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Tracy's Wellness Journey: Bouncing Back from Broken

The last 10 months of my life have been filled with many eye-opening experiences that led to a brokenness I never saw coming.

Nearly all my life I have managed to keep things together. Staying silent, following directions, working hard, and wearing a mask of perfection so not to disrupt the family; this became my mode of survival.    

It was common to hear things like: Tracy is such a good girl, she always listens and never gets into trouble. The message I continuously heard was… if I was obedient and didn’t disrupt the apple cart, I was lovable. The better the performance, the more I was loved.

When I was 9 and my brother 7, my parents, both in their late 20s, moved our family to Alaska. We were from a small country town in Minnesota. My paternal grandparents were the family’s rock and my safe place. When we moved, life as my brother and I knew it was never going to be the same.

The drive took nearly two weeks. A miscarriage, vehicle problems and sickness, combined with my brother crying for days left me feeling afraid. I pretended we were on an adventure, locked up my feelings and tried to find happiness in every situation we encountered, no matter how bad it was. Being good, staying out of trouble and working hard became my method of survival in order to avoid the consequences or punishment of opposite behaviors.

I remember counting: we lived in 17 different houses and attended every elementary school in our community in just four short years. I rolled with the multitude of changes and kept my feelings locked deep inside. My brother did the opposite. Anger, outbursts, misbehavior and lying eventually landed him in foster care for a short time. Our parents eventually divorced.

My journey as an adult started when I left home at 17. I was pregnant, a junior in high school and wouldn’t consider abortion. Not being equipped to communicate and share my thoughts and feelings led to poor decisions in relationships. I have spent most of my adult life striving to make other people happy; all at the expense of my own health and wellness.

It wasn’t until my early 30s and a divorce, after 14 years of marriage, that I started to discover my gifts and life’s purpose. Counseling, college, a great boss and mentor were all part of me finding my voice. The more I learned, the more confident I became.  

There were still hiccups along the way that would knock me down. Trusting men was hard. Time and time again, I would get myself into situations that left me vulnerable and often a victim.

I married my best friend and mentor in 2008. He was easy to trust and has always made me feel safe. Our boundaries are simple: we each get a voice in our discussions and together we come up with the right course of action. Lying and cheating are the only two things that we can’t work through. Never having children of his own, he took mine under his wings offering each of them love, kindness, compassion and encouragement. Something they had not received from their own fathers.  

The Dam Broke

Last July, I attended an advanced meditation retreat in Colorado. There was a mixture of both women and men attending and leading this event. I experienced some amazing breakthroughs during the weekend.  

  • Anger and discord break my heart and create a level fear inside of me that is paralyzing.  
  • I use work to avoid family. It is hard to hit a moving target. Because we all have different viewpoints and I fear conflict, I consciously avoid certain situations.
  • I also discovered I was angry at myself for not speaking up and for letting others control my thoughts, feelings and actions out of a fear of not being loved.

As the weekend was ending; I was feeling empowered and accepted by my peers. On the last day, our leaders decided to share how giving was a big part of staying connected to God and keeping them centered. They shared stories, tools and success strategies.

Then they asked each participant to share how they use giving in their lives to find purpose and connection. I was excited; I knew how I was going to answer. That part of my life was clear. For my story to make sense, I wanted to share some back history with the group. But as I started, I was confronted by two men from the retreat staff, questioning, in a harsh manner, what my story had to do with answering the question. How many men in my past had f#@$* me over, was their actual language. In that moment when I was prepared to share and be positive, I was broken down with a direct hit to my reality. It was time to acknowledge the shame, my deepest secrets and biggest fears. Probably the most emotional and painful thing I have had to live through. It was like poking a beehive or opening pandora's box.  

I have learned through this experience that:

  • You can be aware of a trauma or injustice on a conscious level without having processed the pain.
  • Having a community that supports your transformation without judgement but with love, guidance and gentleness is a must.
  • Waking up and facing fear, guilt, shame and anxiety head on will lead to a life of joy and fulfillment.

The way out of the darkness is moving through the pain.  

 

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