‘You either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside of your story, hustling for your worthiness’ -Brene Brown.
I grew up with a stressed-out, overworked, single mom and 2 siblings. I did everything I could to relieve my Mom’s stress and to try to keep her from freaking out. I cleaned the house, got good grades, played it safe, and tried to keep everyone in line so she wasn’t set off by one of us kids. I thought I needed to be a certain way in order to keep her love. I lived in fear that I could actually do something to lose her love, which I was dependent on for my survival.
At age 12, I started dieting. I had moved to a new school in a new town, where it was hip to be thin, and all the popular girls were in and out of the hospital for anorexia on a regular basis. I became self-conscious, shy, and uncomfortable with the attention I was getting from boys. I was trying to escape my experience by becoming smaller and fading into the background.
By age 15, I switched schools again, back to my hometown, and took up sports. The environment was not focused so much on appearance, but rather performance. I didn’t limit my calorie intake anymore, but I began to over-exercise and my competitive edge grew. I wanted to be better than other people, I wanted my sports coach Dad to be proud of me. I thought I needed to earn his love through my accomplishments.
By the time I went to college, I was trying on a new identity once again. I still felt self-conscious, inhibited, shy, and so I started drinking heavily and doing drugs. This somehow made me cool and would temporarily save me from my insecurities. I thought I could escape my discomfort with drugs and unfortunately that lead to years of hurting myself through what I put in my body and years of working to heal myself from addiction.
After college I moved to the west coast, and began to explore yoga and consciousness and even quit drugs and alcohol and worked for a transformational organic vegan restaurant in San Francisco. This place probably saved my life, but even within this new ‘conscious’ culture, I knew what to wear, say, eat, and do.. and I did a great job of fitting in, like I always have. I was still playing out my old inherited pattern of people pleasing my way into popularity and a watered down version of love and belonging.
The truth is that I had no idea who I was. I did not love myself. I had spent so long trying to fit in somewhere, to find my place in the world by looking outside myself. I wanted to fit in, to be accepted, and to be loved. Even though I seemed to have ‘accomplished this’ by doing what others where doing, chameleoning myself to fit the crowd and please pleasing in order to earn love.. it never provided me the lasting intimacy and freedom that I truly craved or relieved me from my deep seeded insecurities. I knew what I wanted… I just didn’t know how to get it.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant that I finally started to make peace with my body and more specifically, my belly. I didn’t worry about looking bloated after I ate. I amped up my nutrition and ate enough to nourish myself and my baby. There was another being in there, and I was able to love and care for that being as if my life depended on it. I started to direct positive attention towards my belly, I was even thrilled to show off my baby bump. Somehow it was easier to love this baby inside me, than it was to love myself.
I bought baby books, studied the harmful affects of ultra sound, and the importance of a baby’s first hours of life. I wanted to ‘win’ at this game of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood… and I was going to bring my 30 years of perfectionism to the table to make sure that happened, we’re talking midwife, home birth in water, keeping the umbilical cord attached till it fell off naturally, elimination communication, breastfeeding for a minimum of 2 years, co-sleeping, yeah the lists goes on and on, but I’ll stop there.
Turns out I was about to get a big lesson on perfectionism. Immediately after I pushed my daughter out of my body, I was rushed to the hospital because my placenta never came. Turns out it was completely infused with my uterus and I would have to have an emergency hysterectomy, and a gaping slice down my abdomen. On top of that, I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed my baby for at least a week. Ouch. That was NOT in my birth plan.
Even still, I was reluctant to give up on getting this parenting thing right. I did everything the attachment parenting sites told me to do. I breastfeed my baby on demand all through the night, and I did not get much sleep. Again, I was trying to get it right, and to fit in to my new hippie Asheville mamas community. The problem with that was that since I was not honoring myself, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the experience of motherhood. I wasn’t getting the time I needed for myself and I was therefore angry, resentful and downright exhausted.
