Have you ever met someone, and instinctively recognized their presence was going to change your life?
I opted out of post secondary and immersed myself in the workforce for seven years to learn, experiment and find my place in the world. Courtesy of the employment opportunity I was given in 2013, I promptly returned to university in May 2014. I decided my life would consist of: work, school – school, work. I had zero intention to make connections. Re-entering the university world is no easy feat, especially having been away from it for so long and enrolling myself within the fast-track option. My strength, resolve and excuses were being challenged in ways I did not expect because I went in with a ‘let’s get it done and over with’ mentality. I came very close to quitting because I didn’t believe I belonged or could succeed in the academic world. I somehow found myself working and pushing through my insecurities, and surprised myself when my final psychology examination mark was above 80 per cent. I’m not going to lie, I thought the mark posted was a typo.
In July of the same year; I remember looking at myself in my 7×4 foot antique mirror, and really saw and felt the consequences of sitting at a desk from 9-5. I immediately went to my university’s gym, purchased a gym membership and hired a fitness specialist. When I saw him for the first time, I knew. I knew he was going to be the kind of trouble that would change my life in ways I could never imagine. And let me tell you, I have an expansive imagination.
He engineered a foundational workout program based on our discussion, assisted me during our sessions to make sure I didn’t hurt myself using muscles and equipment I had no idea even existed – smiled, and called it a day. It was a straight forward client/trainer relationship. Except for the part where I developed a connection, which went against my ‘plan’. But my plan wasn’t established because my focus was on the safety portion of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. No. My plan was established because of a tendency to isolate due to past (traumatic) experiences and prior conditioning. All the demons I:
- Spent years working really hard at hiding from myself and others;
- Didn’t know existed, and
- Wasn’t ready to deal with
were being ‘exorcized’ from the vulnerable, fiery depths of my personal hell. Not something I expected from the ordinary undertaking of hiring a personal trainer.
According to Brené Brown; vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and the struggle for worthiness. However, vulnerability is also the origin of joie de vivre, love, creativity and belonging. With the understanding that connection provides purpose and meaning to life, the universal experience of shame dissolves connection, and the fear of unworthiness dissociates the connections we are neurobiologically programmed to accomplish. Connections calm the mind, comfort the heart, heal the body and soothe the soul.
I intellectually understood this. However, it was this unsuspecting liaison that became the catalyst for emotional identification, acknowledgement, understanding and transformation of longstanding vulnerabilities that were the result of immense feelings of shame, fear and my struggle for worthiness.
Since physiology aligns perfectly with psychology: when the body sustains physical damage, scar tissue forms in order to protect the vulnerability from sensory pain. As a result, seemingly insignificant details are oft neglected and remain untreated. Naturally, this causes fibres to become thick, tight, irritable and seize. This is reflective of the body’s natural overriding ability to avoid pain. Thus causing further impairment of muscles, joints, tendons and nerves. Maladaptations become normative, and healing the underlying injury becomes a diminishing intention. As a result of natural physiological compensatory mechanisms, this renders the vulnerability of having a functional and non-functional response. Scar tissue becomes denser with time and more resistant to change. However, by way of provocation, damaged areas can be identified and the individual healing regimen can begin.
Damage to the psyche (mind and soul) function identically. When our psyche sustains damage, defence mechanisms form in order to protect the vulnerability from discomfort, or pain.
The drive reduction theory of motivation states there are four innate biological drives of the human condition: hunger, thirst, sex, and the altering of consciousness (by any means necessary). In essence, we seek to alter discomfort in order to distract and become comfortable, and the choices of distraction are an endless buffet to choose from. The expression of damage manifests within thoughts, feelings, behaviours and beliefs of one’s self, others and the world. As fibres become thick, tight, irritable and seize, so does the psyche. Scars become deep-seated over time rendering the vulnerability to become maladaptive, normative, as well as having a functional and non-functional response. Thus, we/they become more resistant to change and seek forms of desensitization/distraction to feel comfortable. However, when we seek to heal injuries caused to our psyche, examination by way of provocation becomes the skeleton key that unlocks the door to one’s freedom.
