it’s never too late
I want you to know that I was a mess, I was struggling, and because of that I understand where you are coming from. This is me 12 years ago:
I felt alone, confused, a little angry, lost, and I wanted to change my life. I kept asking myself, “Why is my life not getting any better?”
I felt young and hopeful for the future. I thought I could change my life—that it was possible—and I could make it happen if I just kept pushing and trying. I figured I could do it by following the example of everyone that looked happy and successful. Step 1, go to college. Step two, get a good job. Step 3, get money. Then, I’d be happy.
I put my plan in action. I went to college and got a job making some money, enough for bills and a little extra, but the happy never came.
So next I thought what I needed to be happy was love and I started dating. It didn’t work. Next I thought I needed friends, so I tried reconnecting with old college chums who it turned out weren’t good people, especially not good friends.
At this point I figured I was the problem, so I sought help from a psychiatrist. I knew I had an unusual childhood of violent trauma and verbal abuse, and I wanted to understand myself and why I was so low all of the time.
I didn’t really want medications, but I decided to give them a try (disclaimer: I am not anti-medication. We are all unique and have specific needs. For some, that may be medication.) They didn’t help, and rather than solve my problems the meds only created more.
My doctor kept switching my medications every couple of months trying to find something that worked, all the while never addressing my emotional health. The pills were the focus, not my pains and traumas or my inner turmoil and mental agonies.
It was difficult and so much work—scheduling appointments around my job, insurance calls, driving there, searching for parking, and sitting in the waiting room—for just a few minutes of his time.
I would barely have time to touch on a topic before time was up. I kept going back, following the pattern that society has created, but it wasn’t working.
For all of the effort it took, I left my appointments the same old mess, feeling terrified to face the world, feeling isolated, and wondering what I was going to do. I didn’t understand my emotions, why they were so strong and intense, why they kept showing up, and why I struggled with expressing myself.
I didn’t understand why I couldn’t be normal and happy, and I felt like something was missing and that something was wrong with me.
Then, the doubts would creep in and I would think that maybe I was exaggerating and blowing things out of proportion and I just needed to chill out. All of this pain, confusion, and doubt led to me going to happy hour to relax and finding it numbed my turmoil and pain.
It felt so good for a little while before it wore off. I needed more and more to keep that feeling and avoid the torment, and I would drink until I would black out.
The aftermath was shame and fear of what I had done or what had happened to me while I was out of it. The drinking made me out of control; I was just trying to hide from my problems and bury my pain, but my anger from my horrible life and the things that have happened to me would come out anyway. It caused more pain, shame, vulnerability—more problems.
This photo reflects how I felt for years.
I started to resort to self-harm. I did things that I’m not proud of and I’m embarrassed about it, but I felt like I was drowning in the middle of the ocean except I was shopping or at work.
Whatever I did, I felt like I was asphyxiating and nobody could see it.
I tried another counselor, other therapies, and the same thing happened. Maybe I was unlucky that I did not find someone that could help me; I know there are good people out there but I just did not find them. I found that I would go to a session and the person would repeat the same thing they had told me the last time.
They were asking the same questions, there was no follow-up, no structure, and if I wanted to talk about my childhood there was no direction or purpose. It felt like throwing things at the wall hoping that something would stick and each time it failed, it crushed my spirit because I kept trying and trying without success.
I finally found something that helped and that was books. I enjoyed reading spirituality and hoping that one day something magical would happen and it would all get better, but I knew that in reality I wanted and needed something real, something I could experience, something tangible that would give me results. Just hoping for the best made me feel unstable, and I wanted something that felt secure like stepping on the ground.
I found good books that gave me practical advice, and little by little I started to discover the meaning of the past, why I should care about my childhood, why some things work why others don’t work at all, and the perfect balance to health is consistency of self-care practices and self-understanding.
I started to find things that work, like journaling which helped me see that the answers were within me and that nobody could understand me better than myself. I began piecing together the things that I found and working to find emotional balance, to understand and manage my wellbeing and emotions, and to understand where self-hate and emptiness came from.
My why—the catalyst for my effort to learn and change—is that one day I want to have a family of my own and I want to be a good mother; I don’t want to repeat the legacy of trauma my family has passed down through generations. Though my life is not perfect and I still have episodes sometimes, they do not even compare to the ones I had in the past. I am striving to accept myself just as I am.
Why am I sharing my story? Because I want you to truly understand that I was once there. I know what it feels like to want to change your life for the better and how frustrating it is to get bullshit, misinformation, generalizations, or quick fixes that don’t address your problems from people who don’t relate or know how damaging it feels.
Looking back these 12 years, I’ve figured out some important truths (and it might not be what you want to hear). Life isn’t always happy and there are no easy fixes, but you can learn to understand and manage your emotions and love yourself again. It is possible. I want the world to know that it can be done. I don’t want anyone to feel that emotional pain I felt. I don’t want you to suffer any longer.
You can empower yourself through learning and it is possible to heal yourself.
Instead of fighting your emotions, you can actually understand yourself better and live a better life. When we decide to be honest with ourselves, we can find joy and emotional balance.
For those who are looking for answers, those who are invalidated and told they should not feel what they are feeling, don’t listen and don’t give up.
Empower yourself through learning hands-on skills to cope with distress and understand your emotions. Because of the great transformation I experienced through these practices (Dialectical Behavior Therapy, EFT/Tapping, Mindfulness, etc) I now teach them online.
You can tune-in to yourself, learn to cope and understand yourself, and change the story of your life.