A Miraculous Jolt

Some people experience things that change them radically. Miracle stories, where they see a hypnotist and they are forever changed. Others report they have a huge epiphany and never experience anxiety again. I know these stories are few and far between and there are many explanations for miracles.

I wish I could experience some major jolt, that would mean I’d feel better overnight. No more hard work, no more tears, no more anxiety, no more flashbacks or nightmares or trauma or grief or irritability or IBS.

Maybe I will experience this “jolt” that would radically save me from myself. Maybe I won’t and I’ll have to keep putting in the hard yards. The trouble is, putting in all this work is tiring, with very little tangible results. It’s disheartening but I’m reminding myself, I’m breaking the cycle and it starts with me.


Climbing Upwards

Climbing upwards, trying to achieve healing. Making goals, trying to make progress. Two steps forward and one backwards.

As I continue climbing, some days feel like I’m about to fall, some days feel like I’m making great lengths of progress.

The results aren’t always tangible, but still I continue to climb. Until I can look in the mirror and like what I see. Until I can accept who I am, I will keep climbing.

People see the progress, no one sees the blisters, muscle aches or pain. No one knows I’m climbing, they just know I’m “getting better”. They don’t know the work involved. But that doesn’t matter, I’m not climbing for them, I’m climbing for me.


I Wish I Could Let it Go

I’m cranky. I don’t want to be. I wish I could let it go.

Is this trauma? Making me permanently irritable, cranky, mad, angry?

It’s not as though I like it. It’s not as though I enjoy feeling like this. The truth is when I’m going about my day; memories from the past pop into my head. They replay.

The injustices I suffered, play out in my head and I get so angry. If I don’t change the ending of the memory in my mind, I’m angry about what happened. If I do change it, even to something where I had more power and didn’t suffer abuse, I’m still angry.

I wish I could let it go. I even thought I had for awhile but it came back.

I journal, that helps temporarily. I meditate, that helps temporarily too. But nothing seems to be able to make it go away for good. Maybe I’ll be angry forever. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe this is a part of the grief process. I don’t know but I know one thing for sure, I don’t want to be this cranky, irritable, angry girl anymore.


Healing is Timely

When I was studying to become a Social Worker, a concept often emphasised in healing, was that of the client being ready. We were taught that it didn’t matter what you said, if that person was not ready to hear it, they would not hear it, or they would hear it and reject it. We were taught that emotional healing was timely.

There are many people out there, who carry around some form of emotional baggage, this could be an unhealthy situation they are in, harmful behaviour pattern(s), unresolved grief or trauma. It’s incredible how many of us can carry around our baggage for great lengths of time, managing to avoid dealing with it. The problem is if we don’t deal with it, it doesn’t go away. It often masks itself in other ways such as overworking, stress, sleep problems, people pleasing, emotional eating, fatigue, sickness and projection of our feelings onto others; just to name a few.

I have learnt from being a Social Worker, from being a friend, from being a family member, that humans are very good at avoiding the real problem. We want to stick a band-aid on the symptoms and hope they will disappear, without delving into the cause of the symptoms.

Admitting emotional baggage is scary, unpacking it is frightening, but sorting out the baggage, well that’s just terrifying. I guess that’s why we’ll do anything to avoid it. Myself included.

I managed to avoid the fact that my parents were alcoholics and I suffered childhood trauma as a result of their addiction, for twenty-three years. Like my lecturers at University had pointed out; people told me I needed to face my baggage; I suffered insomnia, people-pleasing and anxiety,  but I did not listen to those people trying to help me, because I was not ready to.

From my experience of dealing with my “stuff”, I’ve come to realise emotional healing is timely. We don’t deal with things until we are able to. I couldn’t have been in a better position to do some hard work on myself when I began this journey, and maybe subconsciously I knew that. It was like I unknowingly fore-saw it and planned my life necessarily for a breakdown. I had developed friendships with my closest friends where we could tell each other everything, no matter how shameful, I had a lot of social support around me including a very understanding partner and I had managed to get my savings to a point where when I completely fell apart, I was able to resign from my job.

I’m glad I got to a point where I felt safe enough subconsciously, to deal with things. This experience has given me so much more empathy for people who engage in avoidance. Before I realised I was avoiding my own problems, I viewed people in denial much more negatively. Now I understand, they’re not quite ready yet, and that’s okay, because healing is timely.


People Pleasing

People pleasing is something that is second nature to me. When I was growing up, my mother, who suffers from alcoholism, demanded a lot from me. I survived my unsafe, violent and neglectful environment; by doing everything and anything that pleased her. I took subjects at school chosen by her, which I hated. I learnt dancing, because she wished she had done so, which I hated. I wore clothes she liked, but I hated. I lost my identity in pleasing her, only to realise that she was never pleased. So I gave up pleasing her.

