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Dropping The Mask: Showing Up As We Truly Are
I will offer you something very special and probably a bit unusual. I will offer you my raw, naked, true story with only one intention, to walk my talk. In my last episode, I have shared with you how there is undeniable power in exposure. How when we show ourselves in the most truthful version of ourselves, we show the highest form of integrity and how if we have to hide the parts we label inadequate such as our feelings around something, we’re denying a part of our self. If we want to live an empowered life where we are the captain of our reality, we have to start by showing up as the person we truly are. I thought, “Why not tell you my story?” I can’t ask things from you without giving myself to you fully. I’m not afraid of it. In fact, I think that being real gives me freedom. Not having to hide makes me feel empowered and I can focus on the things that truly matter. Writing this story for you has been a real process. You are confronted with the naked truth about who you have been, what has happened to you and who you have become for exactly these reasons. It is also a way of coming to terms with all of it so you can leave it behind and move forward. Here’s my story for you.
For as long as I can remember, I felt like I lived in a bubble. I’m disappearing into the void, feeling deeply alone and isolated. I was walking through life with a very heavy heart. I had a deep feeling of being extremely stupid and ugly and hated by most. I carried this unmet longing of I didn’t know what for. In kindergarten, my teacher said, “Only after some time I don’t know what to do with her anymore.” As a matter of fact, I was the one repeatedly taking over adult responsibilities such as crafting fruit animals for the kids or accompanying the boys to the toilet. She suggested to my parents that I should already be joining first grade. My parents took me for evaluation. My tests were all positive and the overall feedback was that I was socially seen as too mature, so my parents decided to enroll me early. As a result, school was extremely hard for me every time I changed levels but by the end of each level, I was always able to catch up. It was a struggle more than a walk in the park. I started out being very popular. I could have had any boy in my class. That lasted during the first grade but somehow, after that, everything completely changed. I felt that I became invisible.
By the time puberty hit, I felt thoroughly awkward hating my body and everything about myself. My breasts would not develop much, and the feeling of being ugly and stupid took a whole new level. I looked in the mirror and simply felt disgusted by what I saw. There was absolutely nothing I liked about myself. The worst thing for me was that I had nowhere to go with my feelings as at home I was never really invited or asked to share what was going on for me. The only way that helped me deal with my feelings was to turn to singing. Already as a child, I lay in bed at night and instead of sleeping, I sang until my father came in and said in a determined but calm way, “Enough with the concert now. Go to sleep.”
At the age of thirteen or fourteen, I joined a music class at school. We rehearsed for a performance when I heard for the first time that I can actually sing really well. My teacher said to me, “You have to sing something more difficult.” I chose I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston and for my young age, I smashed it. Everyone in the class was blown away and I got quite some attention from a very cute-looking boy who also sung really well. We partnered up for a challenging Italian duet called Amarti è l’immenso per me. It’s by Eros Ramazzotti and Antonella Bucci.
We went on to sing at a competition and we actually won. Singing was a very innocent thing for me but what happened after my performance on stage was really devastating for me. Each and every one of my girlfriends turned their back on me. They got jealous that they knew no better than to make me and my gift wrong. I had to deal with all the gossip and that really broke my heart for the first time. I could not wait for school to end. My heart was torn between choosing a regular career or a music career. I had been offered an elite musical school contract as well as a recording contract and yet I said no to either of it. For one, my parents could not afford the musical school and the music genre I was offered the contract for did not feel right to me. I remember crying for hours about this decision. I was afraid of choosing music for many reasons, but first and foremost, I had this deep knowing that I was not good enough and I would never make it.
