Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Yesterday, I walked to my mailbox, but in a rare moment of spontaneity, I decided to keep walking. The weather was absolutely perfect. It was neither hot nor cold, but rather comforting, making me feel perfectly cozy. As I walked farther down the sidewalk, the sun began to peek through the trees as if to kiss my skin and tell me, “Welcome home. This is where you belong.” It was a heaven on earth moment. A moment in which my heart felt perfect peace and contentedness.

And my heart spoke: I am home and I am safe.

Then something else butted in to argue: That’s dramatic. You weren’t really ever unsafe, it’s just how you felt. You made it through and you’re fine. Don’t make it sound like a big deal. Stop being dramatic. There are people who have been through worse. You don’t need to draw anyone’s attention to this. You’re just being dramatic.

With no one else around… this voice had a point. And I felt a familiar shame. A shame for feeling bad about feeling bad. I’m not sure when this voice started to develop, but as an adult I recognize that this voice doesn’t feel natural for a child to develop on their own, which leads me to wonder about the messages I was “told” as a child. When was I taught to doubt myself so fiercely? When did it start? When was I taught that what I was feeling wasn’t what I was feeling. When was that message impressed on me that “You’re not really feeling that. You’re not really seeing what you’re seeing. You’re not really experiencing what you’re actually experiencing.”

Let’s recap these “lessons” I learned many of us have learned:

You’re not really seeing what you’re seeing.

You’re not really experiencing what you’re experiencing.

You’re not really feeling what you’re feeling.

You would be right in assuming this scared little girl grew up in a world of confusion and doubt. Unable to trust even herself, she grew up with a debilitating hesitance toward life and people.

What’s funny, or maybe just interesting, is that I’ve actually been successful. NO ONE knows this about me. I moved away from home, paid my way through college, got my masters, traveled, and have done well in my career as well.

I “look” smart, funny, determined, and strong.

But at the end of the day, I have a hard time believing any of those things about myself and my life.

Because I’m not really living any of those things, right? I mean, if I can’t even trust my own thoughts, feelings, and experiences… Right?

Oh, but I’m learning. I’m learning to believe what’s true. I’m learning to practice being grounded. This is reality. I’m learning to be mindful. To be self-aware. Self-awareness has been big. Counseling and therapy have helped me to really look at my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Who is that little girl?

I’m learning about myself and it’s really nice getting to know me. Sometimes I’m a little surprised. Like, I really am a stranger to myself at times. But it’s fun getting to know me. It’s fun seeing me grow. I’m learning what I like and don’t like. I’m learning what I’m capable of and let me tell you, it’s way more than I realized.

It’s a sweet thing, learning to trust and believe in myself…

And I know you can too.

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