To the mother who is trying to hold it together for her kids, doing everything for everyone else and putting herself last.
To the woman who is trying to keep busy at work to avoid the empty house and all the feelings to go with it.
To the one who is keeping your chin up and putting on a smile to make everyone else feel okay or the one with a to-do list a mile long because you know if you stop for a moment it will all come crashing down.
I see you. I see your pain. And I want you to know you can never do enough to outrun it. You have to stop.
Keeping busy, pushing through, putting everyone else first, putting on a smile—these are all distraction mechanisms to avoid the pain that comes in the quiet, in the stillness. But you can’t outrun the pain. In order to heal it, you must feel it, and it will keep chasing you until you stop.
Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it’s overwhelming. It feels like if you stop for a moment you will be completely crushed by the weight of the emotions you are carrying. But you have to stop. You deserve the space to heal and love yourself like you were always meant to.
We all have pain and core wounds that most of us have been carrying and adding to since childhood, having learned to stuff and avoid the pain rather than feel it. As we move through life, more pain is added to it and we put up walls and create ways to distract ourselves from it, whether that be with social media, TV, food, alcohol, work, a constantly full calendar, or an endless to-do list. If you stop, you can feel the emotions moving in—the loneliness, fear, anxiety, sadness, and overwhelm—so you just keep moving, but this cycle will never end, and you have to feel it to heal it.
“Just like children, our emotions heal when they are heard and validated.” – Jill Bolte Taylor
All your pain wants is to be felt. And if this is a deep core wound from your childhood, there is a young version of you in pain, and all they want is to be seen and heard and validated and loved. The wounded version of you needs love, not from anyone else, from you.
Many of us will automatically say, “Well of course I love myself” and disregard the notion that you could love yourself more fully. But if you really sit with this and are truly honest, you will likely find parts of yourself that you feel are unlovable, unworthy. Perhaps a childhood version that feels unlovable because they were not loved well or a past version of yourself that you judge for making a poor decision or for not being good enough.
We are often reminded of these versions and this past pain through life events in the present—being left by your spouse, criticized at work, “failing” to keep up with everything that you feel you ought to be able to do. Unworthiness creeps in, loneliness creeps in, sadness creeps in. All of these are a call from you, to you.
“Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself.” – Rupi Kaur
Sit with yourself. Hold yourself. Allow the pain that you’ve been carrying for so long to surface. Give it time and space to really feel it. Cry, grieve, journal—just allow everything to come up that needs to be felt. Stop running, stop avoiding, stop stuffing. Create the space and just feel. Be with the pain, be with yourself. Love yourself. You owe this time and attention to yourself. You owe yourself the compassion and love that you give to everyone else. If it is too difficult to find this compassion and love for yourself now, start with the childhood version of you—they need you. They deserve this time and space, and so do you.
You may need to spend several hours in the space of feeling and healing, or several days. It may come and go in waves or be a constant state of feeling for some time. Once you’ve allowed the emotions to flow, give yourself love. Feel into what would be really loving for you in that moment. Maybe it’s a bath or a nap or curling up with a good book or your favorite movie.
Once on the other side, find new ways to love yourself. Make time to regularly sit with your emotions and give yourself the space to be present for yourself. Give yourself good nourishing food, rest, move your body in ways that feel good to you. Feel into what would light you up, what feels like peace—maybe sitting at a café with a good book every weekend or getting out in nature. Maybe getting a monthly massage or sipping tea slowly and mindfully in your garden. Whatever it is, start making it (and you) a priority. Love yourself enough to slow down, to be present, to put yourself first. Once you love yourself fully, you can share that love with the world.