“How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.” ~Paulo Coelho
He used to tell me no one else would love me because I’m damaged goods.
And I believed him.
Because I received messages for most of my life that there was something wrong with me.
I wasn’t good enough. Too sensitive. Too weak. Too sickly. Too different.
I realize now those messages were passed on to me by concerned parents who saw in me parts of themselves they didn’t fully accept.
And those messages were from parents whose own parents had used criticism as a way to motivate them to do better. They didn’t know another way. They were just trying to help me succeed.
But my little HSP soul took it to heart. I took it literally.
Then I ventured into the world as an adult choosing romantic partners who confirmed every single belief I’d held about myself since my developmental years.
This is a common cycle we perpetuate when we’re not aware that programmed conditioning is running the show.
I attracted romantic partners that played out all the emotional dysregulation from my family of origin—to confirm to me that everything my caregivers had told me was indeed true.
But I was also looking for someone to give me the love and acceptance I felt I had been lacking my whole life. I thought that would finally make me feel “normal.” I thought I would finally feel whole.
Almost a decade ago, when I was in the worst (and most dangerous) romantic situation of my life, I tried to leave.
Looking back, my friends told me they were truly concerned for my safety and my life while I was in that relationship.
I had stayed because I felt that I deserved the treatment I received. That if someone who said they loved me spoke to me the way that he did, there must be a good reason.
Although deep down inside, I had an inkling that this didn’t feel right. That perhaps being on my own was better than feeling terrible in this relationship.
When I finally stood up for myself, he made sure I knew that if I left, I’d be destined to suffer alone forever because no one else would be willing to love a broken soul like me, and that I would indeed suffer greatly.
He told me over and over again until I broke. Until I believed him.
It took two whole years to finally free myself.
In the end, what helped was seeking professional support—a wonderful counselor who helped me see that the situation I was in was harming me.
Truly, my soul was dying. I was becoming a shell of who I was, and I hate to think where I’d be now had I stayed.
The counselor helped me come to a new agreement with myself of what I was willing to tolerate in my life.
It was the first step in an awakening to some important truths I hadn’t seen before.
And I then committed to the inner healing.
I spent many a moment in a sobbing mess on my yoga mat.
I sat with the emotions that came up, even if they were uncomfortable. The fear, shame, guilt, anger. All of it.
I listened to the messages these tough emotions had for me. And there were many.
I met and befriended my inner child and realized she was scared. And that the only person that could really give her the assurance and comfort she truly desired was me.
I had a dark night of the soul. My second (of three to date). Just as uncomfortable as the first.
Just as the initial one had, this dark night delivered a deep realization that the path I was on was not leading me in a direction of my truth. I was moving away from my own inner light, not toward it.
It was the jolt I needed to change. It was then that I finally mustered the strength to leave and not turn back.
I didn’t yet know where I was going, but I knew it was going to be a different direction than where I had been. It had to be.
I had changed my perspective about myself, and as a result, my life changed completely
The people who then showed up were of a completely different caliber. Supportive, encouraging, and accepting of me for who I am: quirks and all.
Or rather, I stopped letting in the wounded who didn’t accept me in all my bright, shiny perfect imperfection. I created new boundaries that prevented those uncomfortable with my light from trying to destroy it.
As a result, I created more room around me for people who shine themselves.
I’m now in a healthy, emotionally stable, and incredibly supportive relationship. It’s like night and day. I can see the difference now, and the contrast is remarkable.
I now see that those manipulations and insults my ex threw at me were his way to control me because he didn’t feel in control himself. It was his coping mechanism.
This behavior was most likely modeled to him from his own family of origin. This is how wounds are passed down.
But at the time I didn’t understand, because I was taking in those comments from a completely different perspective.
I was hearing those comments from the belief that there was something wrong with me, and so I assumed what he was saying to me was the truth.
Please know, beautiful soul, that you are worthy of love in every way—especially and most importantly love from yourself.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is coming from a place of woundedness. Do not let them pull you into their wounds.
Stay in your light. Stay strong to your truth.
Some may think your light is too bright, but that’s because it illuminates the wounds they’re not yet ready to face.
As a result, they’ll try to dull your light to protect themselves.
The ones who are meant for you will love your unique brightness and encourage more of it.
Because they also live their truth and shine their light bright, and they understand the importance of supporting others to do the same.
My love does this every single day.
He doesn’t think I’m broken—he thinks I’m beautiful, inside and out.
He knows I have wounds.
And the lessons I’ve learned and strength I’ve gathered because of those wounds makes me wiser.
He loves that about me. The emotional maturity I’ve gained through my journey makes me that much more appealing to him.
And I’ve also come to realize on my journey that I don’t need his love or anyone else’s in order to find my own within. That’s the most important lesson of them all.
You’re not broken, lovely human. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
About Michelle Dowker
Michelle Dowker, MSc, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor turned Emotional Transformation Facilitator. She is the authority in Social Unconditioning and founder of The Remedy Within: an exclusive & powerful healing approach for women with chronic illness to release what’s holding you back and unleash your inner healer within so you can soar. You can find out more about her here, and don’t forget to follow her on Instagram @wellbalanceND for more inspiring content