The path of awakening and enlightenment I have found isn’t an easy one. When we’re looking for inner peace we may find images of Peta Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, and other zen masters and leaders.
For me, the journey has been more of a combination of knees on the ground and hands in the air, of heart and gut wrenching discoveries of self loathing, toxic emotional patterns, self destruction. On the one hand I never spoke up about how I really felt. I never discussed anything that happened to me, I never shared any of the hardships we all experience at some point in lives and other hardships only some of us experience. And the other hand, of being in fight mode all the time – having something to say about everything but not really talking about the things that mattered.
The images of my own journey are somewhere in between sobbing hysterically while trying to hang onto the version of myself that I had created to get away from who I feared myself to be. And a fire breathing dragon wrangling, jaguar riding warrior goddess.
And in small glimpses – the real me. The me who has truly been broken and hurt more times than I care to imagine. The truth of opening your heart and soul to people and having them crush you, steal from you the very essence of you, pour water on your dreams, not be there for you, condemn and ridicule.
And my reaction was always the same – hide. withdraw. armour up. I don’t need you. fuck you. pushed away.
I had developed a behaviour early on of pushing people away to keep myself safe. At some points in my life this behaviour was necessary. But it ultimately became a way to hide myself, to not step up, to not take control of my life, to let people do and say what they wanted – to protect myself from being hurt, taken advantage of.
But there is always a cost of hiding ourselves, of stuffing it down and for me it turns up as frustration, annoyance with everyone and everything. It’s the seeing the problems, the flaws in others – not to feel better about myself. I think that’s a misconception that people have – that we focus on flaws of others to feel better. Because you don’t feel good when you’re doing that and it wasn’t to feel good – it was to feel safe. It was to put a wall between me and others because if I could see their flaws then I knew not to trust them.
It wasn’t about feeling good. It was about not letting anyone close enough to hurt me.
On this journey I’ve learned that we have patterns, cycles, behaviours, archetypes that we adopt in life to help us through things. We develop these because of experiences and conditioning. And while they made sense at one time to keep people out, they can become the prison that keeps us in.
And we will keep attracting experiences that will lead us to the wounds we carry. For me, I was a victim in life. That’s true. But I continued to victimize myself by taking everything personally, by not dealing with things, by hiding, by freezing, by disconnecting, by pushing people away, through eating disorders, through self talk, through self victimization.
The more I faced who I was, how I was showing up, the more I stood back and let myself see how I let people treat me, the more I was forced to ask why… why was it so hard to speak up for myself. Why was it so hard to ask for what I needed. Why was it so hard to let go of things?
And it all came back to trust and fear. I was scared to trust anyone. Because so many times when I did, I was let down. But I was trusting people from a place of my wounds – the wrong people. I was letting people impact and influence me, even manipulate me. When I saw it, I would withdraw, hide, feel bad about myself, fester on what he/she/they did to me.
And that would remind me to not trust people. And I’d look for the reasons I couldn’t trust people. And I’d find them. So I’d stay hidden, safe, and frustrated. And that frustration was eventually what led me to find the deeper wounds, the deeper belief systems, the deeper stuff that I was still holding onto.
I believed people would let me down. I believed people wouldn’t stand up for me. I believed that people would take from me. I believed people would hurt me. I believed people wouldn’t choose me. I believed that no one cared. I believed that I didn’t matter. I believed I wasn’t important. I believe people would use me.
And it all came true because I believed it to be so.
But lots of people have been there for me. Lots of people supported me. Lots of people have stood by me, choose me, helped me, loved me. Lots of people gave to me, held me, stood up for me.
It was me that couldn’t do those things for myself.
And in that I got to be the victim all the time. Not a place I wanted to be. No one wants to be in victim mode. In fact, I couldn’t see how deeply the shadow victim played a part in my life “I’m never to blame or I’m always to blame” and switching from each of these at any time depending on what was happening.
As long as I was focusing on that I could stay stuck, stay safe, stay right… and justified in my continued behaviour of pushing people away and not trusting anyone because a long time I decided I couldn’t trust anyone and I decided I didn’t need anyone.
This story line has impacted my life over and over again – being the victim and I realize, FINALLY – that it’s all in our perception. I couldn’t see how I was playing the victim for so long because I could see “buuutttt this really did happen!” and yeah, it might have happened, but the more I told the story, the more I held onto it and the more I used it as a proof and fuel that the world is not a good place and that will “_______ if you let them” only keeps us in victim mode.
I realize the intention behind it wasn’t to push people away, it wasn’t anything really, it was wanting to feel safe, protected, not having people use or take from me or cross my boundaries repeatedly.
The only way I knew how to keep them away was to pick up my sword, be battle ready, push them out of my life and slam the door on them and everyone else, too. Now I realize there is a time for the warrior to fight and there’s a time for the warrior to rest, to lay her swords down, to learn, grow, be humble, to be open in spite of the potential for hurt.
Because pain will happen. It’s a part of life. I can close off to people, experiences and the life I really want to live, and feel the pain of frustration, of being closed, of being disconnected. Or I can open, I can listen to my intuition, my inner guidance to lead me to and away from experiences and people that aren’t good for me.
I can free fall into the abyss, unsure where it will take me, but knowing that I am strong enough, this time, to be who I am, to trust myself and the universe to guide me. I can believe something different about people, about the universe, and myself that will lead me to the good stuff.
I can become the VICTOR instead of the VICTIM.
I can choose to stop letting what hurt me keep hurting me by holding onto it as proof of who I can’t trust, who doesn’t have my back. Because in reality, all it’s doing is continuing to hurt me.
It’s holding onto the sword by the blade.
It’s drinking poison for yourself.
It’s time for a new story. And that new story doesn’t involve who did what. That new story is what I did, what I do, everyday to believe in myself, to expand and open to people, to rise up, to reclaim my power, to stand in that power to align with people who DO have my back and not live a suffocating life because someone along the way didn’t have my back.
In the new story, I am the victor, not the victim. We all have stories that we have weaved through our lifetime of experiences. They keep us stuck or they help us move forward. I forgot who I was for a long time, what I was capable of, and I started seeing life through the lens of the victim. We all have belief systems that tell us we can’t trust, not to open, it’s not safe, we’re not capable, we can’t.
Digging into these, clearing them away and repatterining beliefs is the key to uncovering the deepest layers of how we hold ourselves back. To stop doing that we have to dive into our feelings, we have to go into the frustration, the annoyance, the fear and learn what’s under them. And while it can surprise us with things we didn’t realize was there, we will heal and grow from the experience. It will help us get rid of blocks and old stories and old beliefs that no longer serve us, no matter how “true” they were.
Today, I get to see it from the lens of the victor. And a new image of myself and my journey and my story unfolds. It’s that of an empowered woman who has a new belief system.
What stories and beliefs are you holding onto that once helped you but now hinder you?