I don’t know about you, but this is something loooong overdue for me. For years, I have been greatly effected by the past – and when I see years, I mean since I was about 16. In lesson four of Heatherash Amara’s Warrior Goddess Training, we are asked to work through an exercise of rewriting our stories and history into one that is seen as a blessing. The stories I am about to tell you are ones that have eaten at my confidence, pride, self-love, and inner most core of my being. These are stories I don’t tell very often. These are stories that are causing me to cringe at the thought of even recalling the past. So, here it goes… (note: names have been emitted to protect individuals)
Story #1: I am a picky individual. I have chosen to be this way in order to prevent myself from inducing anxiety over also being a caring, empathetic individual. By doing this, I am able to skip over any related awkward confrontations, conversations or circumstances that a particular situation may bring. However, around the age of 15/16, my friends were particularly on my case about not being ‘open-minded’ and giving prospective relationships a chance. In my defense, I knew these prospects were never going to last and I wanted to avoid that awkward pitfall of a relationship where I had invested time into for really no good reason. Going against myself, I agreed to give this guy a chance for the sake of my friend’s argument. Just as I had expected, this would turn out to be one of the worst decisions of my life. We were together just shy of three years. Over the course of this time, he turned me against every single one of my friends and every single member of my family… and vice versa. One night in particular, he looked at my dad (while I was cooking a 5 hour meal) and told him that “he could have had any girl who he wanted, but he chose me.” This started what I like to call ‘World War III’ in my family. As the night would go on, my sister stormed out of the house, my dad kicked him out, and my mother stood in between my father and I in fear that there would be a physical confrontation. Stupidly, I remained in this relationship for about another year – just enough time for him to talk to multiple girls on Facebook and ditch me (both in school and out of school) to hangout with a younger girl that happened to be in his Home Ec class. After the final breakup, rebuilding my life took a lot of time and energy. I was back to square one. Fortunately, I made some really great friendships in the process that truly helped me get back on my feet and figure out who I was again.
Story #2: I was stronger, better, and more myself a couple of years after this. I spent that time to be with myself and to repair relationships with my friends and family. And although this next story doesn’t affect me as much as the others, it still adds to those deep open wounds I’ve been trying to heal. It was the summer before I went away to college, I had been working a lot and kept my social life very busy. In all honesty, it was one of my favorite summers – softball, close friends, and late nights around the campfire. And then something began to happen… another guy with a long, complicated history started to surface. He had helped me further get over what had happened a couple of years prior, but really I did not see anything in particular going to happen between us… until it did. It was a fun, flirtatious summer until he decided to get cold feet. So as fall approached, so did the inevitable rupture of whatever we had between us. Small talk, hurtful comments, and a lack of time together was all seeming too familiar. Then, I was off to my first day on a new job. It was 6:30 am and I was heading down a country road when all of a sudden, a deer appeared out of nowhere. One bruised side, headache, and a totaled car later, and I was sitting on the sidewalk of the nearest gas station trying to call someone who would be awake to come pick me up. Funny thing is, I never even considered calling him. Something funnier, he never even asked if I was ok. In fact, when I went to drop off his dad’s birthday cake later that day, he walked out on me never to be seen again. Now for the kicker, the next day, I get a call from his sister-in-law to find out that he had been sleeping with the 7-month pregnant chick that lived across the street. Fortunately, I pride myself in being a prude, so this didn’t affect me in the way it would most people. Instead, I just felt the sting of coming in second place again.
Story #3: Wowzers! Ready for more of this roller coaster?! Next up was a three and half-year relationship – a relationship that was great right out of the gate, but after that first year, I should have called it quits. This one wasn’t a Sociopath (like story #1) or a man baby (like story #2). No, this was a classic case of a purebred Narcissist. My thoughts and feelings were irrelevant or irrational. My decisions were never the right ones. I was ugly if I wore lipstick and I was ugly if I curled my hair. I wasn’t ever allowed to speak of our relationship, and his pathological lying friend was always coming up with stories that inevitably lead us into tearful fights. His exes and girls who liked him were always welcome to hangout… even when I wasn’t there. He could drunkenly hit on my gay best friend and grab my other best friend’s boob, and he could completely ignore me without any remorse. I was only allowed to see him when it was convenient for him or when he was simply bored. If I didn’t do exactly everything as he said, there was a major problem. Needless to say, this narcissist drained my empath like an energy-sucking vampire. Funny thing is, the breakup was easy. I never thought twice about it, and I have never missed him. In fact, I have finally been able to breathe.