Music Vs. Business
At the age of 23, I made a final decision to go for the business. In order to never regret that decision, I said to myself, “You better become really successful in business now so you won’t have to regret not choosing music ever.” I worked like a crazy person. To be successful in business was easy for me. Already by the age of 22, I earned nearly $100,000 a year and stepped into leadership quite immediately after. Just a year later, I was promoted again and this time, into the sales team working with mostly 40 to 50-year-old experienced male sales executives selling big deals to CEOs of the Swiss market. I remember many times the top C-level executive staring at my ass when I presented a project on the flip chart, which made me feel highly uncomfortable.
However, I brought in the deals immediately. I attended my very first sales meeting on my own right away and basically verbally closed the deal of $30,000 with an industrial Swiss company CEO. When I came back, my boss said, “That’s exactly why I wanted you here. I knew you can do it.” I was a shooting star in the company and worked daily for twelve hours with easily two exceptions a week of around fifteen, sixteen hours. I was often ordered to leave my emotions outside the meeting room when joining the big guys. Having a very artistic, creative and emotional nature, it really nearly killed me to pretend so much and after a long fight with myself, I left the company. I found a great job right away and went on to study communication, a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich.
For four years, I worked four days a week with two days at school plus endless hours of learning at home. At that time, I worked for an IT recruiting company where we lent IT personnel to our clients. Together with my boss, I founded the Junior Academy where we offered internships to young apprentices who wanted to switch careers into the IT industry, but who were on the first glance, not suitable market candidates. However, we took onboard the ones who showed great potential beyond their what seemed like an inadequate CV. They were placed in our customers’ projects to gain practical IT experience. They went to school for education and I gave them coaching and personal development courses so they could not only grow professionally but also personally.
I was a fierce, tough, but very dedicated and a deeply caring leader. My juniors knew that I’d stand up for them anytime. I knew already then that achieving something meaningful comes with temporary failures and I always left room for them to make mistakes. I gave this project all my heart and soul and I loved to be able to make a positive change in their life. I successfully integrated almost a hundred young people in the market and helped them to kickstart what turned out to be a successful career for about 80% of them. It still fills me with great joy when I read online how they keep progressing on a personal as well as professional level. One of the juniors turned out to become both my biggest nightmare and angel of awakening at the same time. He was a year younger than I was and we met for a meeting to discuss his performance and career. That’s when the typical love addict, which was me, met the perfect match made in hell, the avoidant love addict, which was him.
You have already learned probably quite a couple of things about him in my episodes, but let me tell you what followed was one and a half years of the most horrible relationship I had ever had. I entered an abusive cycle of attraction, pursuit, denial, idealization, manipulation, loss of self, dumping, ghosting, hovering back in and repeat, repeat, repeat until I sat on a psychologist’s chair asking him to take me off work because I felt like I really can’t do life anymore.
After one and a half years where he had dumped me easily, ten times already, he left for a trip to America for two months, which was my only chance to get away from him. He was mean and manipulative and I was weak and needy. Seven years later, I was 35 by then, he came back into my life asking me for another chance. He said he had realized what had happened and he’s deeply sorry. Having a naïve nature and quickly remembering and feeling the intense feelings again, I said to myself, “As long as it feels right and good, I’ll give him a chance.” Like a typical love addict, I labeled my love for him, true love or soul mate love. The first two months were heaven on earth and I felt like I finally landed love jackpot. We had waited with making love for about one and a half months until we went for a spa weekend.
I gave him a really loving massage and he turned around making love to me instead of waiting longer as he had planned originally. That lovemaking was so close, so deep and so connected, out of this world really. This is what used to freak him out, but this time I thought it’s going to be different. That connected lovemaking is what re-triggered his fears again. The next morning, when I woke up happy and in love, he did not talk to me the whole day. From that moment on, he was back in his old self. Not as mean and unaware, but certainly the push-pull dynamic started to act out again, which triggered my fear of abandonment again and then I became my old self, the needy, fearful and controlling one. I actually believed that he had all the right intention to do better and I really thought he had learned from his past mistakes.
