The Eating Disorder That Woke Me Up.

There are many posts I would have loved to write before this one. I’d rather throw this one into a gaping cavern, never to be seen again. I’d let it erode into gravel until there were only scattered sediments left that dissolve into the earth. I’d rather forget. But, then I ask myself, who does that serve?

This has been a challenging post to write. I’ve daydreamed for years that one day – one day far from now – I’d be brave enough to proclaim that I wrestled this demon. It always seemed far off, which made it more palatable. Inspiring, even. Well, it seems today is the day. Part of me doesn’t believe I can do it justice. I’ve come to terms with the fact that this post is not all encompassing. It’s a step.

There are many people suffering in secret. I want them to know they are not alone. You are not alone. I want everyone else to understand that external appearance does not define health.

I battled an eating disorder for years. Binging and purging to be specific. The details aren’t pretty, but they are real. It began at the culmination of a three-year relationship. We were both very unconscious and inflicted a good deal of trauma on one another. One of the major stories I walked away with was that I was unlovable if I gained weight. I was susceptible to believing this story after 18 years of internalizing various versions of it. I listened to women I loved describe their bodies as gross. I watched men I trusted objectify women. A lifetime of programming lead me to this belief: You are only lovable if you are physically fit and attractive. The opinions of others define your worth.

When the relationship ended, I knew that I needed to “get in shape” if I ever wanted to experience love again. I started exercising multiple times a day, did the My Fit Foods 21-day challenge, and lost about 10-15lbs. To the onlooker, it appeared I was diving into a healthy lifestyle. I received compliments from peers, and the oh-so-coveted attention of boys. I earnestly believed that I was happy. I didn’t know that healthy actions do not equate to a healthy life when you have distorted intentions. It could not last.

One night, after going out on 6th street – one of my many means of escapism – I went to Roppolo’s with friends and gorged on pizza. Upon arrival at home I felt sick and vomited. Something sinister clicked. I realized that throwing up was an option. When I veered off the path of so-called health and experienced instant regret, there was a way to take it back. This launched a gruesome cycle: Excess followed by regret. Scrambling to repent followed by unrelenting shame. Excess is the binge, repenting is the purge. The shame of purging lead to escapism which lead to another binge and overkill at the gym. I knew it was twisted, but I couldn’t break free.

The cycle began around May of 2013. It continued in total secrecy through study abroad, late nights out, studying for exams, football games, holidays, and countless other college life distractions. I appeared engaged with life but felt alone on an island. It wasn’t until a year later, in May of 2014, that I could no longer bear the burden. I hadn’t had a period in six months. I was torturing my body. My spirit was weakening. Life was losing its luster. I lost hope that I could solve the problem on my own. Out of sheer desperation I confided in my brother. He asked permission to tell my dad – something shame wouldn’t allow me to do. I was moving to Dallas for an internship that summer. My dad took decisive action. He researched therapists in my area, sent me links, urged me to reach out, and offered to pay. I will always feel enormous gratitude for this gift. I had to lift myself out of the cave, but he handed me a rope.

You may think it’s all sunshine and rainbows from here. The thing about gaining awareness of a problem is that you’re forced to either feel the pain or continue to escape with heightened sensitivity. I was damn good at avoiding pain, so for me this meant deeper shame around my escapism patterns. I was working on myself, but I couldn’t stop the cycle. The most potent lesson from therapy that summer was that I did not know how to feel emotions I perceived as negative. Anger and sadness were a waste of time. Why would I need to feel those? I spent life running from feelings I was uncomfortable with. I escaped through social activities, alcohol, and television, but the best numbing mechanism of all was food. I could sit in front of a TV screen with an unreasonable amount of the most satiating foods (“bad foods”) and the world around me ceased to exist. Phone calls went unanswered. Feelings remained unfelt.

Binge eating persisted, but my internal awareness had expanded. I drew a hard line with purging to force myself to accept reality. I gave in at times, but it was a drastic improvement. My therapist also encouraged me to purchase a journal and start writing. I’m going to give you a glimpse inside by sharing a few excerpts.

July 30, 2014
After the binge is over, I’m a walking paradox. Physically full but spiritually and mentally empty.

