I went for a walk this morning while listening to Oprah's podcast, "Soul Sessions" as I do on most of my morning walks. This particular episode hit differently. I found myself ugly crying tears of joy on a busy street, shaken to my core. Thanks to Oprah & Martha Beck, they helped me realize that I had finally come home, to myself.
I grew up in a small town, one that I always wanted to get away from. Don't get me wrong, I grew up with an incredible family who was loving and supportive and was seen as "perfect" in many eyes. But we all know every family has its challenges and issues, and unfortunately, the smallest experiences in a child's life can result in a major paradigm shift in how we identify with ourselves. No matter how hard our parents try, children always perceive the world as they experience it. When I was younger, I never felt good enough. I lived alongside a high-achieving-star-athlete sister, whom I looked up to even as the oldest child. It was hard not to compare myself to her, she was smart, beautiful, and sporty. On the other hand, I was the art kid, who was absolutely terrible at fractions and long division (I mean who uses that in real life anyway?) and didn't have a sporty bone in my body. I didn't have softball games to watch or high grades to share with my parents, I had a love of the arts and a sub-par report card.
As a young child, I understood if you had good grades, and sports games your parents could attend to cheer you on, this made you worthy of praise and love. At that point, I had none of those boxes checked. The inner comparison started to eat away and I slowly built a self-inflicted script that thrived on validation and the approval of others. I just wanted to be seen, acknowledged, and praised by my parents. Most of all by my father, who frequently came home from a long, hard day of work only to do math homework with his daughter... who just didn't get it. I mean - who would want to do that after a full day of work? Definitely, NOT ME. But unknowingly to my father or anyone else including myself, this is when my story of "not being good enough" began...
When I thought about my hometown, I used to associate it with pain, suffering, and loneliness, the place where I was unseen. Obviously, I know now this is completely false, but in those moments as a kid, I believed this to be my truth. When I graduated, I couldn't wait to move to the big city where I could create a new identity, and a new life, one that no one previously knew. I wanted to run away from this town and make a name for myself. I had an obsession with working in the music industry and dreamed of becoming a MuchMusic VJ. I wanted to live where all the media, music, "and celebrities lived". The excitement of the bright lights constantly called my soul and I had no idea it was calling me to something even greater.
Life in the big city was everything I dreamed it would be - until it wasn't. I achieved everything I set out to achieve, I was living and working downtown in the media, had a long-term partner, and thankfully a solid group of people with who I shared incredible times with. I knew I finally made it, but something was still missing. Yet in those 12 years, I had jumped from job to job was overworked, underpaid, enjoyed late nights of alcohol, dancing in clubs, anxiety and depression, and to top it off got married and divorced. The "perfect" dream I had been chasing didn't turn out like I thought it would. Something continued to feel like it was missing. When the universe decided it was time for me to leave, it threw in a global pandemic that brought me back to the place where I started. The place I had been running from all my life, my home, myself.
In the podcast episode, Martha Beck refers to knowing "yourself as stillness, as peace as if you were coming home". Those very words spoke to my soul and described what I'd been feeling over the past couple of months of being home again. For years, coming home held a lot of shame for me. The shame of a failed marriage, of unfulfilling work, and overall sadness with where I was at in my life. My goal was to create this fabulous life and I was nowhere near that goal... I felt like coming home was a bit of a fail. It wasn't supposed to be this way, I was supposed to be married, successful in my career, making loads of money - but my life, in my mind, had gone the complete opposite way. I was sad, alone, and unsure of where to go next. I was terrified of moving home again - I had worked so hard to create a life so far away. I didn't want to be around my family or my friends because I didn't want to feel judged or feel anything close to pain. I didn't want to feel like I did when I was a kid... not good enough.
Here's a truth bomb for you, life never happens the way you want it or expect it. Most times, it throws you situations to challenge you to find the truth. Returning home has been an unexpected spiritual journey for me. Not only did I move into my parent's house but I also had to deal with unresolved feelings of grief, shame, sadness, and a sense of loss of identity once again. I was in my 30s, single, alone, and living with my parents. Coming home this time was different, I knew I had to face these feelings head-on and work through them in order to heal. I had to shatter my previous beliefs I had about myself, my place in the world, and where I was headed. Being home has given me the space to breathe and let go. To actively chose to be different, act differently, love myself differently, and fiercely. I gave myself permission to do what feels good no matter what others think, give compassion to myself when I am unhappy or emotionally drained, and grant forgiveness when I need to make peace with myself. Instead of applying pressure and rushing through life to the next thing, I've slowed down, enjoyed the moment, and became grateful for everything. Grateful for the birds chirping in my front window, listening to my cat purr as she sleeps on my leg, and finding peace in the solitude at night when I am reading before bed.
Not only did I change the way I loved myself, but coming home changed the love I had for my family. I no longer saw them as rule enforcers, objects of comparison, or people I had to seek approval from. I saw them as real people with real feelings, just trying to do the best they can for their children with what they have and what they've learned. I chose to love them, wholeheartedly, just as they are with weaknesses and rough edges, no matter what I thought I had experienced in the past. I chose to see them in a new light, a beautiful bright light and it made me love them even more.
Experiencing home with new eyes and a fresh perspective allowed me to give and receive love like never before. There's a beauty and a stillness here that stripped away all that I once feared about this place and have truly embraced it as the core of who I am, and have become grateful for where it's helping me go. I'm not going to lie, this year has not been easy. Let me rephrase that - this year has been EFFING HARD and I regret absolutely NONE of it. I chose to use this time to redefine myself and how I want to show up in this world. I've unchained the previous shameful beliefs that kept me small, obedient, and not enough and replaced them with abundance, love, and excitement for what is.
If you would have told me 5 years ago that I'd be living in my hometown, building a business, with a cat and dying 2 plants, and a 7-minute drive away from any family member, I would have laughed in your face and called you "crazy". I was that determined to get the "hell outta dodge". I've had many challenges in life but I've realized that everything that has happened has led me back to this place, my healing, my home, and myself. Here, I was finally being seen and experiencing peace for the first time in my life, all at my home address.
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