Are you seeing a trend? Funny how romantic relationships can play such a huge role in our self-esteem. I have always been a strong, hard-headed, powerhouse of a woman to make sure that these things never happened, but yet, they still did. In all honesty, this is all I’ve ever known when it comes to dating. I have no idea what a normal relationship looks like. And the problem is that my walls are soooo high, so when I finally take them down for someone, instances like these occur.
Now, there are other things in my life that have happened that greatly affect my well-being and sense of self. A lot of these revolve around my elementary school days. Kids are mean and bullying is no joke. However, these instances laid dormant until the bigger, traumatizing stories occurred. So today, I am left trying to love this person that I see i the mirror. This person who doesn’t have a thigh gap because her anti-depressants made her gain weight over the last two years. This person who constantly pushes others to love themselves for who they are, but never feels like she will be good enough to come out of second place for someone. This person that, against all odds, continues to fight for peace of mind for not only herself, but everyone else in this world. So, with that being said, lets’ switch those stories into positive ones…
Story #1: My first real relationship came a little bit later in life when friends were trying their best to be supportive and helpful. Although it didn’t work out, it taught me how important it is to maintain healthy relationships with those closest to you. It also taught me that in my gut, I know what is best for me – just follow that feeling.
Story #2: Recovery, healing, and self-love is crucial to maintaining happiness. People will come in and out of your life to test this, to test your strength, and to help you grow. Their actions do not define who you are; instead, they define who that person truly is or what they need to heal inside.
Story #3: Not all things are as they seem. In our life’s journey, we are presented with opportunities and circumstances that help us to identify areas in our life that need attention in that moment. This time, mine was about practicing self-love. I needed to retreat within to bring back out that radiant being so that I could unleash light upon this world. In doing so, I found my life’s purpose and an amazingly supportive community that fills my heart daily.
WOW. Lesson three of Warrior Goddess Training has a lot of information and a lot of activities to really get down to the nitty gritty of everything that makes you, well you. Because of this, I have broken down this lesson into individual posts. To me, it only makes sense that I fully absorb all this information and truly reflect on the questions being asked in order to get the most out of this powerhouse of a book. So, onward!
This exercise asks that we take each particular section one at a time by reading and feeling our answers, but do not think! These sections pertain to the overall percentage of how we feel we rank within each section currently. It must be noted, as well, that as I sit here, both my ankle and stomach have been fickle all day, as well as, having a few serious personal matters on my mind. So, here are my rankings:
Mental: Clarity/Peace = 60 % Chatter/Confusion = 40 %
Energetic: Brightness/Fullness = 70 % Dimness/Contraction = 30 %
Emotional: Fluidity/Openness = 85 % Stagnation/Being Triggered = 15 %
Physical: Acceptance/Love = 35 % Rejection/Judgment = 65 %
Now, we are asked to do this again. However, this time, we are to envision ourselves five years ago (or more, if needed). This puts me back to the summer of 2012 in the middle of softball season where I had just lost a bunch of weight, was active, in the sun almost everyday, and not too many serious issues pertaining to my personal life… I was also 19. Here’s how I ranked:
Mental: Clarity/Peace = 90 % Chatter/Confusion = 10 %
Energetic: Brightness/Fullness = 90 % Dimness/Contraction = 10 %
Emotional: Fluidity/Openness = 80 % Stagnation/Being Triggered = 20 %
Physical: Acceptance/Love = 60 % Rejection/Judgment = 40 %
Looking at these two charts, I am amazed at what five years can bring and at how different the age of 19 looks from 24. Then, I was still at my first job, still in college, and more carefree than I ever have been. Now, I have two college degrees, have been promoted to a career position I have always wanted, purchased my “first” car, but I am almost as unhappy as ever. It seems to me that we have these dreams and these goals and these aspirations, but once we achieve them, we’re not as happy or content as we once thought we would be. I think it is important to note that we live in such a busy, judgmental society that constantly reinforces “the way we should live” that we completely lose touch with how we truly want to live. It even appears that my 19-year-old self could teach my 24-year-old self a few lessons when it was once thought to be the other way around. Growing up IS a trap because society makes it so. If there’s one thing I have learned from this exercise, it is to not lose that childlike wonder in every part of my life.
