I’m on a healing journey. I don’t remember starting.
I’m not sure I even know what those words mean. Healing journey. I mean, what does that even mean? I want to gag even writing it.
And yet, I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening here. Fuck….maybe even why we moved to California. I don’t know.
It’s hard to say when this healing chapter began. But if I had to pinpoint a time, I’d say the summer of 2020.
A combination of being at home in isolation with four kids during shitty midwest weather, and the uprise of social injustices coming to a head in Chicago created this perfect swirl inside me. A growing rage, discontentment and rebelliousness I had never felt before.
Like many of you, 2020 gave me an up close and personal view of my life. How we lived. Who and what I thought at the time mattered. And it all kind of made me sick.
As the summer went on my anxiety grew. My distaste for our life grew. My voice grew. And I found myself not feeling comfortable in most aspects of our life. Besides J and the kids, everything was up for grabs.
That fall we made the decision to leave Chicago for a few months to catch our breath. Let things settle down. It wasn’t conscious (but hindsight is ironically 2020). We were buying ourselves time. Space. To decompress. Some type of radical awakening was igniting….and we needed to let the dust settle before going back to “normal”. Back to the pretending and the keeping up with the Jones’s, that was happening all around us.
I couldn’t keep going on as if nothing had happened. I felt like Dorthy, who had unintentionally peeked behind the curtain. Realizing this whole time there was no wizzard. Certain things you can’t unsee.
I was OVER being the Good Girl. I had done it for so damn long. Living my life to please EVERY. Single. Person. And yet, people still weren’t happy. I was still managing to disappoint people. Not be enough. Do enough. Say the right thing. The wrong thing. It didn’t matter.
It was a game I was never going to win and I just wanted out. I wanted to be left alone. I was angry. Bitter. Resentful. And it was stealing my life.
For as long as I could remember, I had done everything I was supposed to do. I was the fucking BEST good girl. I knocked being a good girl out of the park. I went to the college my parents suggested, majoring in what was suggested. Always playing safe. Never ruffling any feathers. Kept the peace in family moments instead of speaking my truth. Staying home to raise kids, supporting my husband’s career instead of pursuing my own. Went to church. Baptized our kids. Even sent them to a catholic school (when deep down I never agreed with anything said in those pews). Befriended women who talked behind my back just to not make things awkward, for them. And smiled the whole damn time God I was good.
I was a puppet. My whole. Damn. Life. Wasn’t even mine.
None of it was original to me.
It was all a product of someone else’s ideals.
Someone else’s expectations.
Some else’s lived experiences.
None of it done intentionally. But none of it me.
While we were out West I could feel my emotions bubbling over. Everything I had never faced was all of a sudden screaming inside of me.
California provided perspective. A pause. And quite literally the distance I needed to ask myself questions that up until now, I had been too afraid to put voice to.
What do you want? Are you happy with this life you’ve created? And if not, who the hell are you living it for and when are you going to change it?
As we drove home at the end of December to a cold dark home, I had no answers. I cried the whole drive. My anxiety was so high. I think I was just scared to go home because I knew I had to make changes. And to be honest, I just didn’t want to.
So maybe that’s when it all started. When this healing journey (or whatever we’re calling it) really started. Back on that cold dark December day.
It didn’t look like “healing”, instead it just looked like lots of small decisions…
I quit drinking. I had no idea how pervasive the alcohol culture had become in my life until I quit. It had seeped into every crevice of my world and I needed it gone. I was disappointed by how I had let it play a role in motherhood, my relationships, family traditions, and gatherings. It was something I did on autopilot because it was all around me. Everywhere. But I hated the way it made me feel. I hated how it made the people around me act. I hated how it made me act. And I needed it out.
We renovated our house. It was something we had always talked about doing “someday”. And someday became today. I needed to physically purge. Change not just the walls, but the energy.
I got back into therapy. I had always been a big proponent of cognitive behavioral therapy – but it had been a while since I made it a priority. I needed help working through a lot of the deeper feelings.
