EyesOnBC Magazine - May 2019

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Advice I Would Give My Younger Self... by Micki Findlay

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hen you grow up in an atmosphere where you are regularly criticized, belittled and ignored, you learn to doubt your self-worth. I discovered at an early age that it was safer to keep my feelings and opinions to myself, rather than face judgment, shame and the inevitable punishment that ensued. I tried valiantly to be a ‘good girl’, but it seemed that love and acceptance were always beyond my grasp. I became a people-pleaser and learned to ignore my inner voice and, often to my detriment, placed others' needs ahead of my own. Micki Findlay is the founder of Works of HeART Project – ‘Inspiring Positive Change Through Artistic Expression’. This is a Vancouver Islandbased initiative that challenges racism and bullying and promotes kindness and inclusion through creative means. Micki is a new, contributing author to the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series and Eyes on BC magazine. She has fought and won the long battle of depression and her hope is that the transparency in her writing, and the message behind the WOH project, will give hope to those who might otherwise feel like giving up. To find out how you can help make a difference go to: Website: www.worksofheartproject.com Facebook: worksofheartproject Twitter: WOHproject Instagram: worksofheartproject

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I also learned that lying was 'safer’ than the alternative. I turned inward; becoming lonely and isolated from others. Friendships were rare and superficial, at best. I was afraid to reveal the real me for fear of facing rejection. I carried these unhealthy dynamics into adulthood. A counsellor explained that, emotionally, I was like a twelve-year-old trapped inside an adult’s body. And I was still profoundly lonely, even when surrounded by friends or family. I kept people at a distance by plastering on a fake smile while, inwardly, feeling like a train wreck. I continually pushed my feelings aside for the sake of trying to make my relationships work. I became clinically depressed with daily thoughts of suicide, unbeknownst to everyone who knew me. But, thankfully, all that is ancient history. There is so much to celebrate in my life today and, for that, I am deeply grateful. Although there are still pieces of that insecure girl inside me, I have healed tremendously and am, for the most part, a happy, well-adjusted woman who likes the person she has become. I am no longer in an unhappy relationship, but one in which I am deeply loved, valued and respected for who I am. This is my new normal. And even more importantly, I have a healthier respect for myself and am no longer a victim. And, at this stage of my life, I am blessed with

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many authentic friendships with people who also love me for who I am. Now, my wish is that others might somehow benefit from my journey to wholeness; knowing there is hope on the 'other side'. I would love to go back in time and console that lost, little girl and let her know she was okay. Better than okay; she was amazing. I'd like to tell her that her thoughts, feelings and opinions had value. That she had value. Perhaps I could have saved her from toxic relationships and years of heartache. When something felt wrong to her, perhaps she would have had the confidence to speak up and insist on better treatment. Maybe she would have understood that she had every right to be heard and acknowledged. What a gift I could have given her or, rather, my younger self. I would also tell her, "You deserve the best life has to offer and to be loved unconditionally. Listen to your inner voice because it usually tells you what you need to hear. Believe in yourself and don't be afraid to ask for what you need. You are worth it. And never settle for a relationship with anyone who thinks otherwise.” I believe that when we value ourselves, we tend to attract people who will do the same. We all have our journeys and hardships to go through. Some are tougher than others. When we look at someone, we rarely see the turmoil going on inside them. Perhaps, if we did, we would be a lot kinder and less judgmental. Instead of making assumptions, I try to ask myself, "What has this person gone through and what are they going through now?" We may never know the answers to those questions, but it could make a difference in how we treat them. Regardless of our backgrounds, race, colour, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation...we are all just human beings who want to be accepted, appreciated and loved. Be kind to others, but also… to yourself.~

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