Be Intentional

This weekend I showed myself how easy it is for me to slip away from my alignment with love and my truest self, and fall back into the place of fear that I’ve spent the vast majority of my young life living in.

I have spent the last few years, though more so in the last year and a half, beginning to unlearn everything that my societal and familial dynamics have taught me throughout my life and uncovering my true self. In doing this I have shed many fear-based ways of thinking and have found myself more in alignment with love and light and everything that is good in the world. To achieve this I have used a combination of techniques including, but not limited to, affirmations, meditation, energy healing, therapeutic touch, personal development reading, emotion code, crystals and different forms of healing ceremonies.

Everything is energy, and all energy vibrates at a different frequency. Thoughts and words are energy which is why affirmations have helped me so significantly and why I have reminders of them all over my house, and, my newest being an addition to my body, “be intentional”.

For so long I floated through life as a victim of my circumstances.

When I am intentional however, with my thoughts, words, energy, actions, choices, relationships, and decisions, everything shifts.

I was surprised this weekend when one bad doctor’s appointment and not enough rest (although the appointment really did feel like the most devastating moment I’ve had in a long time) pushed me so quickly and effortlessly to shift right back to that place of fear. Pushing away people whom didn’t deserve it, letting small, insignificant details effect my perceptions, and without first realizing it, taking it out on someone who means a lot to me and didn’t deserve it.

It’s because these shifts don’t happen permanently or overnight. I have to do the work every day to stay on a positive track, remind myself of how much I’m worth and how capable and strong I am. I have rewired my brain to think more positively, more naturally; however, 27 years of negative thinking is not undone instantly. Every time we think a thought, the wires in our brain that are triggered when we think that thought, grow stronger and closer together. Therefore, the more times we think a thought, the quicker that thought becomes our natural reaction.

Combine this with quantum physics and thoughts and words being energy, along with energy attracting other energy based on their vibration levels, and you have a powerhouse of healing and manifestation abilities available to you right in your own brain. The understanding of this hugely increases the possibilities in your life and your ability to overcome obstacles becomes significantly easier – if you’re willing to do the work.

I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but I have come an incredibly long way from the fear-based, mentally and physically ill, trauma-centered, self-harm addict that I once was and I have done this by being intentional; by intentionally looking at every thought or feeling I could pin-point, finding a positive alternative that would attract more of what I desire, and intentionally using these positive shifts in any way I could.

Buried Emotions Never Go Away

“Feelings buried alive never die” – I’m pretty sure that’s a Wayne Dyer book that has been sitting on my shelf since my awful teen years but has never actually been read.

I’m learning through my life though, that that statement is undeniably true. Maybe if I’d actually read the book while I was trying so hard to bury all of my own trauma and feelings, I could have possibly avoided the illnesses that took hold of my body a few years ago – or at least assisted my body in fighting them rather than hindering it.

My body is teaching me so many lessons. Beautiful, excruciatingly painful lessons that I wouldn’t ever want to give up. It is so common for people with histories like mine to become chronically or life-threateningly ill at some point in their life. This is not a coincidence. I know that this can seem really far fetched for some people, and I’ve tried explaining it to some of the people closest to me and they’ve scoffed it off like it can’t possibly be accurate, but I’m living it. I know it to be true in my body like I know my own name. It simply just is.

Emotions or traumas that are not processed and released, that you believe are gone, are not gone. They stay trapped inside your body wreaking havoc on your immune system, central nervous system and every other part of your body until they come out in the form of physical illness. (I’m sure that this can vary, and I am not a doctor or a researcher, I am simply speaking from my own experience and from what I’ve witnessed in my friends and communities of chronically ill people).

Recently I have had so much unexpected crap coming up to finally be processed and released once and for all! (I hope!) Over the past year (or more, though likely less consciously) I’ve been slowly working my way through the thick sludge of emotions and experiences I’ve had trapped and buried for so long. Some of it since early childhood, others from later teen years or into my twenties, and some that likely aren’t even mine and are simply generational traumas that may have been trapped in my lineage for generations upon generations.