August 24, 2014
The person I will be in the future, I am currently becoming. I have to remember that.

November 11, 2014
One day will be the day that I move on from this eating disorder, and I refuse to lose hope. I think today is that day.

November 18, 2014
This is getting dangerous. I’m pushing myself to the edge. I have to turn things around. Now. I’m so angry at myself…
…I am begging you. Begging. Begging you to stop. Please don’t binge again. Trust what you know in your heart.

My last semester of college was an enigma. I had a blast, developed deeper friendships, did well in school, and had a great job lined up, but I continued to suffer. In private. I didn’t have a therapist in Austin, and I began to feel a familiar desperation.

Life went on. I wasn’t fully present for my college graduation – a fact that still makes me a little sad. I went on a wonderful post-grad trip with close high school friends and was excited to begin my career. An element of work life that I hadn’t considered began to take a toll on my psyche. No matter how boring, or how little I had to do, I had to be at work from 8am-5pm. I was a new college grad and needed to prove my work ethic. I’ve never been good at being in one location for an extended period. My senior year of high school I had straight A’s but seven No Credits for missing class. In college, I compensated for missing non-attendance-based courses with intense bouts of studying. There was no option to skip work and get it done at home. I was in training, and therefore needed to be in attendance for my bosses to witness that I was working. This reality set off another intense cycle of escapism through food. I counted the minutes at the end of each day until I could finally escape the mind-numbing boredom. Most days I knew I’d rush home to binge. To feel free. Then I’d find myself trapped in a new cage – a psychological prison of shame and regret.

I needed to return to therapy but felt my old therapist could no longer serve me. It seems that my decision to recover allowed the universe to align for a miracle. I found a new therapist in Dallas, Lorri. During my first session with her she questioned my beliefs and wrote them on a white board. She continued asking: What does that mean? Where does that come from? Until I reached a final answer. I didn’t love myself.

At once, I knew what Regina George felt when she was hit by that bus. I thought I loved myself. My friends and I spoke about self-love and how we were each uniquely beautiful and worthy of love. I knew this truth logically, but, in that moment, I understood that I did not believe it. I believed all the lies. I believed that my worth fluctuated with my weight. I believed I was worthy if I had a good degree, friends, and a successful looking life. I did not believe I was lovable at my core. My self-worth was dependent on the approval of others. Thus, began the process of rewiring my beliefs.

April 14, 2015

Things that I know:

Everybody – every single person – is intrinsically beautiful and equally valuable. Every person is an awesomely unique creature and the parameters we use to define ourselves are only there to feed our egos. They can never feed our souls.

Joy, love, and peace emanate from your soul when you are truly present. Every other emotion is a creation of your mind because you are either living in the past or future. Those created emotions aren’t real.

Things that I believe:

My value is based on my exterior appearance, my accomplishments, and how I compare to the people around me.

Things outside of me can bring me happiness and therefore pain as well.

I can’t be happy unless I look a certain way.

I will work to abolish these false beliefs and create a new belief system based on the things I know to be true.

The process of rewiring is a long and arduous one. I experienced ecstatic hope and devastating setbacks. Reading, spirituality, and nutritional counseling gave me a new framework for life. Over time it gave me new reasons WHY. I stopped working out for a year. I allowed myself to eat forbidden foods when I craved them. The only motivator I had before was the potential of altering my body so that I could finally “love” myself. I discovered that self-care was valuable to me for other reasons. I wanted to feel energized and grateful for life. I wanted to treat myself with respect. I began to learn what love meant.

Throughout 2016, I still struggled with binge eating. I began to keep a food log which my nutritional counselor and I reviewed weekly. There was no guilt in the review, only acceptance of what was. I practiced sitting with my pain. I experienced countless breakthroughs and setbacks. By the end of 2016, I felt lighter. I had built a community in Dallas who I cared for deeply. The expansion I was experiencing inspired me. I felt grounded.

So, as it does, the Universe decided it was time for a new challenge. I dated throughout the years, but never felt ready for something real. Winston and I had our first date in December 2016. Our relationship has uncovered another set of false beliefs that I’m working to rewire.

