2020 has definitely been a tumultuous year for many, but for me it has also been a year of growth, exploration and healing. Earlier this year, my dad died. His death was actually the catalyst that set me free to start my healing process. After my dad's Celebration of Life, I became sick. Body numbing sick. Was it the stress, the mental burnout or was it COVID? As it was in the early days of COVID, there were no tests available and I self isolated at home. I have never felt so lonely in my life. I felt so unwell both mentally and physically and all I wanted to do was sleep. One day I was poking around Podcasts on Spotify and stumbled across Jake Woodard. He is essentially a down-to-earth self help guy that has become awakened and is on a healing journey. The more I listened to his podcasts, the more it resonated with me and so my healing journey began. So many things started to make sense to me and I started seeing things from a different perspective. I had many "aha" moments when it came to why I was reacting to certain situations the way I did. I've always had a difficult time with relationships. My dad was very standoffish, my mother loved conditionally and I was sexualized by my brother at an early age. I was always seeking love and validation from external sources and making poor choices instead of looking within myself. I felt I had no voice and that my words fell on deaf ears-that my feelings and thoughts didn't matter to anyone. Even at social gatherings I remained the silent one not wanting to compete with my louder more secure friends. Then when I would open up my mouth to say something, I suddenly became this awkward, inarticulate person (in my head anyways). I was my worst critic, replaying scenes in my head and thinking of clever things to say after the fact. The funny thing is that I've always had jobs in where I have worked closely with the public. I think because those relationships are at an arms length that they are successful. I continue to struggle with more intimate relationships though, but I am slowly becoming more aware why I struggle with them. I think as a child my voice wasn't heard. I was to be obedient. My thoughts and feelings did not matter. I had limited choices and didn't even know I could say no to my brother. I was a people pleaser from a young age. What I have learned this year is that my voice does matter. My opinions matter. That my insecurity and lack of self esteem is a deep rooted issue, one that will take years to overcome. But I am overcoming. And I am learning to say "no". Every day gets easier. My self confidence builds. I listen to more podcasts. I take workshops. I look after myself. I become more self aware. And most importantly, I love myself.