Most recently what’s been coming up for me has been the most jarring because it involves someone that I always had on a pedestal and never expected to be upset with let alone have the strong, ugly feelings that I’ve had arise. This is someone whom I know is always doing the best he/she can, and I never expected to feel like that wasn’t good enough. In my eyes this person is always doing more for others than he/she is for themselves, and is practically a saint. So you can imagine how shocking it was for me when all of these deeply buried feelings of abandonment, grief, denial, not being good enough, and more all came bubbling to the surface out of seemingly nowhere. Let me tell you, its a hard fall when you realize that the person you idolized and thought was super-human is actually just human themselves with their own set of crap to process and cope with. Imagine that – humans being human! I know, it shouldn’t be shocking, but, sometimes it is.

A friend told me today that he heard a psychologist say, “if you have a memory from the past come up and you have an emotional reaction to it, then you haven’t processed it and let it go,”. I 100% agree but I would also add, if you have a memory come up and you feel a shift in your body somewhere, then you haven’t processed it and let it go. It’s just buried deeper than your emotional self is allowing you to feel. For example, I have certain situations in my life that I’d like to think I have processed and released, but I know that when I think of them I feel an ever so slight shift in my pelvic muscles that tells me I haven’t done as much of the work as I’d like to think I have. Other ones trigger a subtle pain in my left shoulder and down my arm, while another triggers my sciatic nerve.

I have spent practically my whole life trying not to feel. I can remember feeling so incredibly terrified of my own mind, never wanting to be alone with it. I spent months, if not years, sleeping on the couch with the television on because I couldn’t even handle laying in bed waiting to fall asleep without a distraction. In fact it was my most feared time of day. I would distract with almost anything – friends, books, television, food, social media, sex, other people’s problems. I surrounded myself with people who had bigger problems than me or who were toxic so that I could focus on them and not myself. I would get involved with emotionally unavailable men or men who were bound to only do harm to me because that’s what I felt safe with. They would allow me to continue burying my feelings and give me lots of drama to focus on in the moment and distract with. The way they lived their lives and the way that they treated me aligned with my very low self-worth and enabled me to stay stuck in my comfort zone of burying my feelings, experiences and traumas while processing as little as humanly possible.

I would like to think that since my most recent processing and clearing was so unexpected and unpredictable, that that means that all of the predictable stuff has already been cleared. Unfortunately however, based on the slight shifts I feel in my body when I think about some of the more predictable things, that doesn’t seem to be true. I haven’t found any particular rhyme or reason for why what comes up at what time to be cleared, or in what order, but that’s okay. As I create space for each trapped emotion or event to come up to be cleared and released, I find more tools and more trust in my ability to process and clear the next ones as they arise. I have no idea how long it takes, and I imagine that it must be different for everyone. What I do know, is that throughout this process I no longer find comfort in the negative, self-limiting things that I used to find comfort in. I now find comfort in things that either allow me to sit in the uncomfortable, feel all of the feelings, process whatever I need to, however I need to, or allow me to release them and move me forward in a positive, healthy direction.

I no longer find comfort or self-worth in someone else’s bed, or in a bottle, or in a knife to my arm. I no longer feel the need to distract myself regularly from my own brain. I stand strong in my sense of self and no longer lose it in other people or relationships. I am the peaceful warrior of my own internal battles and I sit calmly and securely through my internal storms. Each time I sit in the uncomfortable and allow the emotions to be processed and released I heal myself a little bit more.

Why am I still fighting?

Why am I still fighting?

This is a question that I asked myself a lot during my last rounds of treatment while the medicine was making me so ill every day, on top of fighting this horrendous disease, and the truth is, I didn’t always have an answer.

I remember being so confident that this wasn’t going to be a big deal. I remember thinking that if I could get through the mental health challenges that I overcame as a youth, then I could do anything. The truth is its way harder than I ever thought it could be.

