It surprises me that right now my hands shake as I type this. Something in me, though, really wants to share. Something in me knows this is important for me to see outside of the sacred pages of my old journal.
I wrote the following journal entry in 2012. I re-discovered it last night. When I wrote it I had just left my soul mate and the deepest, most honest romantic love I had ever experienced. For the pain I caused him and the move I had to make, my heart was broken. My heart was broken, but I was finally awake to the sadness that I felt. In the same way, I was truly awake to a deep knowing in my heart that this healing journey would catalyze my service to this beautiful world and that I had to do this work.
For the past five years, I have been healing this broken heart of mine and as I reflect on this story I wrote not so long ago, I am inspired at my vulnerability and my gratitude. It feels raw to share this in such a public way, but I suppose that’s what we do these days.
I am inspired by anyone who has courage to forge the path to their heart. Anyone who is open to create a deeper understanding of their true joyful nature – so here, with love, is a taste of the journey to my heart.
“My name is Julien Elizabeth and I want to be tan and fucked up for the rest of my life.”
This is an actual excerpt from a journal I kept in 2007 (sorry mom!!). I don’t write this because I think it’s awesome – it’s embarrassing. It’s shocking. It’s aggressive. Perhaps it’s surprising (though, probably not the tan part – I always like having a tan.) I write this to show what my priorities were then – to be tan, skinny, fun and a part of the party – to be open to trying all of the “fun” drugs – to be numb. I tell you this because if I expect anyone else to be vulnerable, I might as well go first.
Through my life, I have been pretty good at hiding things from other people, especially myself. I am a master at “everything’s great!”… For 4 years I kept an eating disorder locked up inside. Almost everyone seemed oblivious. One summer I secretly took trips to the gym to maintain a daily calorie burn of 2,250. I worshiped the machines that kept track. I would come home at night to smoke weed and eat popcorn. I went to sleep with nothing left and woke up to do it again. Every day I did this. And when I had to eat, I tortured myself all day. Despite this abuse, I didn’t feel weak – I was driven by the high of winning. Of winning some battle I had between my head and my heart and my body. I lived inside of my head in those days and I think I perversely believed that if I didn’t hurt myself, someone else would.
I told myself I was strong. I conquered the stair stepper – as if that was some sort of accomplishment. This was healthy, I thought.
Eventually the path wore me down. I was tired. I started to miss all the fun everyone was having while I was at the gym. I stopped throwing up. I jumped into partying. I blew my first line of coke at a frat party with a guy named Chaz. I remember he was wearing pink khakis. I judged the stereotype he was almost as hard as I judged the stereotype I was. I was filled with judgement then, especially cruel to myself. More and more, it became less about the friends and fun and more about the high. I sent my body up, then dropped it down. I sped up, then slowed down, spinning around endlessly. I was almost always high. I took drugs to focus in school, drugs to forget school, drugs to feel happy and drugs to feel sleepy. Without them, I felt sad. Because I was sad. I am still sad.
But today, I am grateful for my strength. Physically, mentally and emotionally, I am resilient. Though I may feel uncomfortable in moments of loneliness, I know deep down I have the strength to become a stronger, more whole person. I am brave and emotionally strong. I have big dreams. I am ready to put real work into figuring my shit out. I am ready to grow with the goal of knowing myself to the core so that I can trust my wisdom, so that I can comprehend what I know about myself and the world.
Finding my voice means being quiet enough to listen to hear what she truly has to say, to let the message come out – because it’s in there. I must have the bravery to step off of the ledge and to my own heart.
I will forgive myself this year. I will follow through. I will honor each bite I take by slowing down. I will know that I am ok. Thank god, I am ok. I will honor my natural need for deep sleep. I won’t be mad at my body for its needs. I won’t be mad at anyone for theirs. I won’t let distraction be an escape. I will practice patience with myself and let it grow in its time. One patient loving act at a time. I will remember the passion that I have. I will let this passion fuel my quest for knowledge and my quest within myself. I will let myself be human.
Flash forward to today. It is 2017 and in so many amazing ways, I am living that life I saw for myself when I took the big leap and made those commitments. I have been using food and herbs to heal my body and my mind for 5 years. Like I always dreamed, I teach others to be their own medicine and heal themselves, too. I am nourished by what I put into my body and I work every day to honor my food and stay present while I eat. I feel more in my body every single day and am filled with gratitude for how much this body does to enable me to live and love. I feel more connected in my relationships then I ever imagined possible. I am surrounded by love and support in every direction. In other ways, I fight similar battles that I fought then. I still struggle sometimes with seeing myself fully and staying in that light. At times, I still find myself in judgement. I am still trying to honor my body’s need for rest. But I make the choice every day to do my best and to act from a place of compassion in all that I do. Because of this, I make choices that best support the life I want.
What this healing journey teaches me is that these things are not symptoms of where I am stuck. They are signs that the healing is occurring in every moment and with every breath I get to take. This awareness is the glimpse of bliss that lifts me up and shows me a more evolved version of myself that I aspire to witness unfold.
It’s a sign of strength to allow others to support you, to be vulnerable, and to share who you are. If you ever want to give up, to numb out or to abandon your heart, just pause. Remember how hard you worked to get to this moment and to have everything you have right now.This awareness is the thinnest veil standing between an ordinary experience and your highest self. It takes time to unravel past trauma and the wounds of our childhood. But 17 year old Julien, 19 year old Julien, 25 year old Julien and 29 year old Julien and 90 year old Julien will tell you, it is worth it. It’s worth it. It is so worth it.
Be brave enough to love yourself deeply. Live a life reflecting the love you want and you will move closer towards that love. I promise.
“Your mind is like a piece of land with many different kinds of seeds. Seeds of joy, peace, mindfulness, understanding and love; seeds of craving, anger, fear, hate and forgetfulness. The quality of your life depends on the seeds you water.
If you plant tomato seeds in your garden, tomatoes will grow. Just so, if you water a seed of peace in your mind, peace will grow. When the seeds of happiness in you are watered, you will become happy. When the seed of anger in you is watered, you will become angry. The seeds that are watered frequently are those that will grow strong.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh