Alison is a long time friend of mine and this is one of my favourite interviews because every time I watch and listen to her self love journey, I learn something new. In this interview, rather than our usual questions, I gave Alison three quotes and asked her to respond to them. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us Alison!
Alison came from a family of chaos, abuse, and a lot of addiction issues. When Alison had her own family she wondered how she would parent when she was never parented herself.
When you bring up your family you want them to have a better experience than you started from. As life went on the trauma kept showing up most often where and when she didn’t need it to show up. It all came to a head when her daughter was assaulted and the incident changed her life. It was her daughter, who survived and is blossoming getting through the trauma with grace and dignity, that inspired Alison–she needed to match that. Alison went for therapy and had to learn to love herself because she was not loved as a child in a way that would allow her to be an emotionally stable person. She was filled with a lot of anger and resentment. Alison felt she didn’t have validity to be here on earth and that her only purpose in life was to look after her alcoholic mother who raged at her everyday. Through these experiences Alison learned that her purpose was to meet everyone else’s expectations. The thought that Alison could have a life of her own and be her own person was a totally foreign idea. Through a process of ten years of working through the traumas she experienced as a child, she now has much reverence for the process of self love. Her caveat for anyone thinking I don’t love myself and I need to work through this would be–it sounds easy but it isn’t. It’s hard work and worth doing the work no matter how long it takes you or how late in life you start your journey. In 2014 Alison came to a realization, that if she got cancer and died she would have no regrets because she had finally come to a point where she loved herself. Learning to love herself was an epiphany and she hopes that by sharing her story more people can come to that point.
Work on being in love with the person in the mirror who has been through so much but is still standing.
“That statement is me–now let me put some context to that,” she said. When Alison was in therapy, her therapist asked her, “Why do you think through all of this you’ve been able to keep going?” At first Alison didn’t know and she pushed Alison to really think about it and Alison said “I just have this need to persevere and put one foot in front of the other.” Upon later reflection, Alison realized that down deep inside, she’s an optimist who sees beauty in every corner of the world. Alison kept seeing the beauty and grabbing on to it–connecting with it even if she wasn’t conscious she was doing that. That belief in the beauty of the world, kept her going.
Alison admits, she couldn’t meditate to save her soul and went for long meditative walks instead. She walked everywhere in order to stop the rumination that was usually negative thoughts or things that were bringing up anger and resentment. Walking calmed it all down so she could be at peace for those moments.
The more you love yourself, the less nonsense you’ll tolerate.
Alison quips that she thinks that’s just getting older. She feels lucky to be older because her parents both died at 52 and her brother at 36. Alison is more tolerant and less tolerant as she has aged. She is less tolerant of people who have harsh judgements of her or other people having lived that as a child and as a young adult. Alison explained, “I’m not that person but I can be drawn into the negativity and I didn’t want to stay around people who are negative and judgmental anymore–catty women, or holier than though people. ” She’s not tolerant of that. Instead of fighting them and lashing out, she cleaned house of all the people that did not bring her joy, positivity and kindness. Kindness, compassion and joy became so much a cornerstone of her life. Now she is able to just walk away from those people.
On the other hand, Alison is extremely tolerant of different ways of living. She knew when she was 11 that her brother was gay before that was even a term. He was who he was from birth. She loved him dearly and it was very painful to her when he took his life. She has compassion for alcoholics even though she lived a miserable life around alcoholics, Alison understands that these people are suffering. Alison has much empathy and compassion for people who don’t love themselves. Empathy because we’ve all been there.
Alison believes that sometimes we’re going too fast and we don’t realize we’re just all human beings just putting one foot in front of the other. Although there are things you shouldn’t tolerate like the judgment and judging of others, there are things we control for the most part–our actions and our decisions around who we spend our time with. When you spend time with healthy, happy, positive people with strong values it affects you. Alison pays attention to who she spends time with now, whereas before she was too concerned with being liked and accepted. She would mold herself to be accepted. Now she realizes,
To love yourself is to understand you don’t need to be perfect to be good.
Alison was not a perfectionist but she was really hard on herself. Anybody’s judgment crushed her and she would be mad at them and then mad at herself and then resentful and it just created a vicious cycle. She’s learned to cut that off and have boundaries around herself. Alison learned to know what she could and could not do and be okay with that. You’re not meant to meet other people’s expectations. Learn your own boundaries and respond to them. She believes that we have access to way too many other people’s voices through social media and we need to find time where we can listen to our own voice whether it be through meditation (she’s getting better at it) or meditative walks. These other voices are distractions and tempt us to respond to every other voice out there but our own–they make you think you have to do this or that. We need to sit with ourselves and remind ourselves that we are good enough.
Alison jokes that she’s glad she didn’t live during Pinterest–she would have had a nervous breakdown. Her daughter reminded her of all the fancy cakes she made for her birthday and Alison said, “I did it and I enjoyed it but there was always part of me that was questioning, am I doing this because I want people to see what I can do so you’re more apt to accept me. Now if I were to make fancy cakes, it would be simply because it was fun to do and it would be okay if it didn’t work out Pinterest ready. Part of that is the wisdom that comes with age.
Alison’s final piece of wisdom was that the journey is worth it. It can be very painful especially when you bring up dark times but make the effort–get a therapist to assist you along the way. She found journaling her journey helped Alison listen to her own voice. Sometimes the voice says you didn’t handle that well. Don’t beat yourself up–it’s okay, just stay focused and moving forward-making little changes on whatever resonates with you. For Alison, she found the book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz with Janet Mills very helpful. The four agreements are: Speak Impeccably; Have the courage to ask questions; Don’t take anything personally; and At the end of the day, Do your Best.
Broadcast Love is grateful for you sharing this crucial journey with us Alison and we wish you many years of love and joy.