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A Resuscitation Story from a Drug User


As a child, I played dress-up and transformed into a princess in my mother’s over-sized bridesmaid’s gowns, made Swiss Family Robinson tree forts outside and was the captain of the sinking ship who swam everyone to shore. I sang songs in front of groups of people with exuberance, and danced impulsively at wedding receptions center stage while everyone else was still enjoying their main course dinner entrees. I was told early on that I’d be a great performer, a singer or actor, maybe even both! But when reflecting on this time recently, I don’t think what I wanted back then was to be a performer, I think I simply wanted to feel and be ALIVE. Scratch that, I didn’t want it, I had it. I was fully self-expressed and playing with my range. My heartbeat was strong and steady. I was ALIVE and I LOVED IT. Until I lost it.




My reality in my adolescence was bliss — pre-teenage years was the time when parents of millennial's often told them they could do whatever they set their minds and hearts to. This was gold for me, full permission. Though beautiful and supportive advice in my early years, once I became a teenager — and “life” became more “real” — the support for things such as acting, singing, and really any form of self-expression dissipated from many of the adults I idolized in my life. Though they were doing the best they could by only bestowing in me the “wisdom” that was passed on to them, I experienced pressure to prioritize making money, “earn a living,” and plan my career. Like a drug, I ingested the strongly held beliefs of my lineage, like many of us do. I digested them into my cellular being fully as truth. From age 15-26 I worked as hard as I could to get into a good college, find myself a good career, a good boss, all so that I could be a good girl, a good participant and player in the game of life I was told I had no choice but to get good at playing. I was good… as deemed by everyone outside of myself. I was addicted to being good and looked the part, but on the inside…my system was overdosing.


If you’re thinking, “oh geez, she’s not a real drug user,” think again. Google defines a drug as “a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.” Our thoughts create our inner and outer reality, our thoughts are a substance and can be abused. The thoughts I had ingested and digested into my being were certainly abused and impacted my physicality, relationships, and desire to live, similar symptoms most drug users live with. No, I did not digest pills or physical drugs per se, but I didn’t need to go that far to be addicted to something harmful enough to seriously impact my daily life. I was a caged animal dying slowly each day. Feeling trapped in my reality not knowing how to make it stop. I had allowed myself to journey so far down the path of “good” for the sake of being accepted that I fully submit to the desires of my external reality and substituted self-expression for self-judgment, comparison, and criticism.


These years were some of my most painful of my life, my soul was wilting. I built up so much unconscious rage and resentment at my parents, at my job, and at society at large without having any clue I was doing it. I was a bomb readying to blow on myself. I looked around and saw other profiles like me working in similar jobs, going to the bar on Friday nights, and indulging in the social life on the weekends and they seemed so happy. So what was wrong with me? On the outside I looked the part, on the inside I felt like I was burning alive. The time I had used to spend connecting with myself via singing, acting, or another form of authentic self-expression was exchanged for my “drug addiction”- looking and being good in the eyes of others so that they’d love me, so that I’d be and feel loved by my external world.


I worked hard at my jobs, industries I thought my family and friends would be proud of, things that would give me the quick hit of being “good.” Which resulted in more stress and time in front of a laptop, phone, and finally big city nightlife or tv to then “relax” from the stress acquired each day. I gained weight, stress, anxiety, and utterly cut myself off from my true feelings and locked any urge of self-expression in the basement. I was on life support and completely unstable, but no one really knew for the truth of how I was feeling didn’t seem “good” or “lovable.” I prayed to be happy, to be fulfilled, to love my body, to love myself, to love others, to be living instead of dying… but if I couldn't really LIVE I had come to terms with the idea of dying.


Over the past 5 years, I slowly started to unwind my addiction to the “good girl” drug. It started with yoga — of which I started because I thought it would make me skinny and “fix” the body I felt so ugly walking around in (this portion of my journey deserves a whole separate blog post in itself.) Then I began talk therapy on a good friend’s invitation, then worked with a coach, then a yoga training, then became a coach, entered into a year-long leadership development program, etc. I was slowly cleaning my addiction and being resuscitated more and more over time but was still self-conscious when it came to self-expression. When I allowed myself to try expressing through movement, singing, or even making a vision board, I was still aware of a voice in my head that was worried about perfecting it so that others would approve of my creative expression no matter how small. There was static-noise in the proverbial telephone line to my inner self. Like all harmful drugs on the body, our system needs time to heal and I was still healing my long term addictive relationship to the “good girl” drug that had been killing me overtime.


My journey recently culminated at the end of 2019 when I left my job to start my own business and in early 2020 I finally completed the Leadership Development course through the Co-Active Training Institute. During the first few months of 2020 while beginning my new endeavor — of which I planned to offer retreats, personal immersions, private coaching and more to help people work through experiences like I had endured —  I found myself feeling totally freaked and scared at my choice to pull the trigger. “What the FUCK did I just do?” I wasn’t afraid about what I had left — that felt soulfully aligned — what horrified me was that now there was no choice but to FULLY self-express. It hit me like a brick, “If I do not let myself radically and authentically self-express what feels true on the inside to the outside world, my offerings will fall flat because they’re not anchored in truth and therefore not in alignment the Universe AND my “business” will fail, but worse, I’ll still feel caged, dying still but more slowly.” Wake up call, I got the joke.



This realization was my resuscitation — Google translates the word resuscitation, “as the action or process of reviving someone from unconsciousness or apparent death.” Realizing that self-expression was my very breath, purpose, and sustenance was the defibrillator that brought me back to life, to a moment of consciousness. It awakened my heart and lead me out of an unconscious state abundance of loveless thinking to a place of reprieve, power, and freedom. Being alive means to express. To live is to be full and generous with our unique truths and EXPRESS them without filter. Let the truth in you come out cleanly and you will live cleanly, abundantly, and fulfilled. Use all your power, all your divine talents, and skills, and follow your curiosity. Allow yourself to step aside and trust that you are held, you always have been. This is the wisdom that hit me like an electric shock that day.



Today I feel more alive than I ever had, I do not numb my life with a constant drip of loveless thinking. I wish I could say I’ve been clean of loveless thinking every day since, but because I am human and I walk in a world where toxins however small remain a constant in our world, I do still have unloving thoughts, but they are far less in dosage than before and I also have the “vitamins” and tools in my daily practice to help me stay “clean.”

I continue to reconnect with the little girl I once was — solo on the dance floor— moving impulsively to the beat, fearless of loveless thoughts from my outside world, fully expressing my inner reality outward. While this still sometimes feels hard to tap fully into, today I am comfortable dancing alone as long as it means I’m dancing.


BIG love to you and the journey your on. Remember you are held and the main event of your big, incredible life. Become the movie star of your greatest film yet.


Shelby

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