The Only Way Out Is Through
Most of my life, I’ve managed quite well. I’ve had friendships, jobs, people who loved me. Yet most of my life, I struggled with excruciating anxiety.
When I was a kid, I’d sleep with my bedroom door open, the hall light on, television blaring and a nightlight shining. If I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I’d run from my room to the bathroom, terrified of what might be hiding in the dark spaces. As I got older, I’d sit on the phone all night (with anyone who would participate) and talk until I fell asleep.
As I got older, the anxiety and fear expanded from the dark evenings into daytime moments. Anytime someone actually looked at me, into my eyes, I would freeze. I would feel as though I wouldn’t be able to talk, or sometime even move. The bad nights continually got worse. I’d wake up from my sleep, unable to open my eyes or move. I was awake in a sleeping body. All anxiety.
I got married to a wonderful man who made me feel safe and protected. But I wasn’t honest with myself, I was afraid of being vulnerable, and I didn’t know how to be an actual adult in a real relationship. In less than five years, we were divorced.
I was thirty-five years old, and the wheels started coming off the cart. I reverted back to looking for someone to rescue me from myself, to take away the anxiety, to help me to feel normal. But, as I know now, that’s an inside job.
After many first-date fails, I met a man who seemed to fit the bill. (When you are looking for someone to fit the bill, by the way, stop looking and start working on self-love.) On our first date, he said to me “I don’t believe in love. I don’t believe in marriage. I’m just looking for someone to go to dinner and a movie with once in a while." Instead of hearing what he said, I decided he’d be my project, the person I would teach to love me.
After six years of ups and downs on that roller coaster of a relationship, I left him and found myself in a puddle on the floor. The intense stress of sharing time with someone who didn't value me (didn’t love me, was emotionally unavailable, and was critical and unkind), really lowered my immune system and beat me to a pulp. I got shingles, lost hearing in my right ear (due to a virus that attacked my eardrum), gained thirty pounds, entered and completed early menopause, and became dependent on Xanax to get me through my day.
The lotus grows in mud.
I got so low that I had to go in search of answers. It took some years, and lots of therapy, for me to get healthy enough to be open to fully healing my life.
My friend, April Linson, told me about an experience she'd had with breathwork, explaining that it rid her of anxiety and allowed her to be fully present in her life. This piqued my interest. Still, it took me about six months to return to the conversation and ask April, “But how?"
We talked, and I decided to give breathwork a try. I was terrified. There were so many things that I didn’t want to face and feelings I didn’t want to feel, but I realized that the only way out was through. I began to breathe.
I cried, I wailed, I yelled. I let it all go. I knew it was safe for me to experience the messages that I was receiving. I let go of things that were holding me back. I always felt supported by the Universe. I always felt that the breath was here to help, and I was grateful for every single inhale. I knew that this practice that I'd found — after trying nearly every other healing modality and not really changing — was the one that worked. It was just me and my breath, while my breathwork healer held space for me and guided me through. I was so moved by it that I had to learn how to help other people discover themselves through the breath, and it was the best decision that I have ever made.
This beautiful breathwork practice has given me so much. It got me to return to the practice of self-love, turning in for validation rather than finding it through an external source. It taught me that I could laugh really loud if I wanted to do so. It taught me that I could take up space and that I could let my light shine. Most of all, it taught me that all that has happened in the past is over, that the negative messages I received from others aren't mine, and that once I released that old energy, it would truly be gone and I would feel lifted.
After each session, I rode such a natural high from the breathwork that I never wanted it to end.
I stopped turning to Xanax for help, I stopped needing a glass of wine to fall asleep, and I started learning how to have healthy boundaries and live life in my own lane. I began being able to love more freely, because I was grounded in my own self-love.
I read both of David Elliott’s books, began doing a regular breathwork practice, and eventually went on to train with Erin Telford to become a Breathwork Healer. I have immense gratitude that I am able to share this gift with others, and to help facilitate their own personal growth and transformation by holding space for them while they breathe.
I am lucky to say that I am blessed to have a beautiful family, a sweet (albeit modest) home, and am living what feels like a good life. I am content with who I am, and very excited to be rocking my life for the first time, ever.
My heart swells at the thought of sharing this practice with people. My hope is that everyone finds their way to the breath… and when they do, I hope that they come to me to welcome them in and hold space for them, safely and in confidence.
Come breathe. I’ll hold space for you.