Next stop on the Warrior Goddess Training lessons: Sacred Full-Being Cleaning. Let’s be honest, we ALL need to practice this. Everyday we are hit with negativity, pessimism, false news, blunt opinions, and judgmental beings – so much so that we even start to think and act in similar ways. How do we sort through all this junk and remain true to our own truths? Well, Heatherash Amara, author of Warrior Goddess Training, has some questions and exercises in lesson three for just that…
- Notice the chatter that fills your mind. What are the themes that you hear most? Over the last few months, I have been able to pinpoint the themes that fill my head the most and ultimately lead to episodes of anxiety and depression. These come down to two core concepts: not having a lifeline and never being good enough.
- Not having a lifeline: I have always said that I would lay my life down for what I believe in, especially if it meant that the world could continue you living on. Those that know me know that this thought typically revolves around restoring Mother Earth to her former glory. However, I feel the exact same way about taking on the burdens of others so that no living soul has to feel the hurt and pain that this world can induce. I would sacrifice my own happiness to carry the crosses of others. Unfortunately, these feeling and passions come with a price – my happiness, of course. And I am by no means, Jesus, but I often like to compare my feelings to the solitary confinement He undoubtedly experienced so that others can somewhat understand what I mean by not having a lifeline. Simply put, I have yet to find that person or thing that provides me with an outlet to release stress and feelings so that I can keep marching forward with my life’s purpose at 100% battery.
- Never being good enough: Do you ever feel like you always come in second place? Or that no matter what you do, you always fall short? Or that there is always someone or something better than you? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, these thoughts and feelings all too often plague my mind. Physically – I see that I’m not skinny enough or tall enough or fast enough or have the straightest teeth. I see that there is always someone else that is prettier than me or funnier than me or more charismatic than me, so why should anyone even pay me the time of day? Mentally – I think I have too many deep wounds for anyone to even try to take on. I think my ideals and morals in life are too far-fetched for those who summon up the courage to approach my resting b*tch face. I think that the ones who do actually talk to me will end up being just like everyone else… toxic and abusive. And honestly, I think these thoughts and feelings all began when I started the world of sports. Yeah, you’ll sometimes hear that you made a great play or that you did a good job, but mostly you hear what you could do to be better – as if your best wasn’t already good enough. Then came toxic relationships and people who jump at the chance to use and abuse a caring soul.
On the bright side, at least I know exactly where these thoughts and feelings come from… and for that, I am grateful.
- How often do you have stretches of silence and mental quiet? Honestly, almost never. There are times that I “zone out” or stare off into space and usually these are times where my brain all but completely shuts down, but these are very infrequent happenings. They typically occur during points of exhaustion after a workout or a long meeting or even after a night of not sleeping well. Mostly, however, I experience mental quiet when I am meditating. So, it is crucial for me to take time out of my week, if not my day, to meditate and enjoy just simply being.
- How clogged or free-flowing is your energetic being? Do you feel energetically bright or dim? How stagnant or volatile is your emotional body? Do you overreact to situations? Recently, my energetic being has been rather clogged. As mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been dealing with a lot of old wounds that I am wrestling to heal; however, I try to make the majority of my life free-flowing so that I can be a light source for not only myself, but everyone else as well. Therefore, at my best, I have people around me say that my aura is vibrant and glowing; and for the most part, they’re right! I never want to leave a soul feeling drained; I always want to leave those around me feeling hopeful and recharged. Now, when it comes to myself, I’m not as loving and giving, so this is partially why I feel clogged and dim right now. I’m working to make myself be that vibrant and glowing being for everyone, especially myself.
- How much fluidity and openness do you have emotionally? Are you able to release emotions cleanly and move on? Up until the past 2 or 3 years, I would say no. I was un-diagnosed for anxiety; I was irritable and reacted quickly; and I held grudges. Now, I am much better off. I am able to decipher which feelings are more impulsive and likely to fade and which are ones I need to recognize. Unfortunately, when situations arise that poke at old wounds, it is incredibly hard and agonizing to release the emotions and move on. These old wounds mostly revolve around toxic relationships and trust issues. If anything even remotely resembles one of those past traumas, I completely shut down. Depression and anxiety turn up to 11 and healing comes to a halt.
- Do you love and respect your physical body, or do you mentally judge your physical form? As mentioned in the first question, I am terribly judgmental of myself. I don’t want to be this way by any means, but I still have those voices of my past in my head. Toxic relationships, being bullied in elementary school, judgmental family members with word vomit, unrealistic societal standards all lead up to body dysmorphia and a toxic relationship with my own self.