The point is if we understand something in our mind, it doesn’t mean that the triggers are gone. The triggers will still be there and we keep acting out because it is involuntarily. Our system is wired like that. Realizations in my experience happened only after feeling the feelings behind a trigger deeply and then the brain makes a conclusion that will have a great impact and allow sustainable change. Why this works I have explained in many previous episodes. This time I knew better and I loved myself much more. It was, nevertheless, the most painful experience and break up that led me to do this work, because what I faced in it was death. I actually thought that I’m going to die without him. The pain was excruciating.
A Trail Of Broken Relationships
By that time, I was used to staying with the pain and working with it. Having him return to my life allowed me to actually integrate and deeply understand what I have come to conclude in therapy for the past year by that time. That is why he is my awakening angel and I am forever grateful for what I learned through relating with him again. By this time, I had already had a trail of broken relationships. My experiences with men were mostly very painful. Everywhere I turned, I met an absence of love, sexual rejection, and proof that something about myself was not good enough, emotional abuse and dependency.
Repeatedly, I found myself in situations that were so painful, oftentimes overstepping also my sexual boundaries as I confused sex with love a lot and often I tend to quickly lose myself in relationships. In other words, I kept searching for that love in every relationship and I tried everything to fill that emptiness and feeling of unworthiness. I also kept recreating what I came to believe in myself and love due to my adverse childhood. I vividly remember my first time. I was almost sixteen years young and it was with a boy four years older than myself. He was already sexually active and he has been with a girl for quite a while.
Somehow, we had met and he seemed to be interested. I was flattered and I wanted to be a big girl. I had never made love before so when we got together, I told him I’m not ready so soon. After he left, which really devastated me because it triggered a deep wound of rejection, after only a short break of maybe a month or two, we met again at a school party. We ended up in the bedroom of my house where my family lived, and this time I gave in. I let him take my virginity even though I still did not feel ready, but it seemed a better idea at that moment than feeling the pain of rejection and inadequacy again. It did not take a long time and I knew my mom was going to be home soon. We came home early in the morning after partying all night and we just did it.
It didn’t mean much to him and a couple of days later I was the slut. I heard from a guy in the village that he went around saying to people, “I just fucked her until she bled.” When I heard that, I almost had a mental breakdown. I reached out to my dad and told him about it, but it didn’t make me feel much better. I kept suffering. Another time, I was only twelve or thirteen years young, I remember finding myself in a situation at a beach at night with two boys holding one cock in each of my hands and hearing one guy tell the other in French, “Her breasts are so small.” I felt my heart breaking again. There were many other very hurtful examples, but the point is I kept confusing sex with love and of course I was not aware of it at that young age.
To this day, I have not experienced a relationship that was filled with the love I wished for and full acceptance of who I was. Sure there were many moments, but it was not the overall tone of any of my relationships with guys and I ended up suffering sooner or later. For almost all of my life, I did not understand how I kept attracting all of that until my awakening, until my heart broke for a million and last time with that ex that came back into my life. I was finally able to draw the right conclusions after having done extensive therapy about my childhood and the early absence of love in my life and learning how to feel instead of acting out. Repressing feelings will lead to great damage in life. I know that the repressed anger I had is what led to the horrible experience I made at the age of 21 when a group of teenagers attacked me.
How my anger invited abuse
I went abroad to study English and only in the first week I went to the beach with my friends. One girl came over and asked my friends for a cigarette. I was a couple of meters away. I could feel that something was off there. I went to check out what was happening. I could feel a feeling coming up that I hadn’t really experienced before. I felt like I somehow wanted to trigger a reaction in her, so I said, “We don’t have any.” I said it with that energy of a challenging, “You B**ch, we don’t have any!” It was an opportunity delivered to me getting rid of some of my repressed anger and so I used it. In other words, I acted my repressed anger out in an unconscious way and what followed was her fist in my face and then her friends immediately joined her to beat me up. They hit me, they kicked me, pulled my hair out and repeatedly jumped on me from a two-meter wall.
