Who am I and Why do I do what I do?
My name is Ernestine.
I love creating things.
And I have a fragile ego.
For years I have desired to see my experiences mirrored. To see that I am not alone. I share my own awkward encounters with My Fragile Self to create more understanding, honesty and kindness towards it. I believe in the power of story telling and collective healing.
See Fragile Thursday or #myegosofragile : https://www.instagram.com/p/
At the same time I know that working with our fragile ego’s is a responsibility we hold towards the world. Though we may not have been responsible for the destructive forces that caused our inner fragmentation we are responsible for healing from this.
I know for this kind of healing we ultimately need collective liberation. You can’t heal if your world is fundamentally unsafe. I am invested in both inner and outer work.
See My Trauma-Sensitive Manifesto: https://www.instagram.com/p/
I am a white, class-privileged, wealthy, disabled, cis-woman based in the Netherlands. Those are some of the identity locations and experiential worlds that I speak from. I also speak from deeply knowing the destructive force of toxic shame. Toxic shame has been at the heart of cycles of emotional abuse in my family.
As an activist I burned out age 22. I struggled with anxiety and depression before but this was different. Enter my first mental health crisis [read lying paralyzed in fear in various locations for hours on end.]
After some time off I went back to activism work whilst doing therapy on the side. I spent many anxiety-filled days on my laptop trying to organise and remain to be ‘the-best-ally-ever’ whilst wrecked with terror on the inside. But I couldn’t stop.
At age 25 my father died and my partner ended our relationship in the same period of time. Unknowingly I had been emotionally abusive to him. This led to my second mental health crisis [read almost throwing myself of an apartment building].
I suddenly had to both forgive my dying father for his abuse and find a way to account for mine.
The world had made sense when my father had been an unforgivable monster but now I was one too. I was so overtaken by the belief that I was a deeply bad person [read toxic shame] that it nearly killed me.
At the same time deep loss and heartbreak opened my heart in hitherto unknown ways. I could suddenly access my intuition. Underneath the severe depression and anxiety was a voice saying that I had to leave. I spent the next two years trying to follow this voice whilst fighting to regain my desire to live.
I mostly spent it living in various Buddhist Retreat Centers. There I learned about Trauma and specifically Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This supported me understanding why my life had been what it was.
Why I had been so weird, so unable to cope with the basics of life, so constantly terrified.
The framework of trauma also radically altered my perspective on the world. Besides seeing how much I had been acting out of a sense of unworthiness I suddenly saw how pervasive it was around me. How much destruction it causes. I felt the pain of how deeply unfree many of us feel. How we are controlled by shame . How it makes us act out. How we need spaces to heal.
To reconnect with a sense of belonging that runs deeper. To find safety in our bodies. To learn to live with the fragility & vulnerability that comes with being alive. This is the work I feel called to do.
This is [some] of my story in short.
I currently live at home with my mother in The Hague. Some months ago I was hit by debilitating Chronic Fatigue due to traumatic stress.