Letting go.

It’s at this point in my journey where I’ve realised I’m holding myself back from moving forward. And that’s because I’m holding on to people and things that are no longer good for me. But I just can’t seem to let go.

 

Is it fear? Worry? Self-doubt?

 

Probably a combination of all three and so much more.

 

Why is it, even when you know deep down that someone or something is no longer good for you, or doesn’t hold that place in your future anymore, you just can’t seem to take that final step and cut the strings? You hold on for dear life even though it causes you so much heartache and draws out the process of moving on.

I’ve recognised recently that I’m doing this with a few things/people in my life. It’s such a confronting thing to accept. And even harder to be honest with myself with the reasons why I’m still holding on.

The reality hit me because I’m moving next week. And I’m so excited about this change and my “new” life I’m beginning. But it also slapped me in the face, that I’m leaving my old life behind me.

I know that in taking this kind of step in my journey, I can’t take my old baggage with me. I’ve spent the last 6 months unpacking it all. Unloading the grief and the trauma. Spent countless sleepless nights stressing over it. Shed millions of tears and spent hours crying until there were no tears left. I’ve hit the darkest moments of my life where I genuinely thought I couldn’t cope any longer.

But in this time I’ve also worked tirelessly to heal from these losses. I’ve sought help from my therapist and spent hours upon hours with her to learn new ways to cope and new ways to heal myself. I’ve taken the time to take care of myself mentally and physically and found a routine of self love that has made me stronger and happier. I’ve found the strength to face my fears and confront these dark shadows in me that I’ve always allowed to rule my life. I’ve completely surrendered to this process.

The biggest thing I’m realising, and the biggest fear I’m facing right now. Is the fact that I have to let go of my old self. I’m no longer the person I was when I moved into this apartment. And I can’t take any of those bad habits with me. I have to force myself to start fresh. I have to believe in myself and be confident in the fact that I’m strong enough to do this without falling back into self hatred and self doubt. That I now have the ability to put my own needs on par with others rather than self sacrificing and putting them first.

I love the quote “If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.” This is the process I’ve been following for my new self. I can’t bring the old me along on this journey anymore. She’s bleeding onto the new me. Trying to work her way back in and hindering my process. And I can’t allow that to happen anymore.

I have to be brave and let go of the old me completely.

There’s also the issue of my ex. It’s been 7 months since she left me and during this time I’ve been filled completely with anger, hurt and hate. I’ve focused completely on trying to continue the relationship with our daughter and fighting to see her. That I’ve never stopped and taken the time to actually allow myself to accept that it’s over. I’ve grieved the loss of our family, but I’ve never grieved the loss of our relationship. I’ve never analysed how I actually feel about her. And it pains me, and I’m embarrassed to say, I still have feelings for her. I’ve been so distracted by the hurt, that I failed to see that love was still there.

We spent 6 years together. We have a beautiful daughter and were trying to have another. I truly thought we’d be together forever. As much as I’d like them to, those feelings don’t disappear quickly. The only thing that will allow me to heal and let go of those feelings, is time.

So moving forward into my new life, I can’t just turn off these feelings, but I can choose to let go of the hope I’ve been holding onto that things could be different. I’ve been holding on because I know how much it will hurt to let go. But this process of holding on is also hurting me much more than I’ve realised.

I have to be brave and let go of her.

There is another major factor that I’ve been holding onto that is hurting me, but I can’t even find the words to talk about it now. But I know in my heart that I have to be brave and let it go as well. I have to let go of the hope I’ve been holding onto that certain things could have turned out a different way.

This stage in my journey of letting go, is the most confronting and also the scariest. In a way it feels like it’s the final stage in the process. Not that I believe my journey will ever be over. I wholeheartedly believe now, that our lives are one big journey that should be cherished and looked at as a journey, not just a way of life.

But this feels like it’s the final step in this cycle of my journey. Like I’m coming out the other side of the most difficult and heartbreaking moments of my life.

It’s scary because I don’t know what’s on the other side. Fear of the unknown is making me want to hold back. But the exciting thing is, that the old me would have put off taking this step. Would have allowed fear and self doubt to take over. But the new me, yes she still has those fears, but she’s embracing them and facing them head on.

I’m excited for the unknown. I’m looking forward to seeing what is around the corner for me. And I can sit here with confidence and know that whatever challenges are thrown at me, I can conquer them all.

