This Is Me - Leah
I’m literally still in slight of disbelief that I am actually putting my truth to paper for you all to read. I never thought I would ever share my past in a quest of helping other women but honestly, this is partly because I hadn’t even acknowledge that this was part of my life myself. This was suppression at its finest & I’ll tell you what, it worked until it didn’t work and that’s the thing with trauma, it will ALWAYS find its way back to the surface even if you try your fucking hardest to bury it away & forget about it.
I have always been so open about my journey with healing my physical body & regaining my period and the mind fuck I went through with my body changing but I always felt I was being dishonest to you all because there is so much more to this story than simply overtraining & undereating. We have to take a moment to actually sit back and ask what drives someone to this extent? We don’t just consciously wake up one day & decide to mistreat our body & punish it in this way. No, this all stems from certain events that happen in our lives which form subconscious beliefs & these beliefs drive our daily behaviors ALWAYS & this was exactly true for me. These subconscious beliefs were exactly what drove me to this point in my life without me ever stopping to question why I felt the need to change my body, why I pushed my body to this limit & why I didn’t feel good enough as just me. But before I dive straight into it let me tell you how powerful our subconscious mind is & how it had even fooled me for the past 13 years of my life.
For anyone who knows me well I have always been the bubbly, happy & positive person, I never had time to feel sad or down & I never liked to dwell on things. Don’t get me wrong this is naturally me & it’s not a bad way to be at all but when you’re doing this as a way of ‘functioning’ instead of allowing yourself to feel, then this is when it starts to become a problem & ill be honest, it was exhausting. I never actually understood that this is what I was doing. This was all I had ever known myself to be & I never realized how much energy it took out of me always feeling the need to be ‘happy’. For years I had been lying to myself without even realizing. I had gotten so use to being this person I subconsciously trained myself to be & I honestly didn’t know any different. This is who I thought Leah was. I always prided myself in being confident in myself, who I was & in my own skin. I never EVER saw myself being a person who gave two shits about what other people’s opinions were of me because I was so sure of myself & where I was going in life. I was ‘Miss independent’, Miss ‘I don’t need a man’, Miss ‘I can do everything on my own’ & I actually prided myself in never getting too attached to guys. I would even label myself the ‘ice queen’ because I was so shut off from emotions & I actually thought that was a ‘cool’ way to be. I honestly went about most of my life being so detached from people, emotions & feelings that I never felt fully connected or comfortable with anyone-I just became very good at faking it. I never felt safe to show the true side of me, to be honest, to be open & most importantly to be vulnerable. So I kept everything surface level & I focused so much on helping others & making sure everyone else was okay as a way of deflecting from myself & what was truly going on for me deep down. I took on this role of ‘always being okay’, the tough one, the one you can rely on & go to whenever you need, again as a way to deflect & distract & keep busy from my internal thought & feelings.
It’s safe to say trust was a huge barrier for me & I carried this belief that no one could be trusted & this was even true for my partner of 7 years. Crazy right? It wasn’t that I couldn’t trust him as a person, it was that I couldn’t trust him with me, with my heart & this is why a lot of my relationships- (friendships included) were only ever surface level because anyone I let in meant I risked the possibility of getting hurt & being vulnerable was something that has never felt safe to me.