- How do you feel about your weight? Are you accepting of your body, or are you unsatisfied? As mentioned before, completely unsatisfied. There were a couple summers in a row where I completely overworked myself, barely ate, and barely slept. During this time, I lost around 30 pounds. I felt great when I looked in the mirror knowing I had done that, but I still wanted to lose more and I was physically hurting from lack of proper care. My friends became worried for my safety and eventually I was able to become content with myself before something worse happened. Over the last two years, I packed on almost 50 pounds from my anxiety/depression medication. Now, I am working hard to try to lose that weight so that my doctor can become more content with my health. I guess the question I’m trying to find the answer to is if there is even a happy medium and how do you achieve that if so?
- Do you feel at peace or judgmental about your age or appearance? And again, as mentioned before, I am obviously more judgmental of my appearance than I want to be. I’m still in this process of attaining a good self-love regimen. My age, on the other hand, I love. I know I am in my golden years and I am just hoping that I can get out of these mini funks and not take it for granted! I have such a huge dream list to experience and achieve while I have the mobility to do so. Although, I do wish that older generations would not be so critical of the younger. We may do things differently, but we work hard and we have such beautiful visions to lead this world out of darkness and into a time of peace and harmony for all living creatures.
The sun doesn’t always shine,
But the rain always nourishes.
The grass isn’t always green,
But the seed continues to breathe.
The snow doesn’t always fall,
But the freeze creates rebirth.
The flowers don’t always bloom,
But the bees always pollinate.
Everything doesn’t always survive,
But the earth continues to rotate.
The future isn’t something promised,
But nature will always find a way.
Creator always finds a way;
You, too, will find a way. ❤
– sb –
Just for once, I want to know what it’s like to be “enough.”
I want to know what it’s like to come in first place instead of settling for second.
I want to hear congratulations with no ifs, ands, or buts.
I want to be the first pick.
I want someone to look at me like I’m the only person in the world.
I want to feel what it’s like to not constantly compete for attention, acceptance, and love.
I want to feel like my existence matters.
Just for once, I want to know what it’s like to be “enough.”
Dear future self,
Right now, it’s hard to breathe. You feel like you’re suffocating on every thought you think. You feel like you’re choking on every word you’ve left unsaid. You feel paralyzed by the what ifs.
Right now, it’s hard… but you keep fighting because it’s all you know how to do. And at some point, you’ll win. You’ll beat those demons in your head. You’ll be consumed with self-love. You’ll be radiant. But right now, the present you is working hard to become the future you.
Right now, you feel lonely. Colors are dulled, the air comes with a chill, and all the people have gone. You look around for comfort, but all you find is the vague outline of your own shadow.
Right now, you feel like you’ll never be good enough. You charge at the finish line, but always come in second. You work tirelessly and endlessly, but always come up short. But right now, you can still see a small light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite all of these struggles, I know that I’ll meet you soon. I know that we’ll embrace each other in a welcoming hug. I know that we will walk each other through that last bit of tunnel and into the light. Future self, I cannot wait to meet you and finally unite in health and happiness. Until then, I’ll keep climbing this mountain and trekking this trek, for I know that you and I will only be stronger that way. So, until then…
As we approach Memorial Day and the last day of this long weekend, I have done some reflecting on my recent depression flare. I realized that this weekend, for the first time in probably a month or two, I was not completely debilitated by this mental illness. I reflected on my small wins, and with those small wins, came a great sum of success in this solo mental war I’ve been fighting. Just like how depression can overwhelm you by one negative instance added on top of another on top of another until you’ve reached a breaking point, so can coming out of it. Finally, this Memorial Day weekend brought a breath of fresh air, and here are my small wins that lead to it:
- As usual, I had the day off on Friday. Earlier in the week, I made plans to meet up with a friend for a couple of drinks. Of course, I was weary because lately when I’ve been “making plans,” my depression gets the better of me and I have to cancel. But, not this time! I forced myself to get up, get dressed, and get out. In doing so, I was able to confide in a loving friend about things that have been troubling me, and I was also able to catch up with some other friends that I haven’t seen in a few months. Yes, I was a little “checked out” during all of this, but I made it out into public and I enjoyed myself while I was at it.
