I believed nobody loved me.
I had good reason.
At age five, I was sexually abused by my grandfather. At age 10, I was placed in a foster home. At age 18, my partner committed suicide.
I saw all these events as a reflection of me. Life just kept giving me more and more evidence that I was unlovable and the voice inside me grew darker every day.
“Your own mother doesn’t even want you.”
“These people are being paid to care.”
“I deserve to be beaten because I’m bad.”
“If I wasn’t here, everything would have been alright.”
For years and years I let these thoughts fester inside my head. They permeated all my relationships—with people, the world, and with myself. I started on a mission to be loved by everyone, but I was disappointed each time. Nobody could love me the way I wanted to be loved.
I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t lovable. Everybody else around me had loving parents, friends, and support networks while I raged a one-woman mission against the world and everything in it. I hated being told what to do. I hated anybody pretending to care or show affection. I hated being influenced. I just plain hated the world.
When I was 18, I decided to run away. As I was legally an adult, there wasn’t much running to be done. I was free to go where I pleased. So, I packed my suitcase and headed away from my home town, where old memories walked the streets like ghosts.
I went on a journey I wasn’t sure I was going to finish. I wanted to know:
Who am I?
When will the pain end?
If I wasn’t seeing all the people who had turned my life into this nightmare then maybe I could just forget it all. For a while, I did. I purposefully withheld details of my life from others. I pretended I was like everyone else. I had a mum, a dad, a happy family, and they all supported me in my decisions.
The farther I ran, the more distracted I became from my thoughts. The constant moving and changing meant my thoughts didn’t have time to catch up with me. When they did, there was always a bottle of vodka or a joint to help obliterate them, send them back to where they belonged, 3,000 miles away.
I didn’t find happiness in my achievements. I didn’t find happiness in my relationships. I didn’t find happiness in my holidays. It was always a surface-level feeling. A resigned, “Well, this is better than the pain,” but never a, “Wow, my life is f*cking awesome!” I kept this inside me. I felt if I were to ever tell people how I really viewed life, they would cart me off to a mental institute and throw away the key.
I started proving things. If I could prove to everyone I was amazing, then they would love me for sure. If I could prove I was intelligent, then the love would pour in. If I could prove I was fun, then there would be no reason to think I was anything else. It was exhausting.
“Look, I can do it.”
“Look at me.”
There have been moments in my life of extreme suffering, the type of suffering where you just think, I’m done. I’m truly done with this life—it has nothing to offer me. Pain has a way of doing that to you. Pain has a way of getting right into the corners of your mind and turning them inside out. Everything you once knew and thought doesn’t matter anymore when the pain is unbearable.
One night, I surrendered to the pain.
Instead of being angry with myself for crying and being weak, I sat with the feeling and let it completely flood my whole being. I felt my pain and I didn’t run, I didn’t distract myself, and I didn’t try to reason my way out of it. I sat there, crying to the moon. I was done living my life in pain. I couldn’t take anymore. I bundled up all of my problems and handed them over to whatever or whomever was in the sky. From now on, they could deal with it, because I couldn’t anymore.
Shortly after, a series of inexplicable events happened. People started coming into my life with messages for me. Something I really needed to hear. Something I had to listen to. Strange coincidences started occurring that catapulted me onto a different path. I started learning things—knowledge I hadn’t come across before, wisdom I had never heard spoken.
My life changed when I looked into the mirror and I said, “I love you.“ It was such an awkwardly terrifying experience that I shocked myself at my own resistance to this simple phrase. I could barely do it. I could barely look at myself and meet my own eyes. I started repeating this every time I looked in a mirror and it got easier. There was less resistance and I started to believe it.
Then one day, just like that, I fell in love with myself.
I fell in love with my life. I fell in love with the world and all its magnificent glory. I had turned a tap and the love gushed out of me. I couldn’t stop. I even started loving complete strangers. I loved the good, the bad, and everything else. I started sitting in deep gratitude for everyone and everything. I began understanding that my life was a blessing, a gift, and that I hadn’t been put here for pain, suffering, and torture.
I began to truly believe I am blessed. I am a miracle. And, most importantly, I am love.
I went back through my old belief system and began ripping up beliefs that no longer served me, no longer helped me be the best I could be, didn’t come from my highest self. I did this with a level of tenacity that I’ve never seen before. I had been living with a host of limiting beliefs that actually weren’t mine. They had been passed on, taught, or copied.
I started to answer my questions one by one:
I am not a label. I am not my job. I am not my status. I am love. I am pure, creative energy. I am a miracle. I am powerful. I am a creator. I am enough. The state of joy, bliss, and happiness is our true state, our natural state. Hate, pain, and suffering are caused by our own thinking.
A victim will use this line of thinking to justify their beliefs in thinking the world is against them. The world is against nobody. It is you against you. I believe I experienced these challenges in life because I needed to. That, in fact, the things I once considered to be the worst things to ever happen to me are now actually my biggest gifts.
I developed empathy, compassion, and forgiveness through them. These lessons are what have shaped me today. It is because of these events that I can now help people. I can listen to them and say, “I understand you, I feel you, I know,” because I actually do. I can bring light into people’s darkness because I, too, was once swallowed by darkness.
“When will the pain end?”
The pain will only end when we decide to change our thinking. It’s a choice we all have.
You are telling the story of your life. You have the power to tell a different one. You choose, every day, how you interpret others’ actions, events, and the world around you. You and only you have the power to change this. Change the script!
I know there is more than one person who needs to hear this message.
I know there is someone right now, sitting there with pain in their heart, and suffering in their mind, not knowing when it will end. I’m here to tell you, pain doesn’t last forever. No matter how bad it gets or has been, you can turn it around. Right here, right now.
You can start living a different story. You have the power and you can do it.
How do I know? Because I was you.
Author: Laura Elliott
Images: Author’s Own
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen