Have you ever experienced something painful in your life that changed your belief system of who you are?
Many of us tend to hold on to stories for far too long about feeling not good enough, feeling unworthy, feeling unloved, feeling flawed, feeling powerless, feeling ashamed, feeling of scarcity or lack.
We let these stories define who we are and what we are capable of doing. They continue to thread through our adult personal and professional lives until we can find forgiveness, heal, stop seeing ourselves as “less than,” and step into our power.
I want to share a story with you that happened 40 years ago that changed my belief system. It’s just a small excerpt of my life, but this is where the downward spiral of my negative self-image started.
It was a typical sunny, humid day in Galveston, and my grandparents were babysitting me for the afternoon. I remember my grandmother (Mema) was in the kitchen with me while my grandfather (Pepa) was sitting in his black recliner in the living room with my great grandmother across from him in the yellowish-brown vinyl printed rocker. I was at the kitchen table, eating a snack.
Then the doorbell rang.
My Pepa got up, looked through the door glass slats, and said to my Mema, “Lily Mae, it’s Greg.” All of the adults looked at me and said, “Jenny, you need to go upstairs and not come back down until we tell you.”
Of course, the curious eight-year-old I was, went upstairs and sat at the top of the stairway to listen where they couldn’t see me. After all, I had no idea who Greg was and why he was so important.
What I found out next didn’t impact my life so much as what happened as a consequence of this knowledge.
I remember flat out questioning my grandparents as soon as the man had left, “my cousin has another dad, and my Uncle Robert is not her real dad?”
My Mema looked at me and in a mean and hurtful voice said, “shame on you for listening,” and then, sharing a look with my Pepa, said, “we will disown you and never talk to you again if you say a word about this to anyone.” I looked over at my great grandmother for support, waiting for her to tell me they didn’t mean it, but she never said a word.
After that day, they never treated me the same. At the age of eight, I felt unloved by two important people in my life, my only set of grandparents.
Now, this is just a small piece of how this belief started that was threaded in everything I did because I was always trying to prove myself—trying to be somebody, anybody they would love.
Years later, I would work myself into a state of exhaustion in my adult life because I thought they would love me if they saw how successful I was. It didn’t matter to them, and all they would do is continue to put me down.
You see, those beliefs created an unhealthy pattern in my life of trying to be somebody and always feeling like I had to prove myself, seeking validation.
Work was my drug. It’s what I buried myself in it, so I didn’t feel the pain. It led me to complete and utter exhaustion.
And then, one day, all that pain bubbled up inside of me, and the Universe shouted out, “it’s time.” It was time for me to let go of those beliefs and pull back each layer of the onion to start healing and forgiving from the core, despite the hurts.
What I learned is that as long as you ignore your pain and place your wholeness in the hands of others, you’ll never have wholeness, and you’ll always have the pain.
The real solutions come when you tend to the one thing in your life within your control—yourself. When you experience true wholeness, you’re free to live in your power and help others do the same. That’s when the magic begins.Jennifer Taormina
To anyone who needs to hear this message, please know that you are worthy, you are enough, you are somebody, you are loved, and you are not alone.