There were so many times I look back and see how much I didn’t love myself.
I have this harsh inner critic that tells me I will never be good enough. Good enough for what?…for anything. This is a belief that was embedded at a very young age. I love my parents and grandparents, and there were many moments where I felt, and believed, their love was conditional. They gave me so many wonderful memories, and the harsh words and behaviors stuck around for a very long time.
When I made good grades, I was praised with words and money. When I made a B, my grandmother told me how angry and disappointed she was in me with words I would never speak to my children, and a lashing I would never wish upon anyone.
When I was “too large” at the tender age of 11, I was brought to Weight Watchers, where I would weigh in weekly in front of other women twice my age. I began noticing the difference in my body compared to others. I began counting calories. I began judging and hating my body.
When I found out about my biological father at the age of 13, I felt so alone and confused. I couldn’t understand why my parents would lie to me. I couldn’t understand why my biological father didn’t want me.I was told to never speak about any of this new finding to my father (the man who adopted and raised me as his own), my siblings, or my friends. The only reasonable explanation I could create at that age is that I was inherently broken-that there must be something wrong with me. I felt like a horrible secret and I was to blame.
Shortly after this new found information, I began self harming in so many ways-through drinking, using drugs, sex and relationships, binge eating and purging, and actual self harm. Most of this occurred for a decade, mostly between the ages of 13-23. As I look at my daughter, who is now 15, I think about how amazing, pure, beautiful and loving she is.
As I look at my daughter, I am remembering my 15 year old self. I used feel shame and disgustas I remembered this younger part of me. I now can connect with her through compassion and a deep sense of love. I send this love to her now, and daily.
The journey into self love was by no means pretty or whimsical. It was filled with heartache, tears of pain, and inner conflict. I also want to highlight the moments that were filled with wonder, joy, laughter, love, and tears of joy. This is (a very condensed) recollection of my journey back to myself.
My mother tried taking me to counseling when I was in high school, after she found me self harming. I wouldn’t speak to anyone. I was too afraid and ashamed. She took me to an Ala-Teen meeting during this time as well. I sat in the back thinking about how I don’t fit in with these kids. She tried the best she could and knew how to at that time. I just wasn’t willing. I already felt too deep into my self loathing to think anything could possibly help me out of this hole.
I left for college thinking this would be a fresh start. The same patterns continued and now I was reaching out for help on my own through the counseling center. Even then, I was only telling half truths, fearful of the judgement and possible negative impact on my college career. I transferred to a college closer to home. The patterns continued-drinking and drugs, self harm, promiscuity, unhealthy relationships and self hatred. I met a guy that swept me away-figuratively and literally. After a very short time of knowing him, I moved away from my hometown in Eden, New York and down to Atlanta, Georgia. The patterns seemed to die down some for a period of time. I threw myself into my relationship, work, and grad school. We got married a year after meeting. I finished grad school and began working my “big girl” jobs. We had kids. We advanced in our careers. We seemed to have it all.
Although my outward behaviors had “calmed down”, I still had the internal struggle of self love. Now I absolutely know the saying “wherever you go, there you are”. No matter where I moved or how much I advanced professionally, I still had the inner critic following me around constantly. I was never a good enough wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, or therapist. I did all the things. I had my own therapists. I took care of myself physically. I was climbing the corporate ladder. I had the friends. I practiced, and taught, mindfulness and meditation. I taught others about self love and releasing their harsh inner critic. Again, it came down to “something must be wrong with me”.
I remember the turning points…yes there were several. I always had therapists who served me in the moments I needed them. My one therapist, Joel, helped me to face and embrace the anger and hurt I had from my biological father, and the deceit from my family. I wrote a letter…a very harsh letter…to my biological father, which I never intended to send. I found it one year after I wrote it and decided to send it. It’s something I have sadness over because I know it hurt him, and I know that this is part of my healing journey.
I then had a spiritual mentor and therapist. Dave helped me see that I had anger towards the women in my family. I couldn’t really understand when he first brought this to my attention because I always saw these women in my life as “strong and resilient”, which they are, and in the toughest way. Dave helped me heal my Spiritual self. I had so much anger towards the Catholic Church and how my family followed in the path of hypocrisy that I saw in the church. I am forever grateful for my journey with Dave.
