Finally, we read part 3 of Zara Barrie’s series about her journey through pain, self-medication, and recovery.
In this post, Zara ends her story of how she could forgive herself and experience true freedom.
Anyway, in today’s post you will learn the importance of forgiving yourself and letting go of shame. Possessing your truth and your story IS freedom, as Zara says. So let’s get to that right away.
When I received the most precious gem of truth, it was offered to me in life on planet Earth: feelings can’t kill you, running away from them can, my life, little by little, my life began to turn into something far more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.
With the help of a therapist with whom I felt safe and connected, I discovered life-changing magic that lives in every raw emotion. I’ve learned that feelings exist for a reason, other than simply tormenting us as we sweat and squirm through sleepless nights.
Sadness was the first feeling I looked into his eyes.
I’ve spent so many years numbing my grief with anything I could get my hands on: booze, drugs, obsessive calorie counting, empty sex, the list is endless – because I was so mortally afraid of what lived beneath it. But when our eyes first met, I realized that she was not the demon I had so fiercely feared. She was an angel! And she had extreme an important message to deliver to me. (As long as I indulged in it.)
So I indulged sad. I let the great waves of darkness wash my limbs. I cried. I cried so hard all my life the repressed tears that flowed from me. But most importantly, me spoke because of the sadness I felt. And as I talked about the pain I was suffering from, I began to discover why sadness had been rocking me in my heart all these years.
My heart was heavy with grief as dark, frightening things happened to me as a teenager that I stuffed into a box of locks that lived deep inside me. It was a sexual trauma that took away my innocence too soon. This memory that I worked so hard to erase from my brain was unusual … sad. And every time I felt sad – no matter what brought sadness on – I was thrown back into the embrace of my teenage trauma. And I never I wanted to go back to that place, so whenever I felt a crumb of sadness or vulnerability, I shut the fuck up. And running away from these feelings, not only would I risk my life – I also robbed myself of a life that was in harmony with who I was was.
I was born to create. Write. Perform. Connect with others through art. Part of what my grief was trying to tell me was, you need to live a creative life. And you can’t be creative if you’re a robot. (Trust me, baby, me tried).
Next, it was time to face my anxiety face to face. All my life I’ve been throwing him into the boxing ring with exhausting panic. And trust me. I’ve tried all the shit that wellness publications tell you to try. I meditated religiously. I practiced yoga. I got hooked on the crystals. None of which it succeeded. Because true wellness is based on one thing: the truth. You can’t juice cleanse trauma. You can’t meditate far on yourself. And for sure, no amount of dogs down will change your sexuality. (Damn, did I really try it). All of these wellness hacks can help you be safely grounded, but just like antidepressants, they don’t have the power to magically erase the ghosts that haunt and mock you every second of every day.
And my panic disorder, the one so acute that it made me fear the texture of the damn walls in my apartment – it was the result of not really owning my lesbian identity. I’ve been bisexual with friends for years, but I haven’t been honest with myself or anyone around me that I’m actually a one hundred percent lesbian princess.
I believe that our sexuality exists at the very core of what we are. It’s acceptable. It’s not something you can manage or manage micro (damn it, did I stab that too!). And if you are dishonest to the very core of what you are, you will have anxiety. Bad anxiety. Anxiety is a secret best friend. And it’s a toxic, addictive friendship. Those bitches are going everywhere together. And when anxiety and secrets hang out for too long, shame begins to feel left out. And shame is Queen B. There is no party she is not invited to.
And when the party is joined by shame, you are chained. Live in a lie teeming with anxiety i bathing in a dirty tub of shame at once. You could throw yourself in a prison cell and throw away the key.
Accepting my sexuality was like taking a pair of cutters and letting myself into the world as a free woman for first time. And I couldn’t have felt that sweet rush of freedom if I hadn’t done the job. That I didn’t respect my feelings. He faced trauma. Raw. No drugs. No drinks. Without slapping a nice filter over reality.
Our culture of rapid repair has created an epidemic of self-medication. We are all so collectively afraid that we will not be embarrassed. And experience the emotions, stare at the barrel of the past and have the courage to embark on what you you want more than what society has told you should I want, everything is wild, wildly uncomfortable. But I swear by Lana Del Rey, there’s gold tucked into the folds of the most awkward moments of your life.
Uncomfortable means growing up. That means things are moving around. That means your life is expanding! It means crawling through the mud and getting ready to cross to the other side, the side that will make you feel so much happier, brighter and more vibrant than where you lived. Now that I feel uncomfortable, I am grateful. Because I know that amazing things will be born from this great discomfort I am experiencing! Discomfort is what makes my future shine. Sparks appear when you do too push yourself. When you dig deep inside and pull out the truth. When you not only feel your feelings but also embrace them. I say, fuck your feelings like that star you’ve been craving since you were a teenager! Because to live a bright life means to be alive. Wake up. And be true, wholly wake him up to make you feel not only blissful, but also nauseating, confusing, complicated. Otherwise you sleep through life. And as someone who has slept walks through the decade, let me tell you honey: it is an empty existence. You deserve more.
Honestly, it wasn’t for me to sober up from the substances. It was about sobering up from lies and awakening the truth. For a while, I used drugs and alcohol as an emotional patch. But here’s the thing: the patch isn’t designed to last forever. You can constantly cover up the wound – you can take all the pills in the world to prevent you from feeling a brutal wound sting – but eventually the wound will become infected. Mine definitely knew. In fact, the infection entered my bloodstream and I was a sick person there for a while. But when I finally tore off that patch and let myself feel the burn and dared to stare at the damage that had been done, I began to heal. It was a pretty deep wound, so I still have to strive for it. There is still a risk of infection. He also left me a giant scar. But I’m not ashamed of that scar. I’m rocking him. I rock it like I’m rocking my massive vintage, stitched Chanel bag I found at a used thrift store in Florida! I think it’s a scar beautiful. Because, unlike before, I think everything is real – even if it’s flawed and bloody, awkward and fresh and weird – to really be, really beautiful.
I really hope you enjoyed this series Zara. It is so important to me to share stories about other women on my platforms and I am so grateful to Zara for taking the time to write us these parts.
+ get to know Zara better and watch her interview here.