Like most young women, finding my place in this world was tricky!
I had a beautiful family and I was deeply loved as a child. When I reflect back on my childhood it is always with great fondness and affection. My parents were strict but loving, and I grew up learning that if I did the “right thing” and “behaved” the correct way then I would have a good life. The meaning I gave this was: for me to be loved I must keep other people happy (this was my seven year old belief, not my parents’).
I am a natural people person. As a child this showed up with me wanting to be liked and accepted by those around me. I enjoyed making others laugh and feel great and I got really good at adapting to whoever I was with. The meaning I gave this was: make sure I am ALWAYS a part of the tribe so that I am safe, loved and included.
These things, in combination with my poor self-belief (because of challenges with primary school work and a lack of courage) set me up for a path of disconnection with myself.
I believed that to be loved I must “do the right thing” – even if it was the wrong thing for me. I thought that people loved me when I took care of their needs, even when it was at the expense of my own needs. I believed that I could always move my boundaries in pursuit of keeping connection with, and love coming from, other people.
I left home at nineteen and moved to London. Without the strict guidance of my parents, and imbued with a level of freedom I had never experienced before, I can only say that some crazy times were had!! I drank too much, smoked cigarettes, experimented with drugs, and had intimate connections that were meaningless and which left me more hurt and confused than ever. I met a beautiful man at 20 years old and we were engaged to be married six months later. This was a decision that was borne out of my lack of wholeness and my desperation to be loved and accepted.
I was with this man for eight years and he still – to this day – is one of the greatest teachers I have ever had. When my marriage ended at age 28 I was so lost and hurt, and I was also extremely confused. I actually had no idea how I’d gotten to this place and why I had chosen the things I had chosen!
And that’s when my journey to wholeness began…
I sat with myself. I reflected on what had driven the decisions I’d made. I examined what I really thought about myself and I cried – A LOT!
From this dark and lonely place, I started asking different questions and looking for new teachers. It started to dawn on me that the way I love myself was also the way the world was going to love me. I realised that it all started with me: my beliefs, the meanings I gave things, and how I had allowed the world to treat me based on how I treated myself.
I realised that my value and worth sat inside me, not in the external world as I had always thought.
This was a life changing moment!
Over the course of the next 15 years, the relationship I had with myself blossomed. I embarked on one of the greatest love affairs that I will ever have the privilege of being a part of: the one with myself.
The way I treated my body changed. It went from punishment, denial, guilt and judgment to love, kindness, nourishment and gratitude.
The way I allowed people to show up in my experience changed. It went from people-pleasing and having no voice, to honouring and respecting healthy boundaries that I had put in place. I became best friends with the word “NO” and I was no longer afraid to use it. I chose, with volition, who I wanted to spend time with and how I wanted to spend my time.
Most importantly though, I connected with my spirit. I learnt to hear that quiet whisper of intuition within me and I started to sit in stillness more. Nature had always been important to me, and I began to appreciate that my soul absolutely needed to be in those sorts of environments. I developed a relationship with the Universe/Source Energy/God and came to trust deeply that I am being guided at every moment of my life.
The greatest learning for me though, is that self-love is a daily practice. It’s like anything really: a successful career, a healthy and happy relationship, a fit and vital body – there is work that needs to be done, and this must be daily work – a lifetime of work.
My journey is not over yet, but importantly I now realise that I am not on a journey to wholeness because I am already whole.
I always have been, I had just forgotten…..