Healing the past for the future generations
Every woman who heals herself helps all the women who came before her and all those who will come after — Dr Christine Northrup
In a few weeks I am about to become a first-time Mum and for the past 8 months, I have been working hard to let go of my past actions and thought patterns to ensure our baby receives the best possible start to life. The unborn child is a sensitive being aware of, and responsive to, the mother’s feelings and experiences. This is why I believe, that as parents it is our role to let go and heal the past, to clear the path for those to come and to break any bad learnt behaviour patterns from generations before us. I believe that by creating a loving, strong foundation through pregnancy, labour and the first few months of our babies life, will in turn help shape the blueprint of what is to come. The growing life inside us is strongly influenced by our physical mental and emotional wellbeing, consciously preparing our own bodies, minds and spirit for pregnancy and birth, as well as having quality support around the mother creates a deep commitment between ourselves and the baby, which will help to develop a healthy, nurturing environment and relationships for years to come.
It is not an easy task to forgive, let go and heal the past, it has taken many years , countless dead ends, failures, continuous support, discoveries, true walking angels and the courage to face my demons look myself in the eye and dig deep into my soul to help me understand who I am. I would like to share a little about my past and talk about what has helped me forgive and move forward to create a clear pathway for my own and families future. Finding out I am going to be a first time Mum has me reflecting on this idea of letting go, so I can be present, loving and free for this miracle coming into our life. I choose to see my battle with mental illness as a blessing, I see the darkness as a time where cracks appeared and the light crept in, I understand that through my struggles have come exponential growth, and through the pain, I discovered empathy, compassion, forgiveness and loving connections. We are all human, we all suffer and make mistakes, in knowing this we can work in unity to have happier healthier connections.
I was wrapped up in my own world of addiction and mental illness for 12 years, many of these years were consumed by darkness, fear and chronic anxiety, it’s a selfish all-consuming nightmare that drains you to the core, many years are a hazy fog where I was numb cold, like an ice block walking around Zombie like and emotionless, not letting anyone in. My addictions were in control of me; they had become my life, an all-consuming nightmare that took priority over anything else. I chose to see my addictions as an entity, something that had control over me, but was separate from my true essence. How could the real me, raised by loving parents, who has a beautiful family and childhood do these things that I was doing? To lie, deceive and steal from the people who loved me dearly, to be wrapped up entirely in my own selfish being, that whoever got in the way of my escape through food, alcohol, drugs and my transient imaged focused lifestyle got either hurt or cut off.
To outsiders, my life probably looked like an Instagram picture perfect dream and this is what I projected, I escaped my home country of New Zealand and moved to Bali, I met interesting people every day, I had access to beautiful beaches, yoga, meditation and diverse cultures but with all these amazing surroundings and people my addictions still dominated and controlled me, I couldn’t escape the darkness. Life was fake, fake friends, fake story, I was working in the creative industry, but really I was working on feeding my addiction. Being in such a transient place I could have a new group of friends every week to party and drink with, to show off my fake image and lifestyle, I seemed like a fun and carefree person, which was the polar opposite of what I was feeling inside. Inside I was dying, trapped, I was so lonely, consumed by thoughts of escape 24/7 I had lost sight of all my values and had no one around me that I loved who could trust or count on me, I couldn’t even trust myself.
After seeking countless help in every medical and alternative way, and many times I thought I had hit rock bottom I ended up back in New Zealand living with my parents. The effect my illness had on my family was devastating, I was able to see outside of my own pain for the first time in years and look at how my parents and loved ones around me, were wrapped up in this dark journey with me. Their love for me was unconditional but my illness and the pain had become so great they no longer could keep it separate from themselves, the darkness was seeping into them, it had started to control their lives, mentally and physically they became unwell and things around home and within their business started falling apart, we felt our family had become possessed by demons. The guilt and self-resentment I started to feel after seeing and understanding how my actions and pain not only affected me, but all the loved ones around me pulled me into an even darker spiral of self-hatred and the need to escape. I no longer had the will to carry on, the crisis team arrived and I was admitted to the mental hospital. Having everything taken away from me was when I first realised the true meaning of hitting rock bottom, It was almost a sense of relief, I could no longer harm myself or others I had nothing to live for anymore, but it could not get any worse, It was a dead end street of solid ground and the only way was to turn around.
