Wednesday, August 20, 2014

For the First Time in a Long Time, My Heart is Wide Open

I would like to share some thoughts and feelings with you that are precious and dear to me. The last several years have been a beautiful challenge for me. Beautiful, because my life is a wonderful one, and there is sweetness to be found in the sorrows of life. Challenging, because I've picked up some thorns along the way. Most of my friends know that I had a surgery to remove a substantial tumor from inside my spinal chord three and a half years ago. I was blessed beyond belief and comprehension during that time; since then, I have frequently struggled with injuries, weakness, nerve damage, doctors appointments, physical therapy and the most damaging of all, significant weight gain. My closest friends and family know that I also overcame a bittersweet, painful experience at the beginning of this year. 

These two experiences changed me, and they inspired me to closely observe my life. People always say it, but for the first time, I felt it, life's briefness and frailty. Our time on this Earth is short. Too short to spend it worrying, obsessing, being afraid, judging, coveting, self hating, lusting, hating others, feeling defeated or anything else that invites negative, damaging emotions into your heart. It's too short to live with anything other than blinding happiness, in all its forms, and gratitude. I have learned and witnessed that happiness is a choice, an attitude, a way of life. A happy person will of course experience sorrow and trial, but their foundation is not shaken. They acknowledge these emotions and experiences, fully feeling their sting, and then, they release them, which allows them to move on.

I know this because I was a very unhappy person, and I had to learn how to change that. The secret to changing is to realize your worth, and abandon all thoughts, feelings and actions that weigh you down and rob you of that. This was not an easy transition. Over the last several years, I have gained 122 pounds. That had a devastating affect on my body and heart. Recovering from spinal surgery and being overweight, is hard, really hard, but even harder than that, was learning how to love my imperfect body and respect and value myself, learning how to see my worth and beauty, even though I felt defeated, unattractive and worthless. I retreated deep into myself, and where there was once a happy, loving person that emitted light, then stood a bitter, sad person that stopped glowing. The view of the world from where I stood during that time was very gray. 

I used to think that people treated me differently because I had gained weight, but I was wrong. I treated myself differently. I stopped respecting and loving myself, and this caused others to react differently to me. Through feeling and reflecting those thoughts and beliefs, I gave others permission to treat me the same as I was treating myself, which was badly.

The fact that we as human beings have conditioned ourselves to react and feel this way about ourselves is incredibly sad. The truth is we do not need validation from anyone, even though we crave it and think we need it. A parent, a lover, a boss, etc., we depend on these people in our lives to determine and validate our worth, and if they don't, it must mean there is something wrong with us. That's completely false. Does the fact that someone doesn't love you or treat you well mean you are worthless? No, of course not. So, why do we act like it and let ourselves feel badly? We are conditioned to by society and example. A beautiful, overweight woman has a daughter; she loves her daughter and treats her wonderfully. They have a beautiful, loving relationship, but this woman frequently puts herself down and makes comments about how fat and unattractive she is. Her daughter, even though validated by her mother's word and actions, will learn the script, 'If I am overweight, it must mean that I am unattractive and undesirable.' The daughter will internalize this and learn to be critical of and hate herself, and she will teach it to her children and so on. It is a cycle. A parent that over inflates themselves and/or their children is just as damaging. 

Narcissism is self hate in disguise; it is when you feel the insatiable need to feel that you are better than everyone to prove that you are worth something, to prove you are desired. Putting others down to inflate yourself can cause a chain reaction in the other person as well. These are dangerous patterns, but they can be broken through awareness and constant checking of oneself. It is a lifelong balance. I was a very broken girl once, because I loved someone so completely that didn't love me. It started a chain reaction of feelings and beliefs that lead me to believe I was worthless and that there was something wrong with me. Again, I was wrong. 

It took me a really long time to understand and realize that someone else's feelings and thoughts about you only have power if you give it to them, and you only give it to them if you're turning to others for validation of your worth. As humans, we place worth on how we look, the talents and abilities we have, what we've gained, how many people love us, etc. This is called ego, and we each have one that separates us one from another. Ultimately, these things are not who we are, and placing too much value in them will set you up for a fall, like I did. 

We all live in this world together and navigating our individual journeys to who we are while also taking other beings with ego's, beliefs and actions of their own into account is scary. We all affect each other, but you do not have to let others affect you negatively. We all want to be happy and be loved, and we should start with loving and respecting ourselves. When we give into self hate, we are tremendously limiting our potential to do great things in this life. These feelings and thoughts are emotional blocks, and they do not help you. There is no reason to feel them. Ask yourself honestly, 'Does my fear and feelings of inadequacy help me in any way? Ever?' No? Then, dismiss it. Stop punishing yourself and let it go. Once it's gone, it will come back from time to time; so, be prepared to guard your heart and learn to quiet those feelings and thoughts. Acknowledge them and let them go. It takes time, but this practice changed me to the core. As a girl that has overcome severe OCD, this was a turning point in my life and my way of thinking. Suddenly, I realized that I do not have to be afraid or feel badly about myself. I now feel free and light. Doors started opening for me, and for the first time in a long, long time, my heart is wide open, and I am experiencing how beautiful our world truly is. I wanted to share this with you for two reasons. One, I see others struggle with this all the time, and it breaks my heart because I know how they're feeling. The worst part is it's self inflicted and totally unnecessary; we can stop at any time. Two, I'm ready to let go, and I need your help :) I have a goal to lose the 122 pounds I gained. I'm at a place now that I'm finally ready to be happy and healthy, and move forward with love and light. I would really appreciate it if you could share with me what has inspired you. What has brought you happiness and strength? 

Approach this life with an attitude of gratitude and from a place of confidence and love, with an open heart, and wonderful things will start happening to you. I promise. Be a light to others. Love deeply and fiercely, and nothing will be out of your reach. 

"For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been, and there you will long to return."