Ever since I can remember, I have loved underdog stories. I'm always eager to learn how someone was able to take a dark situation and rise above it. How did they make their fear, doubt, shame, guilt, trauma and alchemize it into something beautiful and meaningful for their life?
Each week I'll be inviting a new woman to speak about her spiritual journey. She'll share her magic and medicine to get over your old stories and start living a life of freedom.
This week I'll be sharing my story which only my close friends and family know the details.
So here we go…
When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I had my first intervention with my alcoholic parent. My 12-year-old self had worked up enough courage to approach them and let them know that I did not think it was ok how much they were drinking. That I loved them and had so much fun with them, but when they drank they were unpredictable, angry and I wasn't happy with our current living situation.
Next, my parent met me with tears of anger and the words "You don't know what you are talking about", "You are an ungrateful little girl", "Get back inside and mind your business."
I was heartbroken, I didn't know what else to do so I started to form a wall around my truth and inner knowing. In my young mind, my parent was right, and I was wrong.
If any of you have an alcoholic parent or relative, you know that being around that person is like walking on eggshells. You never know what you are going to get.
At the time, people in my life didn't know I was living with an alcoholic parent in the home, because, at a young age, I developed what's called The Family Hero. I became a super-achiever and a people pleaser. I was a workaholic and always stayed very busy, even from a young age. I made sure I had a lot of activities so that I wouldn't be home very often. I became very good at identifying other people's needs but never understood my own.
I used my success and achievements to find a sense of belonging. I also wanted to prove that everything was "fine" at home. But I never thoroughly enjoyed any of my achievements. I was always off to the next thing. Always in motion
Fast forward to my first few jobs post-college I started to have visceral reactions anytime I received feedback from my Managers. Many people called me sensitive my whole life, so I just chalked it up to me being sensitive, not a parent wound that needed to heal.
I managed to keep up the workaholic coping mechanism until I got to my first Start-Up job, I was an Office Manager and let's just say this role was the biggest f-ing trigger for all my childhood wounds. I started to have severe anxiety; I didn't really know what was causing it. After my 3rd mental break down and cry fest at work, I began to see a therapist. Something inside me said to research a therapist who specialized in adult children of alcoholics.
At my first session, I literally had never felt so seen and heard in my whole life. For once someone understood why I was the way that I was. He gave me tools and guidance to get me started. He gave me what is called the laundry list, which is basically a list of characteristics of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic and some book recommendations. I balled my eyes out as I read over the aspects. I'll go over a few examples:
1) You became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures. For me, this really manifested in all my relationships with my bosses. I'd cry at any hint of feedback or criticism. I also really hated being told what to do.
2) You became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process. Especially in my office manager role and planning wedding, I became so wrapped up in getting the approval of the team or my brides that I literally had no boundaries; I'd be nervous to say no or speak up. I wanted everyone to like me. I was a huge pushover.
3) You live life from the viewpoint of victims. For me this showed up in complaining a lot, thinking my situation was everyone else's fault but my own, thinking I was stuck that had to continue living this way.
So after reading this list, I then had to go back to work. On my way back, I remember feeling like wow that was really tough and ugly, but I had released a lot of things that I'd bottled up inside. I started to think wow things can really change.
What I didn't realize was that I wasn't yet aware of my thoughts and feelings. As an overachiever, my mind was always on doing and moving. That was my numbing mechanism, and so even while going to therapy, I wasn't slowing down enough to process.
So for the first three years of therapy, I still wasn't fully releasing my pain and trauma. Instead, I was reliving it, making a lot of the memories stronger, which was then causing my self-esteem to lower and my anxiety to rise.
I now understand that with therapy, you should also start a mindful practice. So you can release the pain from your body. Embodiment mediations have also really helped with inner child wounds.
One day I found myself on the couch and could not get up. I was so depressed and unsatisfied with my career. I was having a pity party, to say the least. When I saw Rachel Hollis documentary and the first exercise was to write a letter from your perseverance. Something inside me literally screamed get up and do this. So I did, and over that next year and a half, I went on a self-development and soul journey. I read and listened to everything I could get my hands on; I started meditating every day during my commute; I filled my life with a lot of positivity. Slowly over time, I began to feel better, to know myself better.
But the real healing came during Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within conference, as he asked a woman her story. "She said I want to be close to my parents, but there's this wall up", and Tony said something along the lines of there's no wall except for the one you created. He said "Sure your parents weren't perfect, they are human, but you have to forgive, love them and move on. You are the only one still holding onto this." That shook me to my core. All along it was me playing the victim and blaming my problems on my parents.