- Come Saturday, I was planning on having a “me” day, but that is just not what Creator had in mind. I get a text from another good friend wanting to go on a walk, and for the first time in a long time, I got excited about the idea of a new hiking adventure, in which she happily agreed to. So, we hiked and climbed four beautiful miles of some of Ohio’s beautiful terrain. By the end of our trek, I was exhausted, sweaty, thirsty, and extremely proud of our three hour adventure. Another small win that ultimately led to the release of endorphins and a mind at ease.
- Today, Sunday, plans are still up in the air. As I try to see what my body is telling me it wants, I know that I’ve already accomplished things I’ve been wanting and needing to do that I just haven’t been able to find energy for. I finished painting a long waiting piece (a project that has taken a year), and I deep cleaned my room to get that good energy flowing better. I also made a decision on a car that I so desperately need to get, and now I am sitting by the pond listening to the running water that has always soothed my mind. Now, do I go and catch up with some more friends that I haven’t seen in awhile or do I allow my body some time to rest? That, I don’t know yet. But, I do know that I have again risen above depression and accomplished some small wins in the process.
- Tomorrow, I have a lot that I want and need to do. This will be the challenge. Can I handle the stresses that this will bring after a few days of small wins and rejuvenation? Or will it put me back down to where I was? I can’t answer that now, but what I do know is that I’m going to do everything I can to make it yet another day of small wins …because I know it will only further boost this recovery process.
So, I think it’s important to reflect on these small wins. In our society and our world, we have a tendency to focus on the negatives until the negatives pile so high that we feel suffocated, but what we fail to see in this great big pile are the positives. With every closed door is a new one opened, with every dirt patch is a seed waiting to be grown – dark can never chase away dark, only light can do that. We all have a light dying to burn bright, we just have to clear the clutter and let it breathe.
I have to be honest, I’ve been struggling with this second lesson in Warrior Goddess Training. What do I want? What do I want NOW? It’s true, this is a hard thing to know. We’re supposed to ask this regularly throughout the day, but my mind does not focus on little things. My mind focuses on the wants of a much bigger picture. In the book, we are given an example:
“I get quiet and listen to my body, and I feel that I want Thai food for lunch instead of the hamburger that someone offered to pick up for me (clarity). But I’m on deadline and do not have the time to get Thai food (reality). So I ask again, ‘What do I want?’ and I realize that I want something light. So I opt for the salad bar at the deli next door.”
The book goes on to say that the formula used in this example is the same for both simple and complex issues:
Step 1- Ask yourself what you want
Step 2- Look what is actually true and present in the moment
Step 3- Ask yourself again what you want
Step 4- See what you can align to in this moment
Step 1: What do I want? At this moment, I want to not feel lonely. I want to feel like I matter to someone somewhere. I want to feel proud of my accomplishments. I want to love and appreciate my very being.
Step 2: Now, what is true and present in this moment? Well, I have my love of a puppy laying next to me, who is borderline attached to my hip. I am sitting here typing this very blog post to help grow who I am and to help heal those old wounds that I’ve kept hidden. I am exhausted from a beautiful but long day exploring the great outdoors.
Step 3: And again, what do I want? I want to enjoy my own company. I want to realize that each one of my breaths is for a purpose. I want to feel confident and secure.
Step 4: What can I align to in this moment? Right now, I feel equally exhausted as I do accomplished in my long hike at John Bryan State Park. I know that I was able to conquer my depression today, as well as, get in exercise – both of which help boost my confidence, security, and pride. During this hike, I enjoyed a serene moment sitting on top of a bridge that laid across a very high river due to the recent heavy rains. Here, I was able to reconnect my mind, body, and soul. In that moment, nothing else mattered. My thoughts were fleeting, my muscles were breathing, and I was living. In this moment, I realized how important it was to take time out of your busy life to enjoy being with yourself. Yeah, my friend was sitting next to me, but I was able to disconnect from any feeling of obligation or need to talk and entertain so that I could simply just be.
This lesson is still very hard for me to embrace, but I guess that is the point of self-love. It never ends. You have to constantly work to take care of your mind as you do your body; otherwise, what are we living for? When we align with our wants and needs, we align with our divine purpose. The Ancestors and Creator are constantly giving us messages, in meditation and in feelings and in thoughts. We will never be able to decipher what is a message and what is thought if we can’t first align with our own being, and I think that’s why this lesson is so important to practice and embrace.