As above, so below, as within, so without - every thing that we desire, and every thing that we fear, exists within us. This blog explores nourishing our dreams, committing to our highest values, and healing ourselves from the inside out: awakening and empowering the Goddess within our bodies, hearts, and lives.
Transitioning from Survivor to Thriver
I have survived a lot in my life. Abuse, rape, neglect, homelessness, poverty, and depression top the list.
In fact, I've spent most of the last three decades surviving: getting past one overwhelming problem after another. If it's not worrying about how I'm going to pay the rent or where I'm going to live, it's a relationship done gone super-drama, a health crisis, or “someone needs my help and I'm going to help them even though I need help myself.”
Being a survivor is stressful. It's draining. It takes most of my energy, and a ton of joy out of my life. It keeps my body in a constant state of “flight/fight/freeze,” destroying my health and keeping me irritable and frustrated.
I stopped calling myself a survivor a couple years ago because I believe that the words I use aloud and in my head shape my life. Now I call myself a Thriver.
It's taken about two years to transition from Survivor to Thriver. Maybe three. It was three years ago, when I hit the rockiest of rock bottoms and decided that was IT.
What follows is a glimpse of the path that I took from Survivor to Thriver. It was not a straight path. There were lots of circles and spirals, zigzags, and tumbles. But I finally found my hiking legs, and now that I'm in a place to shine a beacon for others, you can be damned sure I'm gonna.
As a Survivor, I thought in depressive/anxious spirals of doom. When good things happened, I waited for the other shoe to drop, and focused on every thing else that I needed to go right. I thought in terms of what I could not afford, what I did not have time for, what I should do but couldn't seem to. I blamed other people and outside situations for how I felt and what I did or did not do. I believed that if I just had more money, a job, a car, a lover, better child care, a home of my own, more friends, less obligations, then my life would be easier and I would be happier and more stable.
As a Thriver, I discovered that I had to be happier, and manage my own mood, before I could give myself more money, a job, a car, and a home of my own. I've learned that I must be my own lover, and to take care of myself the way I want a lover to take care of me. I consciously changed my beliefs from fear-based to love-based.
Fear-based beliefs are all about limits and conditions. They operate on the scarcity concept – the idea that there isn't enough to go around and you have to take what you can get before it's taken from you.
Most of our beliefs are unconscious. Sometimes we think we believe one thing, but a close examination of our thoughts and habits shows that we actually believe the opposite. We have to become aware of our beliefs, and give ourselves permission and time to evaluate them, in order to change our lives.
I changed my beliefs on purpose.
It was easier than I thought it would be, and the hardest task I've ever undertaken. It's actually a simple process. Like learning any new skill, it takes practice. I messed up. I learned. I did better. Repeat. And eventually, I succeeded.
I didn't need to wait for the perfect conditions to change myself. I didn't need more money, more time, or less obligations. The first time I consciously changed a belief, I was homeless, desperately seeking employment, humiliated, and horrified at the way I would explode at my 15 month old son for acting like a 15 month old.
A friend had recommended to me the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louis Hay, and it was one of the few belongings I'd kept with me from my life Before Homeless. I had a hard time reading that book because it was so loving and positive, and the voices of depression and anxiety in my head screamed obscenities and denials at every other word.
At my breaking point, I tried to promise my son I would never blow up at him again, only to blow up at him before I finished the sentence. I felt totally out of control and wished I could just give him up for adoption and kill myself, but I couldn't do that because it would scar him to think his mother didn't love him enough to live for him, and I wanted him to grow up feeling loved and safe and every thing I never felt growing up, and how could I give him that when I couldn't control my temper or keep a roof over our heads or...
Endless spiral-of-doom thoughts helped me to continue feeling helpless, hopeless. With each thought, the pain in my body and heart increased, the fear made me tense and poised to explode into rage.
After an emotional breakdown that left us both sobbing, I comforted my baby and got him to sleep. Tears streamed down my face as I knelt in the floor by the twin size mattress we were sharing for the week, and watched his precious face as he slept. For the first time in my life, I prayed. I prayed to the Mother, the Goddess Who Loved Unconditionally Whom I Wanted To Believe In But Didn't Know How, Whom I had recently begun calling Brighid.
I told Her that I wanted to change, that even though I hated myself, my son deserved to always feel loved and safe when he was with me, and he could only have that if I could learn to feel loved and safe with myself. I begged Her to help me change, to help us find a home where I could heal and become the mother he deserved. I promised Her that I would be open to messages from Her and asked that She please make them clear enough to drown out the embittered voices of my past.
The next day, I found a short term nanny position that granted me just enough money to pay the rent on the bedroom we were surviving in for another month. It was the end of the month, and I had no money for food.
I had been struggling through You Can Heal Your Life and wrote an entire page of affirmations to repeat to myself daily. Reading them aloud to myself helped me feel like I was really working for change, even though I could only hope to someday believe the statements I was repeating. One affirmation stood out to me because I wanted to believe it more than any other: “Money is the easiest thing to manifest.” I thought about it, and looked for proof of its truth in my life, and I decided that it was true. It was easy to make money and even to find it. I often found change on the ground. Sure. Money is the easiest thing to manifest.
