This is my story. It must be said, emphatically, that this story, my story, does not define me. The choices that I make every morning when I wake up and start a new day, define me. My story has only influenced me to become better. To be better. To choose better.
Welcome to the story of me. The highlights. The punches. The victories. The triumph. (cue rocky theme song)
I refer to myself as a Holistic Healer and Coach, because it encompasses just about everything I bring to the table. First and foremost, I am a mother to two incredible boys that are the light of my life. Dance parties in my kitchen come before the (semi decent) food cooked by my hand. Laughter, in my opinion, is the most necessary medicine for health and happiness. Second, I am driven by being of service. It feeds my soul. This need to help others climb out of what I know to be the rabbit hole of life.
I’ve lived it. I had a camp set up inside that rabbit hole. A flag was planted. A street sign was posted.
(the rocky theme song came later)
Ten years ago, after the premature birth of my first son, I dove head first into post-partum depression and an anxiety that crippled me so quickly that at one point I was agoraphobic and did not leave my home for 3 weeks. Not even to step onto the patio. I was riddled with pain throughout my entire body and desperate to escape the darkness in my thoughts. Shortly thereafter I started to have seizures. Sometimes up to 20 per day. The doctors, in all their earnest to help me, fed me with pain killers and anti-depressants. At one point I was on 200 mg of oxycontin and 12 different types of medications to combat the domino of side effects I was experiencing. My day was literally ruled by the measurement of time dispensed pharmaceuticals.
I lost my way in a myriad of pills, darkness and physical pain so intense that if it wasn’t for the miracle of my son, I would have chosen to leave this earth. I pay gratitude to myself every single day that I chose to fight. There is often a parade that happens in my head when I realize where I am in life. Flags can be taken down. Street signs changed. Camps removed.
I was diagnosed after about a year of specialists and neurological testing with a mental illness called Conversion Disorder, or alternatively known as PNES, Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures. My body was categorically converting every emotionally distressing moment into physical symptoms. And it hurt like you would not believe.
Little was known back then what exactly this was. What it all meant, other than what I was continuously told it was all in my head. I even had a family member tell me if I just found Jesus, the devil inside of me would leave. It wasn’t mental illness, it was the devil. Well, the devil was hungry and was eating me alive.
But I didn’t look sick on the outside. Which created the belief that what I was feeling and experiencing was all made up. Judgement was rampant. Self loathing was all consuming. I was labelled a hypochondriac, I was unstable. I was crazy (but also told that I was fine and could snap out of it if I just thought positive). I was acting out for attention. I needed to relax and take these pills. I needed to get tougher.
But what I needed was therapy.
I needed to understand the connection between my mind and my body.
I needed to acknowledge and understand that my emotional body was screaming to be heard.
What I needed was compassion and love for myself, and support from the external world. I needed to figure out how to love myself for the first time in my life.
That concept was foreign and irritating. So foreign that to even utter the words “I am good enough” made me nauseas and swimmy in the head. Like I needed to run from my own body just upon hearing the words come out of my mouth. But I am nothing if not a determined person. Show me a problem, and I will move mountains to solve them. An intense part of my personality, but a part that saved my life; and is now assisting others in doing the same.
Fast forward 2 years of psychodynamic psychotherapy combined with family support and the unbreakable determined Will to live, and I was out of the hole. Learning how to unravel years of unwanted patterns of thought is not easy. Learning that I am only a victim of circumstance if I allow that thought to be true, is heavily disliked by the ego, let me tell you!
But, no pills. Therapy. Yoga. Acupuncture. Meditation. Chiropractic care. Clean eating. Homeopathy. Patience. Feeling. Feeling. Feeling. Did I mention feeling? Feeling the feels. Having patience while feeling all those feels. And I must mention the faith. Looking under the hood of every religion I knew of to ‘find God’.
I prayed to Jesus, the Save-On-Foods clerk, Buddha, Allah, Thor, She-Ra, Ganesh … ANYONE for answers. The seeking of meaning started here amongst the circles of religion and spiritualism. I was desperate to know why. It gave me a sense of faith, praying to all these ideas. Hoping beyond belief that someone other than my own mind was hearing my cries for peace. I was comforted with this thought while I healed. While I started to change my story.
