The journey of self discovery that I’ve been on the last year and a half has been many things: painful, beautiful, awakening, but most of all – scary. It’s been a terrifying journey of questioning, tearing down, opening up, laying bare, and feeling alone. There have been many moments of authentic bliss, that fantastic feeling you get when you’re being 100% true to yourself. There has also been so much healing, even in the midst of the pain that came from letting go of the idea of who I thought I was supposed to be. Because that’s what it’s been – with the birth of my first child last year, came the death of so many other things: false beliefs that needed to go, fears around mothering and fears around raising a daughter, letting go of my pre-baby self and body, and excavating old pain, trauma and hurt that could only be brought to light by something as life changing as becoming a mother.
The birth of my daughter was also an invitation to be reborn myself; to begin a journey of self-discovery. This journey started with me questioning so many things and over turning every belief I had as I realized that, as a mother, everything that I am and believe would be passed onto my child. I knew that diving into my own fears, issues, and psyche would not only benefit me but would be preemptive work my daughter would not have to do one day. I wanted to be the best version of myself, for me and for my daughter and future children. And that started by asking hard questions.
“Motherhood was the beginning of my own journey asking the question, ‘Why am I here?’ I had to stop and think: What am I doing to teach my daughter? What do I believe in?” — Madonna
That’s why I started therapy. I’ve talked openly many times about seeing a therapist this last year, and it’s truly been a life changing experience. If therapy is something that you’ve thought about but feel nervous about, I really encourage you to seek out a therapist you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to be ‘broken’ or in the worst place of your life to benefit from therapy. I certainly wasn’t in a terrible place when I sought out a therapist after having my daughter. I just knew that having an extra person support me in my first year as a mother and in my journey as a human being could only be good! And it has been more then good; therapy has given me the space to ask the hardest questions, to explore uncomfortable feelings, and to show up in whatever way I need to. But most importantly for my journey of self-discovery, therapy has been a safe place as I ventured into an unchartered territory within myself – my intuition.
Like a lot of women, I have always put someone else in the driver’s seat of my life, and deferred to other peoples opinions on issues small and large. My therapist helped me see that I’ve never been taught to trust myself, my intuition. Instead I’ve shut down my inner voice and always asked someone else ‘Who am I? What do I like? What is right for me? What do I believe?’ Whether a parent, a spiritual leader, a spouse, or a friend – I’ve always quieted my own inner voice for the voice of another. Combine this with my natural bent of people pleasing and you’ll see why I was in my late twenties and suddenly facing a lack of identity. My therapist was the first person to ever reveal this behavior to me, and once she did my world was blown open. I realized that so much of how I defined my world and myself wasn’t actually my own – it was what I had absorbed or been taught from those around me. Once I started asking myself “hey, what do you think though??” instead of looking to everyone around me, I started to realize how very little I knew about myself.
And that was terrifying. Even just trying to ‘hear’ my intuition or ask myself internally ‘what do you think Brittany’ sent me into spirals of fear. What if I didn’t know what I thought? What if I thought the wrong thing? What if I made mistakes? Can you make mistakes when it comes to trusting yourself and valuing your own opinion?? And what if I wasn’t who people thought I was? What if I became a version of myself that my friends or family didn’t like? Or that I didn’t like??
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” -Steve Jobs
I had no answers to any of these questions, but I also knew I couldn’t go back – I needed to learn to trust myself, trust my intuition, and most importantly to value myself and my opinions. But in order to do that, I had to let go of all the ‘rules’ I had in my mind about who I was, and who people expected me to be. And it was hard. I had to trust that my family, friends, and even God would still be there for me no matter where my journey led. I was so terrified that in letting myself evolve and giving myself space to finally listen to my intuition I would become an unfamiliar version of myself. I was ok with not knowing who I was, fundamentally – but it’s another thing altogether to not know who you are becoming. I had to face myself, I had to look within, and I had to be ok to be me – without expectations, without rules, without boundaries. And it felt extremely foreign and isolating.
If I’m being honest, July was very hard. For the second time in my life only, I was in a season where I seriously wondered if I was depressed. I had been sick for a few weeks, I wasn’t sleeping, and I found myself feeling sad and often unemotional or distant from myself. I spoke openly about this with my husband, but it still was a very lonely time for me. I started to wonder if I had gone off the path on my journey, and was losing myself more instead of finding myself. Why had I even started this journey anyway? And how would I even know when I ‘found’ myself?? I felt adrift in a storm that I had created.
But then, as suddenly as I had started asking questions 18 moths before, I had the answer.
I thought that I needed all the answers to find myself – Who am I? What do I believe? What do I like? What is important to me? What do I think? – but I’ve realized that I don’t have to find all the answers to find me. I may not know everything about myself, but if I have the compass of my intuition with me on the journey, I can learn and grow and evolve on the journey. And I don’t have to do it alone – with the love of my family and friends, the guidance of my good and kind God, and the support of a therapist, I can stay in tune with myself while continuing to become myself.
And most importantly, I can be ok with however I show up – today, tomorrow, in 10 years. It wasn’t about answering all the questions, figuring out every facet of my identity, or rigidly redefining myself on my own terms. The point of this journey was about giving myself permission to be myself, and permission to define myself, instead of letting others define me. I finally feel safe enough to not know everything about myself, and to stop asking for permission to believe that I believe, to value what I think is worth valuing, to pursue the things that set my soul on fire, to e x i s t.
I get to decide; me and my intuition.