I don’t think that for me, I could have reached this point in my journey sooner.
I’ve always been a girl to march at the beat of my own drum and stubbornly ignore or challenge all advice that came my way from friends when it came to relationships growing up. In my defense none of my peers had gone through the experiences and losses that I had. My losses put me in a position where that opportunity to learn through trial and error was more within my awareness than my peers who had security in ways I didn’t. I always needed to see things through because I learned that if I didn't I would ruminate on it for too long- I didn’t have any tools in the box at that point other than awareness.
I first experienced trauma at age 16 and lost one of the only people in the world I had known and believed to have fully understood me, my dad. I had a hard time as a young child connecting with peers and my dad always validated me for being me. I always looked up to him to validate me and my experiences and trusted him wholeheartedly up until my last day with him. Not only did I lose him and have to transition to a new normal but also to learning to trust myself. I was anxious about everything, scared to stand on my own and always second guessed myself where I would always put whomever first before me if I thought that that could've been the best choice.
I learned how to trust myself through the course of various healthy and unhealthy friendships and relationships. I experienced being taken advantage of emotionally, not being supported and had been putting others' needs before mine repeatedly. I noticed a change when I began to put myself before others and also reaffirm to myself that I would always be alright no matter what - because I had been for so long. I was fearful of doing this for a while - making these changes because I knew it could potentially mean losing more people. I avoided that - I thought the more people the better. I thought that the more I had the less I’d feel alone and more loved. But sometimes when we keep these relationships that aren’t serving us (where our values and beliefs don’t align, we can’t communicate our differences in a healthy manner, one out of the two is doing the personal growth work etc.) we aren’t opening opportunities and doors for better ones to enter. I was enabling myself to stay stuck otherwise. Change is uncomfortable and required taking leaps that I wasn’t fully sure about but felt that I would be okay no matter what (authentically confident in myself and abilities). Throughout this I didn’t realize my relationship with myself was changing. I was taking all kinds of steps to better myself and my future amongst all of the trial and errors. I often felt the odds stacked against me. I think moments of desperation pushed aside those feelings of worry, failure and anxiety because it was sink or swim. I needed to apply for every bursary and grant possible in university because I didn't have the money to support a student's life, I had to get that job because I needed to pay bills, I needed to talk myself up in that parking lot to get through my anxiety for an interview I was walking into and I needed to push myself past vulnerability to go out and make new connections even when I was grieving because I needed to think about a future for myself. These “had to” situations reinforced this notion that I was always going to find a way, throwing myself into opportunities outside of my comfort zone were places I needed to explore and challenge myself in.
I learned to trust my gut when people presented me with offers that made me feel like I could potentially be taken advantage of (that connection to those early relationships *alarm sound off*). I used what knowledge I had and you never forget the way someone or something makes you feel. I learned to trust my gut when I became aware of my needs, boundaries and when they weren’t being met or were pushed aside. I learned to trust my gut when all I had was me and I had to ask questions, be curiously cautious, find resources and take those chances because no one was going to show up for me. There was a lot of trial and error as well as growth in those sink or swim moments.
I learned to trust my gut when I put a high value on me and my experiences.