The Abstract Mirror: A Personal Reflection

Self Perception

The Abstract Mirror: A Personal Reflection

My original intention behind this particular blog post was to write and share about my life-long battle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.  That was the inspiration behind the name of this website and project, The Abstract Mirror.

As I began to sit down and write, my mind kept going completely blank, regardless of the many notes I had been accumulating over the course of the past few months. That experience will be a topic of discussion that I will take the time to address in detail at a later date. 

What I realized is that what I’m meant to share about in this initial post, is my journey with skewed self-perception as a whole.  It’s been one that has been full of tremendous pain, dysfunction, chaos, and heartbreak.

There is only so much about myself that I can squeeze into one blog post, but my intention is to be as raw, real, and as authentic as I can find the courage to be at this time. 

Over the course of my life, I’ve had many people belittle, exploit, abuse, and use things against me, so I must admit that as I’m sitting here now, I am feeling really emotional because I’m genuinely afraid of the level of vulnerability that I feel is necessary to deeply explore the topic at hand.

Growing up, I was surrounded by chaos and subjected to extreme forms of abuse and repeated trauma. Without getting into all of the nitty-gritty details, I will sum it up by sharing that I was the target of my mother’s own shame, misplaced rage, addictions, and emotional unavailability. 

Nothing about me was ever good enough.  If she wasn’t physically abusing me, she was verbally and emotionally abusing me. When she wasn’t verbally and emotionally abusing me, she was placing me in the hands of caregivers who were sexually abusing me. I just wanted her love and acceptance but nothing I did, could get her to reflect that back to me. 

Everything about myself felt wrong and I never felt adequate or worthy.  I internalized every last bit of it.  My belief was that it was happening to me because something was innately wrong with me. 

I felt helpless and discouraged. I remember that from a very young age, I just wanted to die.  I didn’t feel like the world was a safe place for me to exist.

The one thing that I did have to lean on in my life, was my father and my paternal Grandparents.  For me, they were my safety net at the time.

My dad began teaching me about spirituality and meditation when I was just a toddler.  He would share his knowledge and wisdom with me and began walking me through guided meditations.  

My mother was abusive not only to me but also to my sisters and my dad.  When my dad finally decided to leave her, things got even worse, much worse.

A pastor began spending a lot of time with my mother.  He was always doing stuff for her and taking us places.  I remember that even at such a young age, something about him felt really off to me.

He ended up falling in love with my mother and as a result, he decided to murder his wife and bury her underneath their trailer home.

When he went to trial, his lawyer tried to shift the blame to my dad, portraying him as a jilted and jealous lover.  During the trial, my dad was called as a witness and his spiritual beliefs were exploited in the local media.

I remember thinking “if a pastor can do what he did, and my dad is publicly shamed for his spiritual beliefs, then it’s not safe to be connected to God.”  That is when I developed the belief that God must also hate me.

Throughout my parents’ painful divorce, my sisters and I were in and out of foster homes.  Although they were meant to be a safe haven for us, for me, one of them came with its own forms of abuse.

Eventually, the state awarded custody of my sisters and me to my dad and paternal grandparents.  Although I was still dealing with deep emotional issues, things at least seemed to have calmed down for a while.

When I was in fourth grade, my dad remarried and it was another abusive situation.  My stepmother at the time was very jealous of any attention that my dad would give to me and my sisters, and so rather than deal with the abusive repercussions, I began to experience extreme depression and began to withdraw.

My dad eventually left his second wife, but by that time, I was already confused and conflicted and I felt completely lost and alone.

I developed an eating disorder and I started drinking alcohol and doing drugs to try and manage and deal with my deep-seated depression and feelings of unworthiness.

At the age of 16, I entered into my first long-term relationship and dropped out of high school.  I ended up moving in with him at the age of 17. He was six years older than me and he was the breadwinner.  It ended up being three years of non-stop abuse and control.   

I had to get permission to do anything and everything.  I was isolated from my friends and family. If I rebelled and didn’t obey his rules, I was subjected to physical, mental, verbal, and emotional abuse, as well as public humiliation.  On one occasion, I tried to sneak away to a house party with an acquaintance and he followed me there and head-butted me in front of everyone. No one called the cops.

It was a really dark time for me, but it was what I had learned that “love” was supposed to look like.   That became disheartening, and it was during that relationship that I ended up in the hospital due to attempting suicide for the first time (which happened two more times later in life).  Again… I thought God hated me.

