It’s December, we made it to another holiday season. This year, everything is different. Everything is questionable even the peace, joy and love that are so much a part of the season and its wishes. The festivities with coworkers, friends and family are on hold. A pause button has been pressed and we are waiting for a more appropriate time to celebrate. A time when we can eat and drink together, see a smile, shake hands, feel an embrace and experience each other without wondering if we would be the cause for them becoming ill. We instinctually construct walls and create barriers to protect ourselves and living through a pandemic has reenforced the necessity of this barrier. We have been socialized into believing that we are capable of hurting one another if left unguarded. So, we play it cool, don’t put our hearts out there, act indifferent and play hard to get within our relationships.
After, I typed the final word of my blog last month I knew I wanted to write about relationships this month. I wrote about complacency and like every other month of writing I distanced myself in a way from the words flowing out of me. I create a barrier between us and shared in a limited fashion because it’s safe. It is safe and cool to be reserved and hold back feelings. I had convinced myself that if I put it all out there it would be bad form. I do write connected to the words and think about you and write to provide you with an alternative perspective, wisdom, connection and awareness as you read. I care so deeply about your opinion and want to give you something in exchange for your time that I hold back on me at times. I hold back because of the fear and the lack of comfort with being vulnerable. Well, in order to have a completely honest and accurate look at relationships vulnerability is necessary. An open and honest heart, a connected and awakened soul and a nonjudgmental mind are also essential.
Our relationships impact how we move through the world and experience other human beings. Each interaction with family, friends, coworkers, classmates or lovers teaches us something about ourselves. The most valuable and formative lessons come out of our respective relationships. If we lived alone, isolated from human contact, learning and growing would not exist. We would not exist in our true form. When we believe we are too cool and can’t get passed our shit the learning never really happens, and we remain closed off, unable to be present in our relationships and distanced from ourselves. Having the courage to allow others to see all of you, even the messy and painful is fire. It is boldly living your truth with no excuses. It is the nature of being vulnerable. So, why is this so difficult and how does it relate to complacency?
Here is how I draw the connection. We worry a great deal about what others think about us and the decisions we make. We focus our energy on doing what’s right and living to other’s expectations. We want to be loved and fear that if we allow our full selves to be seen we will be unlovable. Undeserving of a loving touch and kind words, unable to accept a compliment and over time we convince ourselves that we are completely undeserving of love, joy, and peace. This has been me. This defined my relationship journey. Not just my intimate relationships, all of them. I was the ultimate people pleaser. I cared so much about being loveable to everyone outside of me that I overlooked the necessity of loving myself. I forgot to love me. I did not realize that in order to be loved, I had to be undeniably head over heels for the woman I am.
Self-love is the greatest act of love and the most heartbreaking. I know, I battled for most of my adult life to find the woman I was meant to love. Along the way I know I have hurt people. People I care about and never would have intentionally hurt if I was aware. I hurt myself. I left jobs, friends and never gave love a chance when it presented itself. I walked away from love, opportunity and my own dreams because I believed I was unworthy. I believed hiding was the correct strategy and would permit me to live as a fiercely independent woman. I played this gig so brilliantly that I deserve an Oscar for my portrayal of this imaginary woman.
When I woke up and I saw what I created, what I was living and experiencing and not experiencing I got physically ill. My life was void of me. I became and empty shell, deprived of me. My mind, body and soul were screaming for me to wake up. Two years of daily anxiety attacks, severe stomach issues, unable to eat, sleep or fully function forced me to finally do the work. Living in a constant state of brain fog and exhaustion allowed me to put off the work. My twin sister was the first person to out loud tell me I was no longer myself. I remember her telling me I was no longer fun. My friends all echoed my sister’s beliefs and I needed to take an honest look at who I had become married with children. I left Los Angeles to be with my husband and believed I was doing the right thing. I wanted to raise a family close to my family. I wanted to make everyone happy by being back on the east coast. They were happy and I thought I was. Every day I struggled to convince myself I was in the right place for the right reasons. I hid my feelings from everyone including myself. I had us all convinced I was all good.
Well, fifteen years, two children, a whole ton of learning, an increased level of conscious, and the end of my fourteen-year marriage leave me knowing I came back for me. See, when I left for Los Angeles I was running. Running from every relationship that was mine. I ran from being a twin, a daughter, a granddaughter, a coworker, a friend and a girlfriend. I bolted and headed west and promised myself I would not get attached to anyone. A clean slate with no one to please, no expectations and no desire to be loved. Ironically, it did not go down as anticipated. The exact opposite happened. I found my tribe full of amazing women, I found a job with coworkers I loved and respected, I found family, and I found intimacy. I was in love with this part of my journey. I moved and found what I thought I was missing from my life. Well, it was not exactly that simple. I needed to move back to the east coast for my love journey to be complete. I needed to birth my children, I needed to say goodbye to dad, to reestablish my relationship with my mom, sister and brother, and I needed to feel the pain and heartache of being in a relationship untrue to myself. I lied. I dismissed myself and my needs to be a mom and wife. I gave up on my dreams and focused on my children. I focused on everything outside of me to avoid the pain from living complacent.
I can write to you and connect with you and I can coach you and guide you because I know. I know what you’re feeling when you hide your emotions and desires. I understand your anxiety and your pain. I embody your heartache. I lived the pain and the hard lessons so I could get to me and connect with you. I can now be in a relationship with awareness and confidence. I can show up in the world surrounded by joy, peace and love because my heart has been broken and I got to put it back together. I reclaimed my heart and fell in love with a woman who is not afraid to be vulnerable, to tell the truth and live full out. I can dismiss the excuses and surrender the apologies and be me. This holiday season we may not be able to connect with our friends and family the way we desire. We don’t have the distractions of big gatherings, full tables, and travel. We do have the gift of ourselves. We have been granted the time and space to find great love and untamed pleasure and confidently move toward it, knowing that we deserve this beautiful gift. Stop hiding and give yourself the opportunity to be in love and to truly be loved. It is the magic that defines Christmas.
I wish you all a season full of immense peace, love, joy and self-reflection.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! xoxo
Kristin Asadourian is a personal development and leadership coach. Her coaching practice is strongly influenced by her work as a social worker and a community organizer, which taught her the importance of community, compassion and confidence.
She is the founder of Living Become, LLC an organization focused on delivering workshops, educational materials and keynotes to empower all people, KA Coach, a confidence and leadership building business, the Los Angeles based arts education not for profit, Artists for Change, and the documentary film company, Seeroon Productions which produced the internationally recognized film, “Beginning Where the Soviet Ends: A Study of Social Work in Armenia.
Kristin works to inspire people to live their true potential. She can be found living her truth guiding young people and adults through leadership workshops, coaching individuals and small groups, speaking on building self-awareness and self-confidence, out for long bike rides, on the trials for a run and making messes with her two children and their goldendoodle.