“There are two of you.”
Martin’s words landed so heavy on my heart that I spent the following weeks vacationing in New Zealand, completely disconnected from social media and nearly everyone I knew.
I used the many hours my family and I drove across the island immersed in those words… there are two of you. Because he wasn’t wrong, there was two of me in our relationship. Two parts at war, constantly battling one another about what I wanted, what felt right, and what I needed to be doing at any moment.
So, I started inviting both parts to share what they were feeling, what they wanted, and what their experience was. I made notes on my phone for each, trying to honor what felt true for both. And then I started bringing them together by asking myself, “what would I do, be, want, and have if both parts were here and true?”
When I came home from New Zealand, I was integrated for the first time. I held both parts—all parts—as one within myself. They still showed up somewhat separately, asking me to wobble and push and pull. But I just kept inviting them to coexist, to talk to me and one another. I reminded myself that there was room for both… for all parts, all experiences.
A week or so after my trip, I found myself sitting at dinner with Martin.
So sweet that one, yet so unaware of the damage he was doing.
The conversation turned, at one point, to the same conversation we always had about “us.” I tried to explain to him that I was feeling more solid and integrated than I ever had—ever, in my entire 33 years. I was excited, and I wanted him to be too, but he couldn’t understand. For all the wisdom and knowledge that man had, he couldn’t understand what I was saying to him. Instead, he proceeded to talk in circles around me, trying to make his point. Ultimately, a point asserting that I couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about because of my past traumas.
“It’s both,” I said. “I love you, and I love to be around you… and I’m not ready for a relationship. Which means we can’t date right now.” It was so obvious. If all parts were present and integrated, the truth was simple. We could only be friends.
But still, he couldn’t hear it. He told me about my “state.” He told me why I was just in fear, using my own past experiences against me. I remember feeling the anger well up inside of me as I called him out on his attempts to talk me out of what was true for me so he could lead me to where he wanted us to be.
“If I hadn’t been so integrated and solid in myself,” I said to Jessica later on, “he would have undone that. He would have taken my truth from me.”
He was actively, consciously or not, trying to fragment me. Trying to take what was true and break it apart to have what he wanted.
It was the first time I could see the gaslighting as it happened. The first time it was happening, and I didn’t wobble. I didn’t let Martin make my feelings or experience wrong. I didn’t let him steal my truth from me. With all his knowledge, wisdom, training, and experience, he was wrong, not me. I didn’t have to fight to be heard or for my right to know what was true. I didn’t let the conversation fragment me.
“You seem so solid and clear,” my friends began saying to me in the weeks and months that followed.
And I was.
I could see gaslighting a mile away, and I could stand firmly in what was true for me because I was just one person—me—with all the different feelings, experiences, and desires existing in one space. This would change everything because I could hear myself by becoming whole and integrated rather than fragmented. Truly, loudly, clearly. Without the fear of being gaslit or any tolerance when it happened. I could just know things for myself. I could speak my truth and share my knowledge. And I could finally say to the people around me, “No. You don’t get to make me wrong. You don’t get to tell me what my experience is.”
Writing this book is tremendously healing.
Sifting through the stories and moments that slowly laid the foundation for where I am today is a beautiful thing.
We tend to only see people for where they’re at.
Successful, happy, fulfilled, fully-expressed, in the best shape of their lives, etc., but they built to where they are through a series of moments like these. Moments of making the choice to honor their truth, stop tolerating the intolerable, let go of people that held them down, and do the work to heal.
It took a lot of time (and honestly, many re-traumatizing experiences with Martin) before the shifts I’ve shared in this excerpt. And it was just the beginning. It was just the start of seeing all the ways I was fragmented and all the parts that needed integration. Just the smallest first steps toward being as solid and grounded as I am today, living my purpose and building a life on my terms.
That’s why I’m writing this book and sharing these stories.
Because it’s a series of small moments, terrifying choices, spectacular mistakes and missteps, and heaps of reclaiming on the road to healing our hearts and living our truth. We just have to keep showing up, doing the work, and staying the course.
I can’t wait to share this book with you.
Meantime, grab a copy of my memoir Unravel if you haven’t!