At the age of 18, I got my GED and began to secure a life for myself.  Shortly after, at the age of 19, I finally had the courage to leave the relationship.  However, years of similarly toxic relationships were still yet to come.

A few months after I left that relationship, I met someone really unique and special through my job at the time, which was at a call center.  We both worked for the company, except that he was based out of New Mexico while I was in Washington. We had an immediate and deep connection and after a few months of being pen-pals, we entered into a two-year long-distance relationship.  

To this day, he is the most loving, kind, gentle person I’ve ever had the honor of dating.  He saw things in me back then, that took YEARS for me to discover about myself. No one had ever made me feel like I was someone worth loving, honoring, and valuing as he did.

He was a broke pre-med student at the time, but there was no way that I was going to miss the opportunity to be with that person.  

I was determined to find a way to financially support our long-distance relationship and that’s when I started waitressing nights at a gentleman’s club.  My partner at the time did not know what I was up to.

After befriending some of the dancers and finding out how much money they made, I started taking my clothes off for money and that was when my journey into the darkness and the double life that went with it really began. 

It wasn’t what I wanted to be doing and it wasn’t at all comfortable for me, so I threw myself into a spiral of drugs and alcohol as a means to disassociate myself.  Not surprisingly, that created a lot of trouble and added chaos for me.

I began to obsess over my appearance and developed an addiction to cosmetic procedures, because as you can probably imagine, getting naked in front of a bunch of men who treated me like a piece of meat, really fueled my already existing body image issue.

At the end of the day, I got so lost in living that lifestyle, that I ended up leaving the wonderful and amazing man who only wanted to love me… Even after I told him about the big secret I had been keeping from him the majority of the previous two years and was met with such grace, kindness, and understanding.

Life only got worse from there, and my addictions and suicide ideation only grew stronger and more intense.  I hated myself. I felt disgusted by who I was and what I was

I found myself getting caught up in mutually toxic and turbulent relationships.  I was chasing love and acceptance through my appearance and feminine sexual prowess.  But of course, to no avail. If anything, I was only met with more abuse, exploitation, and rejection. 

Not to mention that I had been date-raped a few times, but because of the life choices I had previously made and was making at the time, I convinced myself that I deserved it.

I felt angry and bitter towards the world around me.

In time, the life I had chosen to lead became increasingly uncomfortable.  I felt hopeless and like I was dying inside. I  was a complete mess and I knew I had to change. I began learning about the law of attraction, and that was the first time I realized that I didn’t have to be a victim of my circumstances anymore.  That’s when I decided to start pursuing a relationship with God and the Universe.

I began going to church, volunteering, traveling to various parts of the world to be of service to others, etc,  Eventually, that evolved into daily meditation and the pursuit of higher consciousness.  

That’s when I began getting involved in all kinds of healing modalities, such as energy work, shadow work, and plant medicines like ayahuasca,  etc, etc. It was through those experiences that I realized I wanted to become someone who held healing space for other people who were hurting.  Which is something that I had always felt deep down that I was destined to do.

Spirituality became my number one pursuit.  My life had seemingly begun to turn itself around for the better.  All I wanted to be for myself and others was love and light. I felt transformed.  I wanted no part of my past but the tendency to straddle the line between the past and present had become a blind spot of mine. 

At the age of 35, I found out that my estranged sister of five years had given birth to a baby boy.  He had been prenatally exposed to methamphetamines, and so the state immediately took away her parental rights, and at seven days old, I brought him home to live with me.  I was terrified. At the time, I had been living my life like a single, independent bachelorette with no plans of ever being a mother, for fear of turning out like my own.

Although my life had just done a complete 180, I fell so deeply in love with him.  I felt like I had a lot to prove. I just wanted to protect him from ever having to experience the things that I had to experience.  I wanted/want so much more for him in life.

He became my life and my muse.  I was so inspired by his very existence.  I threw myself into education and training and began pursuing certifications in life coaching, neuro-linguistic programming, MER, reiki energy healing work, etc.  Those things provided me with a healthy outlet during an excruciatingly painful time of uncertainty.

Those 15 months of my life consisted of not only the purest form of love that I had ever known, but also extreme anxiety, agony, and fear.  I was wrapped up in a painful custody battle that eventually led to him being returned to the care of my sister, his biological mother.

I tried so hard to keep my head up, stay strong, and focus on the bigger picture, but I was dying inside.  I didn’t know who I was anymore. My heart had just been broken in a way I had never before imagined for myself.

