When people ask about my troubles growing up, I usually tell them just one or two things, and even then play it down somewhat. The reason being that most people just are not okay with my rawness and honesty, and they want the watered-down version, so that they can feel comfortable. When I was asked to write about myself for an INF audience, I thought: “Here’s my opportunity to go all out.”
I was conceived in misery. My father had already started drinking when my sister was born two years prior. By the time I was born; in fact, the exact day my mother was giving birth to me in the hospital, my great auntie had to rescue my two-year-old sister from my drunken father. She had fallen out of her cot and hit her head, and he was not conscious enough to attend to her.
So, a few days later I arrived home from the hospital to chaos, and the emotionally exhausting violence of alcoholism. It was a lot to adapt to – I was a newborn baby, completely vulnerable and completely exposed, and I had to be quick to build walls around me just to feel safe. My mother was a miracle worker, really: looking after a newborn, a 2-year old, and a delusional grown-up who only cared about where his next emotion-numbing drink was coming from. Like all narcissists, he didn’t care about us – we were not real people to him. We were just items that were supposed to make him feel good about himself.
Thank heavens my mother divorced him when I was 3, it was such a relief. By that stage, between his drunken rages he had been able to have an affair and kill our pet budgies; Hermanni and Hiisi (because they were too loud and he was hung over). Seeing my limp pet birds lie lifeless in the trash with their necks wrung, I realized what could happen to me if I was too much of a pest. That was the moment I closed down and stopped expressing myself completely. I just went along with anything, so that I could feel safe. There’s that safe thing again – this would become the most difficult thing for me to overcome – to have the sense of physical safety and the safety of expression.
I learned to trust no-one other than myself. It took me over two decades to realize that I could not live that way. Not trusting others meant that I could not have meaningful relationships, and so I chose to do something different. I chose to be courageous and start trusting SOME people in SOME circumstances. In my early 30’s, I adopted my very first father figure who could teach me about healthy trust. His name was Stephen M.R. Covey, and his book was called The Speed of Trust. Being brave and making it a practice to extend trust took a very long time because my inner child did not trust my inner parent. After all, my inner child knew that the inner parent did not have her back. Nobody did.
Over time and with much perseverance, I got where I am today with trust. Having overcome the trust issues, I can find happiness in close relationships with my partner and my inner circle. I no longer fear being taken advantage of, and therefore I attract a lot less of this kind of behavior. I’m at a place, where if someone took advantage of me, it would not be the end of the world anymore. Instead, I know that no matter what happens, I have my back.
This level of trust in myself and subsequently in others has allowed me to collaborate with people in my life. The energy and synergy which is created by these collaborations propel my work to reach a wider audience. But most importantly, it brings me deeper into what is authentically my life’s purpose: to live a happy and meaningful life, and show others how to do that too!
There were other survival mechanisms I created aside from distrust: self-sacrifice, people pleasing, and chronic helping. These mechanisms left me a victim of sexual abuse at five by a trusted family friend, and later on, in life, I attracted a delusional stalker. Most of my life I believed that my feelings did not matter and that nobody cares. I was trying to please people by over-anticipating what they may need only to end up exhibiting classic passive-aggressive behavior. Being a child of a narcissist, I also learned early in life that I am not a real person, and that I should always look to the outside world to determine my value as a human being. Because I grew up without emotional support, the hardest part of this pattern was learning to come to terms with the fact that I am a real person with real feelings and that I have value beyond what I can do for others.
At 16 I had become such an overachiever that I decided to complete a science degree. My “Accuracy” 10-year-old was in heaven – horses, facts, and figures. Straight out of the Agricultural College I moved to Ireland to work on a stud farm where I was in charge of 62 high-performance horses and expensive stud animals. I worked hard, oversaw 16 foalings within a few months, and got hardly any sleep during the nights. During the days I worked from 7 am to 9 pm, as we were understaffed. I took so much responsibility for such a young person that looking back now I wonder how on earth I did not realize I was burning myself out. In my early 20’s I had my first burnout, after which I decided to go back to my roots: massage.
My great grandmother was one of the first trained massage therapists in Finland, and I had been carrying her wisdom in my body for a long time. At 13, I had a doctor tell me that I had a congenital hip condition, and unless I stopped riding horses and engaging in competitive sports, I would be in a wheelchair by the age of 30. I healed myself by stretching and hydration, and from then on I began teaching the principles of health to whoever asked for it.
Fast forward to 25 years old, I got my international massage qualifications and became self-employed. I haven’t held a job since. This time of my life was fascinating – I saw thousands of clients in my bodywork clinic and began realizing a pattern: our physiology carries cellular memory. That’s our whole body, not just the brain. I recorded the data of all my clients and started to find patterns according to gender, personality type (I was using the Enneagram system predominantly at the time), the level of maturity, and level of cellular memory trauma.
These findings were ground-breaking for me, and I started to teach women’s healing work and physically based personality psychology. But before establishing myself in those fields in Ireland, I fell in love with my partner Peter and moved to Australia.
Upon my arrival in Australia, I mostly left the bodywork behind and decided to take a couple of years off just to apply the healing work I had started in Ireland. In that time, I learned that I had a choice of letting my wounds run my life forever or heal those wounds and see what lies beneath. I had to let go of my pain over the betrayals of my childhood, and I had to release feeling like a failure as I was no longer able to validate myself through my work accomplishments. All I was left with was my raw, authentic self. I worked hard to get to know her, and I fell in love with myself for the first time.
“I remind myself that how I perform and how valuable I am as a person are two entirely different things.”
Today, I preach what I have practiced for years: my feelings matter, and I live my life for me. I was born to live MY life and actualize my full self. I remind myself that how I perform and how valuable I am as a person are two entirely different things. I have value just as I am, and I don’t need to perform to gain that inherent value.
Most importantly, I am a sovereign being, and wherever I go, I bring myself with me. I claim who I am and what is important to me. Only from that place, I can be of real service to others.
These days I am clear on my purpose path, which allows me to live the lifestyle I want. I do creative work, which I can do from any time zone, and anywhere in the world. I only work three weeks out of four each month, and I spend my days enjoying the company of my loving INFP partner and our animals. I go and sit next to a stream at the bottom of the paddock and read a book for an hour or two during the day, or I might take my three horses for a trekking adventure for hours.
Life has slowed way down for me. Instead of racing from one task to another, I now leisurely pick the jobs that inspire me to discover more about my authentic self. Sure, there’s always something that needs to be done, but those things are so rare that when they crop up, it’s not a big deal. I am more relaxed than I have ever been, and the level of relaxation is parallel to the degree of creativity I experience.
Having claimed who I am has made my life so much less complicated. I feel like most of the time I’m in control of my life, and when unexpected things come up, I remain my sovereign self and make a decision from there. Setting boundaries is easy, and people respect them. My ability to discover my needs and express them has improved so much that I no longer fear confrontation when asking for my needs to be met.
Overall, with everything I have gone through and healed, my inner child is finally feeling at home, my inner parent is a strong decision maker, and most often she makes the decision that is right for everyone. From this place, I keep fulfilling my purpose on a daily basis in a joyous and relaxed way. Life is good, and if I can do it from where I came from, so can you.
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