Story By: Stefanie Fernandes
Think of your summer holidays when you were 8 years old. You slept in, after breakfast you would pick up your best friend and you would spend the day outside. Roaming around freely in the woods, in parks, grabbing your bike and just cycle off without a destination. The only thing you knew you had to do today, was to explore and discover, to be with your friend, to bond. How did you feel on those days? Probably free. Understood, accepted and loved without many words. You probably felt empowered and in charge of your life. You could smell the freedom of adulthood. That’s how adults must feel. Once you are grown-up, you can take your own decisions every single day. There is nobody that tells you when to eat or sleep, when to do your homework or study. You could hang out anytime with your best friend and take your life into your own hands.
Fast forward, 20 years later, the life that you envisioned turned out differently. The feeling you thought you’d had, is nowhere to be found. Sometimes there are glimpses of freedom, but in reality, the day-to-day tasks, the responsibilities, the worries just take over. Creep into your life through the cracks.
The 8-year-old child I described here was me. On good days, this is how I would feel. Free and careless. What a wonderful feeling it was. These long summer days would give me strength and hope to go through the not so positive parts of life. The void I constantly felt inside not being able to detect it, name it, let alone fill it.
I grew up quickly, moved out at the age of 17, became financially independent and did life by myself. But I couldn’t fill the void. Growing up in a small town in Austria, I knew that what society expected from me was to get married, build a house, have kids and a car, work maybe part-time. Life had other plans for me.
I moved away. When I realized that I wouldn’t be happy doing the same things I always did. I would only get what I have always gotten.
This is one of the biggest obstacles in women’s lives: social conditioning that pushes us into lives we are not happy in. Kids don’t make you happy, a marriage doesn’t, a house or a car certainly doesn’t. We can work towards all these milestones, unless we are truly happy already, we just find ourselves still empty inside once we have accomplished and meet all those expectations.
These were certainly the reasons for my mental health struggles, the undiagnosed depression as a teenager, the continued sadness and addictive behavior in my 20s.
I was always so busy trying to be somebody that I am not, living up to other people’s expectations, or worse: hiding! This would result in that I completely forgot who I authentically was, accepting myself with all my facets, all my emotions, accepting me.
It was when I let go of expectations towards life, that I fell in love with the most amazing human. He didn’t tick the boxes I thought were so important, but he had other attributes: he was kind and vulnerable, open and ready. And so was I, finally.
We celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and 5-year wedding anniversary this year. We didn’t go out for a fancy dinner Instead, we took our toddlers to Ikea, sat in the children’s section and took a mental break from parenting. This is the perfect example of how I live my life now. I take it for what it is, and let go of expectations of how life should be.
We raise our children here in Denmark, as an expat couple. I am from Austria and my husband is from Portugal. We both come with our history, the history of generations before us and still carry values, wounds, and expectations deeply rooted within us.
Raising children is a challenge. Doing this without family support in a foreign country is even harder. Our children hold Austrian and Portuguese citizenship, but their personalities are already heavily influenced by the Danish culture. We find ourselves discussing values and principles of how we want to raise them, just realizing that there is no such thing as “right” or “wrong”, we are all different in our little family. Acceptance is the gateway for love and empathy, for authenticity and strength in this parenting journey.
It was really the birth of my first son, that I started looking into the reasons for my mental health struggles. This was inevitable, I realized, if I wanted to establish and maintain a loving and authentic relationship with my child. Ridden by obsessive compulsive thoughts and excessive sadness the weeks and months after birth, I decided to seek out for help.
I had not much time, nobody to watch my baby on a regular basis, and certainly not the strength to talk about my struggles every week for months. Just like godsent, I found a rapid transformational therapist and went to see her. With the help of hypnosis, I finally understood where all my struggles stem from. Within only one session, I understood myself for the first time in my adult life. She helped me to ditch the negative beliefs that were running my life, and I installed a whole load of self-love and self-acceptance. What an empowering and freeing feeling that was. It reminded me those summer days when I was 8 years old. A heavy burden was taken from my shoulders in only 2 hours.
Since then, I am not run by my outdated beliefs anymore, that I created when I was a little girl, trying to make sense of the world around me.
Since then, I am fully and authentically myself, every day of my life. My biggest wish, to be a loving parent to my children, and protecting them from growing up with my baggage, became reality. A reality I created for myself.
Since my first RTT session, I am hooked by this therapy modality. I trained to be a therapist myself and help women to find connection with themselves, to re-establish that bond with themselves of self-love and self-compassion. From my experience, the lack of trust in ourselves, the lack of love and intuition towards ourselves, is a major contributor to anxiety, stress, depression, unexplained infertility or relationship issues.
By helping one woman at a time returning to her true self without the social conditioning, the pain, the unrealistic expectations, I know there are many more beneficiaries impacted: our families, our children, our partners, our friends, neighbors, co-workers.
Today I am leading a happy life, not because I have achieved certain milestones, but because I finally filled the void inside me knowing with certainty that I am enough. I am finally the person I am destined to be. Light is entering now through the cracks.
I know it’s possible to heal and to break the cycle. And I hope to inspire you who is reading this today, that anything is possible, no matter your starting point in life. You have everything you need inside you.
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