A Letter to (Myself? You?)

Today I shared a video on IGTV reading aloud a letter I had written for my “therapy homework”. Below you’ll find the words I shared if you prefer reading over listening….

Description:

A few days ago I shared a snippet of a letter I wrote on Instagram and asked if you would be interested in reading the full letter. 100% of the people who voted, voted YES.

In therapy last week we started “Belief Work”. Belief Work is identifying beliefs I have about myself that are not serving me (lies), uprooting them, and replacing them with truth. A lot of these detrimental beliefs took root after my rape experience in college, and although I have healed a lot from that time, there are still a few things that I haven’t been able to shake… I haven’t quite healed what being raped made me believe about myself.

In our previous session, my therapist invited me to imagine that an 18 year girl confided in me about her own survivor story and believed that she was “dirty”, “a slut”, “unlovable” and “worthless” (all the words I had used to describe myself at the time) and what I would say to her.

This scenario is not very far fetched for me. Many young women and men have trusted me with their stories after I became vocal about mine, and I have found that each time I try to comfort another survivor, I tell them something I needed to hear myself. This letter, I quickly discovered, was no different.

Letter:

Dear little lightworker,

This letter is to remind you of the TRUTH of WHO YOU ARE.

I know how it feels to be where you are right now. Lost in the empty dark room of your mind, numb to all that is both inside and outside of you. It feels as if the connection to your inherent divinity – your inherent goodness – has been severed and with it, your identity has been lost too.

Luckily, just because it seems that way, doesn’t make it true.

In fact, I invite you to look at this experience as an initiation of sorts – no matter how brutal – this experience is an invitation to dive deep.

Since you were little you know you were called to do great things. You were called to have a big impact on people’s hearts and minds.

But in order to realize this calling, you must intimately understand the depth of the human experience, in all forms.

There is beauty in all of it. In every tear and every gasp of air.

It is beautiful because no matter how much you feel, believe or experience the ugly of this world, NOTHING can change the truth of your nature. None of it will ever change how much you have to give or how much you are worth to the world.

In fact, one could argue that the more tragedy you endure the more you will have to give. But ONLY if you are able to transmute those experiences into light.

Sweet one, you were born into this world a shining bright and beautiful soul. I’m convinced there were shimmers of fairy dust around you when you emerged from your mother’s womb.

So pure.

Purity is not a thing that can be lost by the way, only forgotten.

This life is about remembering who you are.

I know what you are searching for desperately in the arms of strangers. You wish to be SEEN because you can’t see yourself. But I am here today to tell you that I see you. I know your truth. I can see it clearly without the obstruction of the dark, and you need to know that what I see is beautiful. You are just as bright and wonderous as the place from which you came.

Everything you feel right now can and will be healed.

The triggers will go away, the Numbness will dissolve into joy. However, the confusion will come and go until you are able to solidify your faith in yourself and in the universe.

You may not believe me now, but a day will come when people won’t be able to do anything but smile when they see you.

You are already the warmth you seek.

You are already the bravery you need.

You are already the love you desire.

It is all there inside of you already, waiting for you to take notice.

Love, Annabelle

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A few days ago I shared a snippet of a letter I wrote on Instagram and asked if you would be interested in reading the full letter. 100% of the people who voted, voted YES. In therapy last week we started “Belief Work”. Belief Work is identifying beliefs I have about myself that are not serving me (lies), uprooting them, and replacing them with truth. A lot of these detrimental beliefs took root after my rape experience in college, and although I have healed a lot from that time, there are still a few things that I haven’t been able to shake…. I haven’t quite healed what being raped made me believe about myself. In our previous session, my therapist invited me to imagine that an 18 year girl confided in me about her own survivor story and believed that she was “dirty”, “a slut”, “unlovable” and “worthless” (all the words I had used to describe myself at the time) and what I would say to her. This scenario is not very far fetched for me. Many young women and men have trusted me with their stories after I became vocal about mine, and I have found that each time I try to comfort another survivor, I tell them something I needed to hear myself. This letter, I quickly discovered, was no different. PS I AM SO SORRY ABOUT THE DINGING IN THIS VIDEO! The general manager from the restaurant was messaging me about new equipment 🤦🏽‍♀️

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The Power of Prayer

The first time I saw this post, my soul raised her fist up in the air and said
“YES!”
but then the next minute she lowered her head and said
“Wait a minute… no! We are losing something so valuable here…”

I came across this post for the first time after the Parkland school shooting, which was the event that sparked March for Our Lives. And then I saw it again… and again… and again.

