We’re All in This Together
Whether we’ve experienced trauma with a big T or a small t, we’ve all experienced suffering. And while that suffering may have seemed like a moment in time, it lives in our subconscious and in our body, informing every thought and every action. The core underlying perceptions of being unlovable or inadequate play into our career path, romantic relationships, and even how we handle stress. These deep-rooted feelings will be addressed in depth later, but they must be called out here.
Many of us are able to coexist with these unconscious feelings because we built coping mechanisms to manage them. Several of the ways we’ve mitigated our underlying pain have often been socially acceptable. For instance, drinking to fall asleep at night, always being in a romantic relationship, or working to the point of burnout. In some cases, coping mechanisms look like praise- worthy behavior.
For me, getting sober was only the first step to recovery. In the early days of my sobriety, I didn’t have the tools for healing the root cause of my addiction. In fact, I didn’t even know a deeper wound existed. So while I put down the drink and the drugs, I was still acting out in addictive ways in efforts to control the unconscious impermissible feelings that I couldn’t possibly face. I became a work addict. And I was praised for it! People would say things like, “Wow, Gabby, you get so much done!” or “You’re so impressive!” It was not only socially acceptable to be a work addict, but it was something people admired. All the while I was avoiding true healing because it was too terrifying to face my unconscious pain.
Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time. I thought, This is who I am. I’m driven, I’m a worker, and I have an important job; I’m helping so many people. I thought my behavior was healthy, but deep down it was just another addictive pattern “protecting” me. It’s important to call this out, as you may not identify with having destructive patterns. But take a moment to look at your socially acceptable patterns and how they may be a way to avoid deeper feelings. Do you obsess about everything you eat and in return get praise from others for how good you look? Are you giving so much to others that you give up all of your time? Often deeper feelings are hard to uncover. For now, you don’t have to know what those deeper feelings are. I simply want to encourage you to notice where something feels off inside you and when you turn to certain activities, comforts, or people to numb uncomfortable feelings. This simple noticing is a small step toward discovering what’s deeper.
In 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world experienced a trauma together that activated everyone on an individual level. Forced to slow down, stay home, and isolate, we were left with ourselves. Feeling out of control often triggers those impermissible feelings we’ve spent our lives running from. Many of you reading this right now may have been unaware of your unresolved pain and suffering before the pandemic, only to be totally triggered and out of control when the world shut down. During the pandemic, I received hundreds of messages from people throughout the world suffering with depression, anxiety, addiction, and chronic pain. When we slow down and become still, our deep-rooted pain comes to the surface for healing. The body naturally wants to repair itself and psychological repair sets in too. But if we lack the tools for identifying and healing trauma and the therapeutic resources to free us from the past, we become frozen in the terror of facing our suffering.
My therapist taught me to recognize the ways I’ve built up forms of protection. She called these “the protector” parts of myself. My “protector” parts attack back when I feel threatened, or I immediately try to fix things when I feel out of control. One of my “protectors” had a mantra that I borrowed from my favorite hip-hop music: “If you mess with me, now it’s a must that I mess with you.” I know it sounds dramatic and silly, but it was literally a fighting attitude that I hid behind. My lack of safety as a child led me to always feel unsafe. Therefore, I built up a shield of protection to avoid ever feeling the sadness and disappointment of not being cared for or loved. We all have “protectors” that work really hard in an attempt to keep us safe. But in order to truly be free, we must ask the protectors to step aside so that we can create space for spiritual healing and therapeutic guidance back to the resourced loving presence within. This book will be your guide to laying down your extreme protection mechanisms so that you can allow the spirit of love to step in and guide you back to peace. In time you’ll feel safe and cared for through your own ability to love and support yourself unconditionally.
It may seem hard to contemplate what freedom and peace could look like. If you were to ask me 15 years ago what freedom and happiness were, I would have said something entirely different than the freedom I know today. I couldn’t have even contemplated the relief, joy, and inner peace that I have cultivated. I couldn’t see what freedom was because I didn’t know yet what stood in the way of it. But I had a willingness to be free and that was enough.
* I couldn’t see what freedom was because I didn’t know yet what stood in the way of it. But I had a willingness to be free and that was enough. *
While you won’t feel worthy of love overnight, trust that going on the journey through this book will heal the false perceptions of being unlovable and inadequate. For today, all I ask is that you stay willing to feel free, pay attention to the ways you may feel unworthy of that freedom, and witness and honor your experiences from that past. I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. Instead, be proud of yourself for having the willingness to look for the ways you may be caught in unresolved fear and feelings of unworthiness.
Even if you don’t realize it, you are willing to live in a new way. It’s your willingness that guided you to pick up this book. It’s your willingness that opened your consciousness to see the book advertised online, or to listen to your friend who suggested it, or to finally pick it up off the shelf. The slightest willingness to feel better is a prayer to the Universe asking for help and an acceptance that there has to be a better way. Unconsciously or consciously, you’ve set the intention to open up to a new freedom and peace. As long as you stay connected to that intention you will be guided every step of the way.
That is my promise.
If any of the principles in this book, whether they be spiritual or psychological, happen to trigger you in some way, do not stop reading. This is a journey of facing the truth of who you are, and that truth can be uncomfortable at first. But I assure you, it’s far more uncomfortable to hide it. You’re reading this now, you’re willing to witness your resistance, and you’re ready to be at peace.