After Dave, I found Suzanne, a psychotherapist who specializes in inner child healing. To some, she is just another person, and to me, she is an angel that helped me save myself. She guided me even further back to myself. She helped me connect with those parts of me that were hurt and scared from the past. She held a mirror to the woman that sat before her-the Executive of a treatment facility, a loving mother, a loving wife, and a powerhouse of a woman. She helped me see myself for who I truly was, not the child I used to be. I am indebted to her.
Then came Deana. We found each other in a tiny GA town in the foothills of the Appalachian Trail. She is a Network Spinal Chiropractor. If you don’t know what this amazing service is, check it (and Deana) out here. Deana paved the path to a deeper healing from such a different perspective than I had ever experienced. She introduced me to Somato Respiratory Integration, which changed my life forever and now I get to teach it to others in my Next Level Life Purpose Coaching Program so their lives can be changed. I healed on such a deep spiritual, physical, and emotional level through her teachings and healing practices.
Through Dana, I found Nancy. An Energetic Practitioner with the heart of an angel. She shows me the light from within and all around. She challenges my inner critic in the most loving way through EFT and other powerful healing modalities. She consistently guides me to acknowledge my gifts and progress. She has taken me on Spiritual and Energetic Journeys that were beyond my wildest dreams. She has helped me truly heal my past so I can see myself clearly, with all of my flaws and gifts and embrace all of me. She introduced me to some of the most powerful healing mechanisms that I continue to practice both personally and professionally.
I continue to expand every single day into my Self Love Journey and #bestlife through all of these healing modalities and others, such as Breathwork, Soma Breath, and Kundalini Yoga.
To lay this all out in bullet points that you can track and follow, this is my
Journey into Self Love:
- Seek Guidance: There is a tremendous amount of courage that comes with reaching out for help. In this act, we are breaking patterns of shame and becoming vulnerable. We are admitting that we do not know it all, and that we are ready to trust another to lead the way. We have been conditioned to believe that asking for help is a weakness. It is, in fact, one of the most courageous actions we can take. To those who ask for help, you are my superheroes.
- Heal and Let Go: There will be many layers of healing. The more we know, the more realize we don’t know a thing. As we take the deep dive into our own memories and hurts, we come to realize how much our past has impacted our present. We need the guidance to learn ways to heal ourself in long lasting and profound ways. Even with my professional education and practice as a Licensed Psychotherapist, I needed another who was further along in their healing and awareness process. I had several younger parts of me to heal. I had several resentments that were imperative to let go of in order to live a more joyful and peaceful life. I could not have done this alone. If you are trying to go at it on your own, I urge you to return to step 1.
- Embrace: Once I was able to heal those hurt and shameful parts of myself, I was able to fully embrace myself. All the parts I was ashamed of, I was now able to embrace with compassion. She is a part of me and has created the person I am today. I continue to show up for those hurt and scared parts of myself every single day. When I take loving actions, like this peice of writing, I let that little girl know how much I love her and believe in her, and that it is completely safe to be seen and heard. I love every fucking single part of me, and that is a huge victory for me.
- Fill Up: Now that we have released all the resentment, anger, fear, shame, and self doubt, we have a ton of space to fill. What do you want to fill your life with? There are so many moments of joy that we have missed, so let’s look around and find the joy. There are so many opportunities we have missed, so let’s go out and find those opportunities. There were so many relationships we may have damaged or passed up due to fear, so let’s get out there and meet some like-minded people. We now have to space to fill up with joy, love, faith, adventure, connection, and compassion.
- Expand: After all of the healing and filling up, we can then take it all to the next level. I know, it seems crazy, and I can tell you it’s true. We expand into even more joy and compassion. We physically and energetically feel connected to ourself, others, and the world around us. I have had so many moments of joy and more tears of joy than I can count. This was never the case prior to my Self Love Journey. Go out there and cry tears of joy. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by feelings of happiness and connected and awe.
Today, I am still far from perfect. Perfection is never what I wish to aspire to though. I aspire to live each day fully. To embrace myself fully and completely. To love myself so I can share that love with others. To see myself clearly as a guiding light to others, and to never be ashamed of my past or my present. I am able to see myself on a beautiful journey of adventure. I don’t know what awaits me, but I am so excited I get to be a part of it!
I am always sending so much love and light, LJ
Reprinted permission granted by Leanne Jameson. More more information and to sign up for Leanne’s workshops, please visit https://www.ezliving.space. Tell her Unconditionally Her sent you!