Before my 37th birthday last year, I wrote this piece and it was published in Sprout Online Magazine in December 2013. It has been one of the hardest things I've ever written and definitely the most vulnerable. I originally wrote a piece on lessons I had learned and Amanda Fall, the Editor of Sprout, encouraged me to go deeper and focus on one big lesson. It felt safe as I had known Amanda for a while and had been published in Sprout previously. I knew the audience well and felt like it was the ideal safe container to open up and share my story.
I won’t lie to you. 2013 has been a challenging year for me. I have dwelled with dormant emotional trauma for over 20 years. I somehow thought I could leave it behind without repair but as I moved further along my path to discover my identity and purpose in life, it would remain dormant no longer. I woke up one morning last year after a poor night’s sleep and typed out my story and how it made me feel and what mark it had left on my soul.
It had come to a point where I could not carry this baggage solo any longer. I’ve always found it difficult to ask for or accept help, even when it is offered. But this time I had to for my survival. I hit my ‘10’, the panic button of overwhelm and defeat. I thought I was being swallowed up whole. My exterior crumbled as I opened my raw insides to the outside world and sought much needed support from a professional and those closest to me. Later, I came to understand that I had other traumatic experiences to heal. So with fear, courage, my loved ones and trusted friends alongside me, I began the process of healing. It led me to consider the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far:
“I have the power to get through anything, always”
This is just one piece of my life’s puzzle. Not many people can say they have had a traumatic experience. But I can tell you that I have had three at ages 14, 22 and 23. I’m 36 now.
Confronting past trauma amid realizing big dreams is such an overwhelming and conflicting set of circumstances to go through. I’m an artist and maker and for about 5 months of this year, I painted and made nothing. I went through the motions in my professional day job. I put that brave smile on like a mask. I was shocked that my brain could carry this heavy weight for so long, untreated. I was scared at the thought of the long road to healing that not only was I emotionally blocked, I was creatively blocked too. I’d walk into my studio space, look around and walk back out and shut the door. It was stifling to not be able to use my creativity when I honestly needed an outlet. I was angry that I allowed things to get to me. I was angry that I had these horrible experiences. But I learned that I had to be gentle on myself. I had to stop blaming and shaming myself. Enough of that had been done to me. I had done nothing wrong. I was a kid, a young woman. I was physically assaulted twice and the other experience was emotional abuse from an ex boyfriend. He would belittle, shame, humiliate, manipulate and control. I was trapped and not equipped with the wisdom and knowledge of today to know that I didn’t have to be there forever. I also didn’t know how deeply it affected me until I dug deeper.
This year I have also faced my biggest fears – showing up, being vulnerable, marketing and talking to people at markets, showing my art in public, scared that no one will like my work and sharing my life and inner thoughts on my blog. I did all of this while trying to heal and when I look back, I’m a little bit amazed at how I got through the year.
I’m a work in progress. There is still so much to heal, learn and confront, but I have the power to get through it, always.
Hello, I'm Sharyn: Founder of of Gutsy Girl and Gutsy Girls Will Rule The World. I am the Creatrix of Sacred Circle Leadership Training and Gutsy Mantras.
Get to know me on my About page.
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