Shortly afterward, my life began to rip apart at the seams.  I felt lost and out of control. I cried every single day. I acted out in ways that I had thought I had already healed.  I found myself enthralled in a full-blown identity crisis. I was losing control. It didn’t feel like there was a place for me in this world.  I felt devastated and victimized once more. 

Never in my life had I felt as unworthy as I did that following year.  I just thought to myself, “What was the purpose of all of that inner work?”, because it felt like redemption was slipping away. 

I isolated myself and withdrew from the outside world. I felt afraid of everything and felt like nothing at the same time.  It was as if I was falling from grace.  I had never felt so unworthy of being of service to others, as I did during that time.

I found myself being flooded by memories of all of the trauma from my past and every “bad” decision I had ever made.  

I began to lose all sense of purpose because I could not see past the pain.

I wanted to die.

At my lowest point, I even went shopping for a gun.  Although I didn’t end up buying one, I had one picked out.  To be honest, that gave me a sense of relief, because I felt like there was a way out of the suffering.

I started to be with and face myself in a way I never had before.  I began to fully awaken to myself, by making the unconscious, conscious.   Truthfully, it was the most terrifying experience of my life, yet at the same time, the most liberating. 

It was through that experience, that I was met with Divine inspiration.  That’s when it dawned on me that not only was it important to meet myself right where I was at but that I could do the same for others by creating a platform that gives a voice to this horrible and painful widespread epidemic of “not enoughness”.  That is when the idea for this project, The Abstract Mirror, was initially birthed.

I knew I wasn’t the only one suffering in silence.

Since then, I have begun to really be with my pain and perceived inadequacies.  I started engaging in Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS), which has been profoundly healing.  Almost like magic. 

I’ve also learned to really lean on my connection to the Divine through my daily prayer and meditation practice.

I started to create boundaries for myself when it came to the people and the kind of energy that I allowed in my life.  That’s when I made the decision to own who I am, and no longer tolerate people who are intentionally unkind and hurtful towards others.

I found my tribe.

It has been a struggle to rewire the beliefs that I have formed about myself.  There are days when the voice of the inner critic reemerges. But each time, I bounce back stronger and more determined than before by reminding myself that I don’t need to be the hero, I don’t need to deny any parts of myself.  I certainly don’t need to be perfect in order to be whole.

I’ve come into the awareness that in order to be truly aligned with my soul, I must embrace ALL parts of myself.  That includes my perceived flaws, insecurities, and inadequacies.

I’ve also come to understand that my decisions from my past were never accurate representations of who I am.  I was operating from a lack of self-love and self-worth that had been so deeply ingrained in my psyche.

However, those things ARE a part of everything that makes me the person that I am today. That person is someone who is deeply compassionate, loving, understanding, and has the gift of being able to reflect back the innate perfection in those whom I’m blessed to interact with.

Having known pain on such a deep, intimate level, is a big part of what drives me to want to uplift others and do my part to try and make this world a better place.

When we stop running and hiding from who we are and what we’ve been through… We begin to align with our truth.  And our TRUTH leads to beautiful discoveries and opportunities to self-actualize.

These days, I’m very blessed to finally be surrounded by people who love me for everything I am and everything I’ve ever been through and/or put myself through.  

Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to share these things about myself, or to pursue this project, if it weren’t for all of the love, support, and acceptance that the Universe has been bestowing upon me.

People who judge, shame, and/or belittle others aren’t my people.  I now choose to surround myself with people who show up in the world from an open-minded, expansive, loving, compassionate place.

I now realize that I do, in fact, have that choice.

I’m also coming up on two years of complete abstinence from dating and intimate sexual relationships.  I’m choosing to take the time to fall in love with who I AM and to fill myself up with Divine love. 

I realize now, that the man who is meant to love me will be so strong, secure, healthy, whole, evolved, and awakened within himself, that he will not only view his own experiences from a spiritual birdseye view of perfection, but everyone else’s as well.  

I’m happy to report that, my nephew, the little boy whom I love with all of my heart and soul, is doing wonderfully and is still very much a consistent part of my life.  I hope to instill in him the beliefs that he is loved, he IS love, and he is perfect, whole, and complete.

Today, I choose ME.  

Even though I am still healing and FAR from perfect, I am finally able to acknowledge that I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH just as I am.

 

Written by:  Brandy K.

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