Sometimes I wonder where “she” is. I am looking for the person I used to be. Is she still in there, somewhere, hiding in a dark corner, a secret crevice of my most inner being. I wonder who she was and what her importance is to me now!
I am looking for a specific version of myself, one that is made of strengths, a can do mind-frame, a “bring it on” attitude, and a heart full of guts and glory. She is one who isn’t afraid to take on the biggest challenge, and she always, always, always, rises to the occasion. She is solid and strong, leading others and she doesn’t know how else to be. She is one created out of trauma and hardship and she doesn’t even know that it is the source of her strengths. “Hello, are you still with me?”
It is true that when you love someone, over a period of time, you will attend a thousand funerals of all the versions they once were. As life unfolds, change is imminent. Through each transition a slightly different version of ourself emerges. Old versions die off while new ones are born and find their way to light. I recognize the versions I have shed over time as they lie dormant within me. Dormant, in moments when I wonder what happened to her, when I miss that warrior outlook and wish that I was once again strong. Sometimes I see little left of her and it usually happens during a moment of emotional outpouring, when a song triggers tears, something sad has happened, or when the chronic pain takes over and leaves me feeling weak and vulnerable. By then that “bring it on” attitude has long vanished, and I can’t help but wonder if I shed that version all together. If remnants still remain, left inside, now a memory of a version that has been updated and replaced the old me. Perhaps I, myself, at some point attended my own funeral, shedding that particular self.
For the majority of my life that warrior spirit was like survival instinct, strong and up front, ready to spring into action at any given moment. I also know that for the warrior to thrive, things had to be a certain way, and I usually found myself in the midst of trauma and adversity. It’s bittersweet to view it from that angle, missing that fighting spirit but knowing that trauma is required for it to exist. It’s almost easier to accept the dormancy knowing that the warrior can rest because calmer sea’s have entered my life.
They say that our experiences make us stronger, which to me would equal an even stronger warrior spirit, but that wasn’t the case for me. What made me stronger was the pain from those experiences. It was a life that overall felt caged, from circumstances and myself, pushed to the edge, in constant tension. It was fighting for acceptance, being valued, and it stretched over decades, starting at a very young age. I entered adulthood being alive but barely living. I was merely existing and rolling with the punches. Eventually, it was that very warrior spirit and having to be strong all the time that exhausted me and left me feeling tired and numb. The more work I did unraveling multiple versions of my “selfs”, the more vulnerable and sensitive I became. This work would require me to go back to the beginning, to my childhood and to those wounds that begged to be recognized and healed. It included shadow work and embracing my shadow self and darker aspects of myself. Throughout I had to learn to shed fear and meet myself with patience, forgiveness and unconditional love. At times I saw myself more empowered, but also weaker and a terrible mess. I started to self isolate due to exhaustion, having to process everything myself, and because deep down I felt that the world needed protecting from me.
In all the years when these feelings were never acknowledged and hidden deep within, they manifested the biggest wall around me, to protect myself and everyone else. My warrior spirit was on point and strong. I created a fort that only I would ever break. That is if the day would ever come when I felt strong enough to summon the courage or found it necessary. At the moment, it kept me safe from the outside world, but it was an awful lonely place, one that birthed and translated to a new version of pain. In time I was starting to see, to truly see. I was witnessing all the events that had transpired and everything that it took to lead me up to this point. In a moment of self pity or awareness, it left me feeling sad and in a way as if I was indeed attending my own funeral. Now that I had learned and acknowledged the events of my life and how these wounds were created, that warrior spirit and strengths went out the door, leaving behind a rawness and vulnerability that required getting used to. Now what, could this rawness be accepted, by myself, and by society, or would it be viewed as weakness and a lack of drive?
It was definitely a new way of life and I had to adjust. It took courage and that warrior guts and glory that I was searching for. Little did I know that I was already accessing it in a different kind of way. This time with a different fighting spirit, a different kind of stance. It would be one that led me to authenticity, peace and solitude. Yet, to the outside world it never quite comes across this way. It’s often a lonely place when we find it, and few share the space with you. Maybe I didn’t feel the need to prove myself anymore or to fight for the people that never cared to be in my life. My true life, my authentic self, not a version molded by society. Yet, it’s a lonely place when we find it as few share the space with you. I could probably apply the same theory and the same findings to a couple more scenarios, but I think my point has been made. Deep down I know that “that” warrior spirit is still here and it is merely presenting itself in a new version. One that doesn’t hide, one that isn’t trying to conceal the pain, but one that helps me deal with the ancient wounds, providing me with the courage to address them. Today that fighting spirit is perhaps stronger, but it has a new face. What you see is what you get. There is no hiding, no disguise, no version that doesn’t feel authentic to that particular moment, that experience, and that lesson, may it be joy or pain.
A wound was triggered the other day while FaceTiming with my girlfriend. It left me in tears and vulnerable. Something few have ever witnessed. I say it’s due to my upbringing and an environment that consisted primarily of suppressed emotions. I can still hear Mom telling me to get it together, to be strong and that feelings are nothing but a sign of weakness. It’s been very painful to shed this outdated belief. To not view it like a disappointment to her, like I am rebelling and going against her wishes and teachings. After all I was taught to value our elders, to listen and respect their opinions and teachings. At the end of the day I am grateful this wound was triggered in conversation with someone that means a great deal to me, and an opportunity for healing was given. It is needed to move on and you see it’s like that…
“Pain is like a darkness. It must be welled up or it becomes our shadow!
I didn’t try to hide the tears, I didn’t try to hold them in or disguise my feelings during our conversation. They came, unplanned, but with a purpose, and I allowed them to flow through me as they must instead of suppressing them. We can’t help but feel helpless and bad when we see someone crying, especially if we care for that person. There are times we would rather carry the pain for them and protect them from harm, and I’m sure you have felt this way before. But have you ever realized that a person that cries in front of us is actually sharing a most vulnerable and beautiful part/version of themselves with us? A version of their most authentic self that often stays hidden away. Why? Because of our teachings, what we learned from our elders and what is acceptable and expected behavior. I used to hide my tears and I used to cry alone. Not to show any weakness like Mom taught me, and not to make anyone feel uncomfortable like society taught me. I spared them from me, knowing the agony they would feel of not knowing how to console me. And while all this self discovery work has left me feeling soft at times as if I have lost my warrior spirit, I remind myself that this previous version of myself was created out of trauma. Out of pain and old, outdated, principals that never applied to my most authentic self. A version catering to what was expected of me, being a good daughter, and to what was convenient for society. It kept under wraps what was crying on the inside and what was trapped over decades. Seeing it this way is truly an empowering process and a milestone in our journey to ourselves. A journey of self discovery, darkness and pain, and eventually coming into our own.
So while the next version of myself is loading, all I can do is sit back and embrace the process of becoming unapologetically myself. To trust the journey in total surrender and with no regrets or fears. And believe me it does require a warrior spirit to do so.