My story of how I found my way, is not extraordinary. I was not raised by wolves. I am not a survivor of physical abuse or household alcoholism. I was never a bright student or budding athlete or gifted musician. I never went hungry as a child. I spent hours alone in my bedroom on the farm by choice. I was average… or, so I thought.
After over a decade of digging deep into the murky depths of my heart, my gut, my head, and my soul, I unravelled an abundance of information about the “why” I am the way I am, the “how” I became the way I am, the “who” that helped me start my journey to finding out who Heather is, the “where” I show up as the best version of who I am, and the “what” I’m going to do about it… and here I am talking to you.
In a series of sessions with a male client in his mid-forties focusing on supporting him through his emotional pain and confusion over why his partner chose to leave, I found myself reliving a part of my own life history listening to his story. However, in my story I was the ‘leaving partner.’ This gentleman experienced great frustration over his partner’s inability to explain the “why” to him. Quite often the words spoken by a leaving partner sound something like this, “I need to figure out who I am” or “this just doesn’t feel right anymore” or “I don’t know.” These lines have been stated in similar fashion by both men and women leaving a long-term relationship. Much to the chagrin of the ‘left partner’, it is a very valid reason packed with a hefty dollop of truth in the moment in which it is spoken. The unfortunate part is there is always a deeper backstory behind the “I don’t know” that the ‘leaving partner’ has not yet unravelled, which results in the ‘left partner’ feeling dazed and confused with no clear closure.
I am not going to focus on the myriad of backstories for why other people leave people. I am going to focus on my story and how I found my way to The Cabin Door.
Over the past decade I have spent hours and hours reading, listening to podcasts, listening to audiobooks, working with counsellors, learning from coaches, observing people around me, and sharing my time with others in crisis. All in the name of trying to figure out “who am I”, “where do I fit”, “what happened to me”, and “what do I do now?”
I researched my zodiac sign in hopes of finding answers there. I studied abandonment issues that stemmed from being put up for adoption. I probed into anger and fear trying to figure out why I had no voice in the face of confrontation from my partner. I researched shame and vulnerability trying to figure why I sank into a deep depression over things other people would sail through relatively unscathed. I read up on spirituality and learned about human energy. I analyzed why I feel the way I do in crowds and why I consistently gravitate towards people in emotional turmoil and steer away from people exuding confidence. I researched why I have always been attracted to emotionally unavailable men and why I shy away from men who are openly loving towards me. I contemplated why I relate to men easier than women, why I get along with men easier than women, and why most of my closest confidents are men.
I have also researched the things people have said to me through the years. Such as “you are too much”, “slow down”, “take a breath”, “you are all over the map”, “how long have you been an empath”, “you give too much”, “stop saying you’re sorry”, “stop saying yes all the time”, “why are you mad about that”, “doesn’t that make you mad”, “help me, please”, and “stop helping”.
I have researched co-dependency, trauma bonding, addiction, abuse, narcissism, and ambiguous grief and loss. I have researched abandonment trauma, divorce trauma, and a bazillion parenting articles pertaining to split family dynamics. I have researched low self-esteem, how depression manifests, anxiety, and an enormous number of articles on relationship communication. I have read endless publications on the difference between men and women. I have researched menopause and those tricky hormones and the impact they have when left to play willy nilly in the sandbox.
One of the best books I think I have ever read was The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I wish I could have received that book as a wedding gift and I strongly suggest all young couples read it and read it again.
I have spent hours and hours listening to the following psychologists, financial specialists, and coaches:
Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins, Brene Brown, Jim Rohn, Wayne Dyer, Esther Perel, Michael Neill, Judith Orloff , Gary Chapman, and Mark Manson. I have voraciously read about the 16 Meyers & Briggs Personality Types. I have read all kinds of information on Relationship Attachment Theories and Styles. I have taken Reiki Energy Healing training with Hazel Butterworth at Healing Hearts Centre, my catalyst for value and belief re-alignment who is an amazingly compassionate woman. I have worked for years with my psychologist and mentor and catalyst for mental growth and change Dr. D at Triune Systems Inc.
All these sources of information have assisted me, step-by-step, in peeling back the layers of the onion that is ME. I am now able to communicate successfully WHO I AM. Along the way, I have learned bushels of information on how to help others learn who they are beneath all their layers, too.
