Learning to love myself

I remember being young and not believing that anyone loved me.  I remember feeling so confused when someone would outwardly show me that they loved me, I wondered if I deserved it and I wasn’t sure how to accept it.  I constantly hated myself, judged myself and was hard on myself.

I remember that as I grew up a bit, and became a young woman, that I started to let others love me a bit and it always made me so sad, to actually feel the love from the other.  I think that I was always waiting for it to leave again, for that beautiful feeling to go and for me to feel alone all over again.

I remember my brother coming home one day for his birthday and he just sat in the front entrance of the house and didn’t come in.  I remember thinking, wow, he doesn’t even want to come in, I wonder what is going on and feeling sad (now I’m thinking I was just feeling him).  Somehow, he got into a big argument with my parents and he left before really coming fully into the house.  I was upset and I wanted to let him know that I loved him and I had never done that verbally before.  I ran to the phone and called his cell phone and asked him why he had left and he was just paralyzed on the other end, I could feel it.  I stopped talking but just kind of held him and then I told him I loved him and that I always would.  I remember him saying, “what, you love me?” and then I saw myself in him, that shock, that disbelief, so I told him again.  I think I was comforting him and trying to love both of us that day, finally.

So flash forward to me being 32, having spent the last year and a half reclaiming my life  from the inside, step by step, and to how good I feel now.  How I know that I am love (well most days, tee hee), and that the only love I need is really the love inside, the love that I am, the love that is God, within me and all around me.  It’s hard to explain, it’s just this feeling that is within me now, almost like my heart has been lit up again, like a lantern and it’s shining, so I can find it again, to know that I am never alone, that I am loved and supported.  It still gets me though, to really feel that love, whether it’s from someone else or from myself to myself.

For example, this morning I was going some yoga from the book Kundalini Yoga by Shakta Kaur Khalsa (the teacher of Radiant Child Yoga whom I trained with in July), and I was doing the Movement Relaxation part.  You put on some beautiful music and dance around gently, release tension from your body and sway to the music.  The next part is to touch every part of your body gently, “begin to lightly feel each part of the body without reservation….Bless yourself with your touch (page 77).”  I started gently touching my face and I started crying so much.  I was blessing myself, I was taking time out of my day to bless myself and love myself.  I was crying from missing myself possibly, from actually feeling that I love myself and care about myself and just plain releasing emotions.  It was really awesome, it felt so good, to be so gentle and caring with my body, to appreciate it, to know that I was giving myself some love, to know deeper down that I deserve it and that it is so important to do.  I think it still surprises me sometimes, like wow, is this really what I deserve, is this really what life can be like, can I actually take time to love myself.  Either way, I really liked it and it was beautiful for me.

May we all continue our journey of life and find that day, that moment, when we remember that we deserve love and that we can each love ourselves and others.

Ear piercing with a three year old

Our daughter Zara first told me she wanted her ears pierced the week before she turned 3.  I wanted to oblige, but part of me was worrying that it would hurt, that she would tug on them, be uncomfortable, or be super upset.  I remember when she asked me this past February and all of that flashed through my mind, and then I said that there wasn’t much time to get it done before her birthday in a few days.  I see now that I don’t think I was ready!!  Tee hee!   I am so grateful that I’m really starting to see when I put all of my life experiences on Zara, when they really don’t apply at all.

A few weeks ago, she said, “I want to get my ears pierced.”  I had somewhat forgotten about it and I said, “okay, do you want to go today?” and she jumped off the couch and was ready to go.  I had stopped in at the mall a few weeks before and had talked to them about the process, so I explained it to her, I said, “they’ll put a device next to your ears, you will hear a loud clicking sound next to your ears, and you might feel some pain, and then you’ll have earrings.”  I asked her if she would be okay with that and she said she was ready to go.  So I suggested that she tell her body that she wanted earrings and that it was going to be okay and that it might hurt but that it could just heal quickly. I figured that if she communicated her intent to her body, it might not be as much of a shock to the body.  So out loud she said, “okay body, I want earrings, so I’m going to get them, it might hurt but you can just heal.”  My heart was really happy, I was thinking that was really going to help…I remember my terror even at 15 or 16 at getting my ears pierced, I remember how it hurt for days, but then I didn’t know that I could work with my body, I didn’t realize that the terror I was feeling would prevent my body from doing what it sooo knows how to do, regenerate and heal.

