Today I choose to be present to my feelings, aware of my needs, and accepting of my true self… this however, was not always the case.
In my teen years, I felt very insecure about myself. I desperately wanted to be liked and spent most of my life trying be accepted and feel like I belonged. By the time I completed high school, I was drinking, smoking weed, and had found myself addicted to heroin. I spent the next 5 years fighting with myself to clean up. I went on to college and graduated, landing a career in financial services. I was a highly functioning addict; I worked hard, but I played hard.
I fought time and time again to kick my habit of heroin and finally just after turning 21, I did it. I left circles of friends that kept me in it, and found an old friend come to my aid. I felt empowered and liberated, but was struggling to know how to really take care of myself. This good friend encouraged me to go to the gym to build rebuild my health. As I began frequenting the gym, working out and focusing on my health, I could see an impact physically as my body began to change and I assumed if I kept it up, the way I felt on the inside would change too. Yet, there was still a feeling of emptiness.
While I was working my way up the corporate ladder with a major Canadian bank, connecting with people and offering financial advice and services. I felt content in my work. I was making a difference in peoples lives, helping them manage their financial needs. This, coupled with the sense of stability in the financial world, kept me anchored to the bank and its people for many years.
By my late 20s, I was working full-time and completing my Bachelor of Management Degree in the evening. I was still frequenting the gym, but spending a lot of social time binge drinking, smoking marijuana, and dabbling in other drugs from time to time. I never went back to heroin, so I thought I was doing fine.
I felt good at the gym, I found the weight-lifting and cardio workouts I had done over the years had increased my strength and kept me feeling healthy. Then one day I discovered a yoga/pilates class. I was attracted to the continued growth in strength, but also to the increased flexibility. While I did become more flexible, it also enhanced my body awareness and slowly opened me to more self-awareness.
I started to notice how I was talking to myself and how some of my decisions in my social life were impacting me. There were glimmers of self-love and truth, but they were hard to hear and clouded in wanting to be accepted and loved. I was spiralling through cycles of binging, trying to clean up, to be happy and healthy, and somehow love myself. It wasn’t until a close friend finally asked me at 33, where I thought I’d be in 5 years if I kept living the way I was. I knew I needed to stop.
Knowing that I needed help, I dove into many self-help books seeking the answers to find clarity and happiness. What I found was my shadows and a longing for self-acceptance.
I realized I needed help dealing with these shadows that were influencing my life. After previous years of working with psychologists trying to overcome my destructive behaviours, I ventured down a different path when I found a shamanic life coach with an approach that seemed to fit. Through our sessions, I discovered the emotions I was hiding from and how the choices I had been making in my life were stifling them. Working through unearthing these buried emotions was very challenging for me, but I was determined to see it through.
Accepting and welcoming my emotions was healing and awakening. I came to know myself on a deeper level and understand the needs that went along with my emotions. I took courageous steps to discover my truth and gained awareness and tools to be present to my emotions as they arise.
By this time, my gym regime had fallen away. I was deep into my yoga and meditation practice, eating healthy, and feeling the best I could ever remember. I was sober, making different choices in my social and work life, and opening up to new possibilities in my future.
With mindful intention I changed my self and my life to align with my truth, who I longed to be and who I am on the inside. This experience was empowering and I felt brave. I took on new challenges of personal growth, I opened my heart to love, and I found clarity and trust in my life choices.
I learned to listen to my body, mind, and intuition in making decisions. I enrolled in a Yoga Teacher training program to follow one of my passions, fell in love within a couple years of discovering my self again, and changed my career to align with my desire to help others feel fulfilled and in align with their true self as a Certified Life Coach.
One of my hardest choices during my personal transformation was to become present to my self. It took taking a break from social circles and time with my whole self, with no distractions, to help me see the light of the amazing person inside me. I had a couple of friends who encouraged me to listen to my self and honour my needs. I will forever be grateful for their love and support. Yet, the self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-love I discovered inside of me was the most enlightening and ever-lasting.