If I could describe 2018 in one word, it would be “painful”.
It wasn’t just a hard year. Yes, there were some good moments, but my heart experienced more pain and confusion last year than I ever have in my life. That’s why, when 2019 rolled around, I declared this year to be one of healing. It would be one of breakthrough, of restoration. And God spoke those words over my life in many ways to serve as confirmation that He was indeed going to do some drastic renewal.
(You may or may not have noticed a theme in my latest articles or Instagram posts about healing, etc., so here’s a little more insight into all of that…)
In 2018, I listened to what others had to say about me. I chose to believe their definition of my identity, instead of claiming the true value and worth that God says I am.
In 2018, I gave and gave and gave of myself – physically, mentally and emotionally – to a point where I was so burnt out and empty that a certain fear and depression set in because I was afraid that if I couldn’t give more, then I would have no value.
In 2018, I experienced anxiety attacks for the first time in my life. Some tried to tell me that it was because I’m such an empathetic person, and with my role as a leader in my church, I was just receiving all of the spiritual attacks that everyone was experiencing. I tried to believe that. But I have learned that anxiety is just a symptom. It’s a leaf on a tree that is rooted in a deeper issue. I wanted to ignore the issue, but by doing so, I continued to experience mental and emotional abuse.
In 2018, I discovered the untimely and never warranted feeling of betrayal. I experienced the pain of feeling like I had done everything and more, but it seemed that even that wasn’t enough.
In 2018, I knew what it felt like to not be a priority. To be an afterthought. Or just blatantly ignored.
In 2018, my therapist looked at me and said “Raquel, you are in denial over the abuse you have experienced because you can’t wrap your head around the possibility of such cruelty existing. You can’t understand it because you can’t relate to it.” The truth sounds insane sometimes, you know?
In 2018, I learned that I was stronger than I realized because I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry, and without receiving the apology I wanted.
People talk about bad relationships and the negativity that many have experienced through them, but an issue that isn’t addressed very often is the reality of PTSD from toxic relationships. It’s not just moments of bad memories or triggers for anxiety and fear. Once you break free from a mentally and emotionally abusive situation, you literally have to reprogram your brain and way of thinking because you are so set in your ways of survival. You need to unlearn the behavior that you adapted as a tactic for surviving. This takes more than just a few days, or a few months. ”Moving on” isn’t just about not loving someone anymore. It’s about remodeling your life to not include them, and also rebuilding yourself as an individual. It’s about reprogramming your thought process to not live under the power of their words anymore, and instead reclaim your true identity. It’s about reminding yourself that what they said about your worth being based off of the past life you’ve lived, the mistakes you’ve made, and that they’ll “just have to accept it” and “get used to you” is not true. I’ve had those words said directly to my face and without even realizing it, I let that person’s view of me become a foundation to how I viewed myself. And because of that, I was so insecure, worried, and anxious. I did everything with the question in the back of my mind “Would they approve?”, “Would this be okay with them?”, “Would they like this?”. I started living under their power, instead of my own.
This process of restoration and rebuilding needs to begin with realizing that certain people can stay in your heart, but not in your life. Because more often than not, you will have to make decisions that hurt your mind, but calm your soul. There’s a big difference between the two.
Identify what triggers your feelings of anxiety or what causes you to overthink or to feel insecure, because when you have lived in an unhealthy selfless mentality, it only leaves you feeling depleted. And you will have to learn how to distinguish between “coping with life” or “thriving through it” because you will either feel broken or you will feel alive. Refocus. Recenter. Prioritize your inner peace and mental wellness. Yes, even if that means cutting ties with certain individuals in your life. And recognize that if their absence brings you peace, you didn’t really lose them.
It’s definitely a process. It won’t happen overnight. You need to be intentional though. And little by little, you slowly let go. You grow less in love with them every day. You don’t miss them so much. You aren’t as eager to check your phone and see their name on your screen (when you get to a point where you just block them on everything, then you’ll really discover your own power!). And one day, you’ll wake up and you won’t think of them. You won’t wonder what they’re doing or where they are or if they were thinking of you or not. They won’t be consistently on your mind anymore.
You might be wondering how I can make such a bold assumption. But the truth is, I have lived this reality. And this year has been full of it. Oh this year has been full of healing. Moment by moment, day by day, decision after decision. I reshaped my soul. I discovered how great of an affection God has seized me with, and His words of love breathed so gently yet so strongly into my heart. He whispered me back to life. He is the God of abundance. He is the God of restoration, of peace, of completion. He is the God of wholeness. He desires to see me living my fullest and best life.
This year of healing has looked a lot like hurting too, but everyone knows that many wounds are painful even during the mending. And scars truly are beautiful. They are showcases of endurance. As this year is drawing to a close (2020 is five months away, people!!), I am continuing to claim healing in Jesus’ name. Not only over myself, but over the lives of any and every individual who has crossed my path and shared their own painful stories with me.
I believe that the year will end in triumph. I believe that God completes the good works He starts. And He is not a god of chaos, but of love, of power, and of a sound mind. And if you can’t claim those traits in your life and spirit, then you need to start letting Him show you where change needs to happen.
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