So the question is why did I feel the need to always be this happy, the everything is always okay person? The person that felt she could never trust anyone or let anyone in to be close enough to her? To be Miss independent & go about life on her own alone? Why did I put on a face & a persona for so many Years only ever scratching the surface with anyone I ever met? Why did I adopt unhealthy relationships with my body & my appearance that it ended up deeply affecting my health? When did I start thinking that I wasn’t good enough the way I was that it then became my life time pursuit to change myself? And the simple answer is trauma. Any type of trauma in life shapes our beliefs about ourselves & our whole way of existing without even realizing. Trauma is what causes us to adopt behavior’s & ways of being without any conscious thought. For me this was exactly how I had been operating for most my life & for the first time ever I finally acknowledge the amount of trauma I had experienced during some of the most influential years of my life. So lets start from the beginning…
Rewinding back to the young age of 14 I meet my first boyfriend & as you can imagine you think its love & that you’re going to be together forever. I even lost my virginity to him at this young age, because hey your young, naive & think you’re in love right? But as all young relationships seem to do these days, cheating & lying started happening & as you can imagine my heart was broke & at this age you really don’t understand the feelings that you’re experiencing & how to process them. We fought often, he become very controlling to the point I couldn’t even hang out with my friends. He would put me down, threaten me and eventually it lead to physical abuse. He would hit me, throw me, strangle me & even bite me-to the point I was scared for my life. I wasn’t allowed to associate or talk to other boys without getting in trouble or being hit or even make plans without getting permission- I literally just stopped doing anything. I isolated myself from everyone but him. I hid it from my family & friends & lied anytime anyone would ask me if everything was okay. I basically became an actor in my own life that I even started believing it myself! Can you start to see how this identity of ‘always being okay’ started to form & training myself into believing I’m always ‘happy’ came about? Unfortunately things only ended up getting worse & the worst thing that could of happen, happened. I fell pregnant & I was left alone to figure it out while he was out fooling around with another girl. At this age I literally didn’t have the brain capacity to even comprehend how I was feeling & the long term affect this would all have on me. I new I was still a child myself & there was no way I could be a Mum at this age especially in this toxic relationship, so I made the decision to have an abortion. I remember during this time I felt so alone & so worthless, the feelings were just so overwhelming. But the scary thing about all of this was once I had the procedure, it was like a light switch. I buried this whole experience so far away, that I didn’t feel any emotion towards it. I specifically remember going to the mall straight afterwards with my friend like the whole thing had never happened-literally hours after.
This is how powerful the brain is & in order to protect me it numbed me from experiencing anything, basically going into suppression. This was when the beliefs that ‘I don’t matter’, ‘im not important’ & ‘im worthless’ came about, because in my head if I DID matter, if I WAS important & if I WAS worthy then I wouldn’t be going through this alone. Honestly just reliving these emotions now, If I could go back in time I would wrap this sweet girl up in my arms & give her all the love she felt so deeply she didn’t deserve. So this relationship continued on for nearly another 6 months until it ended very badly with the police being called to my house because he had at attacked me & my Nana while she was trying to save me. Bless her wee soul. But again as soon as it was over I went into who cares, lets move on, its over, its not a big deal. I didn’t want to feel it, I didn’t want to dwell on it, I just wanted to forget it. I adopted the whole ‘shit happens’ move on mentality because it was easier to forget then to deal with it. Never once did I allow myself the space to feel empathy towards myself.
As you can imagine it was here that my self worth, self love & beliefs of not being good enough began, but unfortunately this was just the beginning of these beliefs being ingrained in my subconscious. After this relationship I ended up in two more further relationships that ended up the same, cheating, untrusting & physically abusive. I remember one time being hit so hard in the side of my head, I felt myself starting to pass out, I started seeing black & my vision disappeared. Again, I remember just jumping in the shower, brushing this off & moving on as if it didn’t happen. I never told anyone, I hid it from my loved ones out of shame & guilt & even the fear of it being my fault. I actually at this time believed it was my fault because why would 3 men all put their hands on me? What was I doing wrong? I felt so much shame of what others would think of me & how I would be perceived. Thank god I now understand that because I didn’t value or believe in my own self worth, I was attracting men & relationships like this into my life. So as Leah did I put on a fake smile, a happy face & as I had become so good at by now, fooled everyone in to believing that everything was okay. No one really had a clue. Not even my family until I told them Yeeaaaars later once I had left home & I was no longer in the situation because by then I convinced myself I had ‘handled it’.
But this young girl carried more than just this. I had stored away more pain & more trauma that had happened & I kept this one to myself & carried it alone for more than 12 years. Something I again had suppressed & pushed so fucking far away I literally had forgotten that this was a part of my existence because I wasn’t ready to deal with it. This is how fucking powerful the brain is, without me even consciously doing so it went into protection mode & buried these memories so far away to keep me safe from having to relive it. But as we know this works until it doesn’t and this started to slowly come up as I started to work on healing my body & regain my period & fertility. Why was this the tipping point for me? Why did it all of a sudden start making its way to the surface forcing me to face it? The reason, because it was all linked to my subconscious beliefs. Let me explain… During this time my body started gaining weight & I had to go against everything I knew & was taught. I had to eat more, train less & just let my body do what it is it needed to do to heal. I went through such an identity crisis because I didn’t know who I was without having this ‘fit’ body. I also couldn’t bare the feeling of not having control. I never realized to this point that I craved control in my life, I had this NEED to be in control & during this healing process this was taken from me. So not only did I feel I was losing my worth in this world because my body was changing but I felt I had lost all control which made me feel vulnerable & fearful & this was when I started to experience emotions I had never had.