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Do you ever question why you believe the things you believe? Can you easily recite the standards by which you live? Do you live fully in alignment with your core values? Are your values today the same as twenty years ago? Are your standards the same as twenty years ago? Did you enter your mid-twenties knowing exactly who you are, what you stand for, what you believe in, and WHY? When you were in your mid-twenties did you understand all the aspects of your personality and character to know how to make decisions and set goals to be in alignment with who you knew you were? Nope, me neither!
Herein lies one of the many reasons for why so many marriages have ended in divorce or have resulted in alienation within the relationship. It is also why so many of us get stuck at times in our life and do not know what to do to get unstuck. Most of us had no clue who we truly were when we walked down the aisle or stood at the front of the aisle. Ideally, we grow with our partner and get to know ourselves as well as our partner within the safety of our relationship. Time has a funny way of changing how we see the world, what we think about the world, and how we feel about the world. That is one aspect of discrepancy within a relationship as both partners are not likely to evolve in their understandings of the world changes at the same rate or in the same direction. That is almost a given.
Emotional intelligence was not a phrase tossed around the kitchen table when I was in my mid-twenties. Things were very black and white…you were an extrovert or an introvert (commonly referred to as outgoing or shy). Period. You grew up believing all aspects of who you were revolved around one or the other of those two identities and if you identified with one of them, you followed up with decisions that were in alignment with that identification.
I entered my mid-twenties believing myself to be a classic extrovert because I was often described as “very outgoing”. I did my best to live in alignment with how an extrovert would go about living their life. As time went on, I started to feel less and less comfortable in large groups of people, in noisy environments, and faced with any kind of confrontation. Life became uncomfortable and I really did not know why. The first thing we do when we start to feel off about our life, we blame ourselves for somehow being less than we should be, or often, we blame others. Either way, we move forward not really understanding the why behind the feelings and not knowing we should dig into ourselves and figure out the why. As I mentioned earlier, emotional intelligence was not a “thing” back then and self-awareness was not high on the priority list of family discussions. Your attention was always to be on others and not yourself. At least that was my experience. So, when the “you need to look after yourself” movement began, it was confusing, uncomfortable to think about, and against my baseline understanding about life.
When I first left my marriage, my words to those who asked why I left were precisely this, “he’s a good guy, he just wasn’t good for me” and “I’m not cut out to be a farm wife”. Those two statements could not be further from the truth. Well, he is a good guy and he could have been exceptionally good for me and me for him had I understood who exactly I was and how to communicate that to him early enough for successful understanding, compassion, and acceptance. It was also very false that I could not have thrived as a farm wife. I simply needed to add some variety to my life experience to give me the balance I needed to stay in alignment with my natural state of being. Take note young couples! Do you know who you are?
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When someone says, “I don’t know who I am anymore”, it means they have not been living in alignment with their natural state of being or their inner essence for quite some time. Many people do not know how to find their way back into alignment because they do not recognize they are out of alignment. I equate a large portion of our inner essence to our personality type. If you spend a little time researching the Meyer Briggs Personality Types, you get a good look at a breakdown of the four ways of relating to others and the world.
Here is a very brief overview of those four personality and behaviour markers that determine a personality type.
- Your Orientation to the World
- Extraverted (Energized by others) (E)
- Introverted (Energized by ideas, emotions, memories (I)
- How you Take in Information
- Sensing (Using the five senses) (S)
- Intuition (Using gut or instincts) (N)
- How you Make Decisions
- Thinking (Logical, problem solvers) (T)
- Feeling (Consider others, compassionate) (F)
- How you Take in Information or Decide
- Perceiving (Taking in information) (P)
- Judging (Organizing information and making decisions) (J)
Not many people fall exclusively into one of the sixteen personality types. I have learned that I am predominantly an INFJ. According to the Meyers – Briggs Foundation, this personality type is one of the rarest (only 1.5% of recorded assessments) which could explain why I have felt like an alien most of my life and not having a clue how best to fit with others or how to effectively communicate with others in my younger years. After learning this information, I looked backwards throughout my life at my decisions, actions, choices, relationships, successes, and failures and yep…this is me alright!
INFJ personality type is referred to as “The Advocate” or “The Counselor”. The description offered up on www.truity.com reads: INFJs are creative nurturers with a strong sense of personal integrity and a drive to help others realize their potential. Creative and dedicated, they have a talent for helping others with original solutions to their personal challenges. www.humanmetrics.com reads: INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally “doers” as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs.
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So, to answer the burning question on everyone’s mind, why did I decide to open The Cabin Door? The simplest answer I can offer to you is this: I was born to do this.
The interesting thing about coaching is that you must trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled.