A Slow Burn: Through the Fire

 

Someone once told me that freedom lies at the other end of your comfort zone. And until recently, I didn’t fully understand what that meant. I’ve spent the last year or so attempting to do things that scare me. But it seems that instead of becoming fearless, I have become fearful. A lot of those feelings stem from my past and my experiences with the people and places around me–positive or negative. For a while, I felt like I was flying, but now, when I am most vulnerable, I just feel like I’m treading water and just barely staying afloat.

I am a planner and find comfort in predictability. I am a chronic over-thinker and I have difficulty letting things go and getting out of my head. I almost always see the negatives before I even think about the positives. I am an optimistic pessimist in that I hope it all goes well but I just don’t completely think it will ever be all right. When confrontation is involved, I shut down. I have low emotional intelligence when it comes to myself and dealing with others because I never learned how to fully identify or process emotions. And when it gets to be too much, I run. I come from a family of runners. It’s in my DNA. But does that make it right? Does it make it healthy? Not at all.

I thought I was doing okay for the most part until recently. It seems that the circle around me has continuously gotten smaller. Why is that? My whole life, people have left me for one reason or another. By death, by choice, by indifference, or by fall out–they just leave. The truth is, there have been times where I have left them. It has always been easier for me to walk away than risk being hurt again. And in my ignorance, I called this a rebuilding phase–a rebirth. Because after all, the Forest flourishes the most after the Earth has been cleansed by Fire, right? The reality is that growth can only occur if the garden is properly watered and fertilized. So what have I been doing to ensure my growth? Have I really been growing or has it just been a facade? If we can’t look at ourselves in the mirror and see who we truly are, there cannot be growth.

I have always struggled with hearing criticisms. And part of that are my insecurities about never being enough. Those are feelings that stem from my childhood and living the the shadow of my mother’s ghost. A lot of what personal growth actually involves is recognizing your traumas, understanding how they shape your worldview, acknowledging that there is an issue, and working your way through the anxiety and stress of it all. I’ve got steps 1-3 down, but when I get to step 4 it seems like I just keep shutting down and getting stuck. Or at least, that is my perception. But, in reality, the truth is I push through despite my challenges. Throughout my life, I haven’t had the time or privilege of being able to quit. I couldn’t quit. I had to keep fighting. I’m still fighting.

At some point recently. I realized that certain situations in my life have not been a rebirth–I’ve been in a slow burn phase for some time now. Caught between burn and ashes where the embers continue to glow and smoke around me–but never actually reaching the Rebirth. But I can finally say that the Woman I was 5 years ago, 1 year ago, or even last week, is not the Woman I am today. It took physical and emotional pain, in addition to the threat of losing myself and those around me, for me to fully appreciate the burn.

It’s been a very slow burn for me–these last 10 years. But here I am, growing and glowing. I am able to recognize my own shortcomings–even if I still struggle when someone else is pointing them out to me. The fact that I know who I am and where I need to improve as a person is enough for me. I made it through the fire. Now it’s time to rise up out of the ashes and take flight.

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