Many years ago when I was still married, I had just learned that my Grandfather had died in a car accident. While I wasn't terribly close to him, I still felt the sadness of his passing and it was at this moment that my husband decided to tell me that he wanted to see other people.
I was devastated. And this is not about him. Yes, his actions were painful, and it was my response to it all that caused me the most pain.
I internalized this experience so deeply, telling myself I wasn’t enough, I didn’t love him well enough, I wasn’t a good enough wife, spouse and partner, I wasn’t a good enough mother, I wasn’t attractive enough, adventurous enough… I spent several days horizontal on my couch after that revelation. And I told NO ONE because of the deep shame I felt in not being able to be the perfect wife and the have the perfect relationship.
I could sit here and write that this experience was the reason I felt all these things, and it would be a lie. A believable one, but a lie nonetheless. The reason I say this is that I am the person that allowed myself to get to this point. Somewhere during the course of my time on this planet, I had begun to believe that my needs weren’t important. That my value was only important when I was making others feel good about themselves. I can bring this back to childhood, and experiences I had then, but this isn’t the point I want to make of to help you understand.
I had been telling myself that I wasn’t good enough long before I got married. To compensate for that, I became a master at figuring out what people needed, emotionally & physically and did my best to ensure that they received it, even if it meant blurring my personal boundaries. Eventually, I didn’t know where my boundaries were anymore and I kind of forgot that the word no existed. This actually helped me excel in my career because I was always willing to get things done (even if I had no idea what I was doing), but internally was quite damaging because of the high level of stress I carried almost perpetually.
Because I didn’t know how to ensure my needs were being met, I had my first burnout in my mid-20’s and started affirming my boundaries in my work environment, learning how to say no to certain projects, but I still had a long way to go. Career nos aren’t the same as relationship nos. At least they weren’t for me. I kept saying yes in my relationships because I was afraid and didn’t believe that I could. I was saying yes to so many other people except the person that needed to hear yes with the most desperation.
I spent years not listening to the cry for a Yes from within. OK, that sounds dramatic; what I mean is that I kept getting signs that I needed to pay attention to something deeper within, that I kept ignoring. Bouts of pneumonia, psoriasis, burnout, depression, using food and alcohol to self-soothe, a bout of shingles. I had moments where I would listen a little more deeply, but more often than not, everything seemed to hard and complicated, so I would go back to my patterns of ignoring what was going on and not giving myself what I really needed. I kept saying that I just needed to press a reset button, that would be easier.
The reset button finally did get pressed. It got pressed in a pretty spectacular separation filled with so much conflict. Amidst the chaos of it all, I began allowing mySelf to be in stillness. It started with Sunday afternoons, ever other weekend when the kids would go to their father’s and I’d exhausted myself with busy-ness for the rest of the weekend and I would have nothing left to do but sit and cry. I hated the crying. I felt so weak. What I didn’t realize at the time was the power of the release it was giving me. Each Sunday afternoon, I would finally slow down enough to feel. And through those feelings, I began to hear mySelf a little bit more.
I got a better job, I found a better home, I let go of toxic friendships and begin to weed out actions that were truly not serving me on a whole. I began to reconnect with MySelf. I learned to listen to what my feelings were telling me! What resistance to people, places and experiences meant. I started learning to value my energy and understanding that above all else, I need to feel whole before I give and that I am allowed to receive - and first and foremost, I need to receive from mySelf first. I cannot authentically receive something from another person than I am unwilling to receive from mySelf first. Love, nurturing, caring. And I keep learning this more deeply every day.
This is how the Emotional Empowerment Program came to be.
I did not learn how to do this on my own and you don’t have to either. I have had beautiful, powerful and brilliant teachers show up to me through each chapter. Without the guidance from another person who has gone through similar obstacles and lessons of life, it can be hard to know how to make the shifts. Coaches, mentors and spiritual teachers help light the way when you can’t see the truth of where you’re headed.
Are you ready to make the shift to Emotionally Empowered? Start saying yes to yourSelf.