Midway through my nanny gig, I was taking the kids for a walk at lunch time. There weren't many places to walk, and I only had enough money for the bus. Feeling a momentary surge of playfulness, I started chanting to myself “Money is the easiest thing to manifest.” I made it rhythmic, and made my walk a bit of a dance to it. We walked through a Publix just to get into the air conditioning as I chanted quietly and jiggled my hips. Leaving Publix, I saw a Panera Bread restaurant. My stomach hurt, and I wished I had money for food. I looked down before I stepped off of the curb and right in front of me, waving gently in the breeze, lay a $20 bill.
I laughed and wiped grateful tears from my eyes, gave thanks, and took the kids into Panera for a warm lunch, and then took the rest of the money back to Publix and got enough food to feed myself and my son for the rest of the week.
I still believe money is the easiest thing to manifest, but I haven't had another experience exactly like that one. Once I found $50 on the ground by a gas pump, but usually what I find is a job or a gig exactly when I need one.
The most important change that first new belief wrought in me was the shift from feeling hopeless and worthless to having hope that I could change my life, that the Goddess would take care of me, and that I could make my dream of being a loving mother come true after all.
However, I found that I saying things to myself that were the opposite of my experience didn't help me much. When I felt angry, I couldn't just close my eyes and tell myself that I was at peace with the universe. Instead, I learned how to make baby-step affirmations. I feel more peaceful with every deep breath – that was a truth I could accept.
“My life is getting better every day” became my mantra.
A couple weeks after I begged Brighid for help, and a home, I got a call from my baby's father's girlfriend offering to pick us up and take us to a Pagan festival at All World Acres in Plant City, FL. My baby's father met our son a few weeks prior to my rock bottom, and his girlfriend and I had hit it off amazingly well. I jumped at the chance to spend a weekend celebrating with her, and felt a moment of gratitude so overwhelming it hurt.
The festival was called “Brighid's Fire.” Our first night there, my new friend watched my son so I could go into the Sweat Lodge. In the round where we prayed for ourselves, I cried and begged for a home. In the last round of the lodge, I felt my angels and guides surrounding me and promising me that I was safe, even though I didn't feel it yet.
Two weeks after Brighid's Fire my new friend asked me if I'd like to move in with her, her kids, and my son's father. I was so blown away by the suggestion, I couldn't answer right away. It had never occurred to me as an option. I still had a lot of anger towards my son's father, and it would mean moving 2.5 hours away from everyone and everything I knew. I turned to my tarot cards to see if it was my intuition encouraging me to say yes, or simply desperation. I spent a couple hours with my cards, terrified of making the wrong decision. Finally, I said yes, and OHMYGODSTHANKYOU.
We lived with our new family for about two years. There was lots of drama, but also lots of amazing. Every aspect of my life underwent such fundamental change, I no longer recognized myself. My name sounded like it belonged to someone else. My memories of the person I used to be seemed more like memories of a movie I saw once.
I healed, and it was every bit as hard, dramatic, painful, and rewarding as I believed it would be.
Fast forward two years. Now I have a job I love, my own home, a reliable car, and most importantly, a happy, healthy son. My dreams have been coming true one by one, ever since I dared believe in the possibility. I finished my MFA in Creative Writing, got a publishing contract within two months of graduation, and published my first book a few months later. I've made many amazing friends who have become family, and All World Acres has become a second home. I've been a headliner at the Florida Pagan Gathering, become a Reiki Master and teacher, met and had long conversations with many of my favorite Pagan authors (like Ellen Dugan! Squee!), and put on weekend retreats at All World Acres for creative writing and intuitive development. So many dreams have come true that are too personal to list, and they all contribute to my belief that I am a Thriver.
I believe that you have the power to transition from Survivor to Thriver.
I believe that if you are reading this, then you are ready to make that change.
To become a Thriver, all you have to do is shift Fear-based Beliefs into Love-based Beliefs, making Baby-Step Belief Shifts at first. Remember, Fear-based Beliefs are about Isolation, Scarcity, and No. Love-based Beliefs, on the other hand, are about Oneness, Abundance, and Yes.
Here are some of my personal core Thriver Beliefs:
- Anything is Possible.
- Words have power.
- I have the power to change Me.
- There is Plenty in this world, and plenty for me.
- I can manage my own mood.
- I must feel good in order to make positive change; I cannot make positive change while feeling bad.
- Everything is energy. Every thought, feeling, and action radiates a frequency to the Divine, and the Divine returns thoughts, feelings and actions that match that frequency. In other words, if I feel bad all the time, I attract things and events that keep me feeling bad. If I make myself feel good more, more things and events that keep me feeling good will come back to me.
- My mood is internal. I can feel good no matter what is going on in my life, and by doing so, I change my life for the better.
These beliefs started as affirmations. I wanted to believe them, so I looked for proof, and when I found proof, I focused on it and repeated it to myself along with the affirmation, until the belief became effortless.
Now it's your turn. What do you need to believe in order to Transition into Thriver-mode?
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