About six months ago, I was driving home in the pouring rain reflecting on Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness which talks a lot about healing our wounded parts by welcoming them home to ourselves. Suddenly I was immersed in memories. Moments when I was compared to my sisters when I decided that I was not smart enough. A classmate at age nine, pointing out that I had already worn the same outfit earlier that week when I decided that my value rests in my possessions. Being bullied at school for being chubby and awkward when I decided that I was ugly. People from church who labelled my depression as demonic activity when I decided that I was possessed by evil. People who told me I was selfish when I shared my suicidal thoughts when I decided that I myself was evil.
I was reliving moments when I had grabbed on to false beliefs that dictated my life ever since.
Ugly. Wrong. Bad. Unlovable. Selfish. Sinner. Unworthy. The underlying mantra of my life on repeat.
Despite accomplishments, success, the image I strived desperately to maintain, in my core, I still believed I was a broken, ugly fuck up who no one would ever truly see or truly love.
The shame and pain caused these little wounded parts of me to break away and go into hiding. This is how my system was able to keep going whilst living with the heavy weight of these false beliefs. They were still with me but compartmentalized so I could function. But whenever they were triggered, my whole system was overwhelmed by shame and became angry or simply caved in to despair. The feelings of worthlessness that implanted in those moments I treated as truth and spent the rest of my life trying to cover up, trying to refute but never succeeding. Despite accomplishments, success, the image I strived desperately to maintain, in my core, I still believed I was a broken, ugly fuck up who no one would ever truly see or truly love.
As these memories flooded, I was overcome with compassion for the girl who lived those experiences. Suddenly I was eighteen years old at my sister’s apartment, in a fetal position on the floor of her closet. This was the only place I could go to be alone, and I spent many nights hiding in there. I can still smell the mustiness of that carpet, overcome as I was with despair trying desperately to come up with reasons to keep going, deeply ashamed that I was even thinking I should just end my life.
And so I went to her, to that closet. I shut the door and I sat on the floor with her. I took her wet face and laid it in my lap. I ran my fingers through her hair. I wiped the tears from her cheek and I told her that it was okay that she is in such despair. And that memory, that has held such pain for so many years, was infused with healing.
In the car that night, I had conversations with Rachel throughout the years. The years of cutting. The struggle with my weight and feeling ugly on the outside and inside. The nights driving home from work when I just wanted to plunge the car straight into a tree at full speed. And the craziest things started happening. I started going back to the girl at these various stages, and just loving her, meeting her where she was then. By some sort of magic, it was as if I was able to go back and give her what she needed in those moments, and I could feel those parts begin to heal and reunite with me.
These broken off parts still come up all the time. Healing is a process. I try to noice when I feel icky or shameful, when my instinct is to push the memories away. I’m training myself to take this as my cue to gently open up to this memory and welcome it home. These experiences are part of my story. And this story is the only one I have. And this story is precious.
I am in the process of transforming my beliefs. There is just one truth that I strive to cling to that dispels all lies. I love how Marianne Williamson puts it.
To remember that you are part of God, that you are loved and lovable, is not arrogant. It’s humble. To think that you are anything else is arrogant, because it implies you’re something other than a creation of God… What you do or don’t do is not what determines your essential value—your growth perhaps, but not your value. That’s why God is totally approving and accepting of you, exactly as you are. What’s not to like? You were not created in sin; you were created in love. ~ A Return to Love
For the healing of all,