When I made the decision to break away from my codependency and and not let my Mum control me, I never realised how deep-rooted my people-pleasing was.

In all of my relationships and friendships, I put the other person first. I watched movies I hated, ate food I hated, adopted beliefs values and opinions that didn’t fit with who I was;  all so that the other person would be pleased with me. So they wouldn’t reject me. So they wouldn’t want to hurt me the way my parent’s both had, by choosing alcohol over me, again and again.

In all of my relationships I wasn’t authentic. I wasn’t honest. I wasn’t myself and most sadly, I wasn’t happy. I was resentful of giving so much to others and feeling like no one gave back to me. Pleasing others may have safeguarded me from rejection, but it didn’t safeguard me from loneliness. When no one knows who you really are, because you’re so busy being who you think they want you to be, you end up feeling very very lonely.

When I realised this pattern, I decided to put myself first. The main issue I faced was, I didn’t know how. I was unsure how to be me. I hadn’t really been myself before. I had to work out what I did and didn’t like. What I thought. What I wanted. I had to learn how to be me.


My Big Unravel

I had it all together until about 18 months ago, when my life began to unravel. I was 24 years old and had held my family together my whole life. I was the emotional, physical & financial support to both of my parents, whom were alcoholics. I was completely codependent and for some strange reason I managed to carry this burden for a long time, seemingly unaffected.

One day in September 2015, I hit a wall, this was the unravel. I began to feel permanently exhausted. I would  come home from work and go straight to bed. I had no energy so my fiance took me to the doctor, where they said I was extremely stressed. Physically my body fell apart, I suffered headaches, joint pain, IBS and my hormones were totally out of whack causing chronic menstrual problems.

For six months I continued to exist without really living. My amazing fiance had to do everything because I had such low mood and high anxiety that I couldn’t socialise, couldn’t cook, clean or do anything. Standing up and walking to the toilet was such an effort. Having a shower was so difficult that when I got out of the shower I would be so depleted, I would just sit there naked and it would take me an hour to get dressed. 

The physical unravel was one thing, but the emotional unravel was really something else.  As I admitted to myself and everyone else my parents addiction and my role within that, a whole wave of grief came over me. Grief for never having a  happy, functional, healthy childhood had me feeling a mixture of anger, sadness, guilt and betrayel. I completely lost all of my self confidence and suffered crippling anxiety. I began to have flashbacks and remember things from my childhood I had previously forgotten. I suffered insomnia, and despite being so tired all the time, I was also, very wired.

As well as the physical and emotional unravel, the family unravel also hit me quite hard. I had realised my behaviour enabled my Mum and Dad’s alcoholism so I began to put boundaries in. Of course this did not go down well and my relationship with my family really suffered. Enforcing boundaries at first was so hard, I felt so guilty and angry at myself.

A year and a half later, things have calmed down with my family. They are more respectful of my boundaries but we don’t have the best relationship. Funnily enough I have learnt to accept this because I can’t change their addiction. My physical symptoms have improved and while I still at times get tired, I feel energised a lot more than I did last year. The emotional effects have improved the most, I’ve been through the grief process and am able to sleep.

Even though the unravel was so hard, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I have learnt so much and gained so much freedom in the last year. I’ve dedicated my life to breaking the cycle and it starts with me.


Following Blindly

I never saw myself as vulnerable. I thought of myself as the opposite, someone who was strong, knew what I was doing and would never be in a situation where I had been completely taken for granted.

The problem is; I grew up in an alcoholic family with a lot of dysfunction. I didn’t grow up with healthy boundaries so I struggled as a young adult to know what healthy boundaries looked like or how to enforce them.

After I graduated as a social worker, I got my first graduate position. Growing up the way did, I never knew what was normal. Adult children of alcoholics report constantly guessing at normality. Because I had just graduated , I didnt know what a normal social worker did so I thought I could follow my workmates. Much to my regret, I followed them blindly.

I had grown up codependent, so codependency in my personal life was normal. For my colleagues, codependency and a lack of boundaries was also normal. Doing things for people that they could do for themselves was normal, working much longer hours than expected was normal, always being the maryter was normal, “accepting” unacceptable behaviour from clients, other professionals and other staff and “adapting” to it was normal, working through lunch break was normal, putting everyone else first was normal.

Unfortunately none of this was normal. It was very dysfunctional with many burnt out staff and a toxic working culture, but my lack of understanding of normal boundaries had led me to blindly follow this “normality”. With me working in an environment like this and my personal life dominated by my parent’s addiction, I found myself emotionally drained and burnout.

Looking back, burnout was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was in such a bad physical and mental state that I was forced to learn about boundaries. I’m glad to say I now recognise my previous job as being abnormal and unhealthy.