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Set Yourself Free; a Story About Breaking Family Ties

This blog wraps up a month-long Brave Healer blog party with the women from my Intuitive Writing for Healers Mastermind and Workshop. They are badass. I’m honored to now share my own story of freedom with you all.

Prioritizing family (and basically everyone else) over my own happiness for years in the name of Good Girl created a peak-performing perfectionist who ended up resentful and burned out. Freedom happened when I defined “family,” and is about making my own heart and soul the priority so I can serve others from an overflow.

If you’ve been following this Brave Healer blog party over the last month you know many amazing women have been telling their stories of freedom. I’ve linked each one of them up at the end of this blog for you! During one of the writing classes this past Fall, my friend Shirley asked a simple question, “When will I finally free myself?” This turned into the theme for the blog party.

Because ultimately it is us who frees ourselves. And when we realize this powerful truth, nothing stands in the way of the happiness, joy, love and abundance we crave and were born for.

Not even family.

I remember listening to Mom talk about her parents over the years and how “Being mindful of the needs of others,” was the priority. I remember being taught to be a good, religious girl, and that if I believed the “right” way, I’d be cool and not go to Hell. I remember that straight A’s would get me paid, and that achievements would mean I was doing good.

So I achieved. A lot.

Of course, my parents, step parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, sister, step sisters, husband, in-laws and all the branches of family that extended from there, were just well-meaning and coming from what they were taught by their families. But it took me a long time to realize they were making rules based on rules taught to them by other people.

It took me even longer to start making my own rules. To connect to my intuition and inner wisdom and move toward what feels good to my own heart and soul. To realize I’d been hanging on to behaviors stemming from feelings I had twenty, even thirty years ago.

The day I started making my own rules about my life, and not following the ones my family, friends, coaches and other authority figures taught me was the day I set myself free, truly free from the pain, doubt, fear, obligation and judgement.

My soul came up for air.

Of course when we’re little we follow the rules. We learn there are consequences if we don’t. We learn family ties are most important; that in the end it’s our family that matters most. And that we should sacrifice, sometimes everything, in the name of family.

But nobody ever tells you that you ultimately get to choose your family. You assume family are the ones who raise you, and are related to you by blood. I didn’t learn until much later in life that family are the people you choose to let in to your inner circle; the ones you choose to give your heart to.

I tried for lots of years to make my family happy. I tried to be the perfect good girl I thought I needed to be to get the love I desperately craved.

I made a lot of shit up in my head about this.

I identified with my story about it for decades. I blamed other people. I followed their rules. I believed what I was told to believe. I listened when they told me I was doing it right or wrong.

And the prison became smaller and smaller, until one day the walls were so close I couldn’t take a full breath without pain. I’d squeezed myself into an idea that I couldn’t fit into anymore. I was suffocating.

I remember a very powerful session with my acupuncturist. We sat across from each other in her white-on-cream-on-Feng-Shui’d-eggshell carpet, in bamboo chairs with the sunset light beaming on our faces through the naked windows.

“You don’t have to love anyone, you know. It’s your choice,” she said.

My world stopped for several shallow breaths while I contemplated the consequences of a decision I could make to cut myself off from my own family. “You don’t have any obligation to anyone,” she convinced me after much more discussion, including all the “buts” and “what ifs” you can imagine.

I felt guilt when I began to give myself permission to do this; like, not call people out of an obligatory feeling. I moved through those feelings and stayed true to taking action only when it felt authentic and right for my soul.

That felt good.

There was more guilt when months went by without contact. But that was also validation for me.

I began to choose who I spent time with, spent extra time and energy on, invited into my home, and invited into my life.

That felt really good.

The guilt faded. Family started to take on a new definition for me.

Family are the people who love you unconditionally no matter if they’re related to you or not. Family are the people who show up for you whether or not you’re having a good day or a crappy one. Family are the ones you choose to put in your inner circle, stay open and vulnerable with, who make you feel safe, loved, respected and celebrated for who you are.

You have the power to create a family that helps you feel like a bigger expression of love as a result of being around them.

With awareness, you can choose your own family.

Thank you to all the women in my workshop for showing up and standing tall inside of your brave, authentic selves and sharing your stories with me, each other and the world. You inspire me to do what I do. You keep me stepping into the biggest, brightest version of myself every day.

You, ladies, have become part of my family. I love you.

And you, amazing reader…thanks for being here and for supporting this Brave Healer revolution. Thanks to everyone who’s liked, commented and shared our blogs this month. I know you all have important stories to share too. I hope you’ll join our Brave Healer family in January for the next round of the Intuitive Writing for Healers workshop and mastermind. Go HERE to read all the details.

And in the meantime remember, you were born, so you’re worthy. What if the pain you’re still a little afraid to share is the exact thing someone needs to read to change their life for the better? It’s time to be brave.


Please enjoy the blogs below. Each title is a clickable link to my fellow blogger’s freedom story in order of how they posted over the month.

I hope you’ll love them up a little and share with your friends. Some of the gals enjoyed their first experience guest blogging here. And some have been there, done that. In every case you’ll feel the authentic, compassionate and brave words, meant to heal them, and the world.

If you missed the introduction blog here you go: Free Yourself, Finally; 14 Women Healers Tell Their Stories in Hopes to Change the World

Free Yourself, Finally; Jennifer Gardner Shares her Story
(A story about cPTSD- complex post-traumatic stress disorder)

Will I Ever Set Myself Free? Lori Calvo Shares Her Story
(The grip of depression and the freedom of inquiry)

Will My Dad’s Death Be My Freedom? Shirley Garzon-Martinez Shares Her Story
(The prison of family obligation)

Free Yourself From the Fear of Being Seen; Lilia Lee Shares Her Story
(Give others permission to judge you and get on with doing what scares you)

Freedom Comes in Many Sizes; Anne Lessin’s Story
(Who you are isn’t what’s happened to you)

Setting Myself Free Can Have Many Steps; M’elle Pirri-Lee’s Story
(We can talk about healing incontinence, and everything else we stand for)

Free Yourself, Finally; Jessica Kaloutas
(People pleasers, please read)

Free Yourself From Anxiety; Joyce Fishel’s Story
(A different way to deal with anxiety)

Freeing Myself from Thinking, Thinking, Thinking; Deborah Garnder Walker’s Story
(Using nature to come back to yourself)

Freedom in My Steps; Manuela Rohr’s Story
(Being the mother of a special-needs adult daughter)

The Journey to Freedom; Dylan Spradlin’s Story
(A lesson about care-taking and mothers)

Voice Yourself to Freedom; Karen Tasto’s Story
(The power of learning to speak up)

The Freeing Act of Contemplating Death; by Lisa Diane McCall
(A vision quest that changed her life)

Free to Fly; Jerri St. John’s Story
(Saying goodbye to anti-depressants and hello to life)

Choosing Life is Freedom; Georgia London’s Story
(Betrayal, rejection and abandonment by her mother)

Wow, that’s a lot of stories! Please consider sharing this amazing resource with your friends. Especially the women in your life who are wanting to connect with other women and their stories, to help them be brave.

Dear amazing reader — I’m ready to help you share your story too!

Laura Di Franco, MPT won’t let you settle for a mediocre life. Your health, wealth and happiness is one Brave Healing book, poem, workshop, strategy session or moment away. With almost three decades of expertise in holistic physical therapy, six books and a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Laura’s energy and method are contagious and unlike anything you’re experienced. She’s the owner of Brave Healer Productions at

Your words will change the world when you’re brave enough to share them!