my yEARS Growing up
This may not be the most interesting/conventional way to share my personal life’s story because to start, I have very little recollections of my years growing up. Born & raised in Jakarta till the age of 12, I grew up in an Authoritarian household; where academic excellence is highly praised & total compliance is non-negotiable. My childhood environment was very structured and characterized with very little warmth, emotional unavailability & an almost non-existent guidance.
Any slight questioning of authority is dealt with physical punishments because (fear) ensures compliance, my daily encouragement comes through remarks of comparisons (shamed), anything short of an A grade is deemed as inadequacy (unworthy) and expressing any upsetting emotions would be shunned cause that would mean that I’m being ungrateful for what I have had (guilt). As a kid, I quickly learned that life was pretty much an endless hopeless & helpless reality that I couldn’t wait to escape from.
It wasn’t long for my golden ticket to arrive- I ended up furthering my education abroad (Singapore, USA, Taiwan). My childhood conditioning brought me up to be a hyper-independent, rigid and strong headed individual; or what many would associate as a rebel, albeit a ‘good’ one. I was a mix of a rebel & an enigma; having been conditioned to be on ‘hypervigilant’ mode as a kid, I became a total introvert. I have deep seated fear & suspicion of strangers, I fear things might unfold beyond the outcomes that I’ve precalculated in my mind- beyond my comfort zone, I even fear my own innate power & capability, compromising my authenticity out of fear of judgement.
I didn’t know how to ask for help nor voice/express an opinion because I have never been permitted to as a kid. I was very intolerant of others’ shortcomings, which comes from the projection of me being hardest on myself. In my eyes, anything short of perfection seemed like a failure- an inner child wound/baggage that I continued to carry, trauma personality of a #perfectionist that I’m continuously working on.
I never understood what being happy truly meant because I couldn’t find joy in the ordinary and I could only experience excitement in life through adventurous things that pump my adrenaline, a ‘familiar’ stress-induced feeling that would stimulate the nervous system. However, growing up feeling alienated comes with a deep longing to be understood, I just didn’t know to be vulnerable & so I pushed through life with the only survival mechanism I know that had kept me ‘safe’; subconsciously pushing people away.
The Lead up
Life started throwing curve balls as I graduated from school. Being the exemplary ‘kid’ that I am, I excelled in papers, double majored and graduated University at 19, life seems perfect on the outside but my overworked nervous system slowly crippled me from the inside out. I attracted unhealthy counterparts and got myself into a series of toxic relationships that only further exacerbated my inner child wounds, perpetuated my lack of self-esteem & self-worth and took me on a downward spiral of depressive episodes that I was very much unaware of.
I was unable to talk to strangers. I would get panic attacks before job interviews (fear of authoritative figures) where I would need to rely on a few shots of alcohol to bypass my fear, unfreeze my nervous system & have it as stimulants to be in the flow. There was no longer a systematic structure for me to adhere to and I was plagued by anxiety or deep feelings of guilt & shame as I have no conception of my true emotional needs- beyond having to be ‘perfect.’ I have had jobs in different fields but nothing seemed to fulfill me, only apathy looming over me. It came to a point where it’s so much easier to disconnect with my emotions & numb myself in order to get by.
Breakdown & Breakthrough
My major breakdown came while I was working in my previous job as an F&B manager; organizing wine dinners & cocktail/party events. I took the job to challenge my fear of social anxiety & it made me realise that I am a people person at heart. I love connecting & listening to people’s life stories in the bar but I was only able to engage with the help of alcohol. It was a job that many people could probably only dream of- endless high-end wine & cocktails are part of the equation and with alcohol; my solace that’s also my enemy- I get to exhaust all my desires to escape the uncomfortable feelings that I dismissed and it was only about time for a burn out to happen. Proud to say, I have a healthy relationship with her now.
As I continue to remain oblivious to life patterns and afflictions, constantly finding the next available escape from the uncomfortable feelings that are brewing inside of me, there’s a little voice at the back of my mind telling me that I’m tired of living like this and that something has to change. I just didn’t know how.
On a hot sunny day in Bali, whilst being completely hungover and wholeheartedly tired of escaping life, I chanced upon a beginner tantric hatha yoga class and out of the blue, the answer that I’d been searching for dawned upon me; a surreal & calm experience that I have never experienced before- I was completely deep into meditation. It was then that it hit me; how I’ve been experiencing life, my state of body & mind- it wasn’t the norm & there’s more to life beyond our minds’ limited perceptions. I realized that I’ve lived my whole life through a dysregulated nervous system- a constant survival mode of fight, flight or freeze- a state of hypervigilance, constantly accessing potential threats or where things will go wrong (even if it won’t). Something that I’m very well familiar with growing up and had considered as a norm.
Who I became
I quit my job & was determined to learn how to achieve that same blissful sensation that I got to experience before. I got certified as a 200hr Tantric Hatha Yoga Teacher; where I learned to reconnect my body, mind and spirit- understanding the science of energy management, explored powerful ancient breathwork, regulated my nervous system and eventually understanding what living in the present truly means.
During this time, I became interested in Ayurveda, diving deeper into Yin Yoga teacher training and other meditation teachings namely, Bali Usada. I learned how to embrace whatever came up, to sit & not escape the uncomfortable and find solace inwards. As I embarked on my own healing journey, my constant transformation continued to surprise myself and challenged society’s preconceptions of me & the idea of ‘who I truly am.’
As I evolve from within, so do other aspects of my life outwardly transform. The grace of law of attraction seems to be bringing the right teachers, mentors, healers into my life. And just when I thought I was in the best possible state of my life - physically, mentally & spiritually - my preconceived notion was once again challenged as I stumbled upon hypnotherapy & went on a rabbit hole of self discovery.
I initially decided to be a certified hypnotherapist to help my loved ones, only to discover that there’s so much healing to be done on myself and that my wounds are so deeply rooted. I became trauma-informed & was able to finally identify what I have been struggling with my whole life: Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). It was through hypnotherapy that I learnt to unnumb myself & feel my feelings again, connecting the last missing piece to my body & mind; the heart.
THE Journey Thus far
As I uncover layers of root causes from memories that I’ve blocked and had no recollections of, unlearning what I’ve always thought to be true- my personality, my identity, limiting beliefs- reparenting my wounded inner-child that it’s safe to feel, to be seen and to be heard again, healing my ancestral/intergenerational trauma- the matrix of my reality starts to bend.
I went from not being able to look at strangers in the eye to helping others navigate their own healing journey. I eventually realised the solution never lied on the outside, not in others/bettering my surroundings. The answer always lies within, that we are the catalyst & the light that’s going to raise the awareness of others around us. I’ve found that my purpose in life is to be of service; in whatever ways that seem to manifest & realise that service was the missing joy in my ordinary life.
Through my healing journey, I’ve learnt several things that are proven to be a given; that life is an eternal journey of unlearning & relearning, who we’re meant to become are most of the time the opposite of who we thought we were to begin with, transformation sits on the other end of comfort & fear and transcending our own limitations requires a delicate balance of courage to challenge all notions (of ours & others) and the perseverance to whole-heartedly surrender to a bigger force outside of us.
All of us have a story to tell & that story holds the power to bend your reality. I hope my life story serves as an invitation for you to explore your inner depths, release past baggage, shed your old layers, reclaim your innate power & rediscover your experience in life through an eternal journey back to self.