Full disclaimer here… I might get a little deep in this post, not for sympathy or attention, but to help, because we are not alone!
In recent months I’ve been spending a large amount of time with a counselor, and at first I was very ashamed to admit it, but several conversations over the past week have made me realize that it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of. We all go through things; we all struggle.
There isn’t much I claim to be good at, but one trait I’ve developed or has been ingrained in me is a keen sense of observation. I haven’t really noticed this until this year. As a Massage Therapist, being in a health care profession where I am alone in a treatment room with clients who trust me and who I’ve worked with for years brings them a comfort where they feel free to share and open up and be real. Now, as a Massage Therapist I am also unable to offer personal advice outside of my scope of practice. However, when you’ve worked with someone for 10-14 years of your practice, you develop a relationship with them…and they can tell when things aren’t right with you!! I’ve got some of the best clients and coworkers in the business! So my profession involves more than my hands; we observe, we listen, we hear, we hurt (physically and emotionally) and we internalize plenty.
In my personal journey over the last couple of years I began to struggle with serious anxiety, depression, panic attacks, addiction, loneliness, and at my lowest stopped my car at the side of a bridge, walked to the edge and at the moment thinking the fall would feel better than the life I currently had. Luckily for me, I have five beautiful reasons to keep going, and the thought of disappointing them by not being around to watch them grow, thankfully weighed just a little more. But I still struggled with the tension of feeling useless, worthless, insignificant and inadequate to them and that they would be better off without me anyway. This cycle went on for longer than I would like to admit, until I was forced to seek help. My personal situation had not (and has not) changed, but I needed to finally take steps towards taking care of myself to be better for my kids. This however, is near impossible for a personality like mine, where doing things for me is the last thing I’ve ever done… I’ve always lived my life for others, to please others, to fix others, to care for others, to avoid conflict and to resolve issues. My keen sense of observation has allowed me to see individual sides to the stories I’m a part of or a bystander to and try to offer an understanding to the parties involved on what the other may or may not be feeling or thinking… But all that doesn’t help me. I recently was honored with an award as Best Massage Therapist in Peterborough, voted by the public, but I wasn’t happy about it, I was pushed to even acknowledge it!! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not playing the martyr, this is actually not a very healthy lifestyle to live, and it caught up to me in the worst way possible. And it is still a daily struggle, one that has my counselor extremely frustrated…it’s almost like trying to teach a soft little pug named Lloyd to be a strong confident lion (some of you will enjoy that reference).
One of the most vivid realizations I have come to lately is finding out where this deep sense of inadequacy and insignificance has come from. Words I can still hear, situations I faced as a kid growing up have shown up in a 35 year old father of 5, and its embarrassing, and it never occurred to me that these would ever play a role in my human nature. I can still hear the words “You aren’t good enough”, “You aren’t as fast or strong as the other guy”, “better luck next year”, “loose some weight and try again”,… as a high school athlete and musician, hearing these words from coaches and teammates was devastating and disappointing at the time, but also motivating and forced me to try better next time, to please more, to always be better…but it was never enough. Even moving from sports to music, I faced the same rejection from other musicians, as I was never quite good enough to be the rockstar I dreamed of being.
Fast Forward to a couple of years ago…some 30+ years later…standing at the edge of a bridge telling myself “I’m not good enough, I’ll never be good enough”, driving myself into further depression knowing I can’t do or be enough. The personal battles I was fighting brought me the same depressing sense of inadequacy that was hard to understand.
This is the difficult part of my story. Parts I’ve only shared with a handful of close, trustworthy friends…. until now
The title of this post is “Sticks and Stones”, and as we all know the saying “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but Words will never hurt me”…and its something I try to encourage my own kids to not let words of others affect you, but I would be lying if I said they don’t. Words hurt, Words cut deep. They certainly were not intended as such when a coach or teammate uttered those words to me, so I do not place any blame on them whatsoever. I’m learning just how important my words are to others, to my kids, to my clients, athletes I work with and how important it is to try and decipher the meaning of someones words to me. There are some personalities that can brush off those comments, use them as motivation and power through with no future implication…but there is a certain number of us (I know I’m not alone), who internalize the negative narrative and believe it as truth for our lives. I’ve lived this way for almost 30 years…I’m still working on how to let go and be me…and be okay with it. I have a long way to go. A work in progress, and likely a lifelong work!
So if anything I’ve written resonates with you, if you are struggling with these feelings, in believing the negative and feeling completely inadequate at work, home and/or in relationships, please know you are not alone. I am here, there are some great resources and counseling available, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of…we all struggle.
Can I encourage you?? let’s change the saying to “Sticks and Stones may break my Bones, Words will hurt me, but Words can also heal me”. Have faith in hope, Trust in your Journey. We are in this life together.
** Here’s what I want to do – my cell is 705-868-2616, if you ever need someone to talk to day or night, or meet up for coffee… I am only a text away (I can’t always answer the phone, so text is easier). Don’t struggle for longer than you have to. **