You know you’re supposed to put your oxygen mask on before helping others in the event of an emergency. But do you live your life putting your oxygen mask on first? (I totally get it if you just cringed).
Have you ever…
- been in the 15th year of a 2-year agreement?
- quit the same (side gig) five times in four years?
- stopped saying, “No” because you weren’t heard (and you were too scared of the consequences to enforce it?)
- given up something you wanted or love to do to please someone else?
I did all of those.
At the same time.
It took more than 14 years, five major health issues, and two surgeries for me to realize that my body talks to me and tells me when I am giving myself up in an attempt to please others.
Has your body been speaking to you?
Are you listening better than I did?
For lots of reasons (that I certainly didn’t understand at the time), I decided to leave a city and friends I loved, a company I believed in, and a life of my own that I was creating. The one thing that made this verbal agreement acceptable was that we all agreed to a two-year period with specific deliverables.
I wanted to go back to the industry I was leaving, so, despite knowing the massive amount of work I was facing, I started a consulting company. This ensured I could stay involved enough to give myself a shot at finding a job when I was ready to return (hence the side gig).
In the first two years (yes, “first”), I accomplished everything I agreed to with little to no support for my decisions and actions (and often private statements of support and public acts of sabotage). Not surprisingly, I passed two kidney stones. Looking back, I see my body was collecting the anger I was trying desperately to hold in for fear of making the situation worse.
Worse for whom?
During the second two years I had surgery to remove two tumors and the parts to which they were attached. I was still trying to contain my anger and my body was doing the best it could to support me while also telling me enough was enough.
I still wasn’t listening so, bring on vertigo (can anyone say, “living out of balance”?), migraines, and multiple fainting spells (nothing like literally falling unconscious while living figuratively unconscious). Even coming to in front of a hotel elevator while traveling for my side gig didn’t open my eyes.
My gallbladder filled with stones and stopped working (it was literally working at 0.00%), and I was diagnosed with endometriosis, severe eczema, and rosacea.
But, did I change anything?
Did I figure out what I wanted and what I needed to do to support myself?
I kept pushing.
I kept pushing through the limbo believing that simply by sacrificing myself in an attempt to please others, the outcome I desired would manifest itself. It did not occur to me that, at any point after the first two years, I simply had to say, “Enough” (brace yourself, I also could have said, “Enough” before my two years were up because, you know, free will). I had fulfilled my end of the agreement to others, why wasn’t I fulfilling my end of the agreement to myself?
Do you feel like you’ve been trying everything under the sun and you’re still stuck?
I didn’t just keep pushing though, I searched and searched for solutions. Wine, acupuncture, massage, periodic sessions with my own life coach, melatonin, flower essences, chamomile tea, essential oils, and meditation were all on the table. I knew there was healing to be had and that it didn’t come from medication or surgery.
I wasn’t prepared to do what I said I would. And I nearly killed myself, literally and figuratively, waiting for others to do what they said they would. My previous work with a therapist was critical for giving me tools to recognize when I was in trouble, but I still wasn’t prioritizing my wants and needs.
Disease and medical ailments are real. Make no mistake, your diagnosis is real. In the US, however, we fight really hard to mask the symptoms, giving us some relief (and, maybe, a false sense of health), but we rarely dig deeper to try to get to the source.
What if, in conjunction with medical care (including mental health professionals, of course), we also investigated the source of the stuff our bodies are holding on to that we need help releasing.
Is your body sending you messages that your mind refuses to hear?
The turnaround started for me when I began, legitimately and seriously, looking for solutions. Solutions that I knew were inside me.
I knew some of what I was doing was true to me and in my nature. I had had a natal chart reading some years before and had a good feel for my general personality traits and patterns. This was incredibly helpful in my later work identifying unhealthy patterns and thought processes.
During my 13th year of this two-year agreement and, after trying to quit my side gig (that was slowly killing me) four times in three years, I started life coach training through the Martha Beck Institute. I signed up knowing that, even if I didn’t become a coach, the tools and skills I would learn would be applicable to every area of my life.
I was right, I changed and my world changed. I have found physical, emotional, and spiritual health that I knew was inside me, but that I was suppressing.
The last three years have been a lot of hard work. Changing patterns and finding and establishing boundaries takes a lot of effort. It has been exhausting – but in a completely different way than staying boundaryless and in limbo was.
Key to all of this is that I have created my own ways of making sure I’m safe and putting my own oxygen mask on first.
I’m not saying I’m never going to get sick again. I am confident, however, that I won’t get sick because I am getting in my own way. I am confident that if I ever have kidney stones again, there will be a medical reason.
Your body is sending you messages, are you ready to listen?
Your heart wants to be heard, are you ready to find and love your voice?
Your soul wants you to have boundaries, are you ready to find yours and engage them?
I had all of these opportunities to learn the lessons and see the signs for what they were, and I kept ignoring them. I was doing the best that I could, as I know you are.
I fought hard to stay stuck in my (unhealthy) status quo but the Universe was tired of me dickin’ around and the signals I was ignoring became an explosion. In the Summer of 2019, the business that was my main source of income failed.
Successfully quitting the side gig wasn’t enough to prove I was doing it.
Breaking other unhealthy patterns wasn’t enough to prove I was doing it.
The business had to fail because, 15 years in, I still was not willing to walk away. I lost 90% of my income in one day, 20 people I was trying to save lost their jobs, and my second side gig fired me because of it.
Because I had already started down my path and I had financial resources I could fall back on. I had time to regroup. And I am regrouping. There were many other, easier, ways to do it, but I don’t have any regrets.
I am following my heart and living my life true to my needs and wants.
I am excited about, and interested in, all sorts of stuff that I had lost interest in.
I have a desire to keep living this fascinating life.
Only by being of service to my self can I fully be of service to others.
Listening to my body’s signals, understanding who I am and why I am the way I am, doing the thought work and pattern breaking, discovering my purpose, and building on what I already knew about the mind-body connection has allowed me to put my oxygen mask on first.
There is no blame here. This work is about awareness and free will and doing the best you can with the information you have at the time. This work is about compassion and understanding.
If you are craving freedom and know that it lives within you, I would love to help you find and walk your path.
–I have completed training through Martha Beck Wayfinder Life Coach Training, Beverly Barnes’ Soul’s Calling® Academy, the Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching®, Debra Silverman Astrology, and Abigail Morgan’s Mind-Body Magic Coach Training and I am a Holy Fire III® Karuna® Reiki Master. I have combined all of these modalities into a comprehensive program to help you discover who you really are so that you can listen to your body and soul, speak and live your truth, and erect and maintain healthy boundaries so that you can walk your own path in this life.