Mental Health Week Confessions: Toxic Relationship Residue

It’s mental health week so I’m aiming to be more transparent with personal issues in hopes that others don’t feel alone ♥️ There are parts of a toxic relationship that stay with a person post break up. For lack of a better phrase, Im going to call this “Toxic Relationship Residue” …. because it sounds fucking gross. And it is.

It’s taken me a few years to actually talk about this openly. But 4 years ago, before I made the decision to move back to Alberta, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship that left me feeling like I had lost myself completely. When I wasn’t feeling sad, I just wanted to lose myself in alcohol or other people. I was actively self sabotaging, because in my mind- how could anyone hurt me again if I was hurting myself. No one could have that power over me- except for myself. I think a part of me was punishing myself for allowing myself to be “that girl” who fell into a trap when I’ve always been so strong willed and smart. I know it sounds messed up, but at the time- this was my logic, and it made sense to me.

I felt numb and I had allowed this person to essentially wear down my self esteem. While trapped in a toxic relationship, you adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms or survival tactics. At the time, this behaviour serves its purpose but unfortunately a part of you still exhibits this behaviour as time moves on, almost as a shield of armour to protect yourself.

I guess the point of my rant is… just because you’ve escaped a toxic relationship, doesn’t mean you are free from toxic survival mechanisms you picked up, which can do equivalent damage. You need to be self aware. There’s still work to be done within yourself that goes beyond blaming another person.

It has taken me close to three years to fully come back to myself. Thanks to my friends, a healthy relationship last year, and self awareness of my own BS, I was able to recognize the self sabotaging and coping skills I adopted that I needed to let go of: the self numbing, allowing people in my life who didn’t deserve it, pushing good people away when they got too close out of fear.

I just wanted to remind everyone that social media is truly a highlight reel. You don’t know what challenges others are going through. Even if they seem healthy, happy, and single- they could have toxic relationship residue that they are still figuring out and navigating.

You may think you know someone, but unless you’ve had a one on one heart to heart with them, you only know what they choose to show. So be nice. I’d like to think we’re all doing the best we can. Less judgement, more love 🌹

#MentalHealthWeek

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You See All My Light (And You Love My Dark)

These past few weeks have been rough. We’ve lost several extended family members and my nanny is currently down to 100lbs from cancer. I miss my mom dad and sister so much, but I know they’re where they need to be. I’ve really realized how much it means to have friends who support me through it all despite my poor coping mechanisms. No one is perfect and it means so much to have people in my life who see my light when I’m struggling in the dark. My entire life I’ve felt like people only liked me for my “positive” qualities- being a good friend, an innocent naive girlfriend, providing laughs, encouraging my female and male friends etc. I’ve felt like I’ve needed to be “that person” outwardly, everyday. But the truth is we all have our demons and struggles, no matter how hard we try to hide it. Being accepted as a ✨whole✨ means so much more than being accepted for the convenient qualities that you provide to people when they need it. Being human is a messy beautiful thing and I’m so happy I have friends I can count on to guide, support, correct and encourage me ♥️

Quiet Invisible Feelings

I took a year of massage therapy school and we did an exercise once that will always stay with me. It was a small class, I think there were about 8 of us. So group work was quite intense and personal. One day, our instructor had us pair up. I was to work on the partner, so essentially they just lay flat on the table and I stood behind them. Our teacher asked myself and the others to place our hands gently on our partners shoulders. Very light pressure. The exercise was essentially to do nothing but feel. She asked that we close our eyes. I remember standing there, closing my eyes and feeling like I was floating into another state of being. I could feel my body start to what I can only describe as “sway”. I kept my eyes shut mainly because the thought of myself swaying like I was part of some cult exorcism was slightly embarrassing so I convinced myself this was something I was just feeling and not physically experiencing. Turns out I was right (thank god).

Our teacher asked us what we felt. The three other students participating answered first. They felt body temperature fluctuations. Or tension. All physical characteristics. Things that made sense logically I guess. It was my turn it answer and I was slightly embarrassed. Was I doing this exercise wrong? I couldn’t even remember anything other than the rhythmic swaying. Did my teacher see? I honestly felt awkward but despite it all I decided to just be completely honest.

“I felt like I was swaying. Like I was moving to a pulse or rhythm”

My teacher smiled. And to my surprise, told us that’s what she was looking to see if any of us could feel. This was the first time my “sensing of energy” was ever validated in an academic environment. I actually felt seen, heard, understood and encouraged by this teacher and she was the reason I took reiki courses and am on the path to becoming a reiki master. I’m excited that I can continue to share my knowledge and teach others ♥️

Holding Space: Tribute to My Safe Haven

When someone confides in you, it is not your job to fix them or provide an instant solution.

At the end of the day, we are all on our own journey, battling our own inner demons and the choices we make on our own accord help shape and define the people we are meant to become. When someone confides in you as a friend, your job is to simply hold space ❤

My friend Cate uses this term a lot, and she is an amazing friend for putting it into practice in her relationships. Holding space means allowing your friend to fully express and confide in you how they are feeling without judgement. Of course, you can offer advice, but being offended when they don’t follow your advice and live life the way *you* see fit, is a bit narcissistic (sorry but it’s true! Check yourself sis).

We are all so uniquely different. Honouring our differences is what makes us stronger and holding space allows a safe environment for us to express and assess our internal navigation system. Holding space allows your friend to access her own inner strength in a supportive environment.

Understand that when friends ask for advice it’s because they trust you and value your opinion. That being said, just because someone values you and your opinion does not mean you now have the reigns on their life and choices. And you don’t have the “right” to be upset when they choose a path you don’t understand.

She is her own person. A person who values you, but also values her own authenticity.

The best friends I have in my life understand this concept are always there, unwaveringly. They are my safe haven. A safe space where I feel I can confide, trust, express, and figure out what I’m feeling. Whether it be a new problem, or the same reoccurring problem. A good friend doesn’t up and leave. They don’t dictate your choices. They don’t give up on you. They are consistent. They are supportive.

They don’t take on your problems, they simply love you through yours.

We are all meant to grow and branch out in uniquely designed directions. I love how completely different my friends are. But one thing they all have in common is the fact that they are all deeply rooted in their authenticity.

I wanted to express how much I am grateful for all of the women in my life. Especially to the ones who are always there to listen and support me. You all inspire me to be a better person and I’m so lucky to know each and every one of you. You are the true loves of my life.