Life is a funny thing. It paints some of the most exquisite experiences you could behold, while on the other hand, it can reveal highly unpleasant ones; both very inspiring nonetheless. My life has been a contrast of the two, giving me beauty and hardship, which has taken me down a wondrous path of healing - a journey I will never forget and one I will cherish for lifetimes ahead. Today I am thriving and couldn’t be happier with all the experiences I’ve been through, no matter how challenging they proved to be. I wish to share my story with you so that you can get a better sense of how I’ve become the person I am today and why I strive to help others along their journey.
I was born to parents who wanted me dearly, they struggled to have me and did everything in their power to have a child. However, they both had a profound amount of trauma and because of that, they eventually succumbed to it, letting me go in the process.
When I was two years old, my father committed suicide. He had struggled with depression throughout his life and the final breaking point for him was my mother accusing him of sexually abusing me, leading to the end of their marriage and his life. My mother struggled with his death, which eventually brought her to start drinking and even quit her job so that she could suffer in silence with her self-prescribed medicine. Because she had left her job, we eventually we had to go on welfare, which brought many more struggles with it. I became the caretaker in the household. I found myself cleaning, doing laundry and cooking most meals at 7 or 8 years old. Given that I was cooking my own meals, I usually chose easy to prepare items that didn’t have much nutrition. I was overweight, dressed in cheap clothing and was very withdrawn. Because of this not many kids wanted to be my friend. At school, I found myself being bullied, most days I was beaten during recess, called names and had rocks thrown at me on the way home. Then I’d come home to be an outlet for my mother, too. When she had too much to drink, it was like she wasn’t conscious of her actions or surroundings. She would become both mentally and physically abusive and most of the time it seemed she wasn’t even aware of me crying out for her to stop. That's a lot for any adult to handle, let alone a child. It got to the point that at age 10, I contemplated suicide because I couldn’t imagine being stuck repeating the same day for years to come.
In time, my mother became quite sick and I had little knowledge of why, I just knew that our time together was ending and it seemed there wasn’t much that I could do. Despite the immense challenge I went through daily, I still loved her dearly and I couldn’t see a life without her, mostly because I didn’t know what life could be like outside of what was presented to me. One Saturday night when I was 13, my mother woke, claiming she was having a stroke and needed help getting up. I was overwhelmed with fear and confusion. I didn’t know what to do and hoped this was all a dream, because my little mind couldn’t comprehend being left to survive by myself. I didn’t know how to navigate this world yet. I didn’t know how to assess the situation and decide on a solution—that was my mother’s job, or at least she was there to help me if I fumbled. As I struggled to pick her up and carry her down the hall, she fell limp and collapsed in my arms. That night she was taken to the hospital for the last time where she fell into a coma and passed away due to cirrhosis of the liver. My greatest fear had come true. I was alone. My heart was shattered.
After her death I was adopted by my aunt and uncle who lived in another city, however, it wasn’t the saving grace I had hoped for. I was often engulfed in misery, my behaviour was abnormal and most people didn’t seem to understand why. I was fearful of others, my trust was shot, my emotions destroyed and I didn’t have space to allow just anyone in. This person that I had become didn’t seem to conform to anyone’s expectations, so I put on a happy face to appease everyone else. I struggled to understand who I was and see my self worth. I saw a distorted version of myself that was filled with disgust. I was tainted by my father and not accepted by those around me, especially those who were supposed to love me most. How was I to respect myself if those around me built a foundation that made it clear that I didn’t deserve love, respect and attention?
It got to the point that I adopted others beliefs about how I should be treated and throughout the years I struggled with an eating disorder because that was where I thought I felt comfort and control. As time went by, my eating disorder transformed. I started doing it to induce physical pain because it was the only way I knew how to connect to my emotions, while also having control over them. I had blocked my emotions so severely, that I wasn’t even sure if I was capable of reaching them and when they did seem to seep through, I would become so overwhelmed that I would collapse in panic. This was the only coping mechanism I had.
After a few years I came to a realization that I needed to stop starving my body and purging everything it had. Yet somehow, my grief, anger and pain still managed to surface and seep out of the cracks when I least expected. I still didn’t understand how to cope with the emotions that showed up and I fell back into the loop of abusing my body, but this time I did so through binge eating. I didn’t realize what I was doing at first, but it became clear when I started to notice my eating increased as my ability to handle certain situations decreased. As time went on, I saw that these coping mechanisms weren’t working for me anymore and I chose to treat them, leaving me with a beautiful new outlook on life and more importantly, myself. I was stunned, how had I never seen my own beauty all those years? When you finally see yourself for who you are, the exquisiteness can leave you breathless.
