In my quest for connection, I seem to have lost a piece of myself..at the same time that I found others.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to articulate this journey that I’m on for a while but I’ve been at such a loss for words. The podcast slowly died down, my blogs slowly died down, my art slowed down and I started feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. This past year has been excruciating for so many people for such a wide variety of reasons, and I’m definitely not exempt. Most of my life felt like being in my darkest season during most people’s brightest, so it felt strange to feel safe during such global unrest.
When the pandemic started my lifestyle didn’t really change too much because I had been working from home for about 3 years and I’ve always been an anxious goblin who likes solitude and separation. I felt like I hit the jackpot being given a situation where I could continue building an online community and the rest of the world was starting to value that kind of connection and uncomfortable inner work. Like HOW IS THAT NOT IDEAL? My calendar was always fully booked and I couldn’t keep up, I was making a lot of deep connections with so many people through sessions and Grow Your Wings, seeing the growth in people was filling me with unreal happiness. I’ve felt truly honoured for all of the humans who trusted the space that I created for them even though sometimes it was spicy and uncomfortable haha.
But something else was happening inside that felt familiar and unignorable and I kept boiling it down to the world circumstance or my fragile mental health. I felt like the light was going out inside and these feelings of immense failure just would not go away. No matter what I did I felt like I could never keep up, I’ve been doing the job of at least 4 people with the capacity of less than one. I started getting really numb to people’s messages (even and especially friends) because there was this looming, dark, gross feeling in my gut saying “yeah, but they don’t know how much you’re struggling, they don’t know how much you are starting to resent this, blah blah blah…” and any messages of love seem to slide right off of me.
In the underbelly of all of this I was starting to notice a disturbing trend that I felt an urgent need to nip in the bud. You know I’m extremely sensitive to culty behaviour so I was starting to see some red flags amongst some people and was desperate to find the root of it. I couldn’t really put my finger on why my anxiety was skyrocketing and why I had an overwhelming fear of showing up in my own online space anymore. Like yes, sure, the world is burning, but those were mostly like… macro anxieties, this felt extremely micro and personal to something close to me, like I didn’t have anywhere I could fully breathe anymore.
A few uncomfortable situations with members strung themselves together and forced me to look at how this space is conducted and what it’s centered around- and a lot of that is me, Laura Hesp, as a person. I don’t know how to explain why that makes me uncomfortable, I crave connection and to be seen in my weirdness, but the hair on the back of my neck starts to stand up when anyone gets too close to me, it’s a curse (trust issues lol). So I started to examine my boundaries, my engagement, and I realized that some people were only signing up to the community to gain access to my close friend’s stories, which was an uncomfortable realization because not everyone did it with the best intentions. I had a few people sign up to my website who have been really unhealthy interactions and I started to feel like my personal life was at the mercy of anyone who had $5. So I showed up less everywhere and kept trying to set more and more and more boundaries until I looked up and they were actually brick walls.
Around the end of December, I had even more anxiety about going back to work, I did not feel ready. I had barely processed this year, let alone processing the emotional load I took on through 1:1 work. I randomly got a text from a friend who said she was practising her spreads and wanted to know if I’d like to see what came up for me, from her. To be honest, I was hesitant, I don’t like to use tarot or astrology to predict or follow, I like to use it to affirm and reflect. But I was open, I trusted her and wanted to see what she had to say.
...She had some things to say lol. One of which was “Laura it looks like you’re not ready to go back to work and may need to wait til Aprilish”. In my head I’m like, “yeah, okay, not a chance, I’m already drowning and that would sink me” but the rest of her spread and the words she spoke me really hit. I ended up having a few of those existential-crisis-mental-breakdown days in a row and really began questioning what the hell I was doing and why I was feeling so exhausted on every single level.
When’s the last time I painted? When’s the last time I created a piece of jewelry? When’s the last time I recorded a podcast? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME!? These are all things people enjoy from me and yet the only thing I have allowed myself to dive into was the one thing where I felt like I could save someone or change their life for the better- and it took everything I had each time because I care a bit too much to be a coach.
Being a coach, for me, when you struggle with codependency and saviourism is a really slippery slope. It’s like being slowly boiled alive because you feel consumed by emotions and doom for so long before you realize it isn’t even yours to hold, but it’s so enmeshed that you truly don’t know how to separate it. I thought about my clients constantly whether I wanted to or not. I felt like I owed myself to each one in between every call and I failed if they did.
And this is exactly why I left my position as a child and youth worker in 2012, because this is how I felt. When I made these connections I was so blown away at where I had come full circle. Like cool, props bitch, you still snuck through the back door of your saviour tendencies and managed to try and save people under the guise of coaching LOL.
I am enough if I focus on my art and community. I am enough if I focus on my podcast. I am enough if I focus on calls and collaborations. I am enough if I take time off for my mental health. I am enough. And although it soothes the people-pleasing saviour in me, I am not just “helping people” by one-on-one helping them with their problems. I am also helping enough through my community calls, my art, my expression, and the things I choose to share. It feels incredible to be able to shed this expectation of myself because I thought that I was only good for being a shoulder for people. I am enough because I am existing in my fullness for people to witness.
The thing that I’ve learned over the last year is that I have a finite amount of energy and I need to treat it like a precious source of magic, because it is. I cannot just give that magic to everyone else and then leave myself depleted and unable to create. I need to put my creations first, and let that be the medium in which we share our magic.