A while ago I had an amazing conversation with a friend where I made an offhanded comment that I was “breaking down to breakthrough” – just repeating a comment I had heard a bunch of times, not giving anymore thought to it than that.
But he picked it up immediately. See, we both focus on human behaviour, language, actions to determine what someone’s model of the world is and he instantly picked up on something I didn’t see at all… that I believed in order to have a breakthrough I needed to have a breakdown. I argued the point, of course. It was an off handed comment. It didn’t mean anything.
Everything means something.
For me, I had never broken down ever. I was strong, firm, stoic, never cried, “breakdowns” just weren’t my thing, in fact they were embarrassing and I simply didn’t understand how people couldn’t control their emotions better. Until I had a breakdown of course and learned that my biggest issue was lack of feeling anything.
There has to be a balance, we can’t fall apart at everything but sometimes, we do need to fall apart. Sometimes life has been unfair, unkind, sometimes we’ve been hurt, we grieve and we need to let that out, experience it and move through it. After that conversation I started to pay attention to my “breakthroughs” – and many of them were coming after breakdowns. I suppose in the beginning I was so closed off that the only way I could see anything was after an epic meltdown and I put 2 and 2 together and made it equal 4 = breakdowns equal breakthroughs.
And I changed how I viewed what a breakthrough was. Yes, there are some hail mary’s, real doosey’s that come only after an epic breakdown. But a lot of breakthrough’s come in the small moments of every day life. I used to miss a lot of those moments because I didn’t see them as breakthroughs. Now I am like… ahhh, that’s a new way of seeing it.
My light bulb moments come faster, I’m literally changing daily because I see something deeper, in a new way, something that transforms completely how I see and do things, yet, it was a mere blip in the day, a little giddy excitement, a note made in my journal or even my notepad on my phone so I have a note of it. It’s not all breakdowns and breakthroughs, it’s not all earth shattering moments crying in your onesie in your bathroom (this might have happened to someone I know).
And it doesn’t have to be. There are many breakthrough moments in a day that show us a deeper level of who we are, how we are being and how we can make changes to how we are showing up in life or seeing something in a completely new light.
Like tonight, for me, as I was unloading the dishwasher and making tea – normal every day activities, this thought popped into my head “It wasn’t them, it was me. I didn’t change who I was because they told me to, I changed because I wanted to be more pleasing, to fit in”. Now it could look like 6 of one and 1/2 dozen of another here and it’s a minute distinction because really don’t we all change because the world told us what we should be, what fits in, what gets approved, accepted? When we don’t fit in, we get ridiculed, teased, not invited, misunderstood. So we change who we are, the things we like, the degrees we pursue, the clothes we wear, the way we speak, the parties we go to, the drinking, the drugs, the smoking, the food, the fitness – all things we get involved in to “fit in”, to have something in common.
Tonight, stirring my tea and talking to my husband about the broken HRV unit and what the repair guy was telling me today, it just slipped in… no one told me to change, I chose to change, to push away from who I was, from the things I liked to fit in. And a few weeks ago I spoke about this at an event and I did have a realization that “it wasn’t the world that rejected me, it was me that rejected me” and this was just a simple add on to that… a little, um hmmm, I get it.
I didn’t realize when I had my first breakdown that I was on the way here. I remember frantically trying to cover up that I wasn’t feeling well, that the coping skills I had always used – shut down, move on, mobilize – were no longer working and I didn’t understand it. I became a victim of my emotions for the first time in my life and didn’t know what to do with it all. Now I understand that it was the purpose of all of this, to learn to rumble with my emotions on the journey to finding myself.
So cliche (I’m even eye rolling a little at myself). But so true. Finding myself wasn’t what I thought this was about. I thought I just wanted to calm my life down, figure out why I kept ending up with the same results. I didn’t realize that the reason I kept ending up with the same results was because I was a people pleaser who was doing what everyone else wanted and not what was right for me.
And as long as I’m making decisions based on what other people want, I am saying what they want is more important than what I want and need. We’ll always be chasing the approval outside of ourselves, looking to see if we’ve made people happy, angry and upset with ourselves when we haven’t and we perceived it’s a failure and we think we’ve done something wrong or that we could potentially do something right and it’s really maddening.
Until we break that cycle, realizing that it’s not about us, it’s never been about us that we find freedom. And that freedom exists when we know ourselves, what we want, what we tolerate, who we are, what we like and especially what we don’t want. We can stand up for ourselves without it being a meltdown or drama. We can put ourselves first without neglecting others. They are not mutually exclusive as we have been taught… “a mother should…” “a wife should…” we can take care of ourselves and those around us, have a career because we realize that we can have it all, we just can’t do it all and we’re totally ok with it.
Sometimes you have to get a 2*4 in the face to slow you down and wake you up to a new way of living – a way of living that’s slower yet faster, that’s more present yet more magical, but everyday isn’t a 2*4 day, it’s about being present enough to realize that you can change your life in a heartbeat, in the blink of an eye. And that comes from finding out who you are and accepting yourself for who you really are. It doesn’t matter who else accepts you, as long as you do.
One minute you’re stirring tea and the next you’ve had a life changing realization that just makes you go “hmmm….”
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