The lack of access to healthcare for Lyme patients is unbelievable. I mean, I literally would not have believed someone if they’d explained it to me prior to me experiencing it. I never would have believed that it could truly be as atrocious as it actually is. People exaggerate, right? Is what I would have silently thought.

Tonight, as I sit waiting for the sauna to heat up I am feeling accomplished and pushed to my limits about today’s meal prep, while also feeling guilty that the last of the dirty dishes are filling up the sinks – knowing that my body won’t likely allow me to do more today than I’ve already done and that my roommate will wake up to a dirty sink in the morning. The reason I pushed so hard today to meal prep is because treatment starts again tomorrow – the same treatment that I couldn’t tolerate last time due to daily vomiting. As I’m trying to shift my focus from absolute dread and fear to a more healing mindset, I must think about my why.

Why am I still fighting?

I’m not talking about just to live or to just keep fighting because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Why am I still fighting?

What am I going to tell myself when I’m laying in a pool of sweat on the bathroom floor sobbing in pain at 2am, that is going to give me the will to keep fighting this disease?

This question makes me dig into the deeper depths of my core and look at what I really want out of life, the things that I’m so afraid I may never receive or accomplish that it’s hard to even admit to myself that I want them, because somewhere along the way my inner child picked up the idea that wanting them would make me vulnerable.

I could ramble forever with adjectives and creative wording to make you forget that I’m avoiding the question, however, why am I still fighting?

I’m still fighting because I want to continue this journey and continue learning and adding value to my mind and quality of life.

I’m still fighting because I want to experience love. Real love. Solid love. The kind of love where two people make a genuine, loving commitment to catch the other when they fall. The kind of love where needs are met and compromises are made and laughter is had. The type of love that is patient, humble, and kind.

I’m still fighting because I want to see my brother grow old. I want to see the man he becomes.

I’m still fighting because I want to see my niece grow. I want to support her through her teen and young adult years, and influence the woman she becomes.

I’m still fighting because I want to hear my future baby’s first cry. I want to hold her/him/them in my arms and experience my heart expand.

I’m still fighting because I want to support someone in a positive, life changing way.

I’m still fighting because I want to be a foster mom.

I’m still fighting because I have a gift in my experience and in my voice, and I want to change the future in a positive way.

I’m still fighting because I want to continue to expand my consciousness, and to see how far I can go.

I’m still fighting because I want to connect deeper with the earth, and see where that takes me.

I’m still fighting because this planet needs more light-workers, not less of them.

I’m still fighting because I still have so much left to learn.

I’m still fighting because I still have so much love to give, so much kindness to offer, so much beauty to create, and the world needs as much of that as it can get.

If you are fighting a battle of your own, why are you still fighting? If you aren’t fighting a battle of your own, what do you want out of your life? Have you ever seriously looked at that? Have you taken the steps to put it into place for yourself?

What are you fighting for?

I Surrender

love, wedding, bridesmaid kissing brideDo you ever think to yourself, what the fuck am I doing with my life and what do I even want?

My views on what is truly important in this life and what makes a person valuable have changed significantly since getting sick. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me, as it is a message that one will often hear from someone who has gone through a near death experience, a life-altering accident, or terminal or chronic illness.

I never believed that I would be good enough if I couldn’t do everything on my own. It’s one thing to be independent, but its another to believe that you are not a valuable human being if you need help sometimes. I took this to such extremes that I put myself in scenarios where I was the main care-giver, house-keeper, and money-maker, responsible for my partner, his two kids (part-time), and my dog. It never crossed my mind to value what I was sacrificing. I believed that it was exactly what would make me a valuable person. I had people who needed me, and I was willing to do all of this for them because in my mind, that’s what was going to make me good enough.

What it really did was break me. Because while I was willing and sacrificing, it wasn’t appreciated. I was still reminded that without him I’d never make it. That no one would ever love me again if I left him. That if I couldn’t manage my 3 businesses, myself, and take care of him and his children (one with different needs as he’s on the spectrum) and my dog and our home – at 23 years old – he was sure to reinforce my belief that I wasn’t worthy.