All of this makes me realise that letting go doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be rewarding and refreshing and also open up so many amazing opportunities that you would never have had if you’re still looking backwards and holding onto the past.

So from now on my focus will be aimed solely at my daughters favourite movie quote “Let it go.”

Taking my power back

*Warning – sensitive trigger subject*

This will be the hardest blog I release. Opening up about the moment I had my power stolen from me.

But I feel like it’s going to be my most important one too. This week I took my power back and it’s the most amazing, and, well the most powerful feeling in the world.

It’s hard to even type the words as I’ve carried this burden for so long. The shame and the guilt. The feeling of powerlessness. I know I just need to spit it out… at 10 years old I was sexually abused.

I’m not going to go into details obviously. No one needs to read that.

25 years ago someone took my power from me. He took my innocence. He took my confidence. He took my ability to feel comfortable saying no. He took my trust. He took my feeling of safety. He took the feeling that humans are inherently good and kind.

He took everything good from me and replaced it with everything shit. Guilt. Shame. Self blame. Confusion. Mistrust. Fear. Defiance. Anger. Pain. Over bearing emotions that I could never find a way to cope with.

I truely feel that the person I was originally born to become, died that day. From that moment I was never going to be the same. He fundamentally changed my personality, my heart and my soul.

This is so difficult because I don’t want to talk about the fact that he’s had a lasting impact on me for 25 years. I don’t want to open up about the fact that even now when people I love touch me, it sometimes makes my skin crawl. I don’t want to admit that I still have nightmares. I don’t want to tell anyone that up until a few months ago I couldn’t accept compliments because my first thought was always “what do you want from me?” I don’t want to fess up that even hearing his name makes me feel sick. I don’t want to share the details of how I sometimes get a bad gut feeling around certain men that makes my heart race, my hands shake, I start to sweat and feel the walls closing in like I can’t escape.

I don’t want to share any of this. But this is the reality of my life. And the reality for so many others that have been through the same trauma. This is the lasting impact that this has on our lives.

But as of a few days ago when writing this, all of it changed. And I feel like a million pounds of weight have been lifted off my shoulders.

I was talking to my therapist about how I feel so powerless right now because my ex has total control over my life. How it sends me absolutely crazy every time she takes even more power from me. How I get so emotional about it and feel like I can’t find my way out. How I’ve always been triggered when people take my power away from me.

She asked if there was a time when I was a child where I feel I lost my power. Obviously the abuse came straight into my mind. I did try to stumble my way through a few other minor things because I was scared to step up and face my demons.

I stopped myself and there was silence for what felt like an eternity. I knew I had to face it. I knew this was my moment to deal with it. I knew I couldn’t carry it any longer.

I took a deep breath and said the words. The flood gates opened.

She suggested a few options we could try and I felt that the imagery work we’d used before sat best with me. A quick description of what happened was that I visualise up to the point where I started to know something was wrong. I then visualise “Adult Jess” stepping in and taking “little Jess” out of the situation and comforting her until she’s feeling ok and safe. Then “adult Jess” and my therapist walk back in and get everything off my chest that I’ve wanted and needed to say to him my whole life.

The entire experience was so difficult, yet so healing. Especially the point in which my therapist says to him that it’s his fault not mine and that it’s his guilt to carry for hurting me and for choosing to hurt others.

The feeling that’s burdened me the most is the guilt that I feel because I didn’t stop him and because I shut down to try and cope and didn’t tell anyone, he hurt others. And I have blamed myself for that my whole life.

Hearing those words that it’s not my burden to carry anymore, broke down so many walls I’ve had up. It shattered the weight I’ve always carried. It transferred all of the shit he gave me, and returned it back to him.

In that moment I felt that I took back all the good he stole from me. I took back my innocence. I took back my confidence. I took back feeling comfortable to say no. I took back my ability to trust. I took back my feeling of being safe. But most importantly, I took back my power.

I walked out of that office feeling like a new person. I barely recognise myself. I feel entirely different. It’s like I actually see the world differently. I can’t find the words to explain it properly. But it feels good. It feels amazing actually.

And by no means do I feel that I just walk away and forget it happened. Like I’m magically better and won’t ever think about it again. I will always carry the scars from this trauma. I will always remember. I’ll probably always get the random flash backs and the nightmares. But I’m hoping that these things will lessen over time now that I’ve faced it and feel myself healing.