Sadness I had never had, hate for myself I had never had & this overwhelming fear of other people looking at me & judging me. I couldn’t understand where this was coming from & I didn’t know how to understand or comprehend these emotions because for the first time ever I was feeling something. It took my health going downhill to force me to slow down & slowing down meant I had a lot more time to feel my emotions. It was at this point I started realizing that I had attached my worth to my body, I had this belief that the only thing that mattered about me was my body so without this body I had created I felt worthless. I realized this ‘need’ for control was actually a FEAR of not having control & I asked myself why did not having control bring me so much fear?
And there is was. It had been there the whole time, I had just chosen not to feel it & not to acknowledge it & the reason it brought me so much fear was because all of this was once taken from me. At 14 years old my worth was taking from me. My control & my power was taken from me. My trust for others was taken from me. My safety in the world was taken from me & the beliefs that I mattered & that I am important were taken from me just like that. Not only from the 3 men I had ever had relationships with but also because for 4 years of my life I had been sexually assaulted & raped by a man I trusted & cared for & for the first time EVER I was actually acknowledging it. I now realized why I had so much of my worth wrapped up in my body & my appearance. Why I felt so fearful of not having any control over what was happening to me. Why I couldn’t trust my body as much as I kept telling myself I needed to. But honestly, how could I ever trust my body when the meaning of that was taken from me multiple times throughout my teenage years? I couldn’t, it really wasn’t possible for me. I had so much suppressed emotions & feelings that I had not once acknowledge or allowed myself to feel & so many beliefs about myself that I wasn’t unaware of. I knew this was having an impact on my health. I knew that this trauma was manifesting in my body & that it was now starting to affect my physical health. It was here I realized that if I was truly & fully going to heal, I had to get to the bottom of where this all stemmed from & this was finally confronting & processing these traumas openly & honestly for what they were.
So that’s what I did, I went & seeked help from a lady to work on processing these thoughts and these beliefs. I remember the exact moment she said to me ‘Leah you were raped, you were sexually assaulted’ & OH MY GOSH. WOW. The emotion that came over me was like nothing I had ever experienced. This was the first time it had actually hit me, this was the first time I had ever heard these words because I had NEVER admitted it to myself. I was raped. I was sexually assaulted. This honestly blew my mind because even though I remembered it & I knew it had happened, I still didn’t feel like it was part of me until that moment when these words were finally said out loud. Up until then I had felt so detached from it all because I had trained myself since the age of 14 to be ‘okay’. This is exactly why I adopted this attitude of always being happy & positive because I didn’t want to feel anything else. I didn’t want to feel what I felt in those moments, so I literally numbed myself to the world. I was just doing life, I was just going through motions but never fully being present. But the thing is though, when you numb yourself from feeling the ‘bad’ things you also numb yourself from feeling & experience the good things. You can’t pick & chose what you feel, you either feel it all or you feel nothing at all & that was me. Numbed to the world, to feelings, to emotions, to love, omgosh to love. Anytime I was in a relationship & I felt someone getting to close to me I would start self-sabotaging. I would try & find a reason for why it wouldn’t work so I could push them away. Why? Because I feared people getting close to me, I feared feeling anything & I feared feeling vulnerable because it meant I risked being hurt again & giving up my control. I feared men & what they could do if I let my guard down & ill be honest this is something that I still struggle with. It really wasn’t until I did this inner work I realized how much fear I had around me. How uncomfortable men made me, how on guard I would become being around them. I would harden myself & become a ‘tough bitch’ so that I was always ready to defend myself for any possible threat that could come my way. Every part of my being was conditioned this way & what gave me back my sense of power & control in life was exercise. It was being in the gym & manipulating my body.