And change is exactly what happened. That’s when the energy started to show itself. The colours coming out of people’s mouths when they sing. The vibrancy of their eyes when they talked. The colours around their bodies. The way the trees could all of a sudden talk to me. I thought I was losing my ever-loving mind, all over again.
I was finally feeling for the first time in my life and now I was feeling other people’s emotions more than my own. I was hearing words in my head, seeing impressions while someone was talking, only to have that impression play out a few days later. I was two steps ahead of life and I didn’t understand when and where I jumped forward. And who, in this world, I could talk to about it.
Everything was bright, and awful all at the same time. I wanted to feel myself to understand the connection to my mind and body, but now I was feeling the world. I needed to find the remote control to my brain and my eyeballs. I felt like a newborn. Raw and sensitive. Open and vulnerable. But so incredibly hungry for knowledge and eager to understand this new vibrant world that apparently only I could see.
That’s when I found my mentor. Or I should say, I was led to her by divine intervention. When I met her, she was this purple haired stranger standing in a store that she owned in downtown Port Coquiltam. I had to restrain myself from running and crying. From jumping up and down, asking if she knew who I was. Because on some innate level in the deepest parts of my knowing, I knew her. She was my mother, my sister, my best friend. And when she looked at me, I felt like someone was actually seeing me for the first time in my life.
She saw me.
Not who she thought I was, not someone who she had watched go into the rabbit hole of life, not someone she grew up with and had an impression of who I was supposed to be. She just saw me. Not the mother, the wife, the let-down. She just saw me. In that moment, I knew that I wanted to see people. Really see them, for them, not for the limitations that their story tells me I must go by.
I was free in her eyes. Now how do I free someone else? How do I share this? How do I see?
From that moment on, the only thing that mattered was knowledge. Understanding energy, spiritualism, religion, trauma, science, on a level that explained my life, my brain and my body. Why do I act the way I act? Why does this person trigger such strong emotional responses, and this one doesn’t? Why do I get headaches every time I’m around this person, and I feel like I’ve had 5 cups of espresso when I’m around someone else? Where does the energy sit? How do I control it? How do I make it free? How do I explain all of this to my religious family, my friends, and my husband who doesn’t believe in anything? (except maybe aliens … because who doesn’t?)
I was free in my mind and my body, but I was also in a world that wasn’t open to the type of freedom that was teaching me to love myself. A confliction of life. So I became a student of energy, silently. Quietly for years. Only sharing when I thought it was necessary. Trying my hardest to really see people and honour them in a way that I could never honour myself. I was hungry to be of service. I was hungry to give back to the world, all that had been graciously given to me. I was hungry to love.
Then came the memories. Like a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake that was off the charts.
I remembered the abuse. The volume of flashbacks of my childhood and teen years put me into a tailspin. All of a sudden, trauma resurfaced and the illness that I fought with my life, started to make sense. The triggers started to make sense. The rabbit hole that I successfully climbed out of, all of it, made sense.
But … I was abused. And I was angry.
I was sexually abused by nine men in my life from the time I was 2 years old until the age of 24; the most significant abuse being at the hand of my Grandfather for 6 years. Unbeknownst to my family, I sat in silence.
I was taught that this was love.
And it all came flooding back to me at once. The thing with conditioned abuse is that many trauma survivors develop dissociative amnesia to stay alive. To be able to function. I remembered being at my Grandmother’s house, but I have only 2 memories of my Grandfather ever being there. Yet I had a profound love for the man when I would recall his memory after he passed away in 1995. Conditioned abuse. It is almost unbelievable.
However, the tailspin was different this time. I was in control. I was aware. I was mindful of how I was feeling and was truly allowing myself to feel it all. The retching need to vomit upon memories, the anger that would bubble up inside of my heart. The fear. The guilt. The shame. The relief that I was finally understanding why I was the way I was. Why every single memory up until that time was in third person. All of my memories, when recalled, I was watching myself. I was so disassociated from my emotional body that I was perpetually standing beside myself instead of inside myself.