I pulled back from a lot of relationships. Friendships have always been hard for me. I’m not sure why. When I don’t feel safe and fully seen in a relationship, I pull back. And in this season I was feeling really vulnerable, so I pulled back.
I went deeper into my meditation practice and began sharing it with others. Which was one of the biggest gifts of last year. Having a community, that I felt safe with, to share something so sacred was incredibly powerful.
And then finally…we moved. Leaving behind a home that no longer felt like “me”. It was the last piece for me closing out this chapter.
Since landing in California…I can’t say things feel easier or better. If anything, I feel more raw and exposed than ever before.
I’m extremely ungrounded and uncertain of pretty much every and anything. And yet, I feel oddly at peace about it. More at peace than I’ve ever felt.
I changed a lot of things physically last year, but underneath in many ways, I was still the same. This year the work is different.
My healing practices here look different too. I’ve started acupuncture. Somatic therapy. Deep breathwork practices. Therapy. Reading every book I can. Journaling. Walking along the Ocean.
And most importantly giving myself a LOT of space. To process. To experience my feelings. And to just be.
I’ve thought about this topic a lot this past year, as it seems to be something everyone’s either talking about or on, a healing journey.
Trying to better understand what in particular I’m healing from. And to be honest, I’m still not 100% sure. It’s layered.
But I know I have healing to do (and still do) because I have too many moments when I raise my voice quickly at the kids or snap at J. And a rage I didn’t know was there, will show. My impatience will show. My anger will show. The real me will show. And it scares me.
It tells me…you are not ok.
My anger lives too close to the surface for me. Side by side with my tenderness. And I know below it all, sadness. Fear.
A young girl just begging to be told she’s enough. She’s safe. And she’s loved.
I had a moment a few weeks ago that reinforced how much work I still have to do. I snapped at Sloan. Of all people. My precious sweet boy.
J had been traveling all week for work, and at the end of a long week, I had asked Sloan to put his homework in his homework folder. Hours later I found it still laying on the floor of his room. And I snapped.
It wasn’t rational. It was a piece of paper. I easily could have picked it up and slid it into the open backpack a foot away without saying a word (as I have many times before). Instead, I looked at him straight in the eyes and just screamed. You never listen to me. You don’t respect me. I always have to do everything for you.
I’m mortified even writing these words. Sharing my behind-closed-doors moment, publicly. But it’s the truth. And we all have too many closed-door moments we’re carrying around with us.
I will never forget how he looked at me. His big wide doe eyes watering. So scared. So helpless.
Moments later I quickly caught myself and scooped him up to my chest as tightly as I could. Calming both of our racing hearts. Tears streaming.
I wasn’t yelling at him. I was yelling at me.
I was yelling at me.
The younger version of me. Don’t mess up. Don’t let them see you. Don’t make anyone mad. It’s not allowed. We’re gonna get in trouble.
I’m still trying to figure out what all of this means. What healing looks like. For me. For all of us.
If I had so put it into one word. How I want to feel. It’s free.
I want freedom.
From my reactions. From my emotions. From my thoughts. Old stories that I’ve carried for far too long.
Whether it’s normal or not, or happens all the time that mothers snap at their children. I will tell you that for me, it doesn’t feel good.
I want to feel free.
I think healing looks different for all of us, but if I’m being brutally honest, I truly believe is something we ALL need.
There is no one walking around on this earth who doesn’t have some layer of healing to do. And if you’re feeling triggered reading those words, I would just share that it’s usually those of us who can’t see what needs to be healed, that have the most work to do.
As a collective, we were not always this way. So disconnected from ourselves. In need of so much deep healing. Our world is more divisive and broken than ever. We spend so much time and energy debating and discussing how to solve the vast problems of the world.
What if instead, we used that energy to look inward. To heal. All of us. Imagine a world where egos were all set aside and we ALL walked around with hearts that were at peace. Healed. Free.
I would like that world very much.