Today is the day that my face will be up on a digital billboard in my town! I was lucky that the writing community I am in wanted to advertise in a major city near me, and they were generous enough to give me a billboard right in my town too so I didn’t have to go an hour and a half away to see it! It will be playing with other ads, and it is only for today! The billboard says: “What Makes You Strong? Enter our writing contest on TheUnsealed.com,” and then has my happy face on there! I am so happy that I joined this community and have been able to get some of my writing out into the public eye; this whole experience has been wild, as it has brought up things within me that I hadn’t truly realized before.
I always have had trouble celebrating myself, and I also hate being the center of attention (although apparently as a Leo I should love the spotlight), so being excited about something so public and personal felt weird to me. I know I am allowed to feel from this and I honestly do, but I realized that I have a habit of downplaying any exciting things or achievements in my life. When I graduated from community college, with a degree that I paid for with no loans or help from FAFSA, I remembered saying to my boyfriend: “Is it weird that I am not that excited? Like I don’t even want walk the stage.” He was encouraging and understood that school had been stressful and it was probably just a relief to be done, but also made sure I knew that he was super proud of me and I should be too. I did end up walking the stage, and both of our families were there to celebrate me which made me feel so loved.
While realizing that I have trouble celebrating myself, I also was connecting that to how I also have trouble truly looking at my life traumas as… well, traumas. I can honestly say that it was only within the last year or so that I truly felt validated in feeling traumatized, and it happened while listening to Gabrielle Bernstein on her “Dear Gabby” Podcast. She was talking about how everyone has trauma, and then talked about “Big T” traumas and “Little T” traumas. An example of a “Little T” trauma would be if you were standing in line to get food as a child and another classmate came over and called you fat. Even though this may not sound like a big deal, this thought can live in your brain and if you get stuck on that thought it can become all you think about and completely diminish any self-love or self-esteem that was there. But what struck me in this podcast was when she listed “having an alcoholic parent” as a “Big T” trauma… because I had two. Even though I had been going to therapy for years at this point, it still never hit me like it did in that moment. I had “Big T” trauma that I was dealing with, and I should be so proud of how far I’ve come. As I sit here and write this today, I am very proud of all of the work that I have done, and I look forward to seeing my continued progress.
I can say that as I am continuing this healing journey, I have moments of grieving where I feel so sad and distraught about the fact that I have been so distant from my own feelings and presence. But in those same moments, I am very present in those feelings, which makes me feel almost happy in a way, because that means I am here now. What I mean is that I am present with those hard emotions and I am feeling them all the way through, and that in and of itself is being present. I still struggle with celebrating myself, but I find when I am writing, it tends to come through me. There is that confident, higher self that is within me and she is working hard to break through. Together we are un-learning bad habits, re-wiring old thoughts, and immersing ourselves in podcasts and books about healing and mental health. I am the one who is writing my blog posts, I am the one who is going to therapy, I am the one who is doing all of this hard work, and I am doing it for me. I deserve to feel the love for myself that others can so effortlessly give to me, and I deserve all of the happy things that are in my life.