Mind the gap.

There is no easy way around it.

There will be a gap.

The gap between where you are and where you want to be. The gap between who you are and who you want to be.

The inevitable gap.

The secret is that YOU are responsible for building the bridge over your gap.

I was searching high and low for help, someone who could direct me through making sense of all of the nonsense.

I had a few pretty good ideas about how I didn’t want my life to look, including what was at the time, my reality. Being in my bed during my pain cycles or staying heavily medicated so that I could participate in normal daily activities was not the way I had originally planned to live my life. If there was a way to get out of that situation- I was going to find it.

I was living the life that I wanted to escape, and much like anyone who is faced with a huge shift in perspective with a trauma, mine was that I was forceably removed from my career, and my life, placed firmly in my bed to chase a mariot of symptoms with zero resources or funding, or real help available to me.

I was left to bridge the gap, without the energy to even get out of bed, let alone shower and take care of myself…. when I have children and a life to tend to.

As a survivor of abuse, feeling helpless triggers something far deeper for me emotionally and then there are physical symptoms and consequences that follow for my body.

I have been living this life for a year and a half.

I haven’t been just laying down and waiting. I have been fighting and advocating for myself through both the medical and mental health systems as well as the insurance company that funds my long term disability.

I have been learning, and researching ways to bridge the gaps that I have. I have also been relentlessly searching for helpful help that is available, with zero funds, symptoms piling up oh, right, and a damn pandemic, you know just to see how skillful I really am at this balancing act called life, with both of my hands tied behind my back.

I have had to battle hard against my past to bridge the gap for me emotionally, shifting to more emotionally intelligent ways of responding to situations- rather than reacting.

I am learning how to bridge those gaps. I am using cognitive behavior therapy techniques to bridge those gaps, to change the beliefs that I thought I had about myself. This is gritty work, soul work when you take the time to do it with your wholeheart.

I was looking for a way to help myself, because frankly, I couldn’t wait any longer.

I found a podcast by Brooke Castillo. She is a Master Life Coach, she teaches coaches how to coach- first themselves, and then other coaches. It was called “how to feel better”. It is the first podcast that she created, and I listened to it- and kept listening to everything that she has to offer.

Her teachings offer ways to coach yourself from the root causes of your issues, and build self-confidence and resilience in the fact that the emotions that you experience have reasons to be there. She does a wonderful job of explaining the map to mindfulness in a way that doesn’t feel like she is trying to sell you something. Her podcast is totally free and touches on important cognitive basics, that I was surprised to find I was doing to myself. Not only does she offer suggestions about what might be wrong, she also offers the solution that fixes the root of the issue.

Listening to her podcasts let me know that I was not alone in the things that I was experiencing. Although she doesn’t directly dive into the mental health aspect of things at first, self help really is mental health maintenance or mental health insurance and she does encourage mental health as a way to literally feel better.

For me, my whole health depends on me bridging the gap for as many things as I can every single day, and my mental health is no exception, consistency is literally the key to my wholebody wellness.

If you are a science nerd like me and want to dive into the pain science behind Centralized Sensitization Syndrome, or even just the basics of chronic pain science you will begin to see the patterns of how small steps of consistency create upward trends in feeling better that are long term, because they actually regenerate brain cells and neuroplasticity.

I want to break all of the cycles that are within my control, that are no longer serving me and learn to manage myself better around the things that are out of my control- and not worth my energy. That was the goal that I made for myself.

From my bed I started to establish the gaps that I wanted to bridge.

There were so many gaps. I am growth focused, so I am always willing to learn.

I faced as many of them as I could handle at any given moment with every single scrap of energy I could muster… I progressed forward- at a snails pace…and far from perfect… but forward.

I faced the hard conversations with my husband, over and over again, until we got through to each other what we each needed to hear- that alone almost cost us our relationship. But we inched forward.

I wanted to actually break cycles of anger that I had left from my childhood.

Be a better Mom, a better wife, a better me. Those were my wishes from my bed. I wanted desperately to be whole body healthy, and to feel better so that I can get back to being a Mom, wife and get back to work and into my life.

I started to listen to the podcast, and I started to connect the dots for myself. I started to un-learn and grow through the things that used to hold me back.

Over the next few months, I was finding the courage to have conversations with people that were supporting me.

I had the courage to speak my needs, and speak my authentic feelings and share terrifying experiences that I was re-living during what some people define as a spiritual awakening, or cognitive dissonance if you want to keep it psychological.

I was opening up to people in ways that I had never experienced opening up. I was sharing, I was elated to feel myself again, alive and connected on deeper levels.

I had cultivated motivation, and seen the growth that I could accomplish with mindfulness and determination.

I shared my authentic experiences and was told that I was no longer welcome with people that once welcomed me with open arms because of the experiences.

This year is my gap year I suppose. Considering I just finished high school last year as an adult, I suppose it is ironic enough to fit nicely in the juxtaposition that is my life.

I didn’t realize that the gap would be so jagged and messy.

I didn’t realize that being authentic would be the hardest-best thing I ever did for myself.

I was vulnerable- and shamed for it, and the crazy part was I didn’t care. I somehow knew that figuring out how to take care of myself was the most important thing.

The thing that helped me feel better the fastest, and safest was mindfulness and self awareness.

I was left alone in the depths of my old experiences, dredging through all of the lessons that I had been too afraid to see before. I went and found them all-brought them into the light,(with the help of some professionals when I was in crisis, but largely on my own) and used them all to build the foundation of the bridge that will one day stand tall over what feels like this huge gap of mine.

I have been using this gap year to build bridges to the things that I want in my life. I have been learning and building as much as I can, as often as I can through my pain cycles.

I want to build bridges to better health physically, as well as mentally. I will wade through whatever comes my way, willingly now, to contribute to the building of the bridge.

One of the things that I started to do really early on in my journey was simply looking at things in the sense of what they are doing to serve me… are they hurting or helping?

I concluded very quickly that things like eating potato chips in my bed was hurting.

Drinking all coffee and nothing else until 3 pm is probably not a good thing to do to a human body, I put that one in the hurting pile.

As I watched the pile of things that I was doing add up, and be so heavily weighted in the “hurting” category- I decided that mental health was a top priority still…. it was still the answer.

I needed to prove for some strange reason that some of my issues could be as “simple” to fix as adjusting a few mental health habits, healthy whole food, and exercise.

What I ultimately have been able to accomplish in the past year is to identify where I need cognitive behavioral therapy, looked at it from a causal coaching perspective, and I have really been able to put together a number of pieces of this big bridge I am building literally by simply practicing being uncomfortable for the sake of positive change.

I have been lessening the gap between who I am and who I want to be each time I make a choice that is helping over hurting.

I am still waiting for surgery and my pain is cyclical- but I have decided to not let that stop me. I have decided that when my number is finally up to have the surgery to take away the physical pain… I want to have my hormones in a condition where I do not need to rely on medication.

When I started my journey I truly didn’t understand the concept of the gap between who you are and who you want to be, or what you are doing and what you want to be doing… it can apply to any goal. Any situation where you are in one place and you want to be in another.

There will be a gap, it is inevitable, and that is where the magic actually happens… if you let it.

So, mind the gap.

-B.