The atmosphere that encompassed the image as it moved through the internet was filled with the huffs and puffs of people who were tired of watching horrible things happen while waiting around for someone to DO something. Myself included.

However, this image gives a visual to the fact that “thoughts & prayers” are now seen as a passive way to deal with the trauma our country faces today.
It completely frustrated me.

 
Thoughts & Prayers are anything but passive. 
Thoughts & Prayers are the first things you do before you stand up to fight.

The truth is that our thoughts and prayers should be the starting place for policy & change.
When prayer is intentional, clear, and direct it helps to mobilize our souls to make the biggest impact, & reach our ultimate potential.

I mean honestly, I hope future change makers take a minute to reflect and ground themselves before deciding on policy that impacts hundreds and thousands of people. Just like how students took time to organize themselves to march. (Just imagine how much stress would be saved if Trump decided to reflect before he tweeted lol)

I know, in the midst of hardship, it’s easy to turn to prayer as an emergency escape button…
but in my experience, it has NEVER worked that way.

Prayer does not give you superpowers and approaching spirituality with the expectation to get a quick fix to a problem that might have been developing for a long time doesn’t make much sense. To treat it this way will lead to constant disappointment. 

Instead… let prayer be the starting point.
The fuel to the rocket.

Let me explain the way it’s worked for me…

When I first started coming into my faith, I was surrounded by Christian friends who liked to pray for me out loud.

Instead… let prayer be the starting point.
The fuel to the rocket.

Let me explain the way it’s worked for me…

When I first started coming into my faith, I was surrounded by Christian friends who liked to pray for me out loud.

“God, redeemer and gracious king, thank you for my friend, Annabelle. Thank you for bringing her to my house tonight to spend time together. Thank you for gifting her with her love for people and her openness to learn about you. I ask lord, that you surround her in grace as she moves through these struggles, open her eyes to see you when things get hard. Give her strength to move forward in her journey, and remind her that she is loved. Amen.”

It was a really weird thing at first
but now I love it because every prayer looked something like this:
– Acknowledge who/what God is (which is awesome)
– Acknowledge what you are grateful for
– Acknowledge what you ask and how you know God will show up.

* Newsflash * none of the stuff my friends would say was crazy or outlandish (except for maybe the language – Christian lingo still weirds me out sometimes) and it certainly wasn’t passive.

It was simply a reminder.

After hard conversations about my healing, this prayer reminded me that I was loved and that I had the choice to show up, and the choice to accept the strength to move forward… a strength I would later realize was inside me all along.

Another Example…
Last week, I found out that my dad had attempted suicide. I shared the news with my mentor and in the middle of my tear filled text, I started to pray. My prayer was this:

“… I’m not waiting for God to show up because it is already here. & that is a beautiful comfort. God is all the good in the darkness & it is faithful & it is relentless. & I already see good coming from this.”

You see, prayer is different than what we think.

Prayer is not asking for something we don’t have…it’s not asking for a miracle. Prayer reminds us that the battle has been won, that the power of light & good is on our side, and that we already have everything we need to get through this moment. Prayer is a moment to reflect and express gratitude for the strength & gifts within you that were created to overcome this specific hardship.

The deeper your pain, the louder your worship.

It’s important to call upon this type of prayer in the midst of chaos because this is what grounds you. Prayer reminds you or truth & because of that, it will give you the clarity needed to move forward.

They key is, that you MUST move forward. Nothing will move through you if you sit still and do nothing.

Water won’t ripple without the stone.

so next time you pray…
pray with conviction
pray with hope
pray with expectation
pray with gratitude

and then go out there and be the conduit to manifest epic goodness in midst of darkness.

because God has already given you the answer to your prayers.
In most cases, the answer is YOU.

In Process

I was sitting on the living room floor picking sand grains out of my hair from the beach earlier, and Luke and Bernard sat on the couch, curled up with blankets as the cool night air blew in from the window behind them.

At this point in the evening, we had already caught up on what was going on in our lives and our favorite TV shows – all of the simple stuff.

