Even just typing this title makes my heart go up in my throat. I have been thinking about this all weekend and it is scary to be honest with myself and get this down on paper. All weekend I have been trying to find a way to be helpful and trying to really find my purpose and a way to be of service and this blog title just kept coming to mind.
I am not even quite sure how to begin this, but likely that is because more than anything, I am always so afraid of what others think. I often feel like a ping pong ball that pays so much attention to the feedback I get from others in an effort to help me decide which way to go next. Versus, being honest and true and open about myself, my beliefs and how I feel.
As I child, I worked hard to find the path of least resistance. As a child that FEARED conflict and disapproval, I put all my energy and effort into reading people. This assessment was then used to make the decisions that would cause the least friction, conflict, anger, etc. Meaning, in essence, I wasn't making decisions that I necessarily wanted to make, was passionate about making, etc. I was really making decisions on this magical method I had found, my own path of least resistance.
As a child, I felt like I hit the jackpot. I found a way to stay and feel safe with my own sensitivities. As an adult, it has been a bit of a complicated and challenging nightmare. As an HSP I was super perceptive to feelings, emotions seen and unseen and while it was always "easier" to do what others wanted because then I wasn't feeling that conflict and tension, I was unhappy.
As I said a few months back in a monthly group coaching class, I often find it hard to know what I want, because I spend so much time and so many years making decisions based on others' feelings, thoughts, attitudes and responses vs. my own passions and desires.
Now, clearly, this isn't to say that all decisions were made this way, but I learned which ones kept me the most "safe" and I operated with that in mind, daily.
Too smart for spirit?? This all leads me down the scary path of surrendering. Growing up as an early Project Acorn-er, being in 1A classes in middle school and then Honor Classes in high school sent me down a certain path. I was always very self aware of my intelligence or lack there of. My entire life, I have always had a real fear that I was perceived as not sophisticated enough and ultimately, not smart or intelligent enough. I was someone that had a real intuition, was creative, loved writing and was also great at math and science, with practice.
At some point during all of this, I started really worrying about the perception people had of me. How others saw me. For me, as someone passionate about all things science, it has become important to me to be well-informed and knowledgeable about all things science. Astronomy and the cosmos, in particular, have always really tore at my heart strings! I just have a huge love and appreciation for those things that appear to be so hard and impossible to believe and understand.
Growing up Catholic, I always found myself running into questions with what I was being taught on Sundays in church and Mondays at CCD. Whether it be evolution, the age of the universe, feelings about LGBT or something else, I was always questioning things. To my science mind, I just couldn't reconcile. And my math brain wasn't having that..
I was a Catholic-raised, science and math loving person and I just didn't know how to make it all fit together.
Even when I was at Wheaton, I can remember writing an essay in one of my Astronomy courses discussing how part of what I loved and appreciated so much about Astronomy and the cosmos, was that it left so much room for possibilities. We learned in class a lot about all of the amazing coincidences of the early universe that had to be just perfect and just right in order for it to come into being and form. The amount of anti matter to matter, for example and what may have happened if the ratio was reversed. With a 13.8 billion year old universe, a number I find hard even understanding, it was helpful for me to find some way to try and reconcile my entire life as a Catholic and my love and understanding of all that science demonstrates, daily.
As I continued to grow, meet people, be introduced to a multitude of people, ideas, beliefs, religions. As I continued to question and learn and explore, it started becoming more clear to me that as a "smart" person, I couldn't reconcile believing in what I learned growing up with this new person that I was becoming.
To be clear, this is in no way saying people that believe are not smart. I am just saying that this is what I was feeling for myself. This is the model that I was projecting on myself. I wasn't even sure what I wasn't supposed to believe, I just knew that I couldn't believe anything, not proven by science.
This is the way in which I operated for a few years. It was easier for me to put myself into this bucket than to really try and explore and do the work. However, as it often does, the rubber met the road for me back in 2007.