What does it even mean to make it? Do you hit a certain number in your bank account and suddenly, you’ve made it? Made it where? To what? Do you get married, make and raise beautiful babies, in your single family home with a yard and a white picket fence and a dog and a mailbox with your family name on it and suddenly you wake up one morning and you’ve arrived?

I’ve been living in the illusion of fear for so long now that I forgot what love was.

Most of what I’ve done in my life has been for this illusion, this image of what I thought my life was supposed to be. I thought being a housewife was supposed to be for people who would be taken for granted in exchange for being able to rely on someone else for income. I thought disability was supposed to be for the dying, the completely disabled, or the lazy. I thought family was supposed to be a burden.

What the actual fuck was I thinking and who taught me that?

I thought that overcoming my endometriosis, depression and anxiety was about being stronger and pushing through, so life gave me panic disorder.

I thought that overcoming my endometriosis, depression, anxiety and panic disorder was about being stronger and pushing through, so life gave me a “new best friend”, who later turned out to be my rapist and gave me PTSD and vestibulodynia.

I thought that overcoming my endometriosis, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, PTSD and vestibulodynia was about being stronger and pushing through, so life gave me a mentally and emotionally abusive boyfriend who I let break me and that’s when I ended up with Lyme and co-infections.

I thought that overcoming my new diagnoses of borrelia burgdorferi, babesia microti, bartonella henslae, ehrlichia chaffeensis, rickettsia, west nile, coxsackie virus, Epstein-barr virus, parvovirus B19, and microplasma pneumonia, was about being stronger and pushing through, so most recently we’ve discovered that I have “latent Epstein-barr virus and persistent Lyme (borrelia burgdorferi) in round body form” with a “Fatigue Severity Scale score of 59 [which] is markedly elevated and consistent of a severe level of fatigue. As I have previously documented, I believe that her severe and persistent level of fatigue justifies her being identified with a disability and that disability is likely to be chronic in the context of her presentations.” (Excerpts from my most recent report from my Governor General Award-Winning Internist in Calgary, AB)

What if none of this was to teach me to be stronger?

What if part of my issue and my blockage in healing is my stubborn mindset stuck on the undying need to be better, to be stronger, to push through, to overcome everything on my own?

What if this was to teach me to give in, to surrender? To stop trying to control every little piece of my life and to give those pieces room to fall into place on their own; to learn to lean on people; to learn how to ask for and, more importantly, how to accept help; to not judge myself or others in their own struggle or coping mechanisms or ways of healing. To give up the image in my mind of what I thought my life was supposed to look like and to instead create a lifestyle that works with what is in the present; to understand that the people who taught me how to think and how to live are also just doing their personal best and they don’t necessarily have it right, or that what is right for them may not be right for me; to take action based solely on what feels right for me instead of letting what I think is right for everyone else impact my decision making; that sometimes the people whom we believe that we need in our lives are not really meant for us at all, and that although it is scary, its okay to let them go.

I have fought my life so hard for so long to keep to the image I thought I was supposed to have, only to now realize that maybe it’s not what I ever truly wanted at all.

This realization is a long time coming yet it also feels very sudden and unexpected. I pray (also new to me), that this is the revelation that gives me the confidence to take action and change the trajectory of my life.

I spent the last 6 days up north with some really beautiful people who make conscious decisions every day to love and support one another. My cousin just got married, and for the past 9 months for the first time in their 8 year relationship she has played the role of a housewife. She cooks for him, cleans for him, makes his lunches and he works his ass off and supports them. And they seem to genuinely make this work, because, get this – they both appreciate the other and everything they do, and they show it! Wow. Why did I not think that was possible?! I genuinely, wholeheartedly believed that that was not a real option for anyone who wanted to be happy or good enough. And I am so grateful to have been proven wrong because it is helping me to see that a lot of the views and beliefs that I have or have had in the past are super fucked up and weird and yet also probably very common.

I am sure that I don’t need to explain how I’ve been proven wrong about my past beliefs about disability.

