Finding Courage & The Powerful Grace of CommunityFeb 09, 2024
My earliest memory is far from a fond one and it changed my life forever.
At the tender age of four, I watched my father walk to his truck and drive away. I remember him often being “on-call” for work, but he would always give me a hug before he went. That day, I didn’t get my hug. He didn’t even look back. And he didn’t return for six months.
I found out later that he wasn’t really on-call. The unfortunate reality of his whereabouts was revealed to me later when I got older and would better understand what was really going on.
Dad’s house was the “fun” house when my siblings and I became shared-custody kids following that memory. It was the place we would go on weekends to stay up late, watch Saturday morning cartoons, and go to McDonald’s to eat. Once adolescence hit though, I spiraled, realizing just how unprepared I was to face both myself and the real world. I was not equipped with the tools to identify my values, or my feelings and their triggers. I had no practice or meaning behind taking responsibility for my actions, which rendered me terrified of taking any action in the first place. I retreated into myself and an inner world swirling with doubt and anger that ultimately stemmed from fear.
To this day I struggle with blaming my father for not equipping me with the tools I needed to develop even the most simple skills to maintain my mental health. Those fun memories of being at dad’s house have been drowned out by the realization that he simply was not equipped to be the parent I needed him to be. I grew up feeling responsible for his happiness, never quite knowing how to foster my own in his presence, having been met with stoicism or disappointment at every turn that I somehow couldn’t do or be better. Even as a kid, and without any guidance from him. My mother saw it all and always knew how to treat a situation with both grace and assertion. She reminded me for years that I am only responsible for myself until I finally believed her.
When I was a young child, even through adolescence and to this day, I found myself in awe of people who would live their day to day lives with ease. I have met many people of all ages who have endured similar and different traumas, who still managed to work their jobs, get their groceries, and plan activities in their free time. Sometimes I still wonder if I have what it takes to go to the grocery store some days. Honestly, sometimes I just don’t.
But there is a difference now: I no longer feel ashamed that someone will assume I’m incapable. I just have an inner child that still wants that hug she never got, and I need to take the time to hold her tight. I need to pause and remind that little girl that we made it and we’re okay. In experiencing that paralyzing fear, we found what it meant to be brave and move forward.
If you’re like me reading this story, you may suggest talking to a therapist. Luckily, I did! In fact, I had quite a few throughout the years. Some were not the right fit for me, triggering that frustration again that somehow I wasn’t capable enough to work things out and meet my needs. Others uplifted me and truly made me feel seen for nothing but who I am, and it made a world of difference.
All this being said, I’m realizing now in my 30’s that letting go is only half the battle. We can shed everything from our past that no longer serves us; but we must replace those fears and doubts with tools to help us achieve something better. We must realize that we are more than what we have overcome. We are capable of big, beautiful things.
I spent years letting go of him, only to find myself in the company of men who reflected his detachment. Sometimes our fear becomes so familiar that we find it to be a safe place, and we do everything we can to stay there. Alcohol convinced me that I had finally manipulated that fear into freedom… until I realized I depended on it. I continued to let go, embracing sobriety in quarantine, changing my hair and style, working odd jobs that I was good at but never really enjoyed.
After years of shedding those layers of fear, it finally clicked. I felt empty without that safe space of deep-seated fear and I was finally ready to properly fill that void. I ended a long-term yet stagnant relationship with no ultimate plan but to do and be better. I embraced the unknown, thankful for my stubborn streak that fully convinced me everything would be okay. And I was right.
Slowly but surely, I am finding those tools to help me live my day-to-day life with ease. Life is no longer a battle every day. Instead, it is filled with endless possibilities. My fear of not being good enough thankfully no longer has any influence over my ability to go grocery shopping. Both my work and play are now so fulfilling. And whenever I traverse somewhere new, I always look back at my inner child to give her an extra hug, grateful that we can see me now.
I now have an amazing community that supports me. These are mostly family and friends from afar, and my local circle is very tight knit. All together, this network is filled with people who know at least bits and parts of my story, and they love me all the same. They are strong when I need them to be, knowing what it takes to reach out in a time of struggle, and gracefully celebrate my bravery as they offer support. It makes a world of difference.
Mental health resources are few and far between. Many of us struggle with finding accessible options as we continue to navigate day to day life, often wondering when the reprieve will finally come. When will that magic moment happen? When will all of this work finally be worth it? Will I be this tired forever?
Though therapy and medication work wonders under the careful eye of medical professionals, here is a friendly reminder that even more options are out there to build your network of support. This community was established for that very purpose. As women, we carry the world on our shoulders from day one. And as humans who struggle, sometimes we just don’t have any fight left in us.
This is why we have been spreading the message of peaceful stillness as the winter months quiet the earth. You don’t always have to fight, but sometimes it's harder to let go. There are people who love you, who see greatness in you, who can help you cultivate the virtuosity that lives within you, and offer a comforting embrace to your inner child. We are teachers, singers, speakers, photographers, chefs, entrepreneurs, mothers, rock climbers, wives, writers, sisters, designers, and ultimately human ourselves.
We see you, and many of us understand what you are going through. For those of us that may not, we are ready to uplift you anyway.
Another friendly reminder: you are worthy.
With Love, Grace, and Support,
Speaking of community, we are hosting a Garden Party for our members on the first day of Spring!
We would love to see you there as we create vision boards for the year, sharing our hopes and goals for 2024 with a wonderful group of ladies. This will be held online for the access of our members around the country, but we are putting together packages in preparation to be sent directly to you with love. It may even include some inspiration to have an IRL Garden Party of your own!
Learn more about becoming a member here. Use code FEBRUARY for $25 off your first month of membership, or FEB100 for $100 off yearly membership!