Stay Curious: Seek Wonder in your Mess & Lessons in the Pain


Sometimes you must hurt to know, fall to grow, and lose to gain. Most of my greatest lessons I learned through pain. Once you ground yourself to sit in it, sit with it and truly listen to the signs, you realize on a deeper level how avoidance is only increasing the sense of suffering. Life makes it so easy for us to distract ourselves and choose coping mechanisms rather than going inwards and doing the work. Yet, that’s how we learn, grow and evolve.

by Tessa Leenders

The Knock-Out

My health has always been one of my main focus points in life. So, it wasn’t unusual that I ended up in a spa on that specific Sunday afternoon. Only, this spa day ended with a bang. I fainted and fell with my head on the granite floor. That day changed a lot.

It was the start of my recovery and rehabilitation. One with challenges, losses, and gains. And mostly an inner journey.

It took my doctor six weeks to refer me to a specialist. The fall wasn’t that bad, yet the remaining symptoms were persistent. Not feeling acknowledged or validated made me push through the pain the first days, even weeks.

Stuck & Resentful

Confronted with my biggest fear: feeling weak and out of control.

I got stuck within an unhealthy cycle of thoughts, pain, and fatigue.

Needed people to show up. Yet I wasn’t able to speak out that I did. I’ve never learned how to communicate my emotional needs or that I was even worth it expressing them. Instead, I felt resentment and anger for not receiving what I needed most, love and connection.

New Ways

I started to sense the need to get to know myself in depth.

Exchange science, geeking out on medical research connected to brain trauma, for what some would call ‘alternative ways’.

I tried it all: acupuncture, massages, regression, meditation, breathwork, cold water exposure, craniosacral, astrology, energy work, and even hand reading. I tried it all. No, I didn’t move over to the other side. There are no sides to healing, only learning and gaining knowledge.

My Approach

  1. Not having an opinion without first experiencing or undergoing something myself.
  2. Creating more of a balance between ratio and emotions.
  3. Broaden my experiences and create a customized approach for my healing instead of fitting into a ‘one size fits all.

Ever since I was a young girl, I had that fire within. One that leads to discovering the unknown and survival – even when outcomes are unpredictable. We all have that fire, but most of us are afraid to get burned. Accepting the burns is what feeling alive means to me. Even if that means I need to push myself, make difficult choices, and have an uncomfortable conversation.

Break the Silence

Perhaps if we would stop questioning other people’s pain, and start acknowledging it. Then, there would be more healing, open and heartwarming conversations, and connections.

It only heavens the burden to add a layer of shame and misunderstanding on top of what people already experience. Be kind, be gentle, and stop seeing vulnerability as weakness. Dare to talk with people about their feelings, and might even learn something.

So many feel that they need to stay silenced because it’s uncomfortable for others to hear that they experience pain.

Frequently I share deep and personal matters, big questions I have, reflections, mistakes, and doubts. Hoping that creates space for others to do the same if they feel the need. We should all feel safe doing so without being judged or shamed.

What it Brought Me

  • Being more present.
  • The right people left and created space for new influences.
  • I care less about more things and more about the right things.
  • People show up in unexpected ways.
  • Stronger connections and improved relationships.
  • More capable of letting go.

Psychedelic therapy

One of the things that enabled me to do so is psychedelic therapy.

Triggered by my accident and several other factors, my central nervous system operated from a trauma state, experiencing PTSD. I’m good at talking and describing feelings, but did I allow myself to feel them? Dissociating from my body used to help me avoid feeling pain and made me experience strength & invincibility.

Looking for ways to reboot my disturbed brain. Reading about neuroplasticity pushed me towards psychedelic experiences in a therapeutic setting.

Currently, I did five guided sessions, using proper doses of psilocybin truffles that brought me incredible depths, released me of some of my limiting beliefs, reconnected me to my body, and dissolved some of my childhood trauma. Not even to mention the business ideas I still need to launch into this world!

I am both curious and a believer in the usage of psychedelics to treat TBI, post-concussion symptoms, depression, and PTSD. There is a new therapeutic wave coming. Decide for yourself if you dare to ride it.

Waking Up

I realize I’ve made an extensive internal shift in these past years. Partly is reflected by how I present myself and what I share. Doing this helps me to get closer to what’s truly important.

When you start doing that, others close to you might not recognize or even disagree. Sometimes that can be experienced as a painful part of your growth process.

Though when a person decides not to show up, is not willing to ask questions, or finds ways to understand, they are either not capable of doing it or simply not interested enough in doing so. Understand this is ok. You don’t have to be everybody’s cup of tea. Imagine that. Spread yourself too thin. Bonding and connecting with everybody that passes by in life.

Discomfort and Letting Go

I consciously chased discomfort for a while. Finally, I decided not to hold on to a job, let go of my apartment, exploring dating in a different setting—experiments where I placed myself in new and sometimes challenging situations.

I’m now willing to let go and invite a life lighter and with more flow, less fear, control, and resistance. Can you let go of old fear, pain, and limiting beliefs?

Discover what old patterns to break or triggers potentially turned into answers. That gave me so many insights. I feel grateful for all the investments I made toward healing. They made me stronger, more open to receiving and giving love, and resilient towards change.


Once I felt comfortable showing my vulnerability, I received care and love from expected and unexpected sources. That contributed to rebuilding my sense of self-worth. Finally able to embrace the traits that make me me.

Looking back on the past years, I am proud of my curious mind. It craves growth and expansion, drawn to knowledge and new perspectives that challenge old beliefs. By understanding and practicing compassion, things become less messy.

I used to be result-driven. The ‘hate the journey, love the destination’ kind. That shifted to embracing it all. Even in moments when not achieving preferred outcomes, I now love the stories created by them.

The war wasn’t on the outside. The win was within. Once I stopped fighting, I started to experience more inner peace and the symptoms slowly started to disappear.

About the author

Tessa Leenders is a Social Media Manager and Branding & Marketing Specialist.

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