You Can’t “Success” Your Way To Healing (trust me, I’ve tried)

Vulnerability isn’t new to me—I’ve been known to share intimate details of my life with complete strangers at the coffee shop who simply asked, “So, how long have you lived here?”

But vulnerability about pain I’m still working to overcome? Eh, that’s not so cozy for me.

Except that’s kind of the point, right? As humans, we’re supposed to share our most intimate & challenging moments with each other in hopes they shine a light, offer shelter, or help others feel seen, heard, and understood.

So I’m here to do that, for anyone who relates with the following…

  • When you think of your life’s accomplishments, you immediately picture all the things you’ve DONE or are DOING (not your relationships, kindness, gentleness, etc.)
  • When life gets uncomfortable, stressful, overwhelming, or riddled with anxiety—you start DOING things—you start another project, develop business ideas, clean the house
  • When you think about pain from your past, you’re quick to be proud of the fact you “came so far & have done so much even though…” (“I beat the odds”)
  • You’re the “strong friend” who everyone is shocked to find out has actually been through some shit (like some REAL shit)
  • The state of “calm” or “relaxed” is simply not something you feel. And when you do, it feels wrong (lazy even?)
  • No matter how many goals you achieve or ticks you mark on your bucket list, you’re still one step behind where you want to be

Sound like you? OK, let’s have a chat.

I won’t dig too deep into details, but I’ve been through some real life-altering, confidence-crushing, emotionally exhausting years. To be blunt, I’d say years 7-19 were pretty much garbage (emotionally speaking).

I’m talking the type of shit that makes your therapist cringe and admit, “I don’t have much to say. I’m so sorry.”

And my go-to coping mechanism is to DO—and directly relate doing with being. With worth. With existing. With value.

“If I can just DO more, build more, make more—I’ll heal that big ass hole in my soul. And nothing bad will ever catch up with me—because I’ll never stop moving.”

Except it’s complete and utter bullshit. I’ve built, built, built for years on end and if anything, the hole just got bigger. More enveloping. Louder. Crueler. More painful.

My childhood pain led me to believe that I was a problem to be solved. A constant challenge. Never quite right.

And in turn I lived in this belief that I had to prove them wrong. If I could just show them how worthy and awesome I am, maybe that’ll be enough. Maybe it’ll all go away and they’ll realize, “Oh shit, we were wrong.”

So I did.

I was a high-achiever in school—taking advanced math & reading courses starting in 4th grade. I earned “most improved” on my soccer team (strictly because I wanted to prove I COULD). I founded a magazine at the age of 20 before ever working or writing for a magazine in my life (Who did I think I was? Not sure.) I opened a business at 24 and tripled my previous corporate salary in one year. I volunteered non-stop for every organization under the sun. I kept (and still keep!) an impeccable home because somehow that’s proof of my worthiness.

I haven’t stopped to BREATHE for one second because I’m afraid when I do, I’ll fall right smack dab into the middle of my hole.

When in reality—that’s what I need. And that’s sort of what 2020 has been for me. A big fat faceplant into my pain. Because wherever I go, there I am. I can’t escape it—no matter how much I achieve.

If I clean the entire house top to bottom with a toothbrush—it changes nothing. If I make another $100k, it changes nothing. If I sign 10 more clients, it changes nothing.

The past never changes—because that’s the entire point.

So if you’re here with me, sitting at the bottom of your own hole, I want you to know you’re not alone. I want you to know you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone—and even when you do, healing doesn’t live in doing or achieving or proving or money or anything like that.

Healing only starts when you press pause and invite your pain into the room with you.

When you look it straight in the eyes and say, “Hey, you really messed me up. I’m pretty upset about all the days & years you ruined, the sleepless nights, the moments of questioning my worth, the hours spent sobbing on couches and staring blankly into the mirror wondering how the hell I got here.”

“But I’m done running from you, because you’re not even worth running from. Because running from you insinuates you have power over my life, and you don’t. I’m not here to reconcile or throw my arms around you and become your pal. I’m here to acknowledge you and take from you whatever lessons I need to. But I’m also here to take my power back—so I can fuel my healing from this moment onward.”

I’ll admit, it’s quite the awkward conversation. And honestly, you might have to have it a few times. But something wonderful and freeing lives on the other side of it.

That space might look different for all of us, but for me personally, it looks a little like this:

  • Allowing others to take the lead sometimes and understanding that even when it’s not “my way,” it’s still ok
  • Calling people out who played active roles in my pain and saying, “Hey—I just need you to know what you did & how it made me feel” instead of holding it inside and bulldozing forward
  • Knowing that how others see and view me has nothing to do with who I really am—their opinions are none of my business and frankly, I don’t quite care
  • Acknowledging when I’m “doing” to avoid feeling—and giving myself space to just be
  • Enjoying slower moments like a salt bath, a walk without phones, a morning routine where my desk isn’t the first place I land
  • Disconnecting my worth, my excitement, my value, and my fulfillment from my “achievements”—instead, opting to see them as awesome pitstops along the way

So you, over-achiever, over-functioner, awesome human running from whatever shit storm seems to be following you—I invite you to press pause, grab a Kleenex, and let the shit storm catch up.

It doesn’t have to stay and hang out long—but I promise, once it’s here & gone, those goals you’re achieving will feel even sweeter and grow even bigger.

Except this time, they won’t define you—they’ll be part of you (a much bigger, badasser you who has way more to bring to the table).

And the best part? You can slow down, because nothing is chasing you from behind.

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

– Kails

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