Finding my rhythm is a struggle. I struggle with what my heart tells me is right and true for myself versus the ghosts of the past and current expectations on my behavior and actions. Where do these expectations come from?

A lot of the expectations that I hold for myself come from the first two decades of my life. The vital time when we are experiencing loving relationships. How those relationships interact, communicate, and express love are fundamental to how we perceive ourselves and our relationships as adults.

As I try to live my authentic self and truly live my best life; I am haunted by voices, images and experiences from my past. I spent so much of my childhood being told that how I wanted to do things was wrong. The things I loved where ridiculed, put down as a phase or deemed inappropriate due to my gender.

My first marriage was horrible. I was pushed into marrying someone I didn’t want to marry to gain my families love and acceptance. He proved to be a controlling narcissist who gaslit me at every turn. Every time I was on the verge of making a dream happen I was either forced to walk away from it to prove I loved him or in the case of the books I had written, my computer suddenly had corrupted files.

During my childhood I lived in fear. I lived being blamed for my families unhappiness and being told I owed them certain behaviors because of their sacrifices for me. Fundamentally, I feel unloveable and guilt ridden if I do anything that is not of service to others.

Nine years into a healthy relationship, I am finally learning to sit down each evening for me time. Do I still feel anxious and guilt ridden? A lot of the time I do. I know that I need to fill my well to be healthy for myself and my family. Does self care come with great difficulty? Yes, yes it does.

I am determined to use the support I have to embrace my truth and my needs. The peaceful feeling of “I am enough” and/or “I did enough this day” is how I know that I am living in my authenticity and not acting or reacting out of emotions.

As people, it is so difficult not to get stuck in emotions. Feeling your feelings and acknowledging them are vital to understanding where you are in your current life situation. The difficulty is to not be stuck in a reactive or expectant mode.

I have been using the practice of mindfulness to bring me to a pause when I find myself overwhelmed or suddenly surging with emotions. Begin by taking deep breathes until that tightness in your body begins to subside and you no longer feel squeezed from all directions.

Then just observe what you are thinking. Are you thinking about what just happened? Is there a memory from your past pushing its way into the present? Do you hear the voice of someone criticizing or scolding you?

Breathe again as you make these observations. If you see the past coming into the present, acknowledge that you have some things to consider and unpack from the past that are affecting your present. If you have time writing in your journal or jot some notes down about it so you can bring your awareness back to this moment, but know you can make space to visit these memories later.

Now, what is happening in the present moment? Respond to the situation when you are not filled with overwhelming emotions. Emotions are wonderful, but don’t let them control you otherwise you will be in for a roller coaster in most situations. Honestly, emotional regulation or lack thereof is why we see such extremes in toddlers.

Make space for yourself to be. The more you relax then you can be yourself. Find peace. Enjoy happiness.

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