For most of my life I believed I was unlovable. Because of this, I believed that anyone I loved would eventually leave me. When I was only four, my father took his own life. It felt like my dad had abandoned me. I loved my daddy so much, and knew he loved me too, so this experience felt so confusing: Why did he leave me? I wondered. It must have been because I wasn’t loveable; otherwise he would have stayed. For the longest time this is the meaning that my four-year old self made of this traumatic event.
From that point on, my biggest fear was that everyone I met would find out this horrible truth I believed: That I was unlovable, and my father had left me, and it was my fault.
Thus began my lifelong career of hiding, pretending and lying; never letting anyone get close enough to me for fear they would see who and what I truly was: unlovable. If they saw this, they too would leave me. I got good at pleasing people, just to be liked and accepted. I hid behind costumes, and played all the right parts. I did whatever I had to and became whoever I had to–except for myself– just to feel loved.
But living this way began to cause me enormous anxiety. I was in a constant state of fear. Eventually, I became depressed and sought therapy and medication. Needing this treatment created an even more overwhelming sense of feeling unlovable and defective. I was so disgusted by myself, and hated myself so much that I became suicidal by the age of 14. But inside, I desperately wanted to feel loved and cherished by someone who I could trust wouldn’t leave me.
Because I’ve experienced how powerful finding true, self love can be–and how it radically transforms our relationships with others–I’ve made it my life purpose to guide others in this journey to discovering the most fulfilling love of all.
At the age of 26 my dream came true. I met my “prince charming.” He was everything I could ever have dreamed of and more! We married, and our life together was truly a fairy-tale, dream-come-true for me. He loved, cherished and protected me. He even took care of me and faithfully stayed by my side even when I felt unlovable. Because I received his love, I felt loveable, whole, confident, happy and safe for one of the first times in my life.
A month after our 27th anniversary, he was gone. Diagnosed with a rare blood disorder two months before, he died suddenly and unexpectedly. The love of my life was gone. The one who validated I was loveable was gone. The only person on earth who knew all of me–and accepted me fully, was gone. And at the time, it felt like my reason for living was gone too.
In addition to feeling a sense of insurmountable sadness, loss and grief, I experienced the return of an incredible fear that my truth would be exposed once again: That I was unlovable, and now, my husband’s death was somehow my fault. I had never felt so vulnerable and scared before.
During the initial days following his death, I sat in our home feeling lost and alone. I’d ask myself, aloud, “What am I going to do?” Over and over. The answer first came in another question: “What would Tom do?” I remembered that Tom always made sure I was taken care of and did everything possible to ensure I was happy. I thought, “That’s it! I have to be the one to ensure I am cared for and happy.” And thus, my journey of learning to love myself began.