For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like a victim anymore. I feel like a survivor. And that is incredibly important to me. I faced one of the most horrendous things a child can face, and today I stood my ground and took my power back!

I’ve been going back and forth in deciding whether to write a blog on this. I don’t mind sharing these details with the hundreds of people that read this that I don’t know and never will. But it’s especially hard to share such a traumatic event with people I know. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. Or to look at me with pity. Or to feel uncomfortable around me because they don’t know what to say. No one can say or do anything to take away the pain so please don’t feel that you need to “fix” anything. I’m sharing this because I know the worst thing about being abused is that you feel like you’re the only one.

So I want to stand up and say, you’re not alone! If we’ve never met, or if we’re best mates, or if we work together or if we fell out years ago and have never spoken since, I don’t care… you’re not alone in this. If you need to reach out then I’m here. You’re not alone.

The other emotion you carry is the guilt and self blame.

So I want to stand up and say, it wasn’t your fault!

The only person to blame in this situation, is the perpetrator. No one else. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my parents fault. It wasn’t society’s fault. It wasn’t his parents fault. He alone made that choice to hurt me. Him. No one else.

I also wanted to share this as I made a promise to myself when I started this blog, that I was always going to be open, raw and honest. And this is the most significant trauma in my life and has impacted me so much. So standing up and facing it, will have an enormous impact on my journey.

And hiding what happened is a way of him still holding power over me. So I’m standing up now and saying no more.

“You, you piece of shit, no longer hold any of my power.” It’s mine!!!

Guilt, shame and self-blame

I read an article recently that if you’ve been in relationships where difficult things were hidden or not spoken about, this causes you to feel shame and loneliness about struggling through difficult times. That also 90% of my generation grew up in a family structure where children should be seen and not heard, has caused us to try and mask our emotions instead of release them.

 

It seems to be, that the common perception of society these days that showing emotions makes you weak, especially for men. I don’t understand this concept at all because opening up and showing emotions is one of the most difficult things you can do. You leave yourself vulnerable and open to judgement and criticism. How is that being weak? I have been doing this more than ever these last few months and it has been the most difficult process I’ve faced. 

 

I’ve just come out of a relationship where I was belittled almost every day for being “weak” and “too emotional.” I was laughed at. Told I was being ridiculous. Told I needed help. She even said that the only reason she started dating me was because she thought I was broken and she wanted to fix me. Wow what a confidence boost that is. If I had a dollar for every time in that relationship I heard the words “There’s no point getting upset over anything, just have a bottle of wine and get over it” I’d be a millionaire.

 

Looking back and knowing that I’m so much stronger now than I was then, I know I’d never stand for such disrespectful words to be spoken to me. But when you’re in that cycle, it’s so hard to stand up for yourself and get out. When someone literally laughs in your face when you get upset, it makes you feel so utterly worthless.

 

A few days after we found out I’d miscarried the first time, she saw me upset and her exact words were “Urgh what are you crying for now?” My response “I’m upset because we lost our baby.” Her response “Well crying won’t change that so get over it and we can try again.”

 

After our second loss I was sitting on the kitchen floor bawling my eyes out. I couldn’t believe it happened again. My oh so loving and supportive partner walks in “I don’t want our daughter seeing this so I’m taking her over to Mums so you can be alone and have some space.” So now we’re teaching our daughter too that it’s not ok to show emotions??? And tell me who in the world would want to be alone after finding out such news?

 

After our 3rd loss I cried in front of her once. Then I shut down and hid my emotions because I couldn’t cope with being made to feel worthless and stupid again. So I didn’t grieve properly. I just blocked it all and threw myself into running.

 

I can see now that her way of blocking emotions and not dealing with the difficult parts of life, is the easy and “weak” way of getting through each day. I found that blocking the grief was so much easier than dealing with it. 

 

I used to do that before I learnt to express my emotions and having a lifetime of built up shit that I didn’t deal with, led me to a point in my life where I felt I could barely cope. I had such a back log of emotions that I had blocked, that when I finally started releasing them it was incredibly overwhelming.

 

When starting to release these emotions and deal with them, I realised just how much shame and guilt I carry for even feeling these emotions. And that makes it so much harder to deal with. The feeling that there is something wrong with me just because I wear my heart on my sleeve. The feeling of guilt and that I’m a burden on the people in my life. The feeling of shame that my life isn’t “perfect” like certain others that put on a front pretending that their life is perfect.

