Dear Critics: My Writing Is Not For You
I woke up at 4:30am Sunday morning to pee and noticed my phone going off like crazy. I shouldn't have (I really need to turn my phone off at night), but I leaned over and with one eye open read a slew of messages coming in realtime by some woman via messenger.
Maybe she was half in the bag, maybe not, but she was firing off all of these dictatorship-like demands about my writing in my recent blog surrender. this is life.
She was telling me not to be angry and to go back in and change all of my blogs to remove the swear words then started laying into me about how much I swear in my writing.
My first thought? ... "I'm sorry (not really), but did I fucking ask for your opinion?"
I think her heart was in the right place as she also was saying that she appreciated my work and liked what I’m doing but that I wouldn’t get far if I keep showing up like this for my business.
I didn’t respond though I really took some time to think about her message from an objective place. I thought:
"Could this actually be a sweet message that's just covered in shitty judgement and attempted dictatorship BUT could also help me to avoid problems or make my life easier?"
I really sat with it for a while and decided, no. It's just shitty judgement and attempted dictatorship.
I have spent years working with different coaches and therapists to let go of perfectionism and a constant fear of judgement that kept me stuck for years, afraid to voice an authentic opinion or teach.
One of my coaches and dear friends, Billy Anderson, of the Courage Crusade, helped me realize that I am inappropriate and that is my strength and uniqueness in life. And to lean into that more, without fear, because it's ok to be an individual who does things like get body painted then go to dinner naked then later stroll into Footwork to see Maceoplex and dance all night.
Yup. I did that. And it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life.
Also that it's ok to dress in dominatrix gear to march down Church St at PRIDE because my 'inappropriate' mind thinks "I'm sick of society telling us we're not allowed to completely own our sexuality, whatever that looks like".... So, fuck it. Walk naked in fetish gear to say:
"You don't own mine, my tribe's or anyone else's right to express themselves exactly how they want to!"
I've always had a fierce dedication to protecting and being an advocate for those being oppressed, judged or mistreated. And right now, that advocacy is directed toward mental health. And right now, I'm choosing to share my real and raw emotions to show that it's ok to own the dark side, the 'shadow' side AND the anger.
And yes, I swear. Yes, that's regarded as inappropriate to some. But that's who I am, and tbh those people aren't my target audience anyway. Anyone who can't handle a little raw emotion in a blog should probably unsave, unfollow, unfriend me and find a new place to dwell online.
I will not be told how to express myself when the purpose of my writing is to break stigmas, be an advocate for mental health and share my own story as a way of teaching instead of solely lecturing on what I’ve learned in courses.
I understand the deeply vulnerable position I’m putting myself in by writing the way that I do. I am fully aware that by sharing my personal health and life stories that it is going to come with a lot of judgment. And I’m OK with that. Because as I’ve mentioned before
The purpose for me to do this outweighs any troll who wants to critique my writing.
I write for the women and men who feel broken. Who don’t understand why they have negative cyclical patterns with mental and physical health that leave them feeling defeated confused and riddled with self judgment.
As an addict, mental health issues is what kept me on my couch all day for 10 years (super not kidding). It kept me not going back to school, not asking that amazing guy out because I thought he was too good for me (majorly low self-esteem issues), slinging drinks seven nights a week and getting hammered to numb the anxiety as it was the only thing that could calm me down enough to have zero thoughts.
Mental health and addiction steals peoples lives. We hide under rocks, away from people who could potentially hurt us or call us on our dysfunction.
And you know what makes it all even worse?
Feeling like you're the only one who's struggling in that way.
My brand is obviously shifting from being solely focused on personal training and whole food nutrition. Those aspects of my brand aren't going anywhere, as they are the roots of my centre of gravity.
Without exercise and clean nutrition I wouldn’t have come as far as I have. But I didn’t always start there and the road to recovery is what I’m talking about more in my writing.
My hope is that everything I share helps even just one person to take back control of their life and find the power to take the steps to their own road to recovery.
A life where they can workout regularly, eat with self love and free from anxiety of how it’s going to affect their gut, body composition or self worth. A life where they can say no to the things that hurt them and accept from all of the places that don't.
That road is all that matters to me, people who don’t understand this work and judge me, they don’t matter.
I could’ve been easy for me to read that woman’s message on Sunday morning and begin to think that I am fucked up. That I need help and that I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. It could be easy for me to abandon all of the work I've done to be brave enough to show up in this world and life in the way that feels right to me...to abandon that calling, that passion that burns in my chest everyday to share a message that will hopefully help others...
But what kind of life is that?
