Dearest reader: I am writing this for the one who never felt good enough. Who never felt smart enough. Who always felt different. Who never allowed their feelings to show. This is for you.
From a young age I remember being a feeler: sensitive to all that was around me. In middle school, I remember living on a street full of really beautiful trees and naming as many as I could. I would spend hours climbing them and telling them how I felt. I was basically trying to live out ‘Colors of The Wind’ from Pocahauntas. I moved a lot as a kid so I never really had a solid group of friends. Just a close friend here and there that I eventually would move so far from that I never really got to see much. I imagine this is why I turned to the trees. In 6th grade, I remember wearing a pair of really baggy wrangler-like denim jeans all of the time because we couldn’t afford Abercrombie. A girl that I thought was really lovely (based on her popularity and perfect hair perhaps) told me she really liked them and then laughed and snickered off with her friends. I never wore those jeans again. In 7th grade, a boy in my math class always made fun of this red-freckle-like-thing in the center of my forehead: saying I looked like I was from India(?). He also laughed and snickered off with his friends. I went home that night and cried to my mom, telling her I had to have my “dot” removed so kids wouldn’t make fun of me. She made me a laser-removal appointment that weekend and it was gone forever.
People always had things to say about me when I was growing up. It was like a never-ending list of imperfections. But you see, the trees never shared their opinions. They always loved me and supported me for who I was. In high school, something inside of me shifted. I wasn’t going to take any more bullshit from people and I was going to be indestructible by words and other people’s thoughts.
My mom was always very muscular and “healthy” and had a very strong-willed personality. I started to eat like her and showed interest in working out. I wanted a 6-pack because that would most likely mean I was strong and no one would fuck with me. Right? So I did just that. I started working out, I got and maintained a 6-pack, and I used my words to show people how tough I was. I basically began to build a shield around me so nothing could get in anymore. I never really cared to get good grades because none of it ever interested me but somehow maintained a B-average so I could play volleyball and do theatre. When my friends started experimenting with sex, alcohol, and marijuana: I did the opposite. I ran more, I lifted more, and I made sure every knew just that. I loved being the “strong” girl who was also a prude. I ate that title up even though most people used it in a condescending way. I had a lean frame with a large ass and boys were always making comments about just that. Instead of letting any boy near, I used their words as fuel and kept them at a distance. People who were friends with me really liked me and people who were not friends with me thought I was a cocky bitch. I was and I was proud of it.
Once I graduated high school, I moved to San Francisco for college. I followed some similar routines: ate healthy, worked out too much, avoided alcohol and drugs. So naturally this meant I spent much time alone being “different.” But this time something shifted within me. I knew there was more to learn about this life and I was ready to dive deeper. I started doing things that your typical 20-year old wouldn’t do. I hired a personal trainer, which I always think back on as the best decision I ever made. I feel so lucky to have crossed his path at such a young age. To this day we are deeply connected friends. His life experience, wisdom, and self-clarity, opened up the doors and paths to healing for me. You know who you are and I am utterly grateful for you.
I slowly (and I mean slowly) began to take down my shield. I began to feel, a lot. I dove head first into holistic healing. I tried my first yoga class. I tried Tai Chi. I began speaking to nature again. I journaled. I sang. I became a certified holistic lifestyles coach. I traveled to Bali. I studied Bhuddism. I read every book on enlightenment and the divine. I began to OPEN the fuck up to everything that was around me. I felt 12-year old Bree resurface and remind me how beautiful it is to feel and be sensitive.
A lot has happened since then, and often I forget about sensitive, playful, youthful, 12-year old Bree. But she is always inside of me, reminding me to feel and to lead with my heart. It has taken me 15 years to find my way back to my 12-year old self. To my truth. To all my wounds and feelings. But now, I am home.