It was earth shattering, mind blowing and a creator for epiphanies. It was an Oprah moment wrapped up into a sit down with the Dalai Lama and a visit from the resurrected Jesus himself, while Moses did a tap dance in the corner.
I finally saw myself.
The education and training I had been doing, the therapy I had completed, the awareness of mindful energy, allowed me the space within the confines of my own mind and body to process in a way that was with unconditional love for the journey. I started to work with the cellular memory of my own being to my benefit, instead of my detriment.
Everything made sense. And then it all became my purpose.
I was healthy, truly healthy of mind, body and spirit for the first time in my life. I was happy. I was inside my body. I was processing stress like a rock star.
It was time for baby number two. I started my own business. I began to take ownership of my life. I was healing friendships and family dynamics. I was a forgiving machine, wanting to shout my love to the world.
But life, in all its glory, provides these moments where you really need to take a seat and watch. Reflect. Watch and reflect. The happiness on the outside was masking what was happening behind closed doors in my home. I was seeing. I was watching. And I was preparing myself over this time to completely walk away from everything that I thought I knew was right.
I left my husband. I broke up my family. I decided, enough. It’s time to truly choose myself. What I was seeing and living, was not cohesive with what I was feeling inside. My heart was heavy all the time, yet full of possibility. I wanted more for my children. I wanted to teach them the value of themselves. How could my husband and I do that for them, if we did not value each other? There was no respect left between us. Anger and hate started to take up our conversations. Lies. Betrayals. Omissions. Neglect. Absence. It was toxic.
This is where I take ownership. I changed on him. I changed the rules. I needed him to survive at one point. I depended on him for every moment of my day, and then I got healthy and forgot to bring him with me. I left him behind, so he did what any person would do, and he slowly filled with anger and resentment so deep that when he looked at me, all I saw was pure disgust and hate. His actions thereafter coincided with his eyes. He stopped choosing me.
But we had children. I took the final decision to walk away, so we could eventually walk together in peace. I’m happy to say, we are much better friends now than we were in the last years of our marriage.
With that I took the freedom of my mind, my body and my heart and made it my purpose to provide people a space in their day to take theirs back too.
Cue rocky theme music …
I started to love myself despite the way I was taught. I started to realize the value of my worth as not only a human being, but as a practitioner who was good at what she did. I stepped into a knowing of being able to see people, like I was seen all those years ago for the first time.
It is an honour and a privilege to feel, to become and to see. My sensitivity to emotion is my super power. My vulnerability in the face of what could come back to me is my anchor.
Just call me She-Ra. We’re basically one in the same.
I do not share this story, my story, to emit pity. I share this story to ignite passion. I share this story to teach you that no matter what your story is, the only limitation you have in life, the only limitation that you have in your own happiness, is the one you place on yourself. The journey to self-acceptance, awareness, love and compassion for every being that inhabits this planet is not one for the faint of heart. It is much easier to live in ignorance. To live with your eyes closed not seeing anyone for who they are, in spite of how they behave.
The ability to become free, whatever that sentiment means to you, is within your capability. Free your heart from the confined spaces of fear and anger, and you free your mind. Make yourself, your life, your heart and your being, your priority. Try everything. Leave nothing out. Be open to explore your own darkness. Be open to figure out that love is a state of being, not an emotion.
So where do you start? Gratitude breeds abundance. You’re alive. Start there. Then do everything within your power to make yourself important in the eyes of yourself.
Because you are. You are worthy. You matter. And anyone who implies or tells you different should look at themselves first.
But, if I have one rule for you to follow while you discover yourself … have fun.
Dance. Laugh. Tell bad jokes. Eat good food. Meet new people. Find a way to love and love in full form. All the way. All the time. Forever. And choose yourself EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
The story that I have lived, that you have lived, is of great importance. Our stories influence and help shape us into who we are. But it’s not ALL that we are. Life is continuously messy, some days a complete shit show. But how we approach that stress, how we approach the unexpected stuff that the Universe throws sometimes, that is what makes the difference.
I chose to be different in a world that told me I couldn’t.
You can too.
(insert an image of Jesus nodding his head, while Moses impersonates a Celine Dion arm pump, here – to the rocky theme… obviously)
Written by Lea Morrison