I found All Souls back in 2007ish, if I recall correctly. I was really just looking for a place to be spiritual. I wasn't sure what I believed and I didn't believe in anything more than universal love and energy. I would say even today those are the two basis of my belief system. I was so grateful to find a Unitarian Universalist church that was more about community, deeds and love than a creed. I enjoyed hearing readings from every religion, from authors, scientists, philosophers, poets, civil right's leaders and I just loved being in a community where I knew hearts and minds were open and loving. All Souls kept me at peace for a few years. It was what I needed at that time and I am forever grateful for having found it!
Then in 2010 I started going through severe panic and anxiety attacks, Debilitating. In 2011 it became leaving work in the afternoon in cabs because I was so afraid I was going to die on the train home. Just jumping in cabs and leaving work. Afraid to hang out with friends, family, afraid to go to work because I was living under this fear that it could happen at any time, the awful feeling would happen at any time. I was still going to All Souls as I could, but I would often find myself in the pew fearful of a panic attack, so my attendance on Sunday's dropped-off considerably.
I would go through waves of being "ok" and then really bad panic sessions that felt like they would last for weeks and months at a time.
In 2012 I started going to acupuncture, got put on medication and was introduced to Gabby Bernstein by a dear colleague and friend, Kitty. I had no idea what a life changing moment that would be for me, but I am forever grateful. I first read "Add More Ing" and I found it to be an awesome read, it was the intro do Gabby I needed to tackle the most important and life-changing book of my life.
Falling in love with "Add More -Ing" gave me an open mind about "Spirit Junkie". Many had passed books along to me about spirit and purposes and God and I was completely and totally unable to receive them, regardless of the amount of love and joy and compassion they were sent to me. Spirit Junkie was written in a way, with language that did not turn me off. It was written as a gentle spiritual book with words like "Love" and "Energy" instead of "God." This subtle shift allowed me to have the willingness to receive. What a difference during the last few months of my 36th year of life.
Now, in no way am I trying to make this blog some type of religious conversion, but all I am saying is that for so long I was resisting and trying so very hard to say "no." That even though I believe in so much of the universe and in astronomy that I have not seen and even though so much of psychics are things that are hard to see and prove and often they are so far away, that even though what I loved so much about astronomy and the cosmos was really perfectly aligned for me to have a relationship with spirit based on my own understanding. That even though there was so much I watched in awe as Neil de Grasse Tyson took us through the Cosmos and that sometimes I got that same feeling of awe when something in my life just happened to click or work out, that it was different. Even though all of this was true, I just kept saying "no." "No" I am too smart for spirit, I am too smart to be spiritual. Anything I am feeling, or thinking of experience is just a figment of my imagination. I believe in science and science cannot prove any of this, Patty.
So, I continued to really battle. Spirit Junkie opened me up ever so slightly. There was light coming in and coming through, but I wasn't quite ready to talk about it, at all. I was a closet spirit junkie. I would practice Gabby's ways, I would read her website, but it would stop there.
The acupuncture and medication continued to help. I was finding ways to deal with my fear. To deal with my not good enough's. To deal with an entire life I had built on worrying about others. What they thought, what they felt. Making sure I looked smart, making sure I looked well-informed. My life was really a life I lived for others. I didn't want the conflict, I didn't want the judgment. It was much less scary and safer to just have people believe what the wanted and just keep moving along. Hiding my anxiety and hiding my fear.
Fast forward to summer 2015. I took a huge leap and I know I have talked about it so many times, but I signed up for Gabby's Digital Spirit Junkie Master Class. I keep describing this as the step I needed to take to really unlock my life. It helped me really address my fears, head-on. Get really fuckin' honest with myself and realize how much of my life was just a story I was telling myself. A story I had perfected telling over 36 years.
The problem with this story was that I was so focused on all of the things I struggled with an the hard times and the not good enough's and the poor me's, that I always left out the strong, confident, successful Patty.
