Leaning Into…the pain

Sometimes the pain is so deep that it’s hard to breathe.  And I find myself longing for the days when I was closed, shut down and didn’t feel anything.  Sometimes I miss those days.  They seem easier when I don’t like to lean into the pain, when I don’t want to see what’s back there, when I want to stay behind my wall, when “checking out” was so easy that I didn’t even know I was doing it.

I long for the days where I didn’t bother to look at what was under my anger, frustration, bitterness, except blame… if other people would… then I would…  Some days I wish for those days again, but I know that’s only smoke and mirrors of pretending it was better so I don’t have to lean in, yet again, to the pain.

I spent my life running from feeling.  And now here I am teaching other people how to feel, how to lean in, how to feel it, heal and let it go.  The perfect irony of the universe.  I was running from that which was my biggest learning and purpose in life.

Avoiding feelings led me down some dark alley’s in life, so far from the path I had naively dreamed of, that I no longer knew what path I was supposed to be on.  I no longer knew what anything meant.  Life was about surviving, giving the big fuck you to the world, arms crossed, rebellious, I don’t need anyone.

The easiest way to get it to stop was to eat, drink, smoke, deflect somehow.  We all have a tool box of coping skills.  Our life experiences and level of jadedness determines what ones we use.  When we’re really good we cycle through the coping skills like underwear.  Get angry, smoke to diffuse, feel bad because I smoked, eat to feel better, get angry because I ate, and continue the vicious cycle of self destruction.  Somehow convincing myself that this was better than feeling.

It was unconscious, of course.  I wasn’t walking around thinking this.  But subconsciously it all made sense in some fucked up way of meeting my need for love and connection.  I didn’t understand this until my breakdown awakening.  I had traded up my unhealthy coping skills for “healthier” ones.  It looked better but it was still a vicious cycle of survival – exercise, work too much, burn out, repeat.

I don’t need anyone was a smoke and mirrors story to hide from the possibility of being hurt, of being naive, vulnerable.  I believed people would hurt you.  My life experience had proven to me that people hurt you.  So I chose “safety”.  I chose to check out.  I chose work.  I chose not being available.  I chose  to withdraw because somewhere inside I believed I would be hurt anyway.

In the end though, I was living in hurt, disappointment, bitterness and anger.  I was using coping skills to survive.  I wasn’t living a fulfilling life.  But subconsciously I was meeting my needs.  Until my breakdown.  You can’t live an inspiring life helping others when you can’t connect to them.  And I couldn’t connect to people because I was so uncomfortable with feelings and emotions.

I saw it as a weakness and I had promised myself a long time ago I would never be weak.  I would never be a victim.  I believed that shutting down was letting go.  I believed that not talking about it, not feeling it was dealing with it. And I believed it made me stronger.

Learning to lean into the hurt saved my life.  I stopped looking outside of myself for approval, love and connection, significance and started looking within.  I realized the pain doesn’t get less by stuffing it down, it gets worse.  It takes on a life of its own – where we become bitter, angry, alone.  We hurt others and ourselves to deflect from feeling hurt, alone, sad, scared. And eventually the weeds that grow there choke out all of the beauty in life.

Leaning in to the hurt, talking about and feeling the pain of the things we’ve experienced, is hard to do in a world that’s taught us to shut down.  But there’s no other way to live the life you’ve dreamed about but have been too afraid to go after.

Owning all of who you are, the stories that have shaped you and made you who you are, all of the things that happened FOR you in life (see what I did there?), reclaiming all of who you are and unapologetically going after what you really want in life… that’s not weak, that’s strength.

Leaning into the hurt won’t make you weak it will make you stronger than you ever thought you could be.

I mean, let’s face it, the things you and I have survived would have killed other people.  I believe that we were given this story, this path, because we really are strong enough to live it.  Because we were born wild, not to fit in, not to follow the paths already laid out, not to be a good girl and know your place, but to make waves, to be brave enough to own ourselves and all of the things that happened FOR us so we can break the mould, so we can step up and help change the world.

That’s a lofty and daring fucking statement, wouldn’t you agree? I own that too 😉 

I have lived enough of my life worrying about what others think and feel and not enough about what I think and feel.  As a wild souled woman, I am here to shake things up, to stop living life on other people’s terms, to stop making things comfortable and accepting that “this is the way it’s always been done”.  They are the most dangerous words we have in the english language.

Owning who I am, what I want and what I want to do has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced because in order for me to do it, I have to own all of my own stories, I have to own all of my own experiences, I have to be me in a world where I’ve always believed ME wasn’t enough.  I have to be willing to make enemies and make people angry.  I have to be willing to stand up for what I believe in and that might mean standing alone at times.  And I have to let myself feel.

And that’s scary.

But it’s essential for my growth, to full fill my destiny and my purpose.

Leaning in to the hurt will engulf you at times but once it’s processed and over, it’s over.  When you stuff it down you relive it every day, you live a life less than what you wanted and for what?  Because you “might” get hurt… because you “might” not get what you wanted, because it “might” not work out?

Face the fears, feel the fear and lean in anyway.  I promise you, I’ve done it and it’s no where near as bad as holding it all in and pretending ever was.  And I do it regularly.  Because this stuff is daily work.  It’s not about “getting it” and then it’s all done.  This work happens every single day.  The leaning in.  It does get easier and we get stronger.  We build better coping skills.  We get more comfortable with who we are and we own more of ourselves.  And it gets easier.  I promise.

Stay Wild,

Tonya

PS… if you’re wild at heart and soul, join my tribe of Wild Souled Women who are committed to breaking the mould and living a life of inspiration.

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