Yesterday I said that I would start Gabby Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles: 40-day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness, and sure enough, this morning – after years of living on my shelf – I finally opened up to Day 1: Witness your Fear.
I cringed and thought, “Maybe I can skip over this one”.
The resistance is real, even in someone who keeps saying they want to achieve wellness.
I’ve been feeling pretty transparent with myself and worried that by focusing on what I fear, I’ll simply be rehashing something I’m trying to move past. Little did I know that this lesson was exactly what I needed today.
Today I walked into my art therapy session expecting to talk about how well I’m doing on my road to transformation. So naturally, I ended up gushing about some pretty hefty stuff I had long tried to ignore.
Fear is a funny thing and it doesn’t always come forward in the shape I expect it to.
To Dig or Not to Dig
I had an upbringing filled with turbulence and a lot of let downs. About seven years ago, I walked away from that life and from the people who had broken so much of my happiness. In that moment of separation I built a division, a wall that separated my new life, which was full of potential, from the one that shoots darts at me whenever I peak over its hedges.
I’ve read many spiritual books and one of the top manifesting killers is fear. So during these seven years, I have done my very best to take the fears my younger self experienced and store them in a locked box that lives in a deep, dark, dusty corner of my heart.
But this past week I’ve started to have the suspicious feeling that the memories and emotions stored in that box needed to come out. But I felt stuck by a thought: what is the difference between ignoring something and letting something go? I honestly don’t know where the line lives between unnecessarily rehashing painful experiences and working through an unhealed wound.
Does anyone out there know? Because I’m still not certain.
I had that in mind this morning when I read through May Cause Miracles’ first step and is what I felt burrowing in my chest when I went to art therapy.
What have I opened?
These past seven years have required a lot of work. Yet, through all the growth, all the learning, and all the transformation, I’ve still had this hole of discontent and nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right.
I mentioned 3 days ago that I was clearing out my bookshelves of books that I had bought from a habit of trying to please others a feed a version of myself designed by other people. I’ll try to explain more fully.
I met the man who would become my stepfather when I was six years old. At the time my parents were married, and although they certainly had troubles, we were a family. Sadly, my mother’s mental health issues, which I had been witness to before John entered our lives, became severely exasperated against the backdrop of his narcissism, bullying, and alcoholism.
When I was 11, my mom finally pulled the plug on her marriage to my dad. And to be honest, I was quite happy with my parents divorcing. For nearly 5 years I had been split between my actual family and the weird pseudo-family with John and I was tired of the discomfort that brought.
But the discomfort was only starting.
I was deeply attached to my mother and desperately wanted her to want me. Somewhere in my 11 year old mind, I knew that fighting to live with my mom meant I had to fight for John too. And so, despite my substantial disdain for him, I begged the attorneys, shouted at the court ordered therapist, snarked at the Guardian ad Litem, and shut my dad out. I gave my all to a man who had broken my family, treated me poorly, and during his deposition admitted that he in fact did not love my sisters and me.
For all that effort, I ended up with a stepfather who resented my existence, was verbally abusive, and who pushed my mother further and further away from mental health. And after all that effort, he died from alcoholism after 2 years of marriage, leaving my mother with nothing but debt, foreclosure, and mental illness that was spiraling.
Along the way, I had learned that my true self, my most authentic pieces, were undesirable. My step-father was deeply critical and my mother’s love had always been a little conditional. Over the years I bartered my identity for my mother’s love and my step-father’s approval – or at the very least – his lack of scorn.
Eventually I got tired of paying, and my relationship with my mother collapsed. When I let go, I just walked away, thinking all of that emotional gunk would stay behind me. I secured the locks on my heart and built a persona of ambition, structure, practicality, and stability.
Witnessing my Fear
Getting back to the exercise of witnessing my fear. It’s not that I fear that these memories will hurt me, I know they won’t – they no longer hold that power. What scares me and what I feel hurt by, is how much of myself I’ve lost all these years and what it’s going to take to build myself up.
It’s an intimidating undertaking.
I’ve clung to this false version of myself for almost twenty years. It chose my college degree, drove my career choices, relationship choices, and really, has been the deciding factor for almost every part of my life. Now, this barricaded version did serve me well as I navigated my upbringing and has helped me build a life. But I’m starting to see how much it has sent me in a direction I don’t want to go.
I think I underestimated how much sage I’m going to need for this journey.
A Journey Worth Taking
Today, more than ever, I am grateful for ending up in the ER four weeks ago. Clearly, it is beyond time that I let go (while singing Let it Go), let my hair fly wild, and release my true self from the prison she’s been shoved in.
I am willing to witness my fears – even ones that feel truly mountainous. (It’s a good thing I love hiking.)
What I wish for myself, and what I wish for anyone else out there in a similar position, is the courage to keep going down the path of wellness and self-love even in the face of the things that frighten us.
I’m glad I chose not to skip over May Cause Miracles first step. I do feel anxiety about my circumstances, but I also feel grateful for the clear validation that it’s time for me to take care of myself.
I hope you too will do what you need in your journey to find balance and healing – even if that means being willing to witness your fear.
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