So back to Zara’s story. I explained that there were two stores at the mall and that she could choose. I told her the names and she chose one based on the name.  I told her we could see both stores when we got to the mall so she could get a sense of the energy of the stores first since she feels energy so much.  She still chose Ardene so we went in.  The music was blaring and to me it felt kind of frenetic in there. I saw her get caught in it, just like I did, so I told her to take her power back from the store and know that this is where she wants to be.  I saw her adjust a bit and settle in.  I learned that trick from Jean Brazeau, our family’s healer/coach guide.  It worked like a charm.  I made sure we found out the person’s name who was going to be piercing Zara’s ears and we talked with her a bit to get more comfortable. She was awesome, she was explaining everything to Zara, and Zara got a chance to pick the earrings she wanted.  She was getting ready to do it when one of her colleagues came over so they could both do it at the same time so that Zara didn’t have to have one ear done and then the other.  The second girl seemed really nervous and pent up, so I tried to send love her way to help her settle so she wouldn’t necessarily send any of that energy over Zara’s way.  They got ready and they went for it.  I could see the look of shock come over Zara’s face, there really isn’t any way to prepare for that I don’t think!  She seemed okay with it, but one of the backs of the earrings didn’t go on properly and the girl was panicking about it.  I looked at Zara and I said, “it hurts, eh?” and she nodded, and I told her it was okay, her body was going to heal and that if she wanted to cry she could.  She didn’t quite yet, because the girl was still fumbling a bit to get the back of the earring on.  I reassured her and we looked at it together and it was on, but not a ton and I told her it was just fine that it would hold and that she could relax, it was okay!  It was funny, she seemed more upset than Zara, she was just trying to make it a good experience for her, it was really sweet.  So then Zara’s eyes filled up with tears, so I scooped her up and I said, “it’s okay, cry if you want, does it hurt more than you expected?” and she nodded and cried.  Everyone in the store was looking so I told her, “see, they all know what it feels like, they remember the shock and they’re sending you some love,” and I think it helped.  So we went out of the store while her dad Robbin paid and I congratulated her because she had done it, she made a decision and she went for it.  She calmed down some and then asked me to put her down and we ran to find a mirror so she could peek.  Once she saw them, she was totally fine, she was running around the mall screaming with delight about her new earrings.  I saw there and then that preparation is helpful and so is the attitude towards the body and it’s abilities.  Zara never once complained about her ears, we never put any alcohol on them and they’ve been fine ever since.  And she’s seemingly much more empowered about her ability to handle painful situations and recover from them, that it’s okay to cry and then move on.  She doesn’t play the victim role like I did when I was little (and did up to a year or so ago!!), so she didn’t need to really experience the pain to get attention or anything.  It’s brilliant, she’s brilliant.  She shows me what’s possible every day!

So I say, let’s empower our kids, let’s explain things to them, let’s give them some options, let’s teach them, let’s guide them and let’s let them flourish and grow and discover their power as they grow and go out in the world.

before ear piercing!
After ear piercing! And she is wearing my new bathing suit top, which was almost as exciting as the ear piercing!

I am not my thoughts….how they would have done me in yesterday, but I remembered this truth

You know, thoughts are crazy.  They can take you places, take you to what you believe to be the worst within you, they can show you all the memories, emotions and pain you thought you repressed a long time ago, they can show you your weaknesses and vulnerabilities….if you let them.

I have found so many helpful books, techniques etc for coping with thoughts over the past few years, ways to disassociate myself from them, to recognize that they are not me, to find the present moment instead, and they’ve all been helpful.  I have so much gratitude to Richard Carlson, Don Miguel Ruiz, John Kabat-Zinn, Eckhart Tolle, as well as many others.  If it weren’t for them, I would still think I was miserable and I would still be believing all the thoughts that used to plague me.