Throughout the years I also self-sabotaged myself through drinking. I was treating friends as if they were enemies and not caring about my own horrific behaviour. I ended up getting myself kicked out of university by second year because of my lack of focus and depression. I started seeking out guidance and things seemed to change for the better. I applied to a new school and started dating a man that I thought deeply loved me. Six months down the road, everything flipped. I was back to hating school, as working with children reminded me of the sexual abuse my mother had accused my father of. Not only that, but my boyfriend had unmasked himself as my mother as he was both mentally and physically abusive and for some crazy reason, I was okay with this. I yearned for the acceptance, validation and love that wasn’t given to me by my parents and thought that I could make up for the lack by finding it in another. This pattern cycled on for years, looking for love in places I knew I wasn’t going to receive it in order to keep others at bay or I’d take it as a way to finally get it right and be told that I was wanted. It was funny, my parents had passed long ago, but it seemed they still managed to emerge in my life. I was stuck in a constant loop - when I thought that I had finally found the heaven I yearned for, the mirage would disappear only to reveal I was still in hell. It was becoming tiring keeping this charade of perfection going for myself and everyone around me. Trauma that I had chosen to ignore had created all the problems in front of me and I had kept that trauma so well hidden in the deep recesses of my mind, I had hardly noticed it. I had become my own biggest abuser, I had taken on the role of those that had hurt me most.
I started integrating more self-help/self-love exercises, meditation, yoga, psychology, dismantling and rebuilding of the self, as well as reviewing and analyzing of my own thoughts in hopes to alter them and flip them on their head. I separated from my overactive, negatively focused mind and sat with my spirit—the guide that has stood by my side and sees me for who I actually am, perfectly whole. Not only that, I accepted the apology I had never received from my parents and instead, I chose to understand their side. In doing so, I discovered that they were lost in the same sea of hurt that I was in. I chose to be strong enough for all of us, adopting their pain as my own, so that I could transform it into love to halt the ancestral trauma in its tracks. I went on to sign up for different healing modalities, such as yoga, sound healing, reiki and ayahuasca, so that I could heal with the support of a community.
One night, right before I was about to leave for an ayahuasca retreat, I received a letter from my father. Yes, a real letter from my father who had passed years ago. It was eerie how it was this moment I received it and not any other. In the letter my father had written to clear his name. He stated that my mother was in the process of being diagnosed, I can only assume with schizophrenia as she had made false claims about many members of the family, my father included. He stated that he loved me and never did any harm to me no matter what was said and, upon talking with my family, this was confirmed. I was now able to accept my father's love and move forwards in my healing journey.
After much healing and building of strength and self-love, I chose to take the courageous route and run after my dreams, no matter how scary they seemed or how much others didn’t approve of them. Today I sit in a country across the world and far from home taking in new adventures with passion, strength and determination. Through self-reflection and years of healing, I have finally given myself the greatest gift—I have fallen in love with myself for everything I am. It’s funny because the love I yearned for, I already had. It had been hiding inside of me waiting to be found. I feel so grateful. My life hasn't been easy, but I am able to accept my past and see many of my experiences as blessings. I have fully embraced each and every moment for what it is and have transmuted it into power, love and courage. I wouldn’t be me without each person I’ve met and each struggle I’ve pushed through.
It’s not to say that I am healed and radiate nothing but perfection and happiness. That just isn’t realistic. A scar never disappears. It is a reminder of your strength and ability to heal and I am proud of every scar I bear. Today I am better equipped to navigate difficult situations without putting my wellbeing in danger. I am aware of my mind and all of its intricacies, for it is a battleground of thoughts that often don’t even come from you. I can see the difference between the thoughts I generate and the ones my autopiloted mind generates. The autopiloted thoughts have become much less frequent, as I have stood my ground and defined my rules about how I should be loved by others and most importantly, myself. I have found my glowing beam of light and no one can take that from me.
One of the biggest reasons I chose to share my story is because most people don’t have the ability to look into another’s life and they end up assuming it’s perfect and without difficulty. Such assumptions might even lead them to stay quiet about their own struggles out of fear of being vulnerable and getting hurt, because it might not be something people are used to hearing. But I think the way to grow love for yourself and for others is through connection, compassion and vulnerability. Vulnerability may seem weak and easily damaged, but it actually has strength beyond anything this world can offer and it’s you that gives it that invincible power. Be bold, be strong and know that you’re not alone.