Exercise literally became my obsession & at the time I really did believe it was a passion for me & don’t get me wrong a part of it was. But the raw truth is it became my coping mechanism in 3 ways. Firstly because it was a distraction for me. It kept me busy, it kept me distracted & all my attention & focus was on this so I literally had no time to think about anything else. Secondly it was the one thing I could have control over because I have never felt like Ive had control. Manipulating my body, restricting my food intake gave me back my power & it made me feel like I was in charge which was something I always craved. Thirdly, exercise & changing my body made me feel worthy because I had adopted this belief that I only mattered for my body. I become obsessed with having to look a certain way in order to feel worthy & this is exactly how I got to the point of losing my period & my fertility. I kept pushing & pushing my body further & further, losing more & more weight all because I needed control & I wanted to feel good enough. But it never worked. No matter how small I became or how much weight I lost I actually felt more & more miserable. No amount of weight or manipulating my body was ever going to make me feel worthy if I didn’t believe it myself. This whole time I thought I was in control of my life & that I was coping when in fact I truly wasn’t, these traumas were still controlling me-I just didn’t know it. I was literally just surviving.
It wasn’t until I actually finally acknowledge my past & allowed myself to feel fully feel it that I was able to begin processing it. Until now I never truly realized how much this has shaped my life & my behavior’s. I carried the beliefs that:
‘Im not good enough’
‘I’m not safe’
‘I’m not worthy”
‘I don’t matter’
‘I’m not important’
‘No one can be trusted’
And I also carried a lot of strong feelings of shame & guilt around what had happened to me & it wasn’t until recently I realized I had been blaming myself. These events whether I was aware of it or not literally shaped my whole life up until this point. Every action I took was formed from these beliefs I had about myself. I have missed being present in so many years of my life because I was always in constant fear. I was always subconsciously scanning for the next threat so I could be ready for it, even when there was no threat in sight. I have literally been living in survival mode my whole life because of my past traumas & not once was I aware of it. All of my past had contributed & impacted my current health & the symptoms I was experiencing.
I never stopped to think of the impact physical & sexual abuse would have on my physical body & my reproductive health. It wasn’t until I actually stood back & thought about it I realized why would my body ever feel safe to bring a baby into this world when I carry so much trauma here? Sexual trauma & the feelings of shame & guilt are all stored in our womb & without me releasing these emotions & beliefs I was never going to allow my body the space to fully heal itself. Carrying all of these emotions all alone from such a young age & never telling a soul until this year was going to have an impact in all areas of my life, it was inevitable.
Which is exactly why I have such a pull to share this with you. We get so caught up in trying to ‘fix’ our physical body & taking all the supplements, training and changing our nutrition but we neglect the deep internal shit. The shit that really matters, the shit that has such a huge impact on our lives, how we function, how we show up, how we treat ourselves & this is the shit that has the biggest impact in our lives. The physical body is just one small aspect in the grand scheme of things & this is exactly why so many women feel they’re ‘doing everything right’ but are getting nowhere. Trauma literally manifest in our bodies & affects every cell of our being. And as much as we feel we’re healed & it doesn’t affect us anymore, I encourage you to ask yourself if this really true? Have you really, honestly done the work? Have you really dug deep & processed that shit or have you just gotten really good at functioning? Trust me I get it, I 100% get it. But what I also understand now is that trauma is what drove me to take the actions I took in the first place from restrictive eating & overtraining that took my health over the edge.
Suppressing, internalizing & soldering on are all coping mechanisms & they do not heal us. They help us survive & they keep us functioning on a day to day basis. But we need to let that shit out, we need to give ourselves permission to feel it all so we can start working through it. And while im here what I really want to say to you ladies is trauma does not have to be something like sexual assault or abuse. It can be ANYTHING that has ever made you feel an overwhelming feeling of emotion at any one point in your life & has stuck with you since then. Trauma is all relative to you & ones persons trauma does not make your trauma any less, please understand that. Your trauma is true to you & your beliefs & behaviors are formed from this trauma & just because you may feel others have been through ‘worse’ this does not make yours any less valid. Please, please, please know this. We are literally conditioned through our experiences in life & its not until we take a moment to pause, listen & acknowledge these experiences we can fully start our healing journey.