Since I’ve started on this healing path, the path to my true self, to living my true life and going beyond all the bullshit that is around us, within us, I have realized that these books, while useful and beautiful, are just tools.  If we can get to the depths of the repressed stuff within us, get it out, then we can find real freedom.  Then we don’t really need to stay in the present moment, or say, okay here are the thoughts, I will just watch them and let them disappear, because when we start welcoming in our true selves, then this just tends to happen naturally.

I read the book, The Journey, by Brandon Bays several months ago, and she developed a process for finding out what we’ve stored in our bodies, getting to the core of it and releasing it.  My heart and soul sang while reading it, they were like, holy shit, get it all out, do you remember this, and this and this, it was almost as if they were willing me, showing me what I had gone through, what I wasn’t allowed to feel, what I had repressed as a result, and they were singing to me, Bradlee, do this, get it out, this isn’t you.

The Journey describes a process you can do yourself with friends to get to the core of what it is you repressed (that is likely causing physical manifestations, I had super digestive troubles and food sensitivities and unexplicable frustration and anger and deep deep abandonment issues).  I was going to do the process with a friend but then found a Journey practitioner (Jean Brazeau, jeanbrazeau@sympatico.ca) on their website and thank goodness I did.  She does Journey work but also does so much more, and she has taught me, shown me how to welcome in the real Bradlee as we’ve worked together to release all the stuff that wasn’t me and each time I’ve gone, I’ve gotten lighter inside and sometimes I can actually feel my body glowing inside, tingling, thanking me for all the work, showing me it’s here to support me, that it is a beautiful tool, not just something that helps me move around and that carries all the pain for me.  Anytime I feel pain now I realize that it’s the next thing that’s coming up for me to see, acknowledge and release.  And I’m learning how to do it on my own now too. Slowly but surely I will start sharing this on the blog!  But I’d like to start with what happened to me yesterday!

So I was with my beautiful family and I kept getting plagued by these awful memories.  One was when our daughter was like 8 months old and she had such a horrible time sleeping, I was exhausted, I was trying to support her, be there for her like I felt I was never supported, and then I was spent.  I was open and vulnerable to what I didn’t believe in.  So I tried it, I let her cry by herself.  I thought I was going to die.  That’s what I was reliving yesterday, even though it was 2 years ago, even though I’ve come so far since then, I’m so much more free, so much more able to live and parent from a place of neutrality instead of “there’s no fucking way I’m going to repeat that for Zara (our daughter).”  And then right after that I remembered one night where I was again so frustrated that she wouldn’t sleep, that I grabbed her hard and swung her and I out of the bed, and my husband came after me and was like, “Bradlee, that was really angry and aggressive, you could have hurt her (she was still young and slightly floppy),” and then I had felt like dying, like I wasn’t worthy, like he hated me and she did too and that I might as well not exist.  All of that came up yesterday and some more too.  There’s no point in mentioning them all. I said, oh ya, here they are, I breathed and I felt the love in my chest, I saw how stuck I had been, how trapped I was back then, I recognized that I did the best I could possibly have done with where I was in my life and I moved on.  Pure and simple.  I didn’t wallow in regret, guilt or self pity, which I would have done less  than a year ago, but slowly I’m letting go of the inner judge, the need to feel guilty like we all have, and the shame and regret.  I’m not having to work at it, it’s just happening slowly as I let more of me in with each time I get out the repressed stuff.

I know this is possible for us all.  I am Bradlee, just me, no one fancy (well, I think we’re all fancy and important, but that we just don’t know it yet!!), and it was my time to see the truth, to welcome myself back in from that dark hole I had to hide myself in all these years.  I pray that we can all do this, that we all find the strength to live our true lives, for ourselves, for our children.  May we all find the freedom to love ourselves and everyone around us.  We are all brothers and sisters and we are all beautiful, we just have to give ourselves permission to see it and know it.

May the words that I share open you up to your magnificence and may I capture my experiences in just the right way (with the least rambling as possible!! tee hee) so that it is simple for me and us all to see that life is so much more than doubts, pessimism, lack of time, cloudy days and “he/she is so much better than me.”

Peace and namaste.

Bradlee