This is a guest post written by Ryann Pitcavage. Read About the Author below to learn more about her work.
I’ve always been fairly introspective and reflective from a young age, but a couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to go deeper. This led to the beginning of my self-exploration journey, which it turns out involves working through some recurring painful emotions I was experiencing. (Turns out, ignoring it doesn’t really work)
I realized that I had to look at this pain if I was going to continue traveling through this crazy and amazing journey called life. Pushing through wasn’t an option for me any longer. My mind and body were refusing to go forward in the old ways.
I imagined there would certainly be some benefits to doing all of this, but I didn’t imagine the depths to which it would change my world.
After a few years of this, I had a beautiful and deeply profound realization. (And of course, in classic NYC style, it happened while I was commuting to work one morning on a hot, crowded subway…)
I realized that after investing a great deal of time and energy in my healing, I have become (and am continuing to become) exactly the woman I needed most as a young girl.
I closed my eyes, and in that moment, I saw myself as the mama in the present moment holding my younger self through many different painful parts of my life. Holding my exhausted body filled with so much pain, self-hate, anxiety and fear.
In that moment, I finally knew and trusted that I was being held and loved as I was in the present moment. The abundance of the universe was all around me, and I felt worthy of receiving it. I could give away my pain and worry and fears to the Divine Mother Earth, and she would always know what to do with it, no matter how big or scary or shameful.
The concept is formally called *remothering* but I say call it what you want. I call it a nice, big, freaking long-awaited EXHALE. A sigh of relief. It’s all going to be OK. Be present. I’m OK now. And now. And now. Keep checking in. Ahhhh…
To be clear, this isn’t about moms not being *good enough* – my mom is an amazing woman who I credit so many of my good qualities to, and I still seek motherly energy and love, both from my own amazing mom as well as from mother earth and other feminine, maternal forces.
The difference is that now I also know that I, too, am a mother and can care for myself and no longer have to act from a place of the little girl who hurt so much inside.
This was such a powerful moment for me, that it brought tears to my eyes. It was a realization that:
- I am now a woman who has a healthy relationship her body, shows it the love + care it deserves, and knows that it is her greatest ally, not her greatest enemy, as once believed.
- I am now a woman who knows that addressing my painful emotions head-on is important, and that the only way through it is through.
- I am now a woman who knows that my self-worth is inherent and that absolutely nothing or no one can change that. So if I can’t hustle my way to being more worthy, I’m free to use my time to live my truth and what actually matters to me, saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ confidently.
- I am now a woman who knows that trying to control my human experience (aka avoiding any feelings of failure, disappointment, shame, etc.) through the pursuit of perfection doesn’t work and is far from worth it. And I’m not perfect and I don’t have to try to be, and that’s OK.
- I am now a woman who knows that I am a beautiful shining light + soul, you are too, and nothing can ever take that away from us. And that if we all know and believe this, we can truly experience sisterhood and put down the weapons of competition and comparison.
- I am now a woman who know that I am enough. And that while some days it might not feel like it, it remains true.
- I am now a woman who knows that numbing my experiences + stuffing them down won’t get me anywhere that I want to be, and will only make it more difficult for me to truly be happy.
- I am now a woman who prioritizes my own happiness and truth over trying to make myself into who I think everyone else wants/need me to be.
The beauty, too, is that it didn’t stop there. Every day I continue to learn, grow and heal.
What I hadn’t realized when I decided to start this whole journey was that through this healing, I was also beginning to take radical responsibility for my emotions, my needs and my life.
I no longer place responsibility for all of my emotional needs on everyone around me. I’ve found various ways to address and release pain and experience love and connection, in ways that make me feel supported and complete.
Many of us (whether consciously or subconsciously) place a great deal of responsibility for our pain on others. We blame them for our current and past challenges as well as use this pain as an excuse for why we can’t move forward in the way we would like to.
I still value and relish in the joy, connection, love, companionship, trust, laughter, support, and comfort that others bring me. However, the difference now is that I now know ALL of those things also exist within me. That I have incredible strength and power inside of me to weather the storm but also the wisdom to know when to reach out to others for help. (That ability to ask for help is all a part of that inner knowing, too, and it should not be discounted.)
I no longer require others to constantly validate my existence and worth or to “make it all better” and heal my wounds. I am no longer a young girl’s hurt soul living in a grown woman’s body, walking around, still feeling the same pain I did as a child. I’ve learned that healing is a process that you and only you can do for yourself.
