I didn’t recognize this strange, co-dependent woman I had become. I wasn’t strong. I wasn’t true. I didn’t listen to what I wanted or needed. I was selfless to the point of destruction and I was voiceless. I ignored my needs while catering to everyone else’s. I thought I was being the best wife, mom, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law by focusing my love and attention outward. I focused so much on everyone else that I got lost along the way.

I was under the impression (delusion) that love was only two things: my love for others and their love for me. I didn’t understand that love of self is the root of all love. My issue with love was that I simply didn’t love myself.

This realization both derailed me and transformed me. I needed to take responsibility for where I was and the path that I was on. I needed to accept me and love me for me; my greatest assets and my beautiful flaws. I needed to love me. Acknowledge that I am human. Lovable. Loved. Special. Unique. That my assets and my flaws are what make me – ME. This was the beginning of my discovery of self.

I started to listen to my heart. I cleaned house by releasing unhealthy relationships, which was an enormous challenge for me because I am non-confrontational. I want everyone to like me and I want everyone to be happy. But realizing that I was not being treated well by some of the people closest to me was sobering. These people needed me to be weak and indecisive, but I wasn’t that person anymore. I started to stand up for myself and stand my ground. I distanced myself from anyone who didn’t want me at my best and what was best for me. Consciously changing these relationships was the first step. If I wanted to be the best me, I needed to be surrounded by people who wanted the same for me.

Taking responsibility for my relationships was empowering.

Next, I quieted the internal chatter filled with fear, worry and darkness. Muting these toxic thoughts was difficult but replacing them with hopeful positive thoughts seemed to work. The more I focused on hope, peace and happiness the calmer I felt. The toxic chatter quieted and my deepest desires and truths began to emerge. I started to see my path, my purpose, my intent. The direction I wanted to head in became very clear to me.

Listening to myself felt good. I began to gain strength.

Much of what had been important to me became less important. Almost insignificant. The simple things – spending time loving my children, eating meals together, talking about our day, our successes, our failures, our lives – became my focus. Enjoying time with friends. Living each moment, all in. Work when I work, rest when I rest and play when I play. By keeping these things separate I find that I am better able to focus on the who and what of the moment.

Slowly my love of self began to take root. I started to focus on loving and trusting myself. Listening became easier and my intent became clearer and clearer. What I wanted, from the deepest part of me, started to unfold. I became more confident. I felt good in my skin. The real me was coming back.

I began to develop strength and courage…

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