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I’ve been super open and candid about my struggles with mental health over the last little while, but it hasn’t always been this way. It wasn’t until the last few years that I started to open up and let people in. Prior to that I kept it all on lock-down. As a mom, I know it’s my responsibility to do my best to raise children that don’t have a childhood to recover from. In order for me to be the best mother for them, I knew I had to step it up and start doing what was right. I had to lead by example. I couldn’t very well expect them to be brave and face their problems and talk about their feelings if I wasn’t doing the same. The last thing I want for my kids is for them to have the same struggles I am currently working through. For them to feel shame about the natural process of their thought process and emotions, especially when I have the tools, resources and awareness to avoid that and teach them otherwise.
From The Start.
Growing up, I hid it well. I buried my emotions and feelings and I suffered in silence. I was conditioned and trained to believe that emotions and feelings were something to be ashamed of. Being sad or crying was pointless and a means of manipulation or to get people to feel sorry for you. As a child victim of bullying and abuse, being told that there was no reason for my sadness was quite detrimental to my overall well being. I was never taught how to process my pain in a health way. I was taught to cover it up and numb it with substance! Not unlike most people though. I’m sure most people understand and resonate with these methods.
I had counsellors and therapists as a child, but they were only around for a tiny percentage of the time, and in all honesty, I don’t think they really did much. We were in a time where I don’t think professionals really knew how to handle mental health. This was before the whole mental health awareness revolution started.
Majority of my conditioning took place at home where I was told I had to toughen up to get through it all. With the near constant psychological abuse of my step father, being called names, told I was weak, being witness to the abuse my mom was subjected to, etc., I had no choice but to become the hardened, emotionless girl he pushed me to be. Eventually I did toughen up. I let my softness slip away. I learned how to bury and bottle up my emotions and feelings. I became angry, resentful, entitled, bitter and mean.
The primary male role model I had in my life growing up had some massive male ego and anger issues and sadly, they rubbed off on me. I eventually became everything I swore I wouldn’t be. The more I tried to NOT be like him, the more I shifted towards him. It was survival-mode and I did what I had to do to survive and get through unscathed. I learned to fear the feelings, I’d get angry when they started to come up, and I did whatever I could to avoid them, push them down, and make them go away. Eventually, to make it easier and more palatable, I started abusing alcohol and seeking validation and approval from men. It wasn’t until I entered my 30’s that I realized how toxic this avoidance and suppressive behaviour was.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”Brene Brown
It wasn’t until my 35th year of life and after many years of under taking my own personal development and healing that I finally realized that I needed to actually SIT in my pain in order to heal it and work through it effectively. I had to release my attachments to my coping mechanisms, face my problems and stop fucking around and numbing my pain away.
I had to FEEL it in order to HEAL it.
I quit drinking in July 2018 and by late 2018 I decided it was time to start truly enjoying life as a single woman. I stopped dating and seeking companionship. I accepted that feeling loneliness was going to be part of the healing process and it was entirely needed in order to fully step into my role as an awakened woman.
Once you get past the fleeting feelings of loneliness, being alone is actually really fucking amazing.
I suffered for a long time on my own. I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but one day it just clicked that I didn’t have to do it alone and that it would be so much easier if I were to just stop hiding. When I came out of my suffering closet, people were shocked and confused, but also supportive and understanding – for the most part. I did a fantastic job of maintaining the stepford wife persona – Shiny, smiling and happy on the surface and a grueling, seething mess underneath – sad, lonely, depressed and anxious.
As much as I do get a lot of love and support, I also get quite a bit of backlash and haters. The hate generally comes from people that don’t understand what it means to deal with demons all day every day. Backlash also comes from the people that DO understand, but are too afraid of owning it and letting people see it – people who are too afraid of appearing weak.
They’re too afraid of owning their shit and admitting they have a problem. I don’t blame them, owning your shit and admitting that you need help is not something anyone likes to do.
Vulnerability is in fact, super scary. Most people will go to great lengths to avoid feeling vulnerable, owning their mistakes or appearing “weak.” So much so that people would rather go their entire lives trying to manage these feelings and emotions on their own. A lot of these lives will end tragically at their own hands, most will be sad and miserable a lot of the time, feeling isolated, alone and overwhelmed, and very few will actually speak up and let their voices be heard, leaning into vulnerability and asking for help.
It isn’t easy to open up and start showing people what you may conceive as weakness. Most people feel shame as a result of appearing weak.
Let me tell you…
VULNERABILITY IS NOT A WEAKNESS!
Vulnerability in its raw, unadulterated form is beautiful, courageous, captivating and fucking spectacular.
Vulnerability is like stripping your clothes off in a crowded room and saying, “This is me. This is me in all my pain, all my glory. These are my scars. These are my wounds. This is why I am so scared. This is why I can’t do this alone.”
It’s absolutely fucking terrifying, humbling and oh so liberating.
You will be surprised at the applause and warm welcome you will receive after allowing yourself to become vulnerable and let people in. A lot of respect is given to people who own their shit, accept that they are fucked up, and are taking action towards healing themselves.
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”Brene Brown
It didn’t take me long to realize that what I was doing was in fact the bravest and most courageous thing I could possibly do, not just for myself but for my kids, all those who walked before me and for all those who suffer in silence alongside me.
“Every woman who heals herself, helps heal all women who came before her, and all those who come after her.”
Take a chance on yourself.
You are worthy of all the love and compassion you so freely give everyone else. You cannot accept this love until you step into your own healing, your own power. You will never fully embrace this until you allow yourself to work through your shit and ask for help.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Allow yourself to open up. Give yourself permission to stop living in darkness and start living your best life possible.
#BellLetsTalk is a great initiative to help spread awareness, but that’s just the start. We are just brushing the surface.
Get yourself some help. Don’t feel like you need to tackle this on your own. There are clinics and walk-ins everywhere.
If you are in crisis, please reach out. Don’t wait. You will be surprised at the amount of people that will happily lend a hand or simply an ear for you to speak and open up.
More people than you can even fathom are more than happy to hold space for you in their heart. Don’t feel like you need to do this alone. You are never alone. You may feel like you are alone, but you are never alone. There are always helpers <3
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”Fred Rogers
Crisis Services Canada – http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention – https://suicideprevention.ca/
The Lifeline Canada – https://thelifelinecanada.ca/help/
Ontario Association of Suicide Prevention – http://www.ospn.ca/
Here is a list of books that have helped me along my journey through healing. Each one has helped shape me in different ways. Each book absolutely fabulous in its own way. I’d love to hear of the books that have helped you. Please feel free to send your suggestions to hello <@> sheenacunning <.> com