Written by Heather Hymas
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” -Brene Brown
If you follow this column you know that I believe living a life with purpose is a continual journey. You are never going to arrive. It is a process of learning and growing, changing and adapting. The purpose is to know yourself, so you can love yourself, then you can share that love with the world. Until you completely accept who you are: your brilliance, your greatness, your strengths, as well as your faults, your fears, your mistakes, and your weaknesses, you will not be able to fully accept others. If our purpose here is to love one another, we must accept one another, and that acceptance must begin with me.
Are there portions of yourself that you don’t like? Are you ignoring them, or trying to hide them even? I have been.
Lately, I have felt really good about myself, probably better than I have in my whole life. I have a family that loves me, great friends, a good job doing something of value that is really challenging and selfless. I am a published writer. I have been getting really healthy through diet and exercise. I have lots of people telling me all the time how wonderful I am, and that feels really good. I am busy and I work really hard. I go out of my way to be mindful and live the things I write in this column. I do my best to be kind, generous, empathetic, and loving. I truly want people to feel that they are valuable and worthy of love, no matter what challenges they have overcome or are currently facing. Why is this so important to me?
Because I understand what it feels like to not feel worthy, or valuable, or lovable.
I understand how hard it can be to love others, or to accept love. I have been at the very bottom, rock bottom. I have been abused, and I have been the abuser. I have traveled a very long road to get to where I am at today. Last weekend I realized, even with all of my accomplishments I still have a fear of not being accepted, and I still have parts of me that I do not accept. It was scary.
Sunday, I went with a friend, to go see a speaker. I had no idea what she was going to speak about and was excited for the event. I went with someone that I feel very close to and consider to be a good friend. The speaker shared about her life as a child, trauma she has survived, and then about her recovery. Her recovery from alcoholism and addiction. She spoke about accepting yourself, celebrating your greatness, and feeling worthy. She shared about not feeling deserving, about being jealous, hurt, and angry. Her words literally crawled in and touched my bare soul. I related with every word. Memories from the ten years I spent in the claws of drug addition and the destructive battle I fought with myself to recover from that came rushing back through me like a cold bucket of ice water.
I began to share these feelings with my friend, and as I talked a look of confusion came over her. She was looking at me with this perplexed look on her face like, “Who are you?” Suddenly, I realized she knew none of this about me. I am sure there had been ample opportunities where I could have shared some of these pieces of myself, yet I had chosen not to. I was shocked at first. I innocently said, “Oh, haven’t I ever told you this before?” This was a huge part of my life; it is a huge part of me. It is who I am, and yet I had been completely ignoring it. I have purposefully been leaving this part of me out. Why would I do that?
Why would I take this whole part of my life that has made me the strong, compassionate, caring, loving individual that I am today and just leave it out of the conversation? Why am I not sharing this huge part of me with new people that I meet? Why am I not proud of what I have accomplished and the struggles I have overcome? There are a lot of reasons, some legitimate, and some not, but what it really boils down to is that I have not been fully accepting myself.
I have become concerned with how people will judge me. I have been afraid of what value they would put on me. I have been afraid that if they knew where I came from, what I have been through, and how I got here, somehow they might think less of me.
I decided if I am going to accept and love myself completely, that must mean all of me.
I don’t get to just accept the good parts. I have to accept the dark parts too, and not just accept them, but love them for what they have given me. Be proud of them. If I can accept my dark parts then I can share them with you, and you can accept your dark parts also. We all have them, whether it be jealousy, lying, an addiction, being selfish, whatever scares you and keeps you from being close to another human being. Because the truth is, until you can accept a thing, really accept it as true, you cannot change it. That is how we overcome them. That is how we spread hope, and healing, and lift others up.
So, here I am putting this all out there, on paper, in print, for all to see. I am walking the walk; I am facing one of my biggest fears. The fear that after I share with you about one of my dark parts you might not think as highly of me. You may not accept me. You may not want to read my writing anymore. You may not want me teaching your children. I was a drug addict, a hopeless lost soul who had no self-worth and no regard for others. I literally had to lose everything before I was willing to make a change. And, it took years, years of hard work and the love and support of many people to bring me back from that despair and state of hopelessness. But, it is a part of me. It has made me who I am today. I am willing to share any part of that journey with you if it will give you hope that you too can walk through your fears, your dark parts, and come out the other side more beautiful and brilliant than you ever imagined. I did.
People that went before me shared with me so that I didn’t feel alone, and so that I could see there was another way to live. I could see hope for me through them. So, whatever your dark part is, I urge you to accept it, and to share it with someone in need. If we all see that we are not that different from one another, we can all begin to be a source of light and a beacon to shine that light where it is needed.
Compassion, hope, and healing must start with me, and that means all of me.