and freely.

I used to neatly pack myself into a tight little comfortable box so I could avoid anxiety. I now finally have learned to live outside my comfort zone because I am thirsty to grow and to learn. I live with anxiety and thank it for reminding me where my edges are, so that I can continually expand them.

As I enter this new age, I am feeling content. And at peace. And free. I am the designer and the executor of my life and I am creating a beautiful one.

At first I felt like I was becoming the person I've always wanted to me. But now I know better.

I am finally shedding the built up layers of illusion that I have created to protect myself.
And underneath?
Underneath it all is the true and authentic Rachel. The one I was born to be. The girl I was before I allowed the world to tell me who I wasn't.

And you know what?
I kinda like her.

My Birthday wish for you is that you too, feel this freedom in your own life and in your own body.

Not sure where to begin? Message me. I have so much to share with you.

xoxo <3

1 comment:

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