For Stephanie Sansen, that lesson has been pivotal in creating the person she is today. The 31-year-old Torontonian has lived through a period she describes as the most terrifying time of her life.
Stephanie was doing all the ‘right’ things: she had lots of friends, a career, a house, a husband. But she was just coasting in life, not really awake, not really present. When Stephanie became ill and found herself in a major health crisis, everything changed. She fell into depression and began to lose herself in a growing darkness of panic and anxiety. Her connection with the person she thought she was slipped away. She couldn’t get out of bed and, after a number of years, she stopped wanting to, unsure that she could still do it.
Never before had she felt such terror, her world seeming to turn itself upside down. It led to losing friends, their house and her independence for a time. Stephanie was terrified of the changes happening to her, of losing the life she’d built, of no longer being the funny, charismatic person she’d been, of not being able to ground herself in any of the things that she once used to define her. She gave away her power for a time, letting doctors tell her what she was experiencing, allowing others to decide what she needed to feel well again. They were the most frightening years of Stephanie’s life.
But through the darkness, something was calling Stephanie to wake up. It wasn’t until she’d had enough of the dark that something shifted. One day, Stephanie woke up and knew that she needed to tell herself: I am healthy, vital and free. The words flowed to her and she repeated them. She repeated them again and again, like the words were everything she had.
She started to shift and flow and connect with herself again. She began to be inspired by the changes she could make, rather than hoping someone else would come and make a change for her. She had had the loving support of family and friends and the help of a psychologist, but it felt like it was no use until she wanted it bad enough, until she made the decision, for herself, to be well again.
As she began to take back her power, Stephanie realized that she was the only one who could make the change. She saw that her fear of loss had been far more frightening than the reality of the transformation. She had survived, come through the depths of a terrible darkness and was creating a growing light within: she was starting to get to know herself.
She let life flow around her, let it happen; she let herself surrender to her connection with the universe, to trust in her journey. She embraced that things would happen that scare her, that there would be difficult paths to tread and bumps in the road. She found peace and lightness in the realization that if she could make it through the darkness of that disconnection from herself and the world, she could make it through just about anything.
Through the continued help of the supportive and loving people around her (her healthy tribe, as she calls them) and, especially, her almost 3-year-old niece, Stephanie began to see how to appreciate beauty, how to interact with the magic of life and how to get back up after a fall. She didn’t want to live her life on autopilot anymore. She wanted to free her inner child, the one calling to her to wake up, to become one with herself and stand in her power.
Stephanie is opening to life, trusting that everything will be OK and that it’s part of her journey and growth. She still has moments of self-doubt, but she’s better able now to pause and let go of the old fearful and reactive responses.
Stephanie is now a trained Reiki practitioner, will soon graduate with first class honours as a Certified Holistic Nutritional Practitioner from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition (the greatest gift she’s ever given herself) and hosts a monthly women’s wellness circle in the west-end of Toronto. Her work as a Reiki practitioner and light worker has drawn wonderful people into her life, in an almost magical way, continuing to grow her healthy tribe.
Stephanie marvels at her life today: she is definitely not the person she used to be and never in her wildest dreams would the old Stephanie have imagined this new life. She has great love and compassion for who she used to be, but she can’t imagine not being who she is today: so fulfilled, excited and passionate about life.
Contributing to SheTravels has been a humbling experience and a great privilege for Stephanie. She believes that speaking about her journey to vitality and connection is what she’s on this earth to do. Guided by the compassion, understanding and empathy gained through her own experience, Stephanie continues to share what she’s learned and to help lift others out of the darkness and into their own light.
Article written by Amanda Milroy
Amanda is passionate about languages and writing and has a degree in translation and professional and technical communication. She’s honoured to be part of the SheTravels team and to help put these inspiring stories out into the world.