This is to say – the journey of awakening is forever ongoing. The challenges presented by the Universe are an invitation to growth. When we’re ready, we will step toward the invitation. My eating disorder awoke me to a new world. A world of depth and meaning. It stopped me from living a life on the surface, convincing myself I was satisfied. It woke me up.

I didn’t know what the light would look like. It was impossible to imagine. I am grateful to my past-self for enduring such pain without a clear map. I’m honored by her bravery.

It’s now 2019, and I am not perfect. I have lingering symptoms of past beliefs. I struggle with anxiety induced by food-centric situations. I’m learning to eat mindfully. I can see the light now, though. I can feel it. I am in recovery from a disordered relationship with food. I now enjoy a healthy relationship with my body. I’m exactly where I need to be. I am grateful.

If you are struggling, please know that you are not alone. Please feel welcome to reach out.

You are divine, and you are worthy.

Sonalie

*It would be foolish to publish this without expressing gratitude to the ones who helped guide me to the light.

Dad, I don’t know how far I would have fallen if not for your actions and encouragement. Thank you for handing me the rope.

Miguel, you were a listening ear when I needed it most. You saw me as I was, and you understood. I felt seen and accepted by you in the darkest moments.

Mom, your love and encouragement mean the world. You made sure I always felt loved.

Winston, thank you for showing me what it means to feel safe in a man’s arms and for holding space for all of me.

To each friend I’ve been able to confide in until now – you are amazing. Thank you for providing a safe space. You made a difference. Samantha, thank you for being the first friend I felt safe to share with. Stephanie, thank you for your loving acceptance and asking me when I planned to write this post.

Lorri, you amazing therapist flower human. I was blessed to find a therapist I resonated with on so many levels. Thank you for teaching me how to love myself again, and for helping me untangle society’s lies and stories from my truth. You can find Lorri’s website here: https://recoverjoy.com/.

Casey, the most amazing nutritional counselor. Thank you for teaching me that there are no bad foods, even though I scoffed the first time I heard it. You can find Casey’s website here: https://www.dallasnutritionalcounseling.com/.

Mariah, thank you for your strength and vulnerability. We didn’t know each other well in school, but your blog told me that I wasn’t alone. It inspired me. If anyone is looking for a beautifully written take on life and eating disorders, visit her blog here: https://mariahchantal.wordpress.com/.

September 22, 2016

I belong to life.
To the freedom derived from true and unrelenting self-love.
To dancing in a field of energy without a hint of embarrassment.
To the expression of love for another.
To the release of appearance.
I belong to Mother Earth.
To the immense beauty and understanding with which she nurtures my soul.
To the feeling of cool air running across my face and blowing back my hair on a bike ride.
To true understanding.
I was made to wildly dance to beautiful music.
I was made to BE, not to exist.
I was made to run freely through the forest.
To lay in the grass staring up at the trees against the blue sky.
In awe of the beauty in this world.
I was made to love.

Taking Things Personally.

Where to begin. I’d love to be zen, chill, and centered 24/7. That’s the goal, right? It’s not my reality. I take things personally. In this stage of life, I often describe myself as breezy. A phrase taught to me by my brother. You have to imagine it in a high-pitched voice replete with sarcasm: “Oh, no, no worries, I’m breezy.” It’s an attempt to bring levity to the fact that I do not, in any way, feel breezy about the situation. It makes me laugh and helps me acknowledge that I’m off center.

People do hurtful things from hurt places within themselves. I know this. I’m working on cultivating the space for empathy. Currently, I lack this space. I react instead of responding. This can take a few forms. There’s the familiar lump in my throat. There’s insecurity. Then there’s quiet blame and frustration. How could they say that? Do they dislike me? Why are they so mean? They made me feel this way. It’s their fault. Your thought process and actions may look different, but I’m certain most humans have experienced this judgement-based reaction.

We are each the hero of our personal saga. We only see through our eyes and hear our own minds. We’re each taught right and wrong at a young age. Our society mandates it. What happens when individuals, who have unique ethics, values, and priorities each believe they are right? Those who see through a different lens must be wrong. It’s us against them. We are experts at pattern recognition; this is right and that is wrong. It helps us preserve precious energy resources. It also helps us skip the step of empathy and swan dive into judgement. When we spend our life believing something is wrong, our instinct is to react upon recognition of the familiar pattern. I’ll give an example for clarity.