 

No one’s life is perfect. Everyone feels emotions. Everyone has bad days. Everyone feels sad sometimes. Everyone cries. So why it that the people that are real and show these emotions is are labelled as weak??? And the people that hide these emotions and are “fake” about their lives, are celebrated???

 

Again it just seems like society is going backwards. We value people being fake over people being real. We belittle people for showing emotion rather than celebrating their courage to be vulnerable. We give more credence to materialistic goods rather than time with people we care for.

 

The self-blame that I have always put onto myself is something I struggle with every day. I’ve found it easier to take responsibility for other people’s shitty actions, rather than having the courage to stand up and say no it’s not ok that you treat me that way. When you carry so much shame and guilt, it almost feels better to take the blame on yourself, because your self-worth, and self-confidence is non-existent. You feel like you deserve to be treated that way. And when you’ve also done this your whole life, it’s hard to break the habit. 

 

What I’ve realised very quickly that there is three ways people react when you finally step up and start voicing that you don’t like being treated a certain way. 1. They fight back and try to put the blame back on me by bringing up my faults and trying to bring me back down again. 2. They defend their actions and try to blame others or make excuses for shitty behaviour. 3. They reflect on the situation and will take responsibility for their actions and apologise whole heartedly without making excuses. 

 

What I’m working through with my therapist is how to accept that all 3 responses are ok. That some people aren’t ready to admit when they have hurt someone and that is ok. That is just the place they are in right now. It doesn’t make it ok that their actions hurt me, but its ok that they aren’t ready to take responsibility yet. It’s really difficult to find a healthy balance between recognising that their actions were not ok, and accepting that it happened and moving forward, but it’s something I’m slowly working through and getting used to. 

 

This journey is teaching me so much about myself, about others and about life in general. I’m experiencing every emotion under the sun, from pure bliss to absolute heart break and endless despair. What I’m realising is that even though making changes and leaving yourself vulnerable is the hardest thing I have faced, I would rather face it and conquer it and go through all of these difficulties, than staying the way I was. I’m sick and tired of not being true to myself. I’m sick and tired of letting people walk over me. I’m sick and tired of taking on all the blame from others. 

 

Making changes is hard, but you know what’s even worse? Staying the same!!! 

 

 

How running saved me

In 2013 I completed a half marathon and I was fitter and healthier than ever. I had just left working in the fitness industry and was in a new relationship. Within a few months of feeling on top of the world after reaching such a huge goal that meant the world to me, I was 10 kg heavier and wasn’t training at all. This carried on for the next 5 years. I had periods of really feeble attempts at getting back into training but always made excuses and would fall back into laziness again. 

It wasn’t until after my last surgery where I was laid up in bed and couldn’t move and I hated myself so much, that I finally got the burning urge to train again. It was actually killing me to not be able to do anything and as each day passed I got more and more frustrated. I was busting at the seams to get started but I knew that I would have to take it easy and start back very slowly or I would injure myself and end up giving up again. 

My very first ‘training’ session was literally a 10 minute walk. Not only was it painful and uncomfortable as I was 2 weeks post-surgery and I still had glue holding my belly button and 2 other cuts together, but it was also uncomfortable mentally. I was feeling so depressed and grieving from the miscarriage and didn’t want to leave the house. So getting outside was a real struggle and was totally overwhelming. But I did it!!!

It was hard to not put pressure on myself and push for more but I made sure to only focus on the positive. That I completed my first session and had taken a step forward. I had to keep reminding myself that it didn’t matter how slow I was going, but I was finally going. It was around this time I set myself the goal of completing another half marathon. I had 10 months before the Gold Coast Airport Marathon was happening. Game on. 

I didn’t tell anyone for a few months that this was my goal. Fear of failure was making me keep it a secret and I didn’t want to add any pressure to what I was already feeling. My training was still going very slowly but I was loving it. I was finally feeling like me again. I was looking forward to training and would actually feel “itchy” when I had a rest day and normally ended up going for at least a walk. 

My first “run” was around the block when I was still living in Runaway Bay. 3.2 km that took me 34 minutes!!! I could have actually walked it quicker but I set myself a goal of running the whole way without stopping so I didn’t care how long it took me, I just couldn’t stop. The feeling I got when I arrived home was like euphoria. I was so proud of myself. And it really enforced the fact that you have to set little goals along the way and be proud of each of those steps you take. 