I saw that glimmer of light, and my family and I fought to get the best help we could think of, I was accepted into a live-in therapeutic Rehab community here in New Zealand and told to prepare myself to be there for 2 years. Rehab was the beginning of my journey to freedom, the 6 months I spent there and the space away from my family, familiarity and forms of escape would be one of the hardest things I’ve accomplished to date, for 12 years I had managed to forget and run away from my thoughts through countless addictions. This time I had to sit and be with my thoughts with no escape, remembering my actions and the pain I caused was too much sometimes all I felt like doing was screaming and crying to drown the memories. Each day was filled with intense individual and group therapy, I would pour myself a bath at the end of the day to drown the noise and scream and cry in private every night for the first few months until I had nothing left in me and could fall asleep. It was the first time I was able to feel the pain in a long time, the first time I was showing any sort of emotion, I felt like the pain would never leave, an all-consuming cloud of darkness with no sign of light, but slowly things started to shift, my ice block barrier started to melt and I started to open up and see my surroundings.
Talking and listening helped me see outside of my own pain, by being around others who were battling with addiction and mental illness I saw I was not alone, I could see the incredible healing aspect of connecting to others and within myself. I could hear and understand that I am not alone; I’m not the only person suffering, that every single human being suffers and makes mistakes, life is hard and escape is the easy path, but to truly confront and own your mistakes is the most courageous and self healing thing you can do for yourself and those around you. Being in this environment enabled me to see outside of myself, to gain trust from others and to have compassion towards those who are mentally in pain.
My road to recovery didn’t happen overnight, I can’t pinpoint it to a specific thing, time, type of therapy or revelation. It is a cross-country journey filled with many detours and roadblocks that are ongoing and for each and every person it is so different. I worked hard to re-wire my brain, and fight for the life I deserved. By giving myself the time to detox my mind, to reflect and hear other people’s stories, rediscover who and what I truly believed in, it helped me discover my truth, I’m not that horrible person I believed myself to be, I am not defined by my illness nor my past actions. It has taken me a long time to forgive and to let go of that guilt and pain, it still creeps in from time to time and I like to see it as a continuous reminder of where I have come from, stay humble and keep growing, to have compassion and share my story. For many years I suppressed my emotions to the point I became numb, an emotionless darkness that seeped out of me through different addictions, this has taught me to face things honestly, speak my truth, talk and communicate my feelings, I will continue to work on being open and non- judgmental because by sharing my story I no longer have something to hide or be ashamed of. To build back trust is hard, and you may never get it back from some people, the most important thing is to be able to forgive yourself, to live by your values, and to keep communicating your truth.
My connection with my family and partner is now stronger than ever, we have all been on this healing journey together and choose to see it as a blessing that gives us more understanding and compassion for the world. We can choose to believe we are victims of mental illness and feed into the guilt and pity, but it is so much more empowering to view it in a positive sense, to switch it around and see that your struggles were a gift to yourself and your whole family, that your pain was just as much theirs. What I healed, we healed as a family from generations before us, we all stumbled, fell and clawed together through the darkness but it brought us closer to the light, we understand ourselves and each other more intimately which enables us to have more open and loving connections not just within our family, but with those around us, within the community and for the future generations.
Recently my family held a beautiful ceremony to mark how far I have come on this self- healing journey. Each family member wrote me a note that I will keep forever, to empower and remind myself of what I have achieved and how far I can go. I would like to share what my mum wrote.
One of the hardest things as a mother is seeing a daughter in pain. The greatest thing is seeing that daughter transcend it.
Self-healing isn’t easy. It requires that we unearth our shadow and sit with it. It is uncomfortable, which is why not everyone does it. Numbing ourselves is much easier.
Elle- Life is a boundless journey of transformation, of highs and lows, joys and sadness, contraction and expansion. If we fall it doesn’t mean we have failed, rather it is another invitation to transform and expand. You have risen out of the darkness. You are AMAZING
Thanks for the journey- with love Mum