As a child you may have learned that being kind is an important value. What does being kind mean to you, though? To some it means sugar coating and white lies. To others it means brutal honesty. Some may not hold this value to begin with. My programming lies somewhere along that spectrum – likely closer to the sugar-coating end. When someone says or does something I consider unkind, my first instinct is to judge. Why would they be so hurtful? I recognize them as an unkind person; the villain of my fairytale. Meanwhile, I’m the virtuous damsel who could do no wrong. This belief is not rooted in truth. It’s reactionary. It is pattern recognition spliced with judgement, leaving no room for empathy. A flawless self-fulfilling prophecy. I want to introduce a new path.

I’m practicing expansion. Creating space for empathy by developing discernment around what I know to be true. Truth doesn’t need anyone to believe it. It transcends the ego. Most of us hold ungrounded beliefs that we identify with. It’s just true. It’s what my parents taught me and what their parents taught them. We don’t realize that there’s an option to dive deeper. When we lack clarity around beliefs, they are fragile. They can shatter at any moment. If they’re challenged, we leap to their defense. They need protection. We react.

If you get curious and start to question the beliefs you hold they will either strengthen or shatter. A rooted belief can stand against any challenger. It doesn’t need protection. If I examine my beliefs around kindness, I will see that they are contorted. They ensure that I am always right and good. The truth is I’m working on developing wholehearted kindness. I’m releasing gossip, external validation, and shallow connection founded on judgement. These do not serve me. Rather than react to what I deem as unkind, I’m working to take a breath and imagine where it may have come from. I’m learning to accept that I don’t have to understand someone to acknowledge that they, too, want to be a good person. In some moments I may choose to initiate deeper conversation. In some, I may simply let it go.

I have not walked in your shoes. I do not know your full story. I don’t know your belief systems, inner critic, desires, or motivations. When you say something about me, positive or negative, why would I perceive that as truth? It is your opinion based on factors I haven’t taken the time to understand.

I hope by learning to respond and hold space for empathy I’m able to deepen my relationships. I hope that through curiosity and nonjudgement we’re able to find common ground. When we aren’t, I hope to accept and hold reverence for our individuality and freedom.

From the woman who wonders if she did something wrong when people are short with her. And the woman who sobbed in her locked office last year after a coworker berated her for something outside of her control. Their story is not yours. You cannot assume to know it. You don’t have to take in the pain of others and wear it as your own. You have the power to stand in your truth. You know who you are. Hold your boundaries, do your best, and practice a compassionate heart.

I used a wholesome example about kindness, but this is bigger than hurt feelings among friends. It pervades through our governments, workplaces, religious institutions, and cultural biases. Taking things personally fuels hate and excuses. It puts the onus on others to do better. If we work to release this burden, we gain the ability to spread light. We can help shape our world into a compassionate one.

When people compliment you, it’s a window into their internal abundance. When they tear you down, it’s a window into their pain. It has nothing to do with you. And your reaction or response has nothing to do with them. What do you want to radiate?

To taking responsibility for our reactions. To empowerment. To compassion.

Sonalie

A Culture of Comparison.

I don’t remember the moment. The moment I learned that external validation defines my worth; when I began to believe society’s lie. I do remember the onset of comparison, though. It was the first day of seventh grade. Samantha, my childhood best friend, and I had purchased what we believed to be the cutest outfits. Ever. We got ready at my house before school because I lived within walking distance. We enthusiastically donned our stylish jean skirts and enchanting graphic tees. Damn, we look good. We’re bold, fashionable seventh graders now. We thought. We strutted our way to the middle school’s front lawn. As soon as we stepped onto the grass we paused. The voice spoke up. Who do you think you are? You think you’re as cute as the eighth graders? The response from insecure middle schoolers: scamper home to change into our familiar monkey t-shirts and zip-off pants. What a relief.

There is nothing wrong with comfortable clothing that you feel good in. At 27 that’s my style of choice. The question is: What do you want? Do you want to wear unique, bold clothing? Do you want to express your creativity? Do you only care about comfort? Regardless of your answer, why do opinions outside of your own matter? Your self-expression is not subject to appraisal. This is your personal journey. May the evaluation of others be damned.

