The other day, I listened to a podcast and heard the host say, “girls never forget anything.”
In my experience, I would say that’s true. I remember everything, especially language. A big one is from when I was 12. I was in gym class, and we had to learn all about our data based on our weight and height. My gym teacher taught us what number was too high and what was too low. Based on the numbers, I was considered too “high.” After that, my classmates compared numbers. I have never held a paper so tight, thinking I was less than because of that number. I felt shame around my body—feeling like I was not enough for social acceptance. For years I struggled with labeling: good exercise, lousy exercise, good and bad food.
As I grew older, I felt like my self-compassion grew, but an experience I had with my daughter has impacted me the most.
I was pregnant with my little girl, Henley. When my daughter, Henley, was born, we discovered some medical issues, including being born without a specific nerve that impacts the right side of her body. To that point in my life, there was always a solution to medical problems. A surgery or therapy of some sort, right? Then the neurologist sat down with us and began to talk. Your daughter is beautiful. She should hit all her typical milestones. However, Henley was born without a nerve in her brain and what this means is she has permanent facial palsy. She won’t be able to blink her right eye and will most likely have a crooked smile as her right side is paralyzed.
He was still talking, but everything went silent. All I could think about was me as a little girl. Feeling so self-conscious about my body that the most important thing in life was my appearance. I felt extreme self-compassion for my child self at that moment. Knowing I have this perfect daughter who may be different from the “normal” beauty standards. I wasn’t worried about her as I knew I could raise her to be a warrior to see the beauty in being different. But at that moment, I knew I needed to work on self-love because the most significant teaching I can do for her is showing up for myself with true self-compassion and acceptance.
It was time to change the stories that no longer served me. The first lesson was to relearn the love I have for my body and that my body serves me in many ways. My body gives me the option to see all the color this life provides.
The second lesson is differences are what make experiences rich. I had to stop worrying about hitting the next trend. For so long, I thought my biggest priority was fitting a mold that didn’t serve me. I had to come out of my bubble and see the beautiful differences in all of us.
Third, radical kindness. This one is hard—especially inner kindness. But I learned to sit with my negative stories and let them pass. Learning that my thoughts are not always true. What is true is what serves me, which is having radical kindness towards myself.
My hope is both my kiddos will learn to see there is so much color in this world. To experience the differences all around them. To learn to have self-compassion and kindness as they grow older will serve them more than fitting the perfect mold. It’s okay to see change is needed, even when it may be more comfortable to stay in the old stories. Having awareness around what is not working is sometimes the first win.