It got so bad that at 18 months post-partum my body finally gave out. I landed myself back in the hospital. What I realized then was how much of an ally the body is. It was constantly sending me messages, but I did not heed their warning. I kept going until finally it made me stop. I had wanted to give up breastfeeding for a while but I didn’t want to fail, I wanted to do right by my child, and I wanted to avoid judgement from myself and others. She was weaned in effect by me going into the hospital, and I was relieved beyond measure.
As each month of new motherhood passed, my perfectionism seemed to slowly begin unraveling, and my value as a human being on the planet grew stronger and stronger. I took a lot of pride in the fact that I was able to complete the seemingly impossible feat of pushing her out of my body. I labored for 24 hours and pushed for 8 hours straight. It was the most athletic experience of my life, and I exhibited endurance that was beyond my previous comprehension.
And as I breastfed my baby to sustain her life… there was no doubt in my mind at how important I was. This being was dependent on me. I could no longer starve myself or diminish myself. I refused to call or think myself fat. Now I had a daughter, and I had to really think about what I wanted for her. I knew that how she feels about herself and her body will be directly correlated to what she witnessed in me. I desperately wanted to save her from the self loathing, the ’sucking it in’, the thousands of dollars spent on cosmetics, facial products, teeth whiteners, workout equipment, clothes, and even drugs…that I had been through, and i finally understood that the only way to feel better about myself was to actually getting to work on loving ME. Not when I_____(fill in the black), but right now, right here, exactly as I am.
As I always say, self love is a journey, not a destination. Even though I’ve been on this journey for years, I still come upon scared, shameful parts of myself that I get to embrace and offer my love and compassion to. Parenting continues to be the most challenging experience of my life. I am still shedding the (hopefully final) remains of perfectionism and every day I am met with opportunities to continue learning how to hold healthy boundaries and speak up for my needs and take the time that I need to nurture myself.
This process has supported me in surrendering fully to my own worthiness as a human being. I wholeheartedly believe that I am valuable and have a lot to share with the world, and am able to hold my gifts, my wounds and my triggers with mindful and compassionate awareness.
It is my prayer that we teach our children how worthy of love they already are. I don’t want it to have to take 30 plus years for us to get our self worth… I want it to be nurtured and affirmed in us from a young age so that we don’t have to waste anytime, and can get to giving the gifts we came here to give.
The irony here is that, for me, going through this journey exactly as it unfolded is precisely what has allowed me to stand where I am today and embody the knowing that I am here to share with the world. Could I have known self love without also knowing the opposite of self love? I don’t know, but I can see now how every step of my journey has been divinely guided and has led me to be the woman I am today.
By owning our unique story we claim the unique medicine that our life’s journey has, for not only ourselves, but for others as well. I believe that we are all ‘here for a reason’ and that we are perfectly placed in the universe to have the experiences we need in order to embody the mastery we are destined for, if we are courageous enough to take the journey.
The more we can own our story… inclusive of all the painful or shameful pieces, the less power our story can hold over us, the less we are wasting our energy jumping though hoops to please others and to try to hold it all together and look perfect, and the more access we gain to our worthiness. When we come to deeply know ourselves as worthy… we start letting ourselves be who we are and we start to be guided by our internal compass rather than by what those around us think. We naturally begin to attract the true love and belonging that we crave and we gain the confidence and courage to step fully into giving our gifts.
What the world needs now is for people to courageously step into their life purpose, to shine their light and to give their god given gifts. In order to for that to happen we must know ourselves as valuable, we must stop comparing and contrasting ourselves to others, diminishing ourselves, hiding out, and pretending we are someone or something other than exactly who we are. When we can stand proudly with our story, and in who we are, and when we can own the journey that we have come through… then and only then, can we step bravely into embodying the true magnificence of our unique and personal destiny.
Gain access to the tools I used to move from self loathing to self love in my 21 Day Self Love Journey: 21 Day Self Love Journey.