The same is true, unequivocally, of your body, mind, ideas, preferences, and desires. The list goes on. Popular culture implores us to measure these attributes against the successes of others. Where we land on that scale defines our worth. We celebrate mainstream uniqueness; we tolerate eccentricity.

The comparison mandate becomes this crushing paradox of “fit in and stand out!” It’s not cultivate self-acceptance, belonging, and authenticity; it’s be just like everyone else, but better.


– Brené Brown

Comparison limits our potential and confines our creativity. When I was young, I loved to draw, sing, and dance. In middle school, the dawn of the comparison crusade, I learned there was a value scale for these crafts. An enthusiastic expression of creativity became a contest. A competition with a winner and a loser. Through comparison we learn that we are not enough if we aren’t above average; if we aren’t gifted. If you aren’t going to be in this category, why try? This belief system permeates into adulthood.

I am rewiring these beliefs and releasing this burden. I am going to dance, sing, play, draw, and do things I’m terrible at if they light up my soul. I’m going to teach my children that their creativity is their own. It is their unique contribution to the world. There is no better or worse to compare; there is only individuality and self-expression. Those who attempt to put a label on your creativity paint you a picture of their internal landscape. They have caged their imagination for the sake of approval and want you to stay locked up with them. Instead, you can own your power, unlock the gate, and carve your own path. You can prove that it is possible to escape captivity.

We are all children doing the best we can with the tools we have available. A 30 year old could have cultivated more tools than a 60 year old if they’ve had more practice. Nobody has life completely figured out. In place of comparing the success of others to my own, I’m learning to observe mental practices and habits. How do they maneuver through life? Does their value system align with mine? What tools do they have that I can learn, practice, and develop as my own? What does my ideal journey look like? To compare our path to another’s is to disregard our individuality. Where you’re successful I may be lacking, and vice versa. What a blessing that we get to learn from each other.

This journey has hills and valleys. The valleys are becoming easier to navigate with practice. Recently, I purchased a sketchbook and intend to draw what I see in nature. It isn’t for anyone else. It’s an expression of the unique lens that I see the world through. It’s to deepen my awareness and understanding. The only goal is to attune to my authentic self.

I can’t wait to see the beauty that is born of uninhibited creativity. Yours and my own.

May we each embrace the freedom of expressing our truth.

Sonalie

Therapy and Imperfection.

The social stigma around therapy is alive and well. I’m continuously surprised by the discomfort around this topic. Through silence I’ve contributed to the stigmatization, but I refuse to any longer.

The mental health movement has done wonders. To the friends I’ve seen share their truth and struggles around mental health publicly: I see you. I honor and respect your bravery. You have contributed to a more honest, understanding society. You’ve borne witness to brothers and sisters who are struggling. I have the utmost respect for you. You are part of the solution.

The disconnect I’ve observed in our culture is this: You must have a diagnosable mental health disorder to seek therapy. If you don’t fall into this category, you’re doing well, and thus don’t need to grow. I’m calling bullshit.

I’ve gone to therapy on and off for the past 6 years. It began in response to a diagnosable disorder but evolved into something deeper. My close friends know this. They’ve heard me gush about therapists and proclaim “Everybody needs this! Why doesn’t everyone go to therapy?!”. Well, maybe it’s because everyone is so damn secretive about it. I never, in a million years, would have confessed to my first boss that I had to leave work for therapy. Instead, like a good, have-it-all-together, new college grad I needed to be excused for a “doctor’s appointment”. I’ve been open with the people who have earned my trust, but I’ve hidden from the world. From peers who I don’t feel safe with. From coworkers who I presumed to have old-school beliefs. My fear was that others, those who haven’t taken the time to know me, would assume I was damaged. Now, quite frankly, they’ll know it.

Owning your personal truth opens the door for others to own theirs. Whoosh.

I have been wounded. Who hasn’t? I learned lies from a flawed society. My parents were loving and supportive, but they were human. They couldn’t shield me from every trauma of the world. They couldn’t protect me from their own false beliefs. I started life as a carefree, joyful child. Along the way, I learned that our society functions based on comparison and judgement, and I agreed to those terms.