It’s demoralizing to believe we are able to selectively desensitize and distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings and search for outside validation without negatively impacting the foundation in which we strive for. This perpetuates the struggle for worthiness, as well as continues the downward spiral of destructive behaviour(s) and broken emotional connections. However, if one approaches vulnerability with honesty and authenticity, the temporary discomfort becomes a minor sacrifice for the ultimate goal of releasing one’s chains of self-imposed slavery.
My experience with the person who changed my life was an intense one, and one I will never ever forget.
His influential energy shone the kindest, purest, brightest and most gentle light into the darkest recesses of my existence. It was terrifying. He was terrifying. He unknowingly challenged my strength, resolve, excuses and vulnerabilities from my core. I wanted to crawl out of my skin-suit and run away from him and myself. But I knew if I ran away:
a. it would be a waste of time and money
b. I would become everything I worked so hard not to become.
It was now or never.
I chose to surrender and fight my demons with the intention to win, or die trying.
It was new for me to feel safe, comfortable and trust (specifically that of a man). It was new for me to meet someone who was an inspiration, as opposed to a dire warning. It was new for me to experience and feel simple, precious things that are taken for granted every single day. It was different, and he destroyed the world I knew.
I thought he saw everything he was lighting up within me, so I shared my story as if I was confessing to an unsolved murder (in a way, I was). I shared most, if not all my secrets that only two other souls are privy to. I most certainly was not graceful or elegant in this process – but I was real. I made mistakes. I didn’t handle things well, I was the definition of a mess and I undoubtedly drove him nuts. I guess you can say, I was a productive (non-sexual) masochist, who became addicted to the light I wanted to become; my obsession with personal growth.
If home “is where the heart is,” it takes strength and love to be courageous and share one’s story from the heart. It takes courage to dive to the depths of one’s soul, to let go and give unsaid words as well as feelings a voice because it is within our home where our intimate vulnerabilities live, die, heal and transform.
Understanding that beauty lies within the vulnerability of polarity; home is a place of beauty, as it is the foundation and magic of creation. Home is our reflection, or chosen fiction to reality projected in seemingly insignificant ways. Home is within ourselves. It can also be found in anyone, anywhere, and at any time because home is the experience of connection (intimacy). However, it is one’s first experiences of home that are of the utmost significance, as it is within these fertile experiences where seeds of the future are planted (conditioning). It is within the history of home, where every fibre of one’s identity is eclipsed and created from birth, or rebirth. It is where the answers to most, if not all questions dwell. Home is where truth begins and ends, over and over again. It is where we develop our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and language of our individual identity.
In the end, one tends to reflect on how it began and this process challenges the existing perspective.
The struggle for worthiness is an oppressive road. However, the acceptance of worthiness is a dynamic process and provides healthy changes to thoughts, feelings, beliefs and language towards ourselves, others and the world.
Through him, I learned the most important lesson: to simply be who I am because I am enough.
I began to love, respect and be proud of my “weirdo” self. I learned to acquire stability through the love of my mind; body, heart and soul because interconnectedness is fundamental in achieving joy, love, creativity and belonging (worthiness). One cannot work without the others, as the lack of effort and balance within these realms renders them incomplete thus creating disharmony. It’s challenging to maintain balance through uncertainty. However, the practice of courage, compassion and positive connection becomes the solace we so deeply yearn for during our life’s pursuit.
Though him, I learned the power of understanding and empathy that relinquishes blame – unfavourable conditioned responses with respect to the projection of pain towards ourselves, others and the world. This allowed unworthiness to transform into worthiness, thus transforming my existence. Grace became home and beauty continued to lay within the vulnerability of polarity, as it honours our free will. What we create is our choice but ultimately is a reflection of the self and its story shared from the heart.
He unknowingly made me a better person, so I CAN change/take over the world. And there are no words to express how grateful I am.
Veni, vidi, vici.
Tomorrow is never promised to anyone – what is your choice?
Love Always —