Scouring through my journal entries from 2019, I am reminded of my mission in life, in my own handwriting: “I heal myself to heal another, so that they may do the same.” And so, I am compelled to share my experience, sooner than I once thought. I flip through the colorful pages to see, “What more intimate a thing to share than the words I write but have trouble articulating?”
After losing my father in 2016, I spiraled into the depths of grief and all of it’s more sinister companions – depression, post traumatic stress and anxiety, and and found myself in the thrall of dissociation as I lost myself with each passing day that I did not spend allowing myself to mourn with acceptance.
The part of my story that is worth sharing, however, comes after a series of revelations and much spiritual development. Around the two year anniversary of my loss, my recovery accelerates as I begin planting the seeds of transformation. I spent a year unraveling myself to begin anew. And so, I am here, raw with emotion and insight to share from a tumultuous, but rewarding year of accepting who I once was with compassion for myself, learning who I am now and who I want to be.
The following three entries are from January 2019.
I cried hard. A well of tears I had been holding onto overflowed. It hurt so good. It hit me so starkly that all I could do was embrace it and let my guilt, shame, remorse, stress, and sadness do their worst. Like going limp in a car accident instead of tensing to brace yourself. The fear is ultimately what kills, or at least hurts you the most, in both situations. The tension is a defense mechanism, the immediate response to danger. Fight, flight, or freeze, your limbic system screams.
When trapped, be it in a car or your own head, what else is there to do? Surrendering to your fate is the best option. This must be a conscious decision, overriding your peripheral nervous system’s response, with courage and thought. It is not a defeat. It is an opportunity to be released from suffering. Fight, flight, or freeze, a chance to be released.
Why do we fight, then? A biological necessity for survival in the physical world. In the world of emotions and dreams, subconscious desires for release manifest maladaptive behaviors below out cognizant perceptions. We don’t know who or what we are fighting, but we know they are evil and must be stopped.
Dwelling only on the surface of the psyche, my thoughts are meaningless and fleeting. Too afraid to take the dive, I speculate without truly feeling. I numb my sadness with dopamine rushes, in any way that I can. Fight, flight, or freeze.
We want to uncover what lies beneath the surface so that we can extinguish the forces within out being which drive these harmful behaviors and thought processes. We lose ourselves when we let fear drive our actions. We see through a narrow lens of self. Of self-defense, self-preservation, unknowing self-destruction.
It was not until I was able to step outside of myself, through pensive hours of surrender, meditation, and purging of stale emotions, that I could see the impact that my self-destruction had on others. Perspective taking on how my closest loved ones experienced my trauma opened my eyes to new ways of seeing and provided for me motivation to change. Shifting from an egocentric perspective, I saw myself from the outside. I began to replay memories from an aerial view, attempting to objectively observe my behavior without attaching negative thoughts. This type of mindfulness practice is used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which I would later read about and practice extensively. But at this point, I was very much feeling shame and sadness for how I had hurt my loved ones. I feel that this was a necessary, albeit painful step in helping to build compassion and empathy in order to make wholehearted changes in my self-perception and treatment of others.
For what purpose did this behavior serve? Does it have a purpose now? Who does it hurt? And who does it hurt is the question I struggle with today. The origin of my tears today come from deep within my chest as I dig. I faced my regrets and visualized seeing myself from your eyes filled with tears and how you hurt. So much hurt.
Watching me spiral. Losing Everything. Trying to piece myself back together with identities and approval of others. Looking to others to tell me who I was.
And I must have only been a broken mirror. My own light too dimmed to display truth, I reflected what was appealing.
I could be that, I thought. Or maybe I’m this. I was nothing. I was fleeting. Escaping from myself because it was too painful.
To be who I thought I was would mean accepting that I lost a person central to my development and sense of self. Everything would change if I did. It took me this long, but I have. And now I feel less far away from him and closer to myself.
To end on a clearly happy note, I am excited to be who I am, change is growth and love and acceptance. And constant.
Realigning My Self-Concept
I have to know why. Why I behave the way I do. What conditioned the behavior? How I learned it. Why it was ingrained. Who reinforced it, why that does not matter. It is up to me now to change what does not align with who I want to be and how I wish to exist.
I am not alone. I learn from others. How I am perceived is not who I am. Why? Projections are not reality. In the past I could not have described myself truthfully. My projection was real to me.
She was me and I was her, but we didn’t live in harmony. I’ve been splitting these two apart for answers to why, so that I can consciously take control of us all.
Every facet of she, her, me that does not serve the goodness within and around me must be systematically altered, replaced, or diminished. Forgiveness is key.
These first three writings, along with dozens more, have allowed me to process my pain and channel it towards alignment with my highest self. Thank you for allowing me to share with you my process of self-discovery.