There is a part of me that SO wishes this healing could be packaged up neatly to help everyone in this world who needs it because a world with much less unaddressed pain would do us a lot of good and would make my heart so full, but I also know better.
I know that healing is a journey of growth, loaded with ups and downs, expansion and contraction, light and darkness, breaking down into a pile of mush and putting the pieces together again and again.
The magic and value comes from the process itself and the courage and honesty required to be ready to open up and start getting comfortable with ALL of you, not just the fun and easy parts but also our darkest corners.
I now know that the healing, rather than being healed, is the gift I have given myself. Yes, undoubtedly it feels amazing to be in less pain, but I am by no means *there* and never will be – none of us are. We’ve all got our stuff, and every time we work through one thing, life shines a big old mirror in our faces, reminding us there is more work to be done. Living in perpetual creative response, evolution – this is life.
And when it comes down to it, this journey of self-care and healing has not been entirely about me.
It’s about the generations that have come before me and those that will come after me. Releasing and removing any oppression or pain or crap in my life and being the last in line. Taking a stand in refusing to actively play a role in passing along this pain to others.
So, sweet peeps, start with you. Look at what you can do to help yourself. That may include asking someone to help you through that (I know it certainly did for me), but take responsibility. I want to see you soar, and I know you are capable of nothing less. You’ve got this.
If you’re feeling inspired and brave, I’ve included some things to think about as you go on your journey.
1. Notice the common recurring painful emotions or patterns you’re experiencing in your life
We all have a unique combination of experiences and challenges, so when you’re feeling pain, notice what’s going on for you. You can write it in a journal or in a note on your phone. Don’t worry about being articulate and perfect, just write it down.
2. Get curious, not judgmental
When you’ve spent some time noticing, look at what you’ve written down and get curious. This isn’t about judging yourself or getting frustrated with your emotions, it’s much more productive to simply see what you’ve written as information. What, if anything, stands out to you that you can learn from reading what you’ve written? What are your biggest pain points and most common triggers?
3. Seek out support
Whether that be a qualified mental health professional, coach, family member or friend, I highly recommend you don’t try to go through this alone. Find someone (or as many people as you can) who you can fully trust to support you on this journey. Remember: shame only survives in darkness, so the act of simply having another person witness your story and pain can be incredibly healing.
4. Be patient + celebrate small wins
Don’t set yourself on a timetable – let this be an organic process that takes as much time as it needs. Don’t be angry if things don’t get ‘better’ as quickly as you’d like. And know that healing happens in spirals, so if you feel like you’re facing something that you thought you had already ‘dealt with’, know that you’re just going into it at a deeper level – this is natural, normal, and totally not something to be ashamed of.
When you notice that you’re making some progress and feeling even a tiny bit better, call up your trusted support team and celebrate it!
5. Remember that this isn’t about your mom being ‘wrong’
You may go through a period where you really resent your mom for what she wasn’t able to give to you, but the process of re-mothering isn’t necessarily about turning around and pointing the fingers of blame at your mom. Everyone’s journey is different, so I won’t tell you what to do, but I will say that in my own journey, it was important for me to allow myself to feel and process my feelings of resentment. And once I was through that, I came out on the other side feeling compassion and deeper connection to my mom. Being a mom isn’t easy, and she did the absolute best she could. All I can do now is take responsibility for my healing and my experiences, so that I’m emotionally free live the life I want.
I offer you these parting words: Give yourself permission to free yourself from the painful things that happened in your life and to move into a new story. One where you’ve decided to use the immense strength you have to make it through the pain and transform it into the courage needed to initiate the healing process. I see you and I’m witnessing you. You are so powerful and brave. Thank you.
About Ryann Pitcavage
Ryann Pitcavage is on a mission. She believes that our world needs fewer people miserably pushing through their everyday hustle and more people owning their unique gifts and living happier lives. As a recovering perfectionist and former management consultant, Ryann knows how it feels to have worked your butt off to do everything you were ‘supposed to do’ in life in order to be successful, beautiful, and well-liked, yet end up feeling trapped, stressed, tired, and most definitely not happy.
Ryann loves to help clients who are ready for something more and who know there has to be another way because, well, this way…it just ain’t workin’ anymore. She helps clients nurture their inner voice to understand what needs to change and helps them create a life filled with more of what their souls are craving.
Ryann is a native New Yorker who enjoys a well-made bourbon old fashioned, getting lost in a good book, all things puppy-related, and spending lots of time outdoors moving her body. She also strongly believes that a chocolate a day keeps the doctor away. Ryann completed her Life Coach Training through The Martha Beck Institute.
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