I haven’t sat down and written in months and for me that is a clear sign I’m far from myself. Usually it means my energy has been sucked in a direction, intentionally or unknowingly that isn’t serving me. Writing about oneself can feel narcissistic or self absorbed. I can write it off in my head as unnecessary and trivial, but that’s a lie. For me writing about my life helps me understand my life. I’m prone to reminiscing. There’s something about looking back that helps me face forward. I get deeply lost- or so I think- from time to time. For me that usually looks like striving too hard until I inevitably burn out and take to my bed to recoup. It looks like darkness and confusion, questioning and sadness. During those times the future seems bleak and terrifying. Somehow though, usually from the other side, I recognize these dark and painful periods as points of growth and often of letting go. It is anything but easy to try to bridge the gap from the girl I was to the woman I’m becoming, and so, I write.
I found this picture of myself yesterday on graduation day at Ryerson in 2013. It sucked me right in and made me look back. I remember distinctly what a baffling period that was for me. Finishing my thesis felt like an accomplishment and a relief but what was on the horizon felt like a burden. It felt as though suddenly I had to get serious and be an adult and so I did the exact opposite.
I went and got busy with the business of losing myself. I got a high paying job right out of school which made me feel safe and secure to mess up in my personal life as far and wide as I wished. I remember graduating night, after looking poised as I do here, I proceeded to get extremely drunk with my girls and latch on desperately to a man I thought might make me feel safe and whole (a pattern for me). That didn't work well for me. It was fun in the moment, it provided some temporary relief of the family struggles and internal searching I was running from but ultimately it left me where I started- in pain with no sense of how to cope.
From there, life looked like a lot of ups and downs and probably a lot of fun externally. I enjoyed it, I was feeling validated from the outside in (which never lasts, I'm learning). I was partying a lot and meeting all kinds of new people. Looking back I can see clearly my pattern of seeking my fulfillment from the eyes on us when we went out and being in the booth at the club, making sure my ego was fed. In the moment it felt like all that mattered, but the next day I usually felt drained and farther away from what I really wanted.
The upside of this period, and there usually is one, is that I started to see glimpses of a lifestyle that really interested me. I continued to meet people who had decided for themselves that their creativity and their intuition were first priority and had built their lives around this. This inspired me deeply. I wanted what they had. I knew somewhere in me there was a creative spirit that somewhere along the line had been silenced.
During this hard partying, avoidance kind of lifestyle I was living, I started to dabble in creative projects. I was so hungry for it. At the same time some health issues in my family were stressing me out and I had gotten deep into a romantic relationship that was extremely toxic. I yearned to express myself in whatever way possible so I sought out and followed through on the opportunities I found.
Interestingly, those experiences were the most fulfilling thing in my life at that point. Unpaid, low budget, but so much fun. I realized I wanted to create things, things that excited and inspired me. I wanted the thrill of working alongside people I admired. I started to seek out and spend more time with people that challenged me. People who pushed and encouraged me and made me question things. I started to explore myself, slowly but surely.
At the same time I tried to salvage a relationship from crumbs, I used a lot of my energy to try to save someone else. This left me depleted. I'm such an all or nothing person and I have such a hard time walking away. You can tell me time and time again what you see, why something is no good for me, but I won't give it up until the situation becomes desperate enough and undeniable enough for me to walk away.
Not until the summer of 2015 when I watched my mom get so close to death I thought for sure I had lost her, did I begin to wake up. Her and I together started a journey of healing. Physically she took herself from a hospital bed, relearned how to walk and reclaimed her life. I started the journey of letting go of what was blatantly toxic for me, a long journey. By this point my hair was platinum blonde and I internally felt utterly lost, like I was building from the ground up.
My life got really quiet around this time. I sought peace like nothing else. I wanted to be surrounded by family, I wanted to heal and I wanted to remember who I was. Funnily enough this was around the time I began building easy. I needed to throw myself into something, fear of failure seemed to pale in comparison with the experience of almost losing someone I loved. Suddenly there was nothing to lose.
So I started building, I cut off the blonde and I got busy. I thought about the content I longed to see. Real honest content, about life, about women. As I started to vibrate at this frequency the most compelling, most empowered and intriguing people started to come into my life. I learned what it felt like to create a space for something new to grow. I understood that what I put out effected what I received. This all made me feel so alive with possibility.
I launched the business in June of 2016 on what I still call the sweetest day of my life. A sunny celebration in June surrounded by love and support. I felt proud, I felt bright and hopeful. I had thought of something and brought it to life, this had to be what power felt like.
Shortly after the business launched I took a seminal trip to LA. My mom met me halfway through and we drove the Pacific Coast Highway together to San Francisco. It was on that trip that I committed to sobriety, following in my moms footsteps. I remember the exact night, in an airbnb high in the hills of Malibu. This decision mattered very much to me because I felt desperately that drinking was holding me back from becoming the fullness of myself. I had a vision of the woman I wanted to be and that vision didn't involve decisions I regretted because of nights fuelled by alcohol or days spent nursing hangovers. I had seen the freedom my mom found in sobriety and wanted that desperately. It scared me because my social life for so long had revolved around drinking. Through that choice, now a year and six months sober, I've found a sense of peace I had never known.
Since making that decision life has shrunken and expanded in so many measurable ways. Some relationships have fallen away and many others have budded. I have come to know more honestly the fullness of myself, both good and bad. I have learned who I am stone cold sober in so many situations. I have come to embrace the things I knew about myself but tried to fight for a long time. I'm an introvert, I love a good party, meaning good music and good food and good people, but when I'm ready to go, I'm ready. I am honest to a fault, I cannot hide the way I feel even at times when I wish I could. I am sensitive, I am emotional. I stopped stuffing down my feelings and learned to face what was happening for me head on. The desire to drink is completely gone and I feel so grateful to have that worry removed from my life. Today when it's good it's really good and when it's bad it's really bad and I'm learning everyday not to run from that.
And I say all that to say this. Sometimes it is helpful for me to go back. To look at my story, to understand it and to share it. Somehow in doing so, I make sense of it myself. When I convince myself this is trivial, it helps to think of the many times I've turned to other women's writing to make sense of who I am. It helps to think of the ways that reading about the pain, sadness and confusion of women I admire reminds me that this is all a part of the process. I hope that sharing my truth somehow offers some semblance of the comfort I've come to seek from other women who have dared to be honest about their lives. What I know for sure is that the dark days seem more bearable if I keep in mind that this darkness could be useful for someone who might be feeling hopeless.
It can be difficult to face yourself. That's why I often avoid it until absolutely necessary. There's a certain amount of suffering I seem to need to endure before I can make peace with letting go. Before I can get back to those things I know are good for me, like writing and connecting and moving my body. I guess life is an exercise in going low to learn we don't want to live there, at least for me. Every deep darkness seems to teach me a little more about myself. Endlessly, I seek to bridge the gap between where I've been and where I'd like to go and in the meantime, I write.