The trip to Mexico is one that forced me to stop in my tracks and evaluate everything about my life at this current moment.
I spoke about my first life lesson recently regarding Fear.
I had been living in a fearful state for so long that I forgot what it was like to live freely. So many things in life were evolving around me and I wasn’t quite ready for the change.
During this trip, I realized that the root cause of all of this fear was my inability to trust. Trust the process. Trusting other. Most importantly, trusting myself.
When you live with emotional abuse for so long, your sense of self is heavily influenced by the opinions of those who don’t have your best interests at heart. Your happiness is monitored and decided by another. The way you view yourself is altered. It’s hard to have self love when those closest to you consistently tell you that you are not meeting their expectations.
Years of criticism turned my eyes inward. I began to question everything I did. I couldn’t trust my own judgement. How could I know if what I was doing was right if they told me everything I did was wrong? If I made decisions based on my own happiness but conflicted with theirs, I was sure to face the wrath. To avoid arguments, I chose to put their own preferences ahead of mine.
I had a list of rules and the first was that I should, in every decision, first ask myself what they would do. If they wouldn’t do it, I shouldn’t. Otherwise, breaking the rules meant punishment in the form of conflict, a barrage of attacks on my self worth, and criticism that was sure to be brought up in the future with any slight toe out of line.
I look back and I ask myself how I lived like that for 13 years of my life.
But I am so incredibly thankful that I can look back and see these things. Otherwise, I would still be living them. I had resigned myself to living a life of unhappiness, tricking myself into believing these brief moments of pleasantries would last. It was as though the second I started to question if it was normal to have my daily life and friendships controlled, or if I was being too burdensome, things would suddenly shift. The gifts would come. The flattering words would follow. I would believe that I was good again.
I refer to 2016 as my year of revelation. I realized that I was capable and strong. I began to do things for myself and I started to put my own happiness first. I started yoga and focused heavily on my health. I reached out to old friends and made new ones. I opened up to those around me. And as time went on, I began to love myself.
While we were in Mexico, I sat with my fiancé on a rock overlooking the ocean, watching a lightning storm over the Caribbean. The stars were out and a warm breeze was blowing. We were eating dinner at an incredible restaurant and had been seated away from everybody, alone in our own little paradise.
We had a discussion about trust and love. We talked about pain and heartbreak. We talked about expectations and desires. And as we talked, I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face.
It was as though the last bits of wall that I had guarding my heart had been blasted away. I had a sudden realization that the past was no more. The fears and the worries that I carried with me did not have to weigh me down for the rest of my life. It was as though every bit of criticism that had been etched into my brain had been washed away. I reflected on all of the stress of the past year and I realized that I was still standing, strong as ever, fearless and ready to tackle anything life threw at me. The things I thought would destroy me did not even leave a mark.
Learning to trust yourself is one of the most revolutionary things you can do. It’s one thing to be told that you are enough. It’s another to believe it in your soul.
I exist, beautifully in my imperfections.
I was not expecting this trip to be so impactful and transformative. My main goal was to further my education and learn new ways to better serve my clients. But in the end, my clients are best served when I am at my best. Taking some time to escape to a new land, full of adventure and new experiences, was the most incredible way to learn more about myself.
I am so thankful for this journey and Mexico will forever be a place that I mentally escape to when I need this reminder.
While I embarked on this trip to learn more about my business, I left with a deeper knowledge and understanding of myself. And hey, we managed to get some pretty incredible images in the process!
The post Life Lessons From Mexico Pt. 2: Hampton Roads Virginia Boudoir Photographer first appeared on Norfolk Virginia Boudoir Photography.
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