August 11, 2020

How Triggering Myself is helping me Heal.


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We are living in the land of trigger warnings and cancel culture.

Don’t go too deep or over the edge of comfort because it may make people wary. Well, I am here to tell you that sometimes triggering ourselves is the most potent medicine we can give ourselves.

We are all in different parts of our healing journey, and we know ourselves best. So while it’s healthy to set boundaries with those around us when it comes to being triggered, we can also create a safe container for us to heal within while at the same time, triggering thyself.

The other night, I got the strongest urge to begin the process of deleting old photos and thousands of Instagram posts. Let me say, my biggest takeaway from the process: cleaning up the ‘gram feed isn’t for the light-hearted. Instagram has coincidentally made it challenging and tedious to do this. There is no loophole to deleting multiple photos at once, so it quite literally forces you to go in, one by one, and catapult yourself into the waterfall of nostalgic memories attached to these photos of the past.

As I lay on my couch rewatching episodes of Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” which already sets the nostalgic tone of codependency and toxic relationships, the flooding of memories washed over my body. Flashbacks from college and my multiple escapes to Los Angeles, Europe, Miami, Philly, and over 30 music festivals, at one of which I had a near-death experience. As I tapped and deleted, tapped and deleted, I watched my years of drug and alcohol abuse from an outside lens that I hadn’t been able to cultivate in my shadow work journey yet. It was as if I was watching the movie reel of my life in hyper-lapse.

Each photo instantly brought me back to the energy I felt during that phase of life—that is, the power of music, photos, smells, and senses in general. You can be shot to a past potent memory that completely turns your world upside down.

A decade of drinking and drug abuse—not because I was addicted to drinking or the substances itself; rather, I was attached to the emotional escape from the pain and suffering I kept bottling down further and further until I was permanently numb.

Through the nostalgic photos, I also recognized how much my body and weight fluctuate due to my emotional state. From an outside view, someone would have looked at me as “in shape” or “healthy” and “toned,” but the truth was that with the waves of my substance abuse came waves of my eating disorder. Cycles of restriction, overexercising, which then eventually led me to bulimia. As I lay on my couch, watching the movie version of the last decade, I tapped into the energy I felt during the darkest and most secretive suffering moments of my life.

Photos are a great tool to see your physical appearance and what you looked like during traumatic times of life. Eating disorders will keep you in a cycle of gaining tons of weight, losing tons of weight, only to try to find a happy and free baseline where you can truly cultivate comfort in the physical body. As I deleted each photo one by one, I could pinpoint where my ED was during each phase.

The Hungry Ghost Extrovert Archetype

I wasn’t ever truly an extrovert. Deep down, I’ve always been an introvert who loved drinking tea at home in bed watching movies, writing, and making art. But the substances turned me into a hungry ghost extrovert who threw herself in any situation or bed that helped aid the escape from problems or low self-worth.

The girl in those photos sporting a big grin with a drink in her hand, she was nowhere near happy, but she was super likable since she was the extrovert drunk who was always trying to make everyone around her feel good regardless of the toxicity she was inflicting on her body and mind. A full-blown codependent empath.

That alcohol-induced smile was fake, and as much fun as she had, she was empty and dead inside. I was a lot to handle then. Drugs and liquor would bring the anger, the shame, the envy, the jealousy out of me.

Sober Sex and the Cycles

This cycle kept me from cultivating deep intimacy in relationships other than sex while my mind was altered. Sober sex—that was never a thing in my life. This toxic pattern and habitual way of living was leaving me feeling like the victim because I was so asleep in my ways. It left me wondering, “Why can’t I meet a guy who treats me right?”

After the Instagram post deleting season, which served as a self-therapy session, I now have the answer to that question.

“How was any guy going to treat me right if I was broadcasting in a myriad of ways that I didn’t even respect myself enough to treat myself right?”

The body beating I did through drugs, alcohol, and overexercising was a clear-cut sign to the men who came into my life that I didn’t even cultivate the self-worth they maybe wanted to show me. But how could they, when day in, day out I was showing them otherwise?

But now? People look at me as “too much” in a completely different way.

The “emotionally too much” way. I am sober now and deep within my healing journey, which is almost more challenging for people to process. More challenging to accept someone who is living their truth because truth means being tapped into shadow. I don’t small talk anymore; I don’t drink or do drugs to fit in or stuff my feelings down. I know that can make people feel uncomfortable as I am a mirror of their shadow and bring my raw honesty to mostly everything and everyone (in the safest way possible).

I love to laugh and be silly and wild, but the drunk, f*cked-up, aggressive version of fun Gab is long gone. That version of her is dead and now, fun is reborn in a clean, light, earthy way.


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