I now understand that what happened to me wasn't my fault, BUT my healing is my responsibility. No one was going to save me; I had to become the hero of my own story.
Right after Tony Robbins, I decided to love my parents unconditionally. I now understand that they did the best they could with what they had. They were also most likely reliving their own family pain & trauma cycles. Once I understood this, I knew I had to be the one to break it. I had to heal, not just for myself but for my son and my family. And my son's future family.
The minute I made this decision to heal my whole life shifted. I now have a fantastic relationship with my parents, who have been 13 years sober, and I am so proud of them. I love the feeling of getting a second chance at having the relationship that I always wanted to have with them. They are amazing grandparents to my son Carter.
Additionally, I started to really enjoy my 2-hour commute, which was something I complained about for a long time. Every day I became eager to meditate and do spiritual work on the ride. I'd get off BART and look around the city and smile to myself. "I'm alive, and I get a chance to do something great today, thank you God for another day".
Shifting from my pity party mindset to a mindset of self love, compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude started to change my reality. I began to get very clear about my vision for my life. I knew I wanted to help others out of the dark and into the light. How could I help women alchemize their pain, trauma into something magical and beautiful to share with the world. I want to help you break your trauma cycle so that you don't continue the cycle of pain with your own families.
I stopped taking on weddings as my side hustle and decided I was going to plan a spiritual retreat; I asked a few friends who are coaches if they'd like to do this with me. I also told my full-time job that I wanted to work on Diversity and Inclusion. I was feeling on fire. My energy was rising from a low vibration of anxiety and scarcity to higher vibration of gratitude and excitement.
I love knowing that all along, I was supposed to connect the dots in my life to serve other people. Everything happens for you, to mold you and shape you for your destiny.
Then COVID hit, in-person activities were no longer a part of our reality. My full-time job let me go as they no longer had in-person events to plan; I postponed the retreat. The way I see it is, you have two choices: be the victim or be the hero and figure it out.
This time there was absolutely no way that I was playing the victim again. I chose to see this as happening for me. It gave me time and a safety net of severance + unemployment to truly figure out what I want to do, who do I want to become?
The first few months of COVID I took myself on a spiritual retreat almost five days a week. I worked out, did yoga, meditated, journaled, did a lot of inner child healing + reparenting, I learned to love myself to appreciate my shadow self and embrace her. I got myself a spiritual coach who has absolutely helped upgrade me on so many levels on this journey.
Then my best friend past away and grief hit me like a ton of bricks. This time I was able to feel my feelings not push them away or numb them. I let them come up, and I'd cry when I needed to. I started to ask for a sign from her, a sunflower. I began to see them everywhere and wake up even more to who I truly am.
One of my last conversations with her was that she wished she could shake people and wake them up. Everyone worries about stuff that just doesn't really matter. She wanted to help others appreciate and love life to the fullest. BECAUSE that's what SHE did even on her hardest most painful days, she was grateful to have another day. I want to invite you to start thinking about how you'd live each day if you knew it were your last. STOP saying that you'll get to your dreams tomorrow, or you'll be happy when xyz happens, no sweets START being happy today, start loving your life!
It's the only one you have and tomorrow is not guaranteed.
So, my friends, I'm choosing to share my story, not for sympathy but to show you an example that even if you think you are in a dark place right now, I promise you that you can turn it around and let light in. You can get medicine from the lesson. Once you start appreciating what you have at this moment, making positive changes, loving yourself unconditionally, forgiving yourself and others from the past and living life with a grateful heart you will become a vibrational match for ALL of your desires.
You deserve to be happy; the world needs you to share your amazing gifts. For me, I'm more scared of not trying than trying. I don't want to be on my death bed and think what if I wouldn't have been scared to share my story and help others. So I will be charging ahead to the unknown. I know I am fully supported, loved, and I am enough.
I'm now on a mission to help women like you find their light and power within. If that sounds like a journey, you'd like to go on, and you want some help and guidance. I'm opening up 5 - 1:1 coaching spots. You'll have a 90-minute coaching session each week for four months. We will deep dive into inner child healing, self-love, bringing balance to your life and create a roadmap to your dreams and desires. You'll also have access to me Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm through Group Me.
You can apply here for my coaching services. We will then hop on a call to see if we are a fit for each other. I'm available for women who say "YES I'm a 10/10, I'm ready to change my life and start stepping into possibilities."
You are worthy to have the life of your dreams and invest in yourself babe! I haven't regretted ever investing in myself and I will continue to bet on myself every single day because I know I'm worth it.
The Rebel Soul Mama
Shannon McAlister | Educator, wifey and conscious mama who is practicing mindful living + appreciating the everyday magic!