By Holly Dykstra
I remember the exact moment when my existing self-love vanished. I was eleven years old. I overheard a conversation that I was not supposed to hear. I can remember where I was sitting, what I was wearing, and the overwhelming feeling that came over me as I heard someone who was supposed to love me unconditionally, discuss my weight and my “problem”. That day will never be erased from my mind. That one conversation shaped years of torment and dissatisfaction with my body and my self-worth.
The idea of self-healing can feel like an intangible and unrealistic ideal. How does one begin to heal themselves while still suffering in the wake of their trauma? How do you move forward when you are still experiencing so much shame, doubt and pain? How can we prioritize our own healing while still being able to thrive in other areas of our lives? How do we avoid being consumed by the sadness that an event or situation has brought upon us? These are just a few of the questions that I have toiled with over the last 25 years. It has been a wild journey of self-discovery to say the least.
The moment that I began to reframe the concept of healing is when true restoration of my mind, body and soul began. I had it in my head that if I just fixed the “problem”, then I would be happy. I lost 100 pounds, became a fitness professional, went to a therapist, obsessed over my body and ultimately ended up looking like I was “supposed” to look. But I was no happier than when I started. In fact, to the contrary. I had sunk into some of the deepest darkest moments of my life, and I was gasping for air. It wasn’t until I truly acknowledged my feelings as being real, merited and important, that I could begin to heal my past from the inside out.
Strategies for Healing:
Acknowledge that you’ve been hurt and understand that your feelings are always valid, no matter how seemingly small or irrelevant you think the circumstances may be. They are your feelings and you need to honour them.
Understand that feelings of sadness, frustration, shame and pain are a real part of your healing journey. You are already working towards recovery by allowing them in to your mind and body.
Reframe how you look at these difficult emotions. Can you take small steps to begin to view your experience as a character defining gift that will, at some point, bring you strength or even be your superpower?
Find comfort in seeking out groups or resources that confirm the normalcy of your feelings. There is so much power in community and our shared experience is one of life’s greatest gifts.
When you are ready, share your experience with others. Whether that be with a friend, family member or the community at large. Chances are you will inspire or help another woman by simply being honest and authentic.
My greatest healing has come from my ability to share my experience and relate to other women through this process. I’m continually surprised at just how many people find comfort and familiarity in my message. This has led me to a career of being every woman’s cheerleader; Empowering women to believe in their strength, helping them understand that their abilities are limitless and guiding them towards a life where they can truly love the beautiful skin that they are in.
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