I was lucky, a guy came along after what seemed like an hour but was really only a couple of minutes to stop them. They ran away and I fell into a shocked state. Being this naïve girl from Switzerland, never having experienced such rough handlings, it really hit me deeply. I was so afraid after that and it clearly had a tremendous impact on me, especially the shame and guilt I had around, deserving what happened to me was really not an easy thing. I have had a part in it, but I did definitely not deserve to be attacked like that. Repressed emotions will always come out and mostly in very unhealthy, uncontrollable ways that will eventually cause more pain. That is why I am a feeling advocate, encouraging people to feel instead of acting out. By feeling the feelings, we can create healing. By acknowledging our feelings and express them in a healthy way, we show the highest form of integrity towards ourselves and also others.
Fear accompanied me deeply until I was about 35. Already at two to three years old, I woke up in the middle of the night in terror, unable to move, paralyzed, until I finally made my way over to my parents’ bedroom where my dad lifted the blanket and I crawled in quietly to sleep between my mom and my dad, trying not to wake up my mom. She was exhausted from a hard day. We grew up really poor and both my parents had to work hard to make a living. She was not exactly delighted to have me disturb her sleep.
I kept having that same dream. I screamed at the top of my lungs, but no voice came out. Over and over again, I didn’t know by then what it meant. Later on, it became very clear how I longed for my mom to actually hold me and ask me, “Why are you afraid, honey? Tell me all about it. I am here with you.” I was saying, “Mommy, where are you? You’re lying right next to me and still, I can’t see you. I can’t feel you. Who are you?” My mother generally felt more like a guest in my life. I know that we failed to bond when she had to go to work when I was only one month old. My parents had rented a little hotel and they were managing it, the two of them, including a restaurant. This meant that they worked from 11 AM until late at night pretty much every day.
I and my sister had a nanny taking care of us. The stress my parents had to deal with almost resulted in a divorce. My dad was clear that he did not want to break up the family, so he made a bold move to stop doing what they did and look for a regular job. This resulted in personal bankruptcy and soon later, people came to our house to take away pretty much anything we had left. My father went on to get a job, brought my mom into the same company and things became a little better. At least no more late-night work shifts. My mother was a very hurt woman. Her childhood left huge marks on her heart. She was physically and emotionally badly abused and carried around so much pain, anger and frustration. She did not know how to deal with it other than acting her pain out unconsciously in our family.
This meant unexpected, harsh comments and her being mentally absent oftentimes. Not having had loving and deeply caring parents herself did not exactly teach her how to be a deeply connected mother either. She suffered a lot from the fact that she could not be the mother she really wanted to be. Her pain just took over in many situations. When I was really little, she tried to kill herself. That’s really how deep her pain went. I don’t remember having one heartfelt conversation with her until I reached the age of about 30. I came back from traveling abroad. When I first started personal development and therapy, I could never feel or access my feelings toward my mother in any way.
I had buried my mother wounds so deeply that I had real trouble accessing any of it. I was in huge denial about it as well and only over time and some serious deep feeling therapy, I was able to slowly start feeling and allowing the hurt I carried about the early absence of mother love. I ran from one workshop to another trying to feel better. I always hoped after this one, I’m sure I’ll feel better. Nothing helped. I kept being depressed, feeling unhappy and isolated. It was only when I committed to doing intense Primal Therapy at the Arthur Janov’s Primal Center in LA that my life started to shift 180 degrees.
Primal Therapy is a deep feeling therapy. You take the triggers in life to lead you back to where the pain really comes from and that ends mostly in childhood. When staying with these feelings for a prolonged period of time, deeply allowing them and expressing them, your system starts to relax and rewire. After about a year of what was initially a three-week long daily open-end session of two to three hours, half a year of two open-end sessions a week and a half-a-year of one open-end session a week, I started to feel better. I’m still doing the therapy because it helps me to keep access to my feelings open.