Probably one of the hardest pieces of this realization is that all I’ve ever truly wanted is a family who is able to show how much they love and appreciate me; how much they value me. A family who wants to spend time with me, even if I am unable to do what they’d normally do. A family who wants to learn how to support me and to teach me how to support them. A family who not only wants to show up for you, but is able to, and does.

Maybe this family doesn’t have to be blood. Maybe it isn’t about the individual at all but about their willingness, ability and commitment to unconditionally love. Maybe, as I’ve witnessed recently, it can be one or two or three people who just commit to being there for one another and allowing each other to show up exactly how they are, however that may be. A few people who truly value one another, exactly as they are, and show it. A few people who never let each other forget how much they are loved. A few people who do the work – for themselves and each other. Maybe family doesn’t have to be a burden; maybe it could be the most beautiful and precious thing you ever have – perhaps its the only thing that is truly real and the only thing a human truly needs.

So this is me, surrendering, asking the Universe to help me trust, and praying that love catches my fall.

Thank you Kai, Cam, Cindy, Dustin, Ken, Brittany and Cheyenne for showing me how you unconditionally love each other and work together to support one another each and every day. Kai and Dustin you have built a beautiful, loving family for yourselves, DNA not required. Thank you both for showing me what love looks and feels like in my body.

To my high school self…

It’s my 10 year reunion in a couple of weeks…

I already skipped the SDSS one, but now my first ever boyfriend and his amazing fiance are convincing me to go to DSS’s and although there is a part of me that wants to go, I cannot believe how just the sight of certain people on that invitation list can bring me right back to my fearful, insecure, high school-self who never felt like she fit into her own skin and was sure that she’d never be good enough.

No dumb male bully could ever cause the damage that I did to myself spending time with mean girls and telling myself that they were my friends.

A local councilor asked me if I would meet with one of her clients, a high school girl who is having a hard time; My salon chair is currently full of young girls getting ready for back to school; I’ve been watching cheesy rom-coms on Netflix like “To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before”, and “Kissing Booth”, and debating on whether or not I want to brave the reunion. All of which lead to…

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Being unwell you will have to comfort others more than they will comfort you.

I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. No one told me when I got sick that I’d spend more time comforting the people around me than I would being comforted.

Today is no harder than any other, yet I’m at my breaking point. I spent the morning uncontrollably sobbing only to get myself to stop 5 minutes before I had to be at work for the day so I did what I always do – splash some water on my face, plaster on a smile and avoid any questions about how I’m feeling. I don’t know how to tell the people around me that love me and want the best for me that I’m struggling so severely. When I do open up I can tell that it makes people uncomfortable because they don’t know what to say and they want to make it better but they can’t. So instead they tell me how its going to be okay, or throw suggestions at me such as a ketogenic diet or meal planning, as if that is going to be the answer to my problems. The thing is, I know that an anti-inflammatory based diet would help me. I know that meal planning would make my day to day easier. How do I tell these very well-meaning people that I love, that if I could manage a day of meal planning or a new diet plan I would be fucking doing that already.

It’s 8pm and so far today I have eaten a small apple and a nectarine. Not because I didn’t have food with me at work – I roasted vegetables two nights ago to take today – but because I have zero appetite. Other times I will eat that little because I simply don’t have the strength or energy to go grocery shopping or to cook. The fatigue and the pain can become so overwhelming that it takes everything I have to get through the work day and then to spend the weekend sleeping. If I do dare go have some fun on the weekends or spend a day cleaning or meal prepping then I pay for it during the week because I haven’t had enough rest. If I never go have some fun however, I start to feel depressed and my mental health takes a toll. There is no winning right now, not because I have a shitty attitude, but because every little thing is legitimately so damn hard.