At this point in the evening, we started having the kind of conversation that requires vulnerability, safety, and trust.

The kind of conversation that a majority of people don’t get to ever be part of.

The conversation was so good, that it went on late into the night, and I actually took notes on my phone.

It began with a question about the meaning of a phrase I’ve been mulling over the past week
“Just Be Yourself”
This is a phrase that has recently really frustrated me.
I ranted about it on my Instagram, so if you’re interested in my thoughts on that, check out the “Inspo” Highlight on my profile.

Anyway, as Bernard explained his perspective, he reached out his hands and said…”To be myself means that there is no gap between the way I feel and the actions I take” he gestured toward himself.

To me this was powerful. It meant that to be yourself, you have to have emotional intelligence. You have to be able to identify things you feel and discern their meaning. And then you have to have the discipline to take action. In short, you have to follow your heart, do the thing that is best for you, and do so even if there is opposition.

I think when we choose to do the easy thing instead of the right thing, it hurts us because it separates us from our true identity. 

It’s not necessarily that the easy thing is the wrong thing, but it is inauthentic when we are aware of what the right thing is. We feel what is right. We feel things, and so often we are told (women especially) that our feelings are wrong, or “extra” or useless. But there is power when you are fluent in the language of emotion and are well connected with the being that lives in your body. What I mean is,  there is power in being aware and accepting of those feelings because they are part of who you are! If you constantly deny your feelings, then you constantly deny yourself.

Luke shifted under his blanket and added how it is also SO important to be with people who reward you for being yourself. When I asked what he meant by being “rewarded” he said “It has a lot to do with the reactions of people around you. Being accepted, being validated, feeling a bond or connection, but ultimately, about being happy.” These things are all rewards for behavior, good or bad.

After sharing stories about being left out of high school cliques and how good it was for us and our identity, we decided, the experiences of being validated for both authentic and inauthentic behavior is also part of growing up and becoming an adult.

This is when I began to get quiet and listen attentively. Bernard is 38, and Luke is 33. Both have many years of adulthood under their belt than I do at 23, and I wanted to understand what defined adulthood for them.

They said it had many parts, and most of those parts depend on the values of the individual. Some of it has to do with age, some of it life experience and suffering, some about milestones. For me at 23, it seemed like being an adult is something that only would come with time, until they mentioned the main factor of becoming an adult. Developing their own voice. 

When they were able to say identify the people that were validating them for inauthentic behavior, and choosing to go a different, more authentic way. They said that adulthood meant authenticity, a recognition of their personal desires, values and beliefs… and acting accordingly… authenticly.

It sounded to me like life is just a process of naming things. 

To wrap up the night, Bernard shared a deeply personal story about a transformative event in his life.
“I realized, ” he said “that all of this around me is just play. What’s in here ” he pointed to his chest, “is real.”

I’ve heard the phrase “In process” a lot lately.
This blog post is titled that because I believe we are all in the process of coming to be our true forms.
To get reconnected with our authenticity.
To be ourselves.

Truth V. Lie

Written April 8, 2018

“The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity.” – Brene Brown

I managed to take some time today to write – despite my hangover.

I actually had been avoiding it – feeling totally uninspired, so I decided to read instead.
I’m working on 3 books right now.
Rising Strong (my first Brene brown book)
The 60/60 Experiment
& The Artists way.

I read a bible verse  – it’s the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself”
and had a weird feeling immediately, so I decided to reflect.
I realized that I absolutely do not want anyone to love me the way they love themselves. Most people I know have a really hard/damaged/broken/disconnected relationship with who they are – their souls & their bodies…

So how do we fix this?
You can’t come to love others until you learn how to love yourself.
And that’s really fucking hard to do
We live in a culture that celebrates self-destruction. We make money off of people hating themselves. They pay for a quick fix after quick fix.
They become so self-consumed that it becomes hard to see others.
It’s easy to become like a torpedo of “not enough”
Trust me, I’ve been there.

It really comes down to the

You do love others the way you love yourself.  & It’s totally unconscious – have you ever thought as you set the capacity for how much love you both give and receive?

