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What's Holding You Back?

I have been going deep into some previously undealt with emotional trauma. It is freaking hard and mentally draining which is why I haven’t posted a blog in a couple weeks. I’ve been writing a ton, but it felt too vulnerable and fresh to put out there.

If we don’t wrap our brains around and address what is holding us captive in certain ways, not only does it negatively affect us, it’s going to affect our kids, and they are going to be stuck holding the baggage that we refuse to face. For me, the generational cycle ends here. I choose to unpack my baggage, so Eli doesn’t have to.

Going inward like this has been challenging, unpleasant, and unnerving. I’ve felt an array of feelings that I’d rather not feel, but it’s important, and it’s worth it. I have to remind myself that I am important and worthy enough to slow down with.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10.)

I’ve been working a lot with balancing my root chakra. Signs of a deficient/unbalanced root chakra include: fear, anxiety, disconnection from your body, restlessness, inability to sit still, difficulty manifesting, a lack of feeling safe and secure, not feeling like you have the right to take up space, or the right to have basic things etc. (Judith). I have a relationship with the things listed, and I believe a lot of it is connected to my fear of abandonment.

To find balance, I’ve been doing Kundalini Yoga practices specifically for balancing this chakra. I’ve set an intention to stop and pray anytime I notice myself struggling with any of these things and have been consistently following through.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30.)

I’ve made diet changes incorporating earthy foods like beets and carrots to help bring balance to help ground me. I have been actively showing kindness to myself by doing things like choosing not to take seriously the voice in my head that is mean and instead showing gratitude and sweetness to myself and my body. I’ve been giving myself little massages, verbally affirming myself, and getting out in nature etc.

The difference it has made over the last couple days has been immense. I’ve found myself grounded in situations that would have had me flustered. I noticed that I am also able to have a lot more patience for others.

A couple weeks back, I was listening to Lisa O’Connor’s A Radiant Life podcast with Andi Eaton Alleman guest speaking. At one point in the podcast, Andi talks about how when we don’t want to feel or experience discomfort, we create a frame where there is no growth happening, and we are preventing our own healing because we can’t tap into the rich capacity that the feeling has for us to know ourselves.

She goes on to say that, if we feel grief, anger, or anything else uncomfortable, there is a message there for us. So long as we are preventing the feeling, we are preventing ourselves from understanding ourselves. Often times, it isn’t even conscious. We have numbing mechanisms that were at one time important to prevent ourselves from being overwhelmed. However, now we need to thank that coping mechanism for protecting us, but unlearn that, and unpack the lesson inside. We can tap into the grace of our beings knowing that we can handle it. The experience makes us richer and more compassionate.

She adds that on the human level, our experiences may feel unfair, and it’s important that we feel that. That human level is what creates change. Because of this, we stand up for the oppressed and work to make things right. However, on a higher level, we realize that it made us better and richer. The pain is part of the picture, and it has somehow brought richness. It has stretched us.

This topic has been something I’ve been working through in my life. There are so many layers to this, so it’s been an unravelling.

Several of my great grandparents were orphans. The way I was raised, the way my parents were raised, the way my grandparents were raised has been no doubt affected by this.

I myself have had a lot of death in my life. An oddly large amount of people that I was very close to died at young ages. I remember feeling the deeply sad feelings and just being there with myself and it for many years as a child and teenager. I didn’t shy away from the sadness. I leaned into it watching sad movies all the time and taking death and dying classes in high school to go there with myself.

When I was eleven, my cousin who had lived with my family for a while died at twenty-eight years old. I was thirteen when my dad’s best friend who was like an uncle to me and spent more evenings than not at our house growing up, died in his young 40s. My parent’s got us a 4 wheeler right around that time. I spent hours driving through the woods being one with nature and my grief.

My beloved ballet teacher died in her 40s, when I was in the 10th grade. Her death really rocked me. They asked me to join in with the competition team for her memorial dance. It was extremely emotional and painful. Every time I heard the songs we danced to, it made me feel raw, but I kept listening to the songs and letting myself feel. I danced for a year after her death. I started the dance season my senior year, but I decided to quit because I didn’t want to feel sad anymore every time I walked into the studio. I think that marked the beginning of me subconsciously attempting to shut down to the pain.

After that, people I loved kept dying right and left. At around that time, I started numbing myself to the pain, hurt, and sadness, I developed anger issues. I actually said on several occasions, “Don’t get sad, get mad. It’s easier.” I was so afraid of people abandoning me, I clung to everyone I had left in an unhealthy way.

The anger and the abandonment issues combo was a shit storm waiting to happen, and a shit storm is exactly what did happen in my life when I was 23 years old. A family member that I was close to and depended on was making a decision that I felt would lead to her abandoning me. I lashed out very unbecomingly trying to maintain control. This catapulted other issues in our family which ultimately lead to great unnecessary division. For many years, I did not have much of a relationship with members of my family that I had previously been very close to. (By God’s grace, all relationships have now been restored.)

At that time, when I realized I lost all those people who meant so much to me, and I was still standing and still okay, I realized that I didn’t need anybody. It was a double edged sword. It gave me an edge and a confidence I didn’t have before, but I also was shutting down to my emotions and feelings.

I started identifying as a loner, grumpy, and a cat lady. It was at this point that I grew enough courage to let go of my marriage. This was a relationship that I should have ended years before we even got married, but I didn't because of my fear of losing people and some convoluted ideas related to Christianity. I was too afraid to lose the friendship with my ex-husband that I clung to and that made me feel safe.

At one point, someone spoke life back into me and reminded me that this wasn’t who I truly was. It was extremely powerful. He made me feel seen and alive. He reminded me of who I was before all that stuff hurt me. I remember I had been numb to everything up until that point, and one day, driving in my car with my hand out my sunroof, I actually felt the rain. For the first time in forever, I actively remembered feeling again, but this was just the tip of the iceberg.

I was still subconsciously shutting down to pleasure and just anticipating pain and abandonment. I didn’t want to feel pain and abandonment due to dying or being rejected, so I thought if I braced myself for it, it would be easier. I started a trend of rejecting people before they rejected me.

I’ve been so afraid of people I love dying or abandoning me that I haven’t been able to fully feel the joy of loving with the reckless abandon that I did as a small child. How sad is that?

Andi’s words were inspiring. My numbing mechanisms, at one point, were protecting me when I was overwhelmed, but they have not served me. My journey now finds me honoring the ways I have coped, thanking them for the ways that they did help me, and kissing them goodbye.

I’ve learned some powerful lessons, but numbing myself in that way is no longer serving me. I am safe now and ready to face and lean into the discomfort and the pain, so I can heal that part of me and find balance for myself and the generations to come.

He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love” (Psalm 107: 14-15.)

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