When we pull weeds, we find the root and dig it up. Getting the root ensures that we are less likely to encounter the weed again. Tearing the source of the weed away from its comfortable space and starving it from the nutrients it needs to live, destroys the control it holds over the garden. Trauma is like a weed living in our personal garden. It takes up space that was meant for blooming and growth.
In my childhood, there wasn’t a lot of stability. There was a lot of chaos from the beginning. After a trauma at 4 years old, a big shift occurred in my life. I was told I was a liar by the ones that I was supposed to be guided by. The people in my life that were supposed to care for me, protect me, and teach me, told me I was making up stories and destroying my family.
At 4, my weeds began to take root.
At that time, I knew what had happened and that it was true. How could I have made something up that I had had no experience with? I was told it wasn’t real, which had created an internal confusion for me before I was even in Kindergarten. The shame I felt ate away at who I was. I just wanted peace and normalcy in my life and I was willing to do anything to achieve it. Those who called me a liar wanted things to stay hidden in order to portray a life that was shiny and pristine, one that was normal. I felt that if I was to be that normal child, then there would be peace and no chaos in my life. It was the answer to the problems I caused with my “lies” even though deep down I still knew they were true. Those things happened to me, and it was my fault they happened to me. AT FOUR. Those adults put that huge burden on me before I even knew what it meant to be abused.
The weeds had grown over time and began to take over my garden.
I created this space deep inside myself that decided to take control over too many things in my life at such a young age. I was now planting the weeds and tending to them in order to feel in control of something. I felt like if I could take care of things, control things, then I could make everything right and the way it was supposed to be. I put on a fake smile, a fake attitude, said fake words and had no visible feelings to anyone around me. If I controlled the way I behaved, the way my sister behaved, and the way my brother behaved, then we would have peace. If I controlled my siblings then they would grow up without chaos, if I wasn’t myself then there would be peace. After all, when I was myself and told the truth, I was called a liar and told I was wrong. Being fake and normal was the answer to all of my problems.
My weeds were growing perfectly, so perfect that they were mistaken for part of the garden.
I tried to fit in with everyone, or at least the normal people, and I would never let anyone get too close. I distanced myself and did everything for myself because if I, for any reason, needed them then they might see a little piece of the true and real self I was deep down. Then, in turn, they would know that my true self lies and ruins lives, and then I would have no one. Having no one was way worse than pretending to be someone that was not real. It was easier to hide my shame and guilt for causing turbulence within my family if no one ever got close enough to see it. From a distance I was perfect. I never spoke my mind, I never spoke out of turn, and I was kind to those that were abusing me. I was the person I was expected to be by my family, and I did everything just like my friends did so that I would fit in. I didn’t want attention and I didn’t want people to notice me.
I was mediocre and it was easy to hide within the crowds that I surrounded myself with. I was invisible and it was just how I wanted it to be. The weed was a part of me and their root was deep. They were protecting me and even feeding off of me. They crowded me out and prevented me from growing. It was ok though, I was normal.
My childhood and adolescence were so molded and constructed by myself that I actually became the fake person I tried to be. I had lost my identity and I didn’t know how to find it. I was so caught up in hiding my true self and perfecting my outward image as a coping mechanism, that I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I was always different than my friends and I never had a close group to confide in. I went from friend to friend looking for a place of belonging. I only realized later that you can’t actually belong anywhere if you aren’t true to who you really are. People don’t relate to fake, people know when you are not being who you really are, and the result is loneliness and a feeling of worthlessness.
Over time, I ripped out deep-rooted weeds from my garden one by one.
It was painful and hard. Becoming the true person I wanted to be, and I am, was no longer an option, it was a necessity. After time and care for myself, I was able to finally recognize the difference between weeds and plants. I was able to see the weeds and pull them out by their root. I was able to tend to the pieces of myself that were starving for nutrients, that had been long neglected. Little by little I learned who I was….who I am. The more I healed myself, the more my true self peeked through; the more it pokes through, the more I love that part of myself, liar or not.
I am finally growing and taking root in myself and who I really am by healing myself from past trauma. Realizing after several years of self-care, maturity, and personal development, that vulnerability is actually a strength no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. I was finally able to rid myself of the shame and guilt I was living with. This has allowed me to find love for myself, love others more deeply, and help my children be their true selves from a young age.
So with my experience shared, I’ll close with a quote,
Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let out true selves be seen.Brene Brown
**If you relate to any of these things at all, or are just interested in some good books around this topic of personal development, I highly recommend reading any of Brene Brown’s books. She also has a Netflix special that is excellent**