Before Lyme I was a fitness coach. I meal planned and prepped every week religiously. I have the skills and the knowledge to do it but back then I never had to think about whether or not I’d have the energy to complete the task, let alone if I’d be able to stomach the food, I just did it. Now each part of that has to be broken down into increments of energy expenditure – make the meal plan, make a grocery list, go grocery shopping, unload groceries, prep food, clean up from cooking, and if I still have enough energy when that is all over then maybe I can even eat what I’ve prepared. If I wasn’t working, which most people in my position are not, then perhaps I could manage this. However, not only have I been told by specialists that it’s completely unreasonable to expect myself to work a full time job or live a full time life, I simply cannot do everything that I am trying to do to keep my head above water and still manage a special diet or anything else on top of it. I am at a point where I am barely even checking my emails or messages because I simply cannot cope with one more tiny minuscule thing on my plate, even if it’s going to help me in the long run. And do you not think that if I could manage literally anything that is going to help me in any way, that I would?!

I go to work, I come home, I try to manage my pain and get some sleep. On the odd day that I do add something to that routine, usually in order to salvage my mental health or to have a clean home or groceries in the fridge, I pay for it in some way later. This is not a life that I would wish upon anybody.

Yesterday a client told me about his trip to the Grand Canyon, 6 days of white water rafting and hiking. That sounds amazing to me and is on my list for when I get better. Although I tried to gently respond with, “definitely when my health gets better!” He told me, “I’m telling you right now, you could do it now.”

Right. Because you know literally nothing about what I experience on a day to day basis, and likely know nothing about Lyme and co-infections, but you’re absolutely right, I look well, and I stand on my feet all day to cut your hair, so I must be well enough to do that. 

Are you fucking kidding me?

I struggle to walk 20 minutes. I can do it now, but for a long time I couldn’t even manage that, and I will pay for it later. On my best days, I struggle to play a couple of innings of beer league slow-pitch on a C-Division team. I am barely managing to work just 4 days a week when I used to work 7, and I’m trying to figure out how I can afford to work even less because my life as it is is not conducive to healing or manageable long term.

I am in pain and severely fatigued every single day, its only a matter of degree.

I do a great job of putting on a smile and pretending everything is okay. I can’t handle hearing everyone’s opinions and suggestions and whatever they’re going to say to make themselves comfortable with the situation that I’m in so instead I just tell everyone that I’m “okay”, “fine”, “good”, or on days like today when I’m really not managing well, “I don’t want to talk about it”. The energy that it takes for me to convince you of how sick I am or how much I’m struggling because it makes you uncomfortable so you feel the need to tell me that it’s fine, only adds to my exhaustion and stress. I never understood before how much of being unwell is about making other people feel comfortable rather than them comforting you.

Someone with chronic illness’s breaking point does not happen suddenly. It is the result of an accumulation of repeatedly not having their needs met, often being denied their basic rights, being told that they’re fine or to just try harder, or “well you look good!” and from trying so hard to live an average life while in so much pain and so sick. And I’m there. I am at that breaking point. If I don’t find some new ways of managing, or get some help around the house or with meals or honestly with anything at all, I will end up in a mental hospital. Trying so hard to manage on my own and live my life this way is unbearable. Staying strong for the people around me because their responses only make me feel worse, is unbearable.

People in my position don’t need you to tell them what they should be doing, they need someone to do it for them. Please, tell me again how even though I’m barely keeping my head above water and can barely cope with what I need to do in order to survive, I should add a whole other thing onto my plate because it’s going to help me in the long run. We can’t! If you’re going to get someone in my position to open up to you about how they’re feeling, please just accept what they’re saying as the truth. Don’t challenge it. If they say they can’t do it, they likely already feel bad enough about not being capable, and don’t need to go into detail to try to convince you of their current lack of ability. What they really need is someone who will let them express how they’re truly doing without questioning it, without trying to convince them that they’re better than they actually are. If you can, offer something that you’d like to do for them to help. If you can’t, then the least you can do is be a compassionate ear and not another stress in their life.

I, as most people are, am hard enough on myself I don’t need you to judge me or be hard on me too. And trust me, I know that it comes from a place of love, but if there was something that I could manage that was going to make my life easier or make me feel better, I’d be fucking doing it.