It feels like a lifetime ago now, but once upon a time I was once in a relationship with someone that I was terrified of.
Career bliss was a dream, a fantasy, a fairy tale. An unrealistic concept. This is because I had accepted ‘stupid’, ‘loser’, and ‘slut’ as alternatives to my name and the truth about my being. I was living to merely survive.
Your mental diet is a collection of thoughts repeated until they become a system of beliefs that determine your experience of life.
I was anxious all of the time because I had very specific instructions to live up to for cleaning and how I was to appear in public. I also had the dubious task of guessing what else was expected of me without being told.
Most of the time I thought I was crazy because my version of life was given to me and accepted in exchange for food and warmth and shelter.
If I didn’t do as I was specified to or guess accurately, the privilege of spending time with my friends was revoked. And that was the least painful of punishments.
It was always so hard to explain myself to others.
Those who knew and liked me were challenged in our friendship because they had abided by rules that I followed. I couldn’t risk offending my primary relationship and as a result it hurt people to be my friend.
Why wouldn’t I stand up for myself? People who knew only me wondered.
They didn’t know how quickly things could escalate.
Why didn’t I just leave? Those that knew the truth questioned.
They didn’t get that if I did leave this relationship that I would be leaving them too.
I tried to look unaffected when my skin came into contact with anger, frustration and resentment for reasons that came into being before my existence. I had learned through experience that showing my pain was an invitation for more. So to feel safe I became a liar and a fake.
I was always reminded that neither my wounds nor my words would make anyone want to come help me. And to ensure my obedience this individual would tell people we both knew of the lies I would be caught telling or the things I would do that sounded the most embarrassing to share.
My reputation was not my own and this scared me most of all.
Even after I left, people that knew both of us told me that I was making a big deal out of nothing. They said that they didn’t know or understand what had really happened. That they couldn’t be sure about what happened or how it did. They could not acknowledge my experience and their doubts were poison to my recovery.
When others aren’t able to give their support for your healing, you leave them because it’s part of doing whatever it takes. Your healing is ultimately your responsibility and your keys to your own freedom.
Trusting myself was the hardest thing I ever had to learn how to do because I habitually let myself down to stay in that relationship. I may have had the courage to leave an abusive relationship, but it took awhile to leave it mentally because habits of thoughts and behaviours were in place that needed replacing to match who I was choosing to be, which was in alignment with who I really was.
It takes practice to let go of the story that your very nature is unworthy and that joy is not in your control.
Little by little – sometimes even feeling like I was moving backwards and upside down, I saw change mirrored back to me as my life. And then that change accelerated faster than I ever thought possible.
A tipping point is always inevitable.
The emotional distance from this relationship began to match the physical distance that I had initiated. I began to redefine how I saw myself as I touched into my essence of being.
It took the help of an awakened therapist that didn’t have “perfect pictures” of how relationships ought to be. Because the fact that I’d left and severed connection to my own mother was just unthinkable to most.
While I acknowledge the survival support I received growing up, a continued relationship came at a price that I was no longer willing to pay in physical and spiritual adulthood. Giving airtime and fighting the opinions of others including therapists with impressive credentials, but no courage of their own, I realized:
If someone can’t really see you, they can’t help you.
And yet, for all of this, I am grateful. If not for this experience in my life, I would not truly have the credentials of experience to do what I do in the way that feels most blissful. And this is true for your struggles and career bliss reality too.
To move internally from the experience of being downtrodden, inauthentic, discouraged, filled with self-doubt, and utterly confused about my ability to create a life worth living doing work that felt meaningful, not to mention endlessly whirring around in my head questioning whether life could possibly have meaning to a place of career bliss is what I know how to do because that’s what I’ve done.
That’s why I’m not the Career Counselor for people who just want a job or a personality test or to get some ideas for what they should do for work that isn’t what they’re doing now. Not that there’s anything that’s wrong with wanting that, it’s just not blissful to me.
Career Counseling is about being paid to be authentically you in what you do and how you do it, permission for freedom in how you do what you do, not to mention creative in what you do and how you do it.
Receiving your whole life without thinking that something is wrong with you or your real desires is what allows you to mine for the credentials in your own life that make work something that you actually want to do. That’s something that institutional credentials alone just cannot offer (so it’s time to stop expecting them to).
To look for your own real life credentials, this creating career clarity exercise is the perfect place to start exploring.
Where you fuel, re-tool and attune your imagination. Get your soul to work (on purpose). Ruthless compassion. Fierce gentleness. Sassy wisdom. And oodles of insight.