“Make me look how I wanna look so I can like myself.” That’s what Sarah, a woman I recently started working with, admitted she’s really thinking down deep when she prays.
Just like the rest of us, she knows she’s is supposed to value more what’s on the inside. But a part of her can’t even imagine that’s possible if she doesn’t get her outsides to look a certain way.
Her comment struck a deep chord with me, because I know the struggle of that lifelong lament…
It’s a lament I hear from women daily. It’s a lament I cried through silent tears for decades. It’s the lament of unworthiness, of feeling broken of being unlovable.
And however the words come out on the surface, at its core is the same resounding undertone:
“I’m not ok as I am and I need to fix what’s wrong.”
In nearly a decade of helping women overcome addiction and heal their relationship with their bodies and themselves, the # 1 biggest hurdle I see for women worldwide is that they suffer with the shaming belief there is something wrong with them that is beyond repair.
And this one belief sends each woman down a self-destructive spiral of fixing, controlling and obsessing, as she desperately tries to solve the problem of her own unsuitability.
And her bookshelves fill up with self help titles.
And her credit card fills up with therapy bills.
But nothing fills up the part inside her that feels not enough.
And eventually, her internal world is reduced to a chaotic constellation of unworthiness, anxiety and inadequacy that only serves to beam back to her the story of her own unlovability.
And so, estranged from herself, she wanders in the artificial light of her own delusional landscape, feeling lost, and suffering from a type of self-induced amnesia where she loses all sense of who she is.
And instead of standing in her power, trusting her gut and operating by intuition, she wears a search light strapped to her head. Endlessly turning outward and looking for her reflection in other people’s eyes.
And she lives off-center – perpetually off-balance – as she reaches for other’s approval or trips on their words.
And she develops her stage character – showing the world a smile, as she prevents anyone from really getting close.
And her world gets smaller. And her pain gets deeper.
And the more she lives to please others, the more she abandons herself.
Until eventually, she is so thoroughly exhausted and externally dependent that her only solution for ease, comfort and a moment’s respite from her never-ceasing anxiety is to act out in deserving defiance with her addiction.
And so she does.
But no sooner does she take that first bite or drink and she is already cursing herself saying, “You shouldn’t have that.” “what’s wrong with you?” “Why can’t you eat or drink like a normal person?”
Or she just gets a case of the “fuck-its” and doesn’t think at all.
And the vicious cycle continues.
So how do we break the cycle of feeling broken and trying to fix us?
Let me start by saying that yes, we can break the cycle. I have not only experienced it but I have seen it with my own eyes.
I have seen women I’ve worked with, like my client Courtney, go from being externally dependent on others for approval to operating by an inner guidance and intuition where her sense of worth and meaning comes from the inside.
I have watched women like my client Lisa shift from people pleasing to having healthy boundaries.
I have witnessed women, like my client Michele, embrace everything they do (or don’t do) through the lens of compassion, tolerance and understanding.
I have experienced women, like my client Kylie, heal decades of estrangement from their families and melt years of resentment, shame, guilt and pain.
I have been present as women have woken up from the delusion of brokenness, and reunited with the remembering of their “I’m-ok-just-as-I-am-without-anything-needing-to-changeness.”
So yes. I know this is possible. And doable.
And this is what will save us women. As individuals and as a collective.
This is what will ultimately set all of us free.
So what does it take to heal?
Every woman aforementioned, followed a particular formula that included these elements:
Firstly, she was willing to get honest about her own self destructive story and the lie she was telling herself.
Next, she got honest about how her obsession with fixing herself was in and of itself an addiction and was holding her back from truly loving herself and from getting free from addiction.
She also became willing to set aside her ideas and plans in order to be open to a new experience of herself and her truth.
She then explored her own inner landscape, and excavated the areas of fear and delusion that were obscuring her and ran these fears and delusions through a spiritual process so that she could get free from what was blocking her and gain clear access to the truth.
And instead of villainizing these part of her and pushing them even farther within herself, she came to see how bringing them to light actually served to help other women wake up from their delusional spell of brokenness.
And then, each woman followed a daily practice to allow for the new story to be written within her and told through her.
And this story spoke of freedom. And this story spoke of wholeness. And this story embraced all of her. And this story brought her home.
And so when Sarah said, “Make me look how I wanna look so I can like myself,” part of me felt her struggle like an echo from my own.
But a deeper, stronger, wiser part of me instinctively knew: She is one realization away from the truth.
And sure enough, the next words from her mouth were, “so I’m done with that story.”
And just like that, Sarah had broken free.
In dedication of all things raw, real and recovered,