One important thing I want to share with you & something that really stuck with me when I finally started talking about this to a friend was when she said to me ‘it’s actually scary how okay you are’ & this is true. So many people would look at me & have no idea that this was part of my past. That I had experienced any of this & this is true for so many women. We become so good at hiding it & becoming actors in our own life’s that we ourselves start believing it to be true. But just because we’ve trained ourselves & others in to thinking we have a ‘perfect life’ we really do need to allow ourselves the time & space to feel. I for too long held this secrets to myself, not even my mother or partner of 7 years new any of this until a few months ago. Why? Partly because I was fearful & ashamed but also I worried about how it would affect them. I always worried so much about everyone else & I never wanted to be a burden to others. I knew I could handle anything that come my way, I conditioned myself this way. I knew I was resilient to handle tough shit so in my mind I had told myself that ‘I can handle It, so why make others hurt or burden other people with my problems’. But one thing I want to say to all you beautiful ladies out there, is just because you believe you can handle it, it doesn’t mean you have to. It doesn’t mean you don’t deserve someone to be there for you, like you are so freely there for others. Often it’s the ones who are perceived as the toughest, are the ones who have been through the most shit in life, but we still need people there for us just as much as anyone else & there’s no shame in that. This does not make you weak, it makes you human & your feelings our valid.
For me the biggest thing ive taken out of this whole healing experience as hard as it was at the time, was finding myself again. Finding who Leah really is, outside of who I conditioned myself to be, outside of this hard exterior I had built to protect myself & keep myself safe. I felt a sense of relief & freedom to be myself & I found my love & confidence back for myself outside of my physical body. I have never felt so connected with myself & who I am as I do right now. This has honestly come from letting myself feel & process all of the emotions I had shut off for 13 years. Not once throught these 13 years did I ever yell, cry or scream. Not once did I allow myself to feel anger, pain or sadness. All of this anger, pain, suffering, hurt, guilt & shame was literally all being held & stored in my body. Imagine storing years of emotions in your body. How could you not ever think this wouldn’t have an effect on you at some point in your life? This my loves is the raw & honest truth or trauma. It will always be there until you acknowledge it & often it forces you to acknowledge it eventually.
So although I would NEVER wish any of my experiences on to anyone else in the world, I can say I am thankful for what I’ve learned & where this has directed me in life. I believe that this was part of my journey on this earth & it serves a bigger purpose. A purpose which allows me to hold space for other women to release & heal from their trauma. A purpose that allows me to support & empower women to reconnect with themselves again & regain their confidence & love in themselves. To rebuild & heal their relationships with their bodies & this brings me so much love & fulfilment.
I have forgiven myself, I have released the fear, guilt & shame I have carried all these years. I now know that this is not mine to carry & I free myself from this burden. I now understand that I handled this the best my younger self new how. I thank her for how she’s carried me & protected me for the past 13 years. I have so much love & gratitude for her but I also now give her the permission to step back & breath. To know it’s okay not to always be okay, to cry & to feel. To fucking feel all the emotions that she has with zero judgement attached. I give her permission to be fucking human & to be her beautiful self.
Me sharing this with you isn’t about me needing a pitty party, it actually couldn’t be anymore further from this. I have accepted this part of my life & I have forgiven all of those that have hurt me. I don’t need or desire any justice & I am at peace with this chapter of my life. I share this because I know there are so many women out there who feel unheard, who feel ashamed, who carry guilt & negative beliefs about themselves from trauma in their life’s. I know there are women out there just like me, holding it together, putting on a happy face when they really feel so disconnected from others & also themselves. Women who crave connection, love & safety in their life’s & who just want to let their guards down & just be their unapologetic selves. I want you to know that you can find a place of love, safety & freedom in this world & you can experience life for everything that it is. You can & you will heal & you can finally be your magical fuckin self again that you truly are.
I really, really do hope that the women who needed to read this, reads this & I really hope this helps you feel heard, seen & understood. I want to know that you do matter in this world, that you are good enough just the way you are & that you beautiful girl are loved.
Lots of love,