An Empath, Pain, and LOVE.
This article originally featured in Positively Positive. See it here.
If you’re like me, you’ve heard one of the most annoying comments ever conjured: “Everything happens for a reason.”
Really? Does it?
Usually, it’s said when life’s gone astray and there’s no clue how to make things better. And usually, the person saying it doesn’t believe it.
So life’s all astray and stuff, and you’re being told your pain has a great reason. There’s some master plan you’re not privy to, and if you hang on through the despair, someday you’ll be thankful.
For years and years (I’ll stop aging myself), I’d look back over my life, the pain, the struggle, the triumphs, and I’m always left with, “What’s the point of putting one human through all this?” Not only through it, but the memories, the feelings, the sadness, the memories (worth repeating).
I’ve wished on a star, prayed, burnt sage, meditated, made a vision board, walked in nature, (this list is too long to keep going) and still WHY? The past was affecting my now, my ability to trust others, my ability to cut from those who needed to go, and keep those who meant well. Most importantly know the difference between who stayed and who should go and trust my instinct. At least that’s what I thought I needed a solution to.
Then one day, let’s just say months in the making — oh, whom am I kidding? — Years, it happened. Countless audiobooks, spiritual coaches, courses, meditations, hibernating, isolation, tears, screams, and every feeling I’d ever run from in my life brought me to the point of despair. I was reading from Gay Henricks, Ph.D., Learning to Love Yourself, and I decided to find out how willing I was to love myself.
My idea of loving myself is loving not only your physical being, your spiritual being and every single experience and opinion about your experience you have.
So, I asked myself this question, “Am I willing to love myself?”
My answer was “Yes.”
Then I went deeper. I had a lot of memories of situations I got myself into because I didn’t love myself and I had a lot of pain caused by others and shame around those memories.
As the shame and guilt bubbled up around me, something spoke to me from deep within.
I heard, “Every action or experience you’re judging occurred because you believed you would get more love from others if it turned out the way you hoped.” Light bulb moment.
I asked myself, “Am I willing to love myself for acting in a way I thought would bring me more love?” My answer was not only a yes, but a true heartfelt excited YES.
This meant loving myself for saying yes to people, relationships and events I knew weren’t good or me.That meant loving myself when quitting things I enjoyed because someone I thought loved me unconditionally became jealous.That meant loving myself when changing my persona based on who was around. Bubbly, ditzy, confident, shy? Whatever brings more acceptance.That meant loving myself when keeping people in my life after they proved not worthy of me because I thought I’d change myself to earn their love.
Next, I realized the opposite was also true.
When I believed love was not available or being held from me, I would react in accordance to being unloved.
So I asked myself, “Am I willing to love myself for thinking I was protecting myself from lack of love?” My answer, YES!
That meant loving myself when pushing people out of my life the moment I felt judged. Sometimes I was being judged sometimes I wasn’t.
That meant loving myself when holding onto every traumatizing event in my life and gauging my worth from it.
That meant not taking the exciting leaps in my life because of the fear of judgment.
That meant loving myself for not using my voice, standing up for myself and allowing other people’s insecurities to become my truth.
This blew the sheets right off. My willingness to love myself allowed me to see every decision I ever made was either to receive more love or push back from those who didn’t give love freely. But the real eye opener, I loved myself for not loving myself. Did you catch that?
If we’re truly unconditional with ourselves, we aren’t looking outside for others to fill us up. Once we start the cycle of looking for love in all the wrong places, we’re destined for disappointment. We attempt to turn over every rock on the planet looking for love, and it won’t be there.
So now I’m armed with this liberating, body-numbing truth that I accept and love myself for acting only two ways my entire life.
1) To bring me more love and
2) To protect myself from not receiving love.
Ladies and gentlemen, that outlines every action I’ve ever taken in my entire life, and that spells out complete and utter self-forgiveness and love.
No need for judgment, no need to call an action good or bad, no need to compare a choice to another, no need to be ashamed. Of course, a young child who learns they’re not lovable or enough will grow to seek love or protect from the absence of it. Talk about 1000lb weight.
So now I have this newfound sense of peace that allowed me to scan over my life and reassess what I once judged as painful experiences and look at them in a new light.
As I traced from my earliest painful memories something was amazingly different. The pain was dulled and a new sense of awareness around each memory was there and speaking a different truth to me.
As children we are closest to our true selves, loving, accepting, attuned to who we are and what our purpose is. Then adulting happens. The un-attuned adults happen to the kids. Teaching us to stray from who we are, teaching us shame and non-acceptance. Act differently, look differently, be more like them, be afraid of what I’m afraid of, be what I want you to be.
The loss of true self happened around third grade, and I didn’t remember who she was or know how to find her since.
When you teach the young that who they are isn’t enough for this world, who are they to be?
It’s whatever you think will bring you love. Personal happiness? No. Slippery slope? Yes. That’s the largest understatement of the century.
See the connection?
I forgive and love myself for acting in ways I believed would bring me love and in ways, I believed would keep those incapable of loving me at bay.
My pain of the past? The belief I was ultimately not enough, unlovable. @Kris10Schwartz (Click to Tweet!)
By eight years old, I had completely separated from my true self, and for decades acted and became what I thought would bring me more love. So every painful memory I revisit beyond eight years old has lost its sting.
Why? Because the memories of that child, teen, young adult being shunned, rejected, or unloved wasn’t happening to my true self, it was others reacting to my actions and choices.
How can I be rejected when I hadn’t been my true self most of my life? AHA!
The last piece to my healing puzzle. For more than a year, I striped layers upon layers of mistruths, feeling and beliefs I’d heard and ones I adopted.
With each layer, I went deeper to whom I was born to be and who I was before the world told me differently.
I discovered my true strengths.
I discovered things I’m happily not good at nor interested in.
I discovered my passions.
I discovered my needs.
I discovered my intuition and trust.
I discovered forgiveness doesn’t have to mean keeping those who’ve hurt you in your life.
I discovered boundaries.
I discovered my voice.
I discovered my purpose.
I discovered the reason for my pain.