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50 Shades of Self-Awareness.

by Jaded Savior Blog 24 days ago in selfcare · updated 23 days ago

Becoming more authentic as you heal from trauma.

Photo by Onur from Pexels

Hello. I am so glad you are here. I have something POTENT to say about healing from trauma. What I have discovered is that we are all just onions and our traumas are buried deep beneath the layers of who we 'think' we are.

As humans, we pride ourselves on being authentic.

We want to feel unique and special, have deep meaning and purpose in what we do. I get it. Trust me, I built an entire business around authenticity to help people strategize the authentic components of their business. What did I learn from this experience, consulting over 80 people.... the key to being truly authentic is being super self-aware.

Authenticity is sexy.

It feels sexy and bold to show your authenticity to the world. But what is not seen behind the scenes is the imposter syndrome that comes with operating as an entrepreneur with unhealed trauma.

Healing absolutely feels like the opposite of sexy. Just three years ago when I launched my first blog, it was all the rage to be awesome at 10 things as a stay-at-home mom blogger. You probably remember the social media ads for Pinterest crafting & recipes, for the savvy mom who had it all figured out.

"Start a mom blog" they said.

"It'll be easy-peasy" they said.

Make pins and blog articles about all the perfectly-packed school lunches, the DIY hand-written notes to your kids, the fun date night ideas with your virtuous husband, the marble island kitchen photo-stock, and rose gold silverware placed pleasantly on a manicured dining room setting.

What I learned in the months leading up to my post-partum depression meltdown of 2018 was that I was not cut out for two things: Being a mother and being a blogger. I was aware of all the ways I did not measure up to the moms I saw in webinars and automated courses about monetizing your home life. I was aware of the technical steps it would take to build a blog within a website, set up SEO, create graphics and pins about the content I would also create, as well as shout from the rooftops what my sub-niche as a mommy blogger was.

I was trying to be authentic, staging bowls of oatmeal and laying out my makeup samples on a home depot slab of sample marble that I pleaded with my husband to drive to the store for. Because I really wanted to make it work. I wanted to work from home while raising two under two and a preteen mostly by myself as my husband worked busily in his families' business.

What happened instead? I cried weekly. Some weeks I cried every day. We did not have our own home yet, let alone any space of our own to really decorate. We were just getting by with little to no money every month. We were still trying to figure everything out, as two adults in our mid-twenties with little kids and a brand new marriage to settle into. As no one ever mentioned but should have, adulting is HARD.

I was aware of my past traumas, but not of how they affected me in that present. I'd talked about possible depression with my primary care doctor after having my third baby.

She said "I just needed to work out and make time for self-care. I would be fine. It was not a big deal."

Depression is a big deal.

One does not simply have the "depression" like it is viral rhinitis (the common cold). Depression is a whole freaking lifestyle. You fall into depression and every day becomes intertwined with your depression. You have it for so long with everyone dismissing it along the way; your partner, your friends, your Dr., your family.

"Go outside and get fresh air," they said.

"Smile more" and "Just relax," they said.

"The babies will grow and need you less. This feeling will go away. It's just mommy blues." they swore.

Depression, like many books I would later read reported, was a symptom of much deeper issues that I never knew were a part of me.

"Complex PTSD" someone finally said. And my self-awareness journey unfolded.

Being authentic does not in fact mean you are complex.

In a fun twist, having Complex PTSD and learning about all the symptoms that come with the diagnosis - you realize you are not in fact as authentic as you believed yourself to be.

It was like 50 shades of freaking grey, pulling apart all the layers of my trauma. One by one for the last few years. At random, in moments I least expected - I was met with sudden moments of what I now understand to be "triggers".

A trigger, though it has been hashtagged and used so often people misunderstand it, is actually a psychological reaction that presents in physical form. We have them when we are reminded suddenly of a past traumatic experience when one of our senses is stimulated and our nervous system then has a reaction. It could be from a photo, a scent, a song... something that causes your mind OR body to react and remember that past event, person, or place.

As we go down the path of healing from our traumas, we make a conscious decision to become aware of how we are doing internally, both physically and mentally. Often, we also go down the rabbit hole of self-discovery through spiritual or philosophical literature.

As I crashed and burned with my mommy blog for feeling very incapable of being a fun, candid, balanced, neat, multi-tasking and highly achieving mother -- I fell nose-first into spiritual and self-help books that opened up a whole new niche. The mental health and healing world of coaches, healers, and consultants.

What those professionals and providers did for me over the next few years was give me pieces of my reality to help me put together a puzzle I was so eager to piece together that I paid thousands for. Was it worth the investments? Some yes, some no. It was mostly an expensive lesson trying to find meaning in my mess of motherhood and entrepreneurship. No one provider was trained in all the aspects of working with someone who has complex trauma. No one person had all the answers I needed.

I wish someone could have told me a few years back to read BETWEEN the lines of the promises that every single banner ad included as part of their brand copy. I wish I had understood that being a person with complex PTSD meant learning who I really was would only happen with a lot of time and risks taken.

