Image Credit: Joslyn R., Margate, FL
No doubt, it’s difficult.
Just this year, I realized that I had been living my life not for myself, but for the people around me. I had been living my life under the impression that other people would make me happy--that friends would brighten my day, that hanging out with people would help me forget about my worries, that talking to people all the time would lessen my stress.
As it turns out, I was pretty wrong in my assumptions. After a recent event, I discovered that I really can’t obtain happiness from friends. I can only get it from myself.
The concept of loving myself and being content with myself and only myself is still hard to grasp. All I can say is that my attitude towards life has drastically changed. It’s important that we all realize the power within ourselves and the fact that WE are enough.
Because ultimately, we enter this life by ourselves and we leave this life by ourselves. Friends and social life should only supplement our happiness. They should NEVER be a substitute for happiness.
Last year, I took a journey to Spain for two weeks.
I had one (albeit big) goal: to learn to love and trust myself.
You see, although I’d found the courage to declare my new company to world, many days when I was brainstorming and strategizing, I was finding myself lost in a tornado of fear.
The Inadequacy Voice consumed me, “Who do you think you are? Why would you think you can do this? You will fail. You will embarrass yourself in front of the whole world. They will finally see you are not good enough.”
This Inadequacy Story had been running the show in my mind since I was just nine.
I’d really struggled in elementary school; I was the last in my class to learn how to read, the last to pass the multiplication test in third grade, the only one of my siblings to not make it into the ‘advanced’ class etc. In a family of ten children, I felt I was disposable, the one who didn’t get the special gift that all my siblings had received.
I was ready for relief.
And so when I found myself feeling so small and incapable, I knew that unless I gained self love and self trust, my most beautiful vision would never be realized.
Thus, two weeks in Spain.
At first, my heart was still heavy with the pain I’d been carrying and burying, which in my solitude, finally had the space to be fully witnessed—
The heartbreak of my last relationship, which had been masquerading as anger. Of having been hurt and of having hurt myself (literally). The pain of wanting to change, but being scared I couldn’t.
So day by day, city by city, I ambled down strange streets for hours. I smiled at strangers and noticed delightful details. I appreciated beauty.
And then I started to hear things.
At first, it was a whisper: “Be not afraid.”
“You are exactly where you are supposed to be.”
“You will get to where you are meant to be.”
“This journey is sacred, hold it tenderly.”
I didn’t know whom to attribute the voice to—all I could tell was that it came from deep within me- was it a figment of my imagination? God? My soul?
But day-by-day, it grew louder, holding me in its embrace, offering me peace.
It was loudest in the cathedrals, mosques and synagogues- sacred spaces where for centuries people have brought their struggles, seeking hope.
In these spaces, standing where medieval mothers had mourned, where hurt lovers had wept, where farmers had prayed, I felt the continuity of the human experience over time.
From this zoomed out perspective, my personal pain felt smaller- like it was not mine to carry alone, but just one part of being human.
I listened and heard, “You are perfect, just as you are. You are enough, just as you are.”
“What a beautiful vehicle you are for this soul.”
The Inadequacy Voice didn’t disappear, but the more I listened to this inner guide, the less power The Voice had over me.
And then one morning, it happened.
It was during a massage at a 500 year old Arab bath house in Granada.
The light was golden and the steam seeped deeply into me. Geometric star patterns on the walls mimicked infinity.
I felt outside of time.
During the massage, I followed my breath- in out, in out, in out…just staying present.
Suddenly, I felt a swelling.
A tide of sensation.
Wells of love that I’d never discovered before burst forth, like a geyser whose underground prayer for liberation had finally been granted.
Every cell of my body was bubbling with love. Vibrating with love. Humming with love.
The woman massaging me put both her hands on my back to indicate that it was over and held them there flat for a long while. I felt that I was being touched by the hands of the divine.
All at once, I felt a dark fog being lifted from my body.
In it’s wake, a deep knowledge, a deep trust filled my being:
I can really, truly, love myself.
I will always show up for myself. I will never, ever hurt myself again. I need not judge myself in an effort to protect myself.
I will expand instead of shrink. I will bloom, not break. No matter how far I run, no matter what life throws my way, I can and will always come home to my light.
Love is my birthright and sanctuary. It is the truth of who I really am.
I felt it. I knew it. I trusted it.
It was an ancient memory being remembered for the first time.
I slowly got up and as I hugged the massage therapist in thanks, she held me tight and didn’t let go.
My eyes welled. My body heaved. And she told me to release.
I cried with ecstatic relief and my ancestors celebrated.
Since I’ve returned, the inadequacy voice has popped up from time to time.
But I’ve realized that when it surfaces, I can comfort it instead of fighting it. I can let it pass through me like clouds in the sky. I can hold onto my deeper truth.
Now, when the voice returns, I remember to listen.
A whisper whose name is Love comforts me,
“Do not fear. You are not alone. I will never leave your side.”