It started with not good enough Patty, who was weak, and fat and hated conflict. It continued with smart and responsible Patty who did what she was told, got good grades and was miserable because she was never willing to tell her friends and family whens he was hurting. Then it turned into much of the same, high school Patty, but this Patty was a smart athlete who was also CDMASC secretary. I think getting elected CDMASC secretary was the first time that i was like, oh shit, Patty, you got some game, we can do this. There is something in side of you no one may see, but it is there. Why was this never part of the story I tell myself?
When I went to Wheaton, I was really able to spread my wings and become a much better version of myself. Starting over allowed me to grown into myself, gain my confidence, spread my wings and I felt some more of that "Oh, shit Patty....we got something here" Those feelings really hit their peak my Junior and Senior year. I was feeling better than I ever had before. I was feeling confident in the person I was becoming, confident in what I was good at and felt like I really had some direction. AmeriCorps helped me continue these feelings and growth. I was meeting new people and having new experiences. Why was this never part of the story I tell myself?
I am not sure exactly when I started falling back into lack of self-esteem Patty. It may have been being with Greg. Only because that was really the first time I was in a relationship and for the first time I was worrying about relationship things. Making me question things, jealousy, uncertainty, etc. I was also extremely independent through middle school, high school and college. I never had a boyfriend or a relationship so I was always really on my own. I was independent.
I think falling in love with Greg, I lost some of my independence. Not because Greg did anything, but just because I became so reliant on him. I became dependent on him.
So, Master Class allowed me to start focusing more on the other part of my story. The Patty that has been through a lot and the you are fuckin strong Patty, you are titanium Patty. You are a good person Patty. You are creative Patty, you are a hard worker Patty.
"I am strong" became my mantra this past year and has helped me incredibly. I have always shared openly about my anxiety and panic in an effort to help others know they are not alone. While being there for others, I was monopolizing the story of Patty. I became Patty with anxiety. Everywhere I went, I was just carrying that story with me. It came to the point this past Feb where the story was no longer serving me and working with Heather and working on myself, I decided to change the story. I decided I wanted to become strong Patty again. Not that it was easy and not that it wasn't scary, but I did it one day at a time and I put my heart and soul into becoming that person. Into becoming that person again that won CDMASC, becoming that person running programming council at Wheaton, planning concerts and editing contracts. I became closer to that person I knew I wanted to be. My highest self, working on shooting past my upper limit. Really letting all of that confidence and desire fill me. Fill me up! Really starting to feel what I wanted to feel every day. The person I wanted to become and the impact I wanted to make.
March, April and May knocked me down. It hit me hard. It got to the point where I finally realized all the "no's" I was saying. No to spirit, no to needing help, no to asking for help. I needed to change my ways. I needed to surrender, I needed to stop relying on my own strength, I needed to be willing to ask for help. Because at the end of any day, for me, feeling there is loving energy out there, beyond me makes me smile. Because at the end of the day, even though I consider myself a UU loving, Buddhist practicing spirit junkie, I have found that in those moments where I just don't know what to do, if I am quiet enough, I can find the answer. Whether it be indigestion, intuition, guides, spirit or God, it helps and it works.
Now whether I call it spirit, or energy, or God, or god, or intuition, or crazy voices or instinct, I think I can finally safely safe, that because I am smart I have learned to go with it, go what works for me and not worry so much about what other people say, or think or feel. Because I am smart, I have found a way to feel happy, and supported, and loved, and at peace and be willing to say I surrender! Because I am smart I have found the tools I need to use to stay happy. Because I am smart I have found ways to change my thoughts and ultimately change my life.
I have no idea what you are other than loving energy, but I continue to find support in you and I continue to find peace in you and I continue to find you answering my calls and questions. I continue to love and appreciate and be grateful for whatever you are. I continue to say I am open and ready and looking to be the best person I can be and serve the highest purpose there may be for me.
So, I still believe in science and all things evolution and physics and astronomy and I am smart enough to have realized, that is ok to come out as a spirit junkie too! I cannot prove why, but these days I am proof enough to myself!
and that's all she wrote...