16 Aug everything.
I heard an amazing song by Alanis Morissette today and was so struck by the lyrics that I immediately downloaded it and played it on repeat for the next hour. I love to dissect the lyrics to really hear what the artist is communicating in the song. Music can express the deepest desire of our heart, and I admire songwriters for their ability to tap into our most secret places and pull out the parts of us that we thought only we knew. As I listened, I reflected back on my most recent blog post in which I confessed my tendency to equate my worth with my appearance. I know I am not unique in that; I am, after all, female. This connection between appearance and worth is deeply ingrained in us from an early age and only the very enlightened manage to rise above it. Clearly, I am still struggling.
As I remembered the emotions that were simmering just under the surface when I wrote that post, I started feeling that same rush of shame, of insecurity. I was listening to a song that captured so much of the battle within and it dawned on me that what so many of us crave from others is what we deny ourselves. LOVE. I see it in young people all around me, the desperate need for validation, for belonging, for visibility. They aren’t looking for attention; they are just hoping to be seen. Truly seen. Known. Accepted. (And somewhere