My faith tells me that I have to boot the lies out of my head.
My faith tells me that there’s something that happens bigger than me around me and with me
My faith tells me that the universe is constantly sending love to me
My faith tells me that love is a choice. and so is accepting it.
We need to accept that we are being loved whether we think it’s possible or not, whether we deserve it or not, whether we are good enough or not.

So how do you love your neighbor as your self? You know your truth, and respect their truth – THAT opens the gateway for real, authentic love.

Full of Emptiness

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN MARCH 22 2018

I feel full… and not the happy, warm kind of full.

And definitely not the food baby kind of full.
I’m the kind of full that feels more like overwhelm.
Except I don’t feel overwhelmed, I feel like I can handle it.
Which is probably even worse.
When you’re overwhelmed you KNOW you’ve reached a limit & have no other choice but relinquish control.
But my newfound organizational skills keep me on top of everything despite my unstable emotional state.
I’ve been near tears this week.
One day, I cried 3 different times.
Another day, I felt tears emerge before facing a whole group of people & had to dart into the bathroom to cry with tissues under my eyes so my mascara wouldn’t run.
I’ve been snapping at people
I’ve been feeling immediately irritated if someone asks for help or needs something from me.
I’ve been negative.

I’m not myself.

It’s the kind of full that’s really empty.
I’ve felt unloved, undervalued, overworked, underprepared, under qualified for pretty much everything I’ve been doing.
And I keep finding myself wanting to blame things on other people, but today I realized I’m doing it all to myself.

It’s scary because I don’t know how I got to this point.

My roommate came into my room last night. She sat next to me on my carpet and handed me a cup of tea. “I’m worried about you.” She said. “Your energy has shifted, what’s going on?”

I immediately buried my head in my hands and to no one’s surprise, I started crying.
That was the first time someone had asked me how I was doing, and meant it, in at least 2 months.
She and I talked for a while. We pinpointed the shift. It was around the time I started my new job.  But I REEEALLY like my job? How can that be?
After some reflecting, I realized I had been internalizing and pushing down a lot of fears…
I feel like I’m not worth what I’m being paid (Which is a modestly average amount). I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing & I’m making things up as I go along, which makes me a fake. (AKA Imposter syndrome)
I feel a lot of pressure to be perfect at this job that I feel underqualified for because if I lose it, then I’m financially screwed.
AND all of these fears and driving me to pour everything I have into this work…. which didn’t seem like a bad thing until I was walking around totally drained.
After this conversation with my roommate, I realized that I’m only getting better at my skills, not actually pursuing my purpose.
 
What the hell is my purpose?

I’m realizing that I’m not JUST a businesswoman, I’m an artist.
An artist who happens to be good at business.

 

And the only thing being an artist means is that I create things in order to translate my love, energy, and purpose into the world.
It’s a spiritual thing.

But this season I’ve realized that being an artist has to come FIRST if I’m going to stay balanced.
Being an artist & cultivating my spirituality has to be a priority.

I think back to a conversation I had with my friend Emma recently.
“The world needs your writing Annabelle.”
She compared my written thoughts to some of our favorite role models in the business & personal development worlds.

I had a hard time receiving such a huge compliment, but it stuck with me and has been ringing in my head lately.

I bought a 12-week reflection course called “The Artists Way” and started reading it today.

I stumbled upon this quote in the introduction and it stopped me.

“We see God as a creator but seldom see creator as the literal term for artist” – Julia Cameron

Wow.

My favorite argument for keeping myself in an unhealthy work situation is “but I’m learning a lot.”

 

The skills I’ve learned and am developing are only meant to be the supportive structure which helps me get my art into the world. Whether it’s writing, or creativity or … it doesn’t have to be for any noble cause other than out of the pure relationship with my creator.
Then all of this work I’m breaking my back doing is NOT my purpose.
THAT’S why I feel so full of emptiness.
I’m neglecting my creativity, the part of me that lives in direct communication with my creator.
 

I kept lifting my hands from my keyboard to my face as I wrote this because the formation of these sentences allowed me to process this concept & I feel so much clearer now than I did before.

I literally was figuring this out as I wrote.

And that’s what I was meant to do.

I was meant to be writing.
I was meant to be creating.

All of this to say, having a job I like isn’t a bad thing.
I just can’t let fear & insecurity take control of my life & neglect to cultivate my artistry in the process.

One is needed to survive, the other is needed to live.