Forgiveness and freedom

Finally, we read Part 3 of Zara Barrie’s series on her journey with pain, self-medication, and recovery.

In this article, Zara ends her story by explaining how she was able to forgive herself and experience true freedom.

If you missed parts 1 & 2 make sure you read them first to get the full story.

Either way, in today’s article you will learn the importance of forgiving yourself and letting go of any shame. Owning your truth and your story IS freedom, as Zara says. So let’s go straight.


When I was given the most precious gem of truth that I have ever been given in my life on planet Earth: feelings can’t kill you, run away from them can, my life, little by little my life started to turn into something much more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

With the help of a therapist with whom I felt safe and connected, I discovered the life changing magic that lives within every raw emotion. I’ve learned that feelings exist for a reason, other than just torturing us while we sweat and squirm on sleepless nights.

Sadness was the first sensation I looked in my eyes.

I had spent so many years numbing my sadness with everything I could get my hands on: alcohol, drugs, obsessive calorie counting, empty sex, the list is endss – because I was so scared of what was living under her. But when our eyes first met, I realized that she was not the demon I had so vehemently feared. It was an angel! And she had a extremely important message to deliver to me. (As long as I indulged in her.)

So I let myself feel sad. I let great waves of darkness invade my limbs. I cried. I cried so hard that a life of suppressed tears flowed from me. But most importantly, I was talking about the sadness I was feeling. And as I spoke about the pain I was in, I began to discover why the sadness had shaken her inside my heart for all these years.

My heart was heavy with sadness because there were dark and scary things that had happened to me as a teenager that I had put away in a safe that lived deep inside me. It was a sexual trauma that had stolen my innocence far too early in the game. This memory that I had worked so hard to erase from my brain was extraordinarily … sad. And every time I felt sad – no matter what bring sadness over – I was thrown back into the arms of my teenage trauma. And me never I wanted to return to this place, so whenever I felt a minimum of sadness or vulnerability, I was completely. And by running away from those feelings, not only would I put my life in danger – I had deprived myself of living a life that was in harmony with who I was. summer.

I was born to create. To write. To perform. Connect with others through art. Part of what my sadness was trying to tell me was, you have to live a creative life. And you can’t be creative if you’re a robot. (Trust me, baby, I has tried).

Then it was time to come face to face with my anxiety. I had fought in a boxing ring with debilitating panic all my life. And trust me. I’ve tried all the shit the wellness posts tell you to try. I meditated religiously. I did yoga. I clung to crystals. Nothing of it worked. Because true well-being is rooted in one thing: the truth. You can’t clean up trauma. You cannot meditate on your real self. And most certainly, no amount of declining dogs will change your sexuality. (Damn, did I really try with that one). All of these wellness hacks can help keep your feet on the ground for sure, but just like antidepressants, they don’t have the power to magically erase the ghosts that haunt and taunt you, every second. of every day.

And my panic disorder, the one that was so acute it made me fear the texture of the fucking walls in my apartment – it was the result of not really owning my lesbian identity. I had been bisexual with my friends for years, but I hadn’t been honest with myself or anyone around me saying that I was, in fact, a one hundred percent lesbian princess.

I believe our sexuality exists at the very core of who we are. It’s primordial. It’s not something you can control or micromanage (heck, have I tried that too!). And if you’re dishonest about who you are, you’re going to have anxiety. Wrong anxiety. Anxiety is a secret’s best friend. And it’s a toxic, co-dependent friendship. These bitches go all over together. And when the anxiety and secrets drag on for too long, shame begins to feel left out. And Shame is Queen B. There is no party she is not invited to.

And once the shame joins the fun, you’re in chains. You live a lie, teeming with anxiety and bathing in a dirty tub of shame all at once. You might as well throw yourself in a prison cell and throw away the key.

Accepting my sexuality was like taking a pair of bolt cutters and setting myself free in the world as a free woman for the first time. And I wouldn’t have been able to feel this sweet surge of freedom if I hadn’t done the job. If I hadn’t honored my feelings. Confronted with trauma. Gross. Drug free. Alcohol-free. Without slapping a nice filter on reality.

Our culture of quick fixes has created an epidemic of self-medication. We are all so collectively afraid of being uncomfortable. And feel emotions, look in the barrel of the past and have the courage to go after what you want more of what the company told you should want, is all madly, madly uncomfortable. But I swear to Lana Del Rey, there is gold hidden in the folds of the most uncomfortable times of your life.

Uncomfortable means that you are growing up. It means that things are moving. It means your life is getting bigger! This means that you are crawling through the mud and are about to get to the other side, a side that will make you feel so much happier, brighter, and more vibrant than where you once lived. Now when I feel uncomfortable I am thankful. Because I know that incredible things are going to be born from this great discomfort that I feel! Being uncomfortable is what opens up my future in glitter. Sparks appear when you pushes you. When you dig deep inside and pull out the truth. When you not only feel your feelings, but embrace them. I say, fuck your feelings like that rockstar you’ve coveted since you were a teenager! Because to live a sparkling life is to be alive. Awake. And to be really, fully wake it up to let you experience not only the feelings of happiness, but also the most painful, confusing and complicated ones. Otherwise, you are a sleepwalker in life. And as someone who’s slept through a decade let me tell you baby it’s an empty existence. You deserve better.

In all fairness, for me, it wasn’t about getting sober from substances. It was about getting sober from the lies and waking up to the truth. For a while, I used drugs and alcohol as an emotional bandage. But here’s the thing: a bandage isn’t designed to last forever. You can continue to cover the wound – you can take any pill in the world to keep yourself from feeling the sudden sting of the wound – but eventually the wound is doomed to become infected. Mine definitely did. In fact, the infection got into my bloodstream and made me sick for a while. But when I finally ripped off that bandage, let myself feel the burn and dared to look at the damage that had been done, I began to heal. It was a pretty deep wound so I still have to deal with it. He is still at risk of infection. It also left me with a giant scar. But I’m not ashamed of this scar. I rock it. I rock it like I’m rocking my huge vintage quilted Chanel bag I found in a thrift store in Florida! I think the scar is pretty. Because unlike before, I find something real – even though it’s imperfect and gory and awkward and cool and weird – to really be, really pretty.


I really hope you liked this series of Zara. It’s so important for me to share other women’s stories on my platforms and I’m so grateful to Zara for taking the time to write these articles for us.

x, lauryn

+ Get to know Zara better and watch her interview here.

++ in case you missed it, scope part 1 & 2 of Zara’s journey.


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