If you want to live a life of joy and fulfillment, you have to find the courage to break those agreements that are fear-based and claim your personal power.

– Don Miguel Ruiz

Jealousy, insecurity, hatred, and judgement are learned emotional responses. Who taught you to feel these? Who told you you weren’t enough; that you needed to compare yourself to others? These are all stories you can work through and heal from in, you guessed it, therapy. The beauty of life is that now you get to choose. You get to take ownership. You have the mental and emotional capacity to change your beliefs; to rewire your brain. You don’t have to wait for a crisis. You can heal from the old wounds that you’ve stuffed deep down. You can listen to subtle cues from your mind and spirit that crave more; that crave a deeper, lighter, more loving existence.

After 2.5 years of dating, Winston and I decided we felt comfortable enough, and invested enough, to start going to therapy together. It’s beautiful to work through our personal stories with a facilitator who understands our individuality. We get to witness breakthroughs and develop a deeper level of empathy for what each of us has experienced in life. The way society tells it: If a couple is going to therapy, they must be on the verge of breakup. Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to listen to the conventional narrative. You get to choose. You get to proactively work on yourself and your relationships.

Self-work is not easy, and it’s a lifelong journey. The rewards are invaluable, though. You are worth it.

You deserve a beautiful, wholehearted, free life.

Sonalie

*Yoga, meditation, hiking, contemplative walks, reading, running, and getting out in nature can also be great forms of self care. I am not saying therapy is the only way. None of these other forms have negative social connotations, though.

*Your journey is yours. You don’t owe it to anyone. If you aren’t ready to share your truth with the world that is A-Okay. This post is not meant to pressure. This is simply my personal journey.

*Therapists are human. If you go to one and don’t feel safe, seen, or connected, please try someone else. You deserve it.

*Recently, I’ve invested in a life coach. She does not have formal mental-health training, but I believe she can guide me in my next steps. Life coaches are a great option if you can afford them and have done the research to ensure they are qualified to meet your self-improvement needs. Please be cautious of unqualified life coaches if you’re on a mental health journey.

WTH is a Spiritual Awakening?

Well, what does it mean to you? My definition: When you hear, see, or feel something that resonates as truth. You can’t ignore its potency. It’s an unexpected ice bath for the soul. At your core, you know it is true. In that moment, you recognize the limitations of sight. You expand. Your field of view grows, if even slightly. The illusion shatters. And you can never unsee.

The shackles that once confined you loosen. Maybe you acknowledge that your previous beliefs were rooted in lies. Maybe they weren’t rooted at all. Maybe you never even considered it. When this happens over and over, little by little, you begin to discern the stories of society from your truth.

The belief system we create is like a little box we put ourselves inside of; we cannot escape because we believe we cannot escape.

– Don Miguel Ruiz

I have friends of all walks and spiritual backgrounds. Some were raised strictly religious to the point of burnout. Several had beautiful encounters with religion and spirituality in early life. Others were raised atheist. A handful found religion in adulthood and fell in love. I was raised loosely religious and didn’t have a clear direction. I grew up going to Catholic church and went through First Communion when I was with my mom. When I was at my dad’s, we’d go to nondenominational Christian churches. As a child, which do you think I preferred? Singing, dancing, and playing, or sitting still as a priest spoke words I didn’t understand. No wonder I couldn’t shut up during Catholic mass. It didn’t hurt that my dad also let me have bottomless hot chocolate and marshmallows every Sunday.

All this to say – there are infinite paths. I don’t think there is a universal right way. Why does there need to be? We are all uniquely beautiful humans. For this reason, I love the word spiritual. The root of the word, spiritus, means breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. We do it thousands of times each day. It’s the essence of life. Spirituality, to me, is to awaken to that essence – whatever that means to you. To be in touch with your divinity. When I’m still enough, in the sweet moments of relief from an incessant mind, I can feel it. There is wisdom within me. There is truth. Then, I realize, it must also be in each of you. It’s in the flowers that bloom. It’s in the intelligent trees communicating through mycelial networks beneath the ground. It’s in the air we breathe.

When you know that the power that is Life is inside you, you accept your own Divinity, and yet you are humble, because you see the same Divinity in everyone else.


