A little more on this post...
Growing up, healthy coping mechanisms were not modeled by the people in my life. Emotional maturity was not modeled, either. Until recently, I didn't understand what boundaries really were. The role I took on when growing up and for most of my life was to stay lighthearted, keep the peace, and be the fixer so that the people closest to me would be happy and safe. To stifle my own discomfort to keep everyone around me comfortable. I didn't think of it in these terms until recently, but I felt personally responsible for the happiness of the people that were closest to me. No pressure! That responsibility was truly challenged when my husband died, and I could hardly make myself happy, let alone the people around me, but somehow I took on that role like it was my mission in life until I ran myself into the ground (because being too busy to feel too much was also a trauma response). I now realize that responsibility was not mine and never was. We are only responsible for our own happiness.
Little did I know that most of my life, I had been living a trauma response and not living in my own truth. It makes sense, since I now understand that my parents were living their traumas as well - it's clearly a cycle. I don't fault them for it, just as I'm now able to look at my own trauma responses without judgment, too. I've released a lot of the judgment I placed on myself for years, and it's helped me to let go of resentment I had towards others.
I've also learned that you cannot heal in the same environment that hurt you. It wasn't until I had a significant amount of time and distance from certain people in my life that I understood what unhealthy situations I had been in for so very long. I didn't realize the entire time I was in the thick of it. With time and space, I finally began to truly heal. How many of us are in unhealthy environments and don't even realize it? I really believe that for the most part, the people in our lives honestly don't mean to hurt anyone, but they're living a cycle without even knowing it, and projecting their traumas and negative conditioning onto everyone around them - including their children. Society is at fault for some of this as well, but that's a topic for another post.
When I finally realized that my old coping mechanisms were hurting me more than helping me, when I realized that there were some unhealthy patterns I couldn't seem to escape from in my life, and when I realized that my health was directly affected by all of it is when I had a lightbulb moment - the connection of mind, body and spirit! That seed was planted in the late 1980's when I read Deepak Chopra's book, "Quantum Healing." Now that my kids were a little older, I could also finally take classes on something I've always been fascinated by: Reiki - which planted more seeds.
I researched and learned and read and practiced and drank it all up like I had been stranded in a desert for years. I had been living on autopilot long enough and it was time to re-evaluate EVERYTHING. My eyes were opened, as were my ears, my mind, and my heart. I knew if I was to THRIVE and not just merely survive, I needed to become consciously aware of every single thing in my life. I needed to look at everything objectively, honestly, and without judgment as if from the outside looking in. I had to think back to my childhood to answer some hard questions.
I had to do better not just for myself, but for my children- especially since I've been their only parent since toddlerhood and they look to me for everything. What an awesome responsibility and privilege it is to bring little humans into this world- to keep them alive, to teach them, protect them, love them, guide them to become independently thinking, feeling, compassionate, loving, responsible members of society one day. Children who will hopefully grow into secure adults with healthy coping skills and emotional maturity that will carry them through whatever the future holds for them. They will make mistakes like we all do, but I hope they can learn from those mistakes and have enough self love to forgive themselves, and know that just doing their best is enough. They are our future. That day is coming sooner than I ever thought it would - they're growing so fast.
Want to make a difference in the world? Begin with yourself. It directly affects our children. It affects how you feel about yourself, which directly affects how you relate to everyone around you. When we heal ourselves, we heal each other. We heal generations.
I will never claim to have it all figured out - nobody can make that claim; but I've learned so many things that have helped me in ways I never would have expected, and gained a certain wisdom that I honestly never wanted but am grateful to have. What could be more fulfilling than to share these things with others who want to learn, too? Life is just about helping each other through.