Today I choose to be present to my feelings, aware of my needs, and accepting of my self… this however, was not always the case.
Hi, I'm Brenda
For many years I was…
How I came to truly love my self…
In my teen years, I felt very insecure about myself. I desperately wanted to be liked and spent most of my time trying be accepted and feel like I belonged. I floated through school often more concerned about relationships than my studies. I was so concerned about fitting in, I slowly lost sight of who I was and what I needed in my life.
As relationships came and went, I found myself separated from long-time friends, and seeking out anyone who might accept me. I found refuge in new circles of friends, but at the same time felt so lost within myself. In my final year of high school, my life was more about the next party and longing for a relationship to make me happy, than it was about what future possibilities were available to me. I was dabbling with drinking and drugs, and by the time I graduated highschool, I found myself addicted to heroin.
After one year out of high school, I made my way into college. It took a couple of years, dropped out once, and changed programs, until I finally graduated with a banking certificate and landed a career in financial services. I was a highly functioning addict; I worked hard, but I played hard. While I continually fought to overcome my addiction of heroin, I was constantly pulled back in from that desire to be included.
I struggled to see myself as an individual with strengths and value, yet I knew the life I was living was not how I wanted to be.
Finally just after turning 21, I found the courage to leave the circles of friends that had kept me addicted, and I stopped using heroin. I felt empowered and liberated, but was struggling to know who I was and how to really take care of myself. A good friend encouraged me to go to the gym to 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 felt stronger. 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.
Meanwhile, I was working my way up the corporate ladder of 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, and some emerging self-confidence, kept me anchored to the bank and its people for many years.
Yet, I often I felt like a chameleon. In my social life, I was constantly changing myself to fit into the groups of people I met. I didn't have a solid understanding of who I was, what was important, and what was possible for me. I kept following what I thought I should do, not completely connected with what I wanted.
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 pot, and dabbling in other drugs from time to time. I never went back to heroin, so I told myself I was doing fine.
I felt good about myself 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. It began to enhance my body awareness, in ways I recalled from my youth of figure skating, and slowly guided me to more self-awareness.
On new years of 2010, I remember coming home and looking at myself in the mirror, I was distrought with what I saw and who I was. I was still living a life that didn't feel like my own. I was desperate for change, but didn't know what to do. I recall standing in my bathroom and asking the Universe to please show me the way. That I couldn't live like this any more. Five or so days later, while looking up my year end bonus details, I ended up in the job listings at the bank I worked at. I saw my same position available on 17th Avenue in Calgary. I immediately knew I had to apply. Less than 2 months later I was living and working in Calgary, determined to change my life. I thought stepping away from certain social circles like the past would help me. Though it had a slight impact, later I'd realize the change I actually needed was one from within.
In late 2010 I went on a solo trip to Costa Rica, which profoundly changed my life. I was introduced to yoga and meditation in a more traditional form, and learned how to surf. While the surfing boosted my self-confidence, the yoga and meditation opened my mind to new practices and self-introspection. When I returned home, I began to study and practice meditation and yoga in a new way. I found a local Calgary studio and began to cultivate my practice. I started meditating daily and over the months ahead I saw more clearly the world I had been creating for myself.
I began noticing 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 again spiralling through cycles of binge drinking, while wanting to be happy and healthy, and somehow love myself.
Just before the following summer a close friend asked me, where I thought I’d be in 5 years if I kept living the way I was. I was already 33 and this question shocked me and woke me up. By the time I drove 2.5 hours home that day, I knew I needed to stop the cycle I was living. I quit drinking that day.
I dove into many self-help books seeking the answers to find inner clarity and soulful happiness. What I found were my hidden shadows of fear and worry and a deep longing for self-acceptance.
I realized I needed additional 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.
Over the next year, I found 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, 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 attention I changed my life to align with my truth, 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.
Since then, I have continued on my journey of honouring my feelings, learning to ask for what I need, and loving myself in a whole new way. I have reintroduced alcohol back into my life, but I have a new relationship with it, because I have a new relationship with myself. It took some time to come to this place of self-awareness, trust, and self-accountability, but so far I feel I am on track. The more awareness I have, the more I am able to be honest with myself and make necessary changes to ensure I am truly honouring myself through my actions.
Reflecting… it all came together with a choice to be present to all of me.
One of my hardest and most valuable realizations during my personal transformations have been to become present to myself. It took taking a look inside myself and honouring the feelings I had been avoiding, to help see the light of the amazing person inside me. Through self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-love, I've discovered my path to continually grow and learn on this journey. It is certainly not over, but I feel more grounded in myself, trusting of myself, and confident I can meet what each day brings.
What I gained from learning to love and honour myself…
With courage, I changed my life to reflect the truth I felt inside.