– Don Miguel Ruiz

My spiritual awakening began as a result of a chaotic mind. A mind that was ravaging my body and spirit through escapism. Finally, I went to therapy. After a few months, I listened to the voice that knew this therapist could no longer provide what I needed. The second woman I saw, Lorri, changed my life forever. She recognized my desire for connection and spirituality. She recommended books that might ignite my soul. Holy crap, did she nail it. I couldn’t get enough. I went on a rampage for knowledge. I read book after book and felt resonance in a way I had never experienced.

Since then, I’ve sampled another side of life. I developed a craving for meaning and depth. I’ve had intense spiritual experiences. I’ve also had bouts of escapism and too much alcohol. I’ve never forgotten for too long, though. Something within me awakened. Something that will always remain. The clearer I get, the more I want to feed that fire; the flame of my truest self. And the more I want to starve the stories and lies of a society that tells me I am not enough.

Namaste, friends. The light within me recognizes and honors the light within you.

Sonalie

*If you have varying perspectives, I’d love to learn and grow. Please share with a kind heart.

*The H stands for heck.

On Fear.

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

— Marianne Williamson

Fear. You’ve felt it. We all have. That out of body, gut-wrenching, tension that overpowers your being. It can feel like you’ve been unwillingly catapulted off a cliff and are on the brink of death, when your lover mentions “that girl”. It can rule our lives. Without my knowledge or conscious consent, it has ruled mine.

I’ve been afraid for 27 years. A simple post on social media launches the familiar chorus: Do I look fit? Does my smile look attractive? Is this caption witty enough? Will people think I’m full of myself? Better to be safe. Delete. I’ve been afraid to praise people out of fear of rejection. I’ve avoided sharing my perspective for fear of judgement. My inner critic has had the phrase: Who do you think you are? as its ringtone since 2003. In some form, every day of my life, fear has rendered me immobile; whether it be stifling my voice or wearing a conventional, uninspired outfit.

Everything meaningful in my life has been born of love. The moments when I looked fear in the eyes and said not today. Not this. This is too important. Winston and I might not have gone on our first date if I had listened to fear. I texted my best friend saying “I want to live my life out of love” before reaching out to him. I wouldn’t work for my company if I had obeyed the familiar “play it safe” voice. I wouldn’t have flown to Sedona to do a breathwork ceremony or gone to a retreat that inspired me to deeply know myself. I wouldn’t have gone to therapy that saved my life and served as a catalyst to my awakening. Choices that are seemingly insignificant in the moment can change the trajectory of your life. And they can define it. Diving into the deep unknown has brought my greatest experiences and relationships into existence. And still, I don’t do it nearly enough.

I’m ready for a fear exorcism. I’m done with it. It no longer serves me. I know it will bubble up to the surface, and when it does, I will courageously step forward. My life is too important. And, when I forget, when I give into the fear, I will forgive myself and try again. I will remind myself: You are worth it. You have so much to give. You are doing the world a disservice by playing small; by not showing up. Let your spirit shine, you gahdamn divinely beautiful goddess creature.

Most of my life I’ve skated on the surface, without ever dipping below, because, well, it’s dark down there. You can’t always see in the darkness, and the unknown is terrifying. I thought, I’d rather play it safe up here because people like this image and life is easy. That’s bullshit. I wasn’t honoring my truth. The past few years I’ve begun to dip my toes into the cold, dark water. I’ve experienced overwhelming joy and what felt like unbearable pain. I’ve seen the potential for darkness within and I’m a more conscious, understanding human because of it. It is not easy. But, on the other side of pain is growth, resilience, and empowerment. I have a long road ahead. I hope you’ll join with curiosity, love, and support. If not, that’s your right. You do you, brother or sister. I wish you nothing but the best on your journey. I’m excited to see where the endless merging and diverging paths take us.

Love and boundless blessings,

Sonalie

*I’d like to clarify that I’m not planning to jump off bridges now because I all-of-the-sudden have no fear (unless, of course, I’m tied to a strong enough bungee, with a professional, and maybe someone else has gone first). I plan to honor my intuition and knowledge, while diving into the unknown. There is disregard for your stability and safety, and there is calculated risk. I’ll do my very best to stick to the latter.