Being authentic is more about saying NO than it is about saying YES!

If I had a dime for every time I saw a self-help book cover or Facebook coaching offer image that read "Say YES!" I honestly could just retire at 31 and buy my dream house, plus all the things I have ever wanted in my life.

I cannot however buy back the years I spent chasing ways to "embrace my authenticity" so much that every time I had a brilliant idea or a brilliant project nearly completed, I would gaslight myself into thinking I was not expert enough to launch it. Like with DIYs and mommy makeup tips, I was crumpling up my "express yourself" PDF's and creative consulting call offers for not having enough success or sales on my belt to have the audacity to make money with just an idea. I was still referring to my beautiful innovations as ideas, not accomplishments. Exhausting, really.

If you are reading this, you have absolutely spent hours (you cannot get back) in Barnes and Noble, with your Sbucks latte in one hand and your positivity quote notebook (that has been blank for months) in the other - inconspicuously "browsing" the spiritual guru books and self-development section in a selfie that you hashtagged #findingmyself.

I already said it but adulting is hard. And there was nothing ever authentic about being that person in that aisle, looking at those books. You were duped by marketing ads, curated Instagram feeds, trendy blogs, and the same kind of professions, just like my doctor who dismissed depression in the name of "self-care" and "thinking more positively".

As you might have discovered, those books were all like:

"Say YES to yourself" and "Create your YES", to "Year of YES" and "Say YES to life".

It has taken me a lot of layers peeled back to realize that my YES tendency was an addiction. I wanted to please everyone around me to keep the peace. To keep the cash. To keep the reputation.

As an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife, a daughter-in-law, and a woman - I spent all my decision-making by forfeiting my innate right to say the word NO. Only I did not know any better. I was just trying to survive.

The authenticity test.

You know what would have saved me a lot of time and have given me radical self-awareness? Saying NO.

Not a cute little meek avoidance of truth like "well, I will see what I can do" or " I was going to do this but I will help you".

I mean saying "No, I will not be able to do that for you."

I mean saying "No, I cannot" and "No, I'm not interested".

I mean radically just saying No. Period.

Say NO to your friends, your mom, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your doctor. Then see who sticks around. See who is still in your corner after you have been super honest about your boundaries and desires. Who says in reply, "okay no problem", versus "Wow, and with all I have done for you."

Being authentic to yourself means you do not betray your own desires, dreams, or abilities in order to honor someone elses'. You do not pass on the opportunities nor do you take on anything that you do not feel aligned with. Right?

Another fun left hook that self-help books did not spell out for me - You need to really be self-aware with how you choose things, people, and situations.

The road to healing is Complex.

You don't just adopt saying NO and call it a day. You have to start discerning between offers, ideas, suggestions, and information being thrown at you. You also have to stop going out daily seeking all the answers to every little hindrance or avoidance you experience.

We do this when we feel uncomfortable. Instead of sitting with that discomfort, we look to quickly fill ourselves with energy from the outside world. Other peoples' offers and content are prompts you rely on in order to critically think for yourself.

Does what you discover align with what you want in the now? Is it just shiny, new, or promising to give you answers to a burning question you have in your life? Like how to make money FAST, quickly attract the right partner, or turn around your problems with a few clear steps?

You have to really start to understand that healing means feeling and experiencing things - sometimes over and over before you finally understand the way through it. You will never find one single perfect formula for bringing something perfect and right into your life.

You will not figure out how to create the right offers, attract the right clients, stumble across the right opportunity or program, much less attract the right relationships into your life until you have first experienced a whole lot of HECK NO, THIS SUCKS.

Knowing thyself takes practice, but it will never make you perfect.

When you finally venture through saying No and rejecting things, clearing out what did not work, and closing chapters you previously thought you would die without --- something happens.

The evaluation of your past decisions becomes less harsh and more like a devotional speech of radical self-love. You tell yourself that you understand why you did what you did when you did it. You see that avoiding dealing with and feeling your feelings was why you went searching for anyone else who had it all figured out.

You thought honestly and sincerely that the people all around you had it figured out and that your depression was as simple as negative thoughts.

You understand that what you thought were "traits" was part of problems you had no self-awareness of. And it was not all because of mental health problems or some doomed fate you had because of past trauma. A lot of the crap you felt was wrong with you was actually part of a marketing ploy to get you to spend on the unattainable goal of perfection.

In the quietness of shutting off your phone, silencing the notifications, deleting the amazon "save for later" books, and pausing your "positivity mantras" subscription --- you sit with your own being. You talk to yourself. You hear your own ideas.

You breathe deeper than ever before and suddenly going for a walk brings tears to your eyes.

As you slowly stroll through the fall breeze and look at the colorful trees blowing in the wind... you feel grateful for the time you are taking to breathe. And in those moments after disconnecting with everything else...

You find yourself.


Jaded Savior Blog

Mental health blogger, content creator, and creative writer. I write about trauma, mental health, and holistic wellness to empower other trauma survivors. Follow my blogs @Jadedsaviorblog @Startthrivingnotsurviving

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