It was around this time the rest of my life started to fall apart and running has literally saved me and pulled me out of some seriously dark places. It felt like hitting this goal was the only thing I had to look forward to, the only thing I could control. Every other part of my life it felt like I was a puppet on a string, I was having to do what everyone else wanted. But running was my thing. No one could take that away from me, no one could control that part of my life. I was training every day without fail. I couldn’t stop. And I was loving every second of it. My body was starting to change. I was feeling so much fitter and stronger and was feeling a lot of pride in myself for sticking to it and staying focused. 

During all of this I was strict with taking care of my body, mainly out of fear of getting injured because I knew that running was the only thing keeping me going, but also because I wanted to get the best out of my body. I was stretching each night, using a foam roller, taking magnesium, eating good nutritious meals and I ending up adding yoga into my nightly stretching routine as well just recently which I actually really love doing and am seeing the benefits already. This doesn’t mean I didn’t treat myself. I’d started drinking alcohol again after 5 years of barely drinking at all, and I’ve had a few pretty big nights. Plus I was doing a bit of comfort eating too but I never allowed myself to feel guilty for it. I was training hard and as a whole was eating well so I definitely deserved some treats too. Taking the guilty thoughts away from treating myself made a huge difference. Normally I’d beat myself up thinking how I’ve ruined my progress, and would comfort eat even more. 

At this point in time I’m up to 16km runs. It’s still a pretty challenging time in my life, and I’m battling every day to keep my head above water. I’m also trying to find a way to manage the not so positive comments that always seem to follow when people step up and achieve something.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve had some amazing feedback and have been truly humbled by some of the comments of people reaching out and sharing their journey with me and saying that I am inspiring them to start training again. These comments have led me to actually start this blog and be more open about my journey and I’m doing my best to focus on them as I deeply appreciate them.

Unfortunately these days there is always negative comments thrown in as well and I do my best to not think about them but some days they get the best of you and bring you down. I don’t believe any of the comments are thrown at me to intentionally cause harm, but it’s just the usual of people not thinking before they speak and not realising how hurtful certain things are. Being called a skinny bitch by ‘friends’ because I’ve lost weight and being told I need to start eating KFC….. it hurts. Being told oh you have it so easy because you were born fit…. it takes away from the hard work I’ve put in. 

Maybe I’m just super sensitive at the moment, but I really believe if you see someone stepping up achieving something and you don’t have anything nice to say about it, then don’t say anything at all. I’ve even had someone tell me I won’t make my marathon goal by going vegan. Apparently eating meat is the only thing that lets you run these days?!?!?

I’ve lost weight because I’m training a lot which obviously naturally occurs. I’ve also not been able to stomach meat for the last 8 weeks or so after reading an article on live animal exports so I’ve completely changed my diet to almost Vegan (I still indulge in chocolate now and then). I’ve also been struggling to eat because my stomach is in knots from the stress I’m under. The last 2 weeks I’ve also spent 3 nights throwing up, again I think from stress. So calling me a skinny bitch and telling me to go and have a big feed, really doesn’t help people!!! It also doesn’t help by telling me you wish you had it ‘easy’ like me. Trust me, none of this journey has been easy. Every fucking day has been an absolute battle. Every step I’ve taken has been through enormous effort and willpower. I wasn’t born fit. I am fit now because I have shown up for myself every day without fail for the last 7 months and I have busted my fucking ass running and training. This is not fucking easy. 

And I know it appears I’m naturally motivated so it’s easier for me than most. But it’s come to a point where running is saving me from all the shit I’m dealing with. It’s the one thing I can control. The one thing that manages to shut up my inner critic for awhile. That’s where my motivation actually stems from. Which isn’t a very pretty place.

As of right now there is 109 days and 19 hours until the run starts. I’m so excited and keep wishing that I could do it now so I can achieve my goal now instead of waiting. But I know something like this is about the journey of getting there, not just the accomplishment at the end so I’ll be patient and keep working hard and keep showing up for myself. I also know that the struggles I face will make the finish line so much more meaningful. 

Just the thought of crossing that line makes me tear up already. It’s going to be one of my greatest achievements to pull myself out of the hardest and darkest place of my life and to turn it into something positive and life changing. 

To everyone that has passed on positive feedback, I thank you for your kind words and I love sharing this journey with you and knowing that you’re starting to change your life too. To the few that have been not so positive, I thank you for putting that fire in my belly to fight harder.