My whole life changed since then. My fears basically vanished. My feelings of not being good enough are only a very rare visitor. I was able to let go of all the things that did not serve me and I finally managed to step into my power and bring my gifts to this world. I found my current purpose, which is a big thing. By the time I am doing this podcast, I live a happy life in solitude with the most wonderful friends and family one could wish for. Doing the therapy has changed our family to the core. Most of our unhealthy dynamics are gone. I have had countless conversations with both my parents and my sister. I and my mom are closer than ever. I can finally feel her and I can go to my parents and be that little girl asking for help and freely express my love I have for them. I am finally free to meet my family. I’m deeply impressed by the courage and willingness they all showed when processing our wounds together. Besides, my mom and my dad relate on a whole new level. Just recently, they went on a spa trip and my mom happily shared, “It was like we were newlyweds.”
My sister and me, we used to not get along so well. We have a history of jealousy, but we love and respect each other and are there whenever one needs the other. I used to never really feel comfortable next to my parents and this awkward feeling is gone. All I feel is love, respect and immense gratitude for having parents who are so open and courageous to listen to me and deal with the pain that arose in them when I share with them what was difficult for me growing up. I have always been blessed with a powerful intuition and an almost clairsentient gift, meaning that I feel what people feel. It’s like I look at a table and I see that at the back of one leg, there is a hole, even if it isn’t really visible to my eye. I love people and I am deeply compassionate for the path they have walked. I respect them and their feelings and I give them space to express them and guide them in learning to actually do so. I have an innate longing to serve and actually find great pleasure in doing so.
I’ve been blessed with a pretty much super awareness ever since I was 27 and walked through life literally next to myself, constantly observing, reflecting and learning about how I show up in this world. I’m not afraid to apologize and I’m ready to admit when I’m wrong. I’ll keep holding myself accountable to never fall into the role of the I-know-it-all teacher. I don’t even like the word teacher. In all honesty, I am simply a girl who has realized something on a deep and profound level, and who has been called to share this with others who face the same battles.
What Love Addiction Is
I want to say that in this podcast, there is a clear definition of what love addiction is. I will provide a lot of knowledge around this subject, but you don’t need to be a full-on love addict to profit from this work I offer. The simple fact that something is not yet happening for you when it comes to love, sex, intimacy and relating means that you will draw immense value from the work I offer. As I have repeated before, my work is highly inspired by Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy. I’m not a therapist nor do I claim to heal anyone. What I do know though is that leveraging the incredible power of feeling instead of acting out can be applied to any situation in life. I promise you, it will change your life forever. You’ll finally be able to respect and love yourself to let go of unfulfilling relationships and create a life that you love.
All you need is the courage and the willingness to do the work. Let me tell you that what lies ahead of the process is quite magical. So stick with me and get to know me and you’ll see that these are in no way empty words. My purpose is given by spirit. I didn’t choose it. I was given it. I honor and finally make use of the many talents I have gracefully been given. What is the best way for you to work with me? You can either book me as your direct mentor or you can become part of my membership program that will help you overcome love addiction.
Through the membership, you’ll join a group of women who are on the same path and who help each other heal from love addiction. I’ll provide in-depth teachings and share all of the exercises that helped me wake up from love addiction. I’ll give live Q&As so you can bring anything you’re struggling with to the table, and not only will you overcome love addiction, but you’ll also learn how to feel instead of acting out, which I described in detail in my previous episodes of this podcast.
Just please remember to read from the very beginning as it builds up in a chronological order. You’ll benefit most this way. Head over to my page AleahAva.com, click on Membership and you’ll find more information. I want to thank you for reading my story. I really encourage you to write yours. Be as honest and as truthful as you can be. When you did it, take a really good friend and read it to them. You can maybe do it both together. It’s a really amazing exercise. If you need help, please reach out. I will be there. See you in the next episode. Be well.