It takes a lot of guts to share parts of yourself that you know many people are not going to understand and are going to judge. But I’m willing to take that risk because if you who is reading this right now feels even just a little less alone, a little less afraid of the road to recovery - if you feel better even just for the time that you’re reading my story, I do this for you.
We aren't meant to be under this amount of stress. Think back on all the millions of years that we’ve evolved. Life was simple. Now we have career goals and Instagram goals and relationship goals and fitness goals and we want to be mothers and wives and executives and part of the PTA and travel find our life‘s purpose and our soulmate.
There is so much social pressure and it seems like nobody is asking:
Can our bodies and minds handle this?
So, if you who is reading this is thinking "Oh my god she's sharing way too much". or "OMGGGG she’s lost her mind what is she doing?". Or "Wow I don’t like her tone she should really ease up." Please know that my writing is not for you. My brand is not for you. And I kindly ask that you unfollow me and direct your energy towards somebody who is more aligned with your values.
Because it is my right to show up in my life and my business and for my community the way that I choose.
I do not hurt people. I dream of a society that is free from homophobia, racism, sexism, violence. I believe in being kind and having an empathetic heart. I believe in charity and I believe in not judging others on their experience or opinions.
But... I also swear. And I also talk about tough mental health issues. And I also speak about addiction. And that doesn’t make me a bad person, that doesn’t make me crazy or unprofessional just because it makes you uncomfortable.
I have hand tattoos and facial piercings, I swear and I am sometimes negative.
I don’t fit in a box I don’t believe in conforming to societal expectations. Because I am not hurting anybody, my heart is in the right place and I’m hoping to connect others who feel like misfits and broken souls.
And that. That matters more to me than whether you think I’m being appropriate or not.
I am angry. And anger is a completely normal and healthy emotion and part of the healing process. I feel like when people are angry everybody wants to throw suggestions on how to make them not be.
You are stealing a part of the healing process from others when you project your need of an anger-free environment on them. If you're reading somebody’s work and you don’t like their anger, just a suggestion, don’t read it.
Now don’t get me wrong, anger with violence or hurt is not OK. But somebody expressing their anger through creative writing or vocalizing they’re opinion and experience is cathartic and it's their right.
I’m an advocate for mental health and addiction recovery, yes. I believe people need to act a little bit less with perfectionism, fuck it, a lot less from perfectionism. We need to not apologize for our experience. We need to accept what we’re feeling and not apologize for it. And we also need to ask for help when the time is right.
If you’re still reading this and are still here with me, know that my heart is with you. I believe in you and I love you. From the deepest place in my soul I know that you have what it takes to build a life and experience free from chronic mental health issues and physical pain.
It takes tenacity, it takes hard work it also takes an open mind and vulnerability. But you have all of that inside of you should you choose to tap into it.
Life might not look the way that we thought it would. My life definitely has turned out differently than I thought it would.
But that’s not a bad thing.
I will be writing more about all of this. Here in my blogs but also in the book I'm writing. It's all about my experiences as an addict who has suffered from PTSD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia a brain injury and more (I know...intense. I'm literally not joking, all of this has happened to me).
Because that has been my life's work...to work through and overcome that. And if I had a place to go every day and read about others who also suffer from these things and how they work through it it would have been healing balm for my soul and heart.
I suffered alone. I suffered with judgment. I chose boyfriends who thought I should’ve been more. I should’ve been different, I should’ve been healthier, stronger, more resilient, less dramatic etc. I chose the wrong people, over and over.
A lot of people don’t understand mental health issues and that can further send us into a tailspin. It's not our job to change peoples' minds.
Our problem and responsibility is for us to understand ourselves so we can care for ourselves, repair and support ourselves, then change our lives.
It isn’t someone else’s job to understand and accept us, but if and when they do, magic happens.
So, to that woman who wrote me on Sunday, if you’re reading this, know that I am OK if it turns out that I am sabotaging my ability to grow faster in my career because of how I’m writing. Because it’s authentic and it’s from my soul and it’s my life‘s purpose and that is my decision, not yours.
I write this for you, the misfit, the heartbroken soul, the one with a sick physical body who was afraid there’s no way out. For the one who's afraid to use their voice and speak their truth.
You, sweet soul, are who I am doing this for.
I was recently told "The hardest lessons are given to those who are here to create the most change". That stopped me in my tracks when I heard it. What else can I do with my experience but find a way to transmute it into positivity for others?
What's the alternative, suffer in silence and not share what I've learned that's helped me heal? Because of fear of judgement? No thank you.
We are stronger than we think and we are changing evolution by fighting for not only are survival before our right to thrive.
Pave that way, you are a trailblazer. You are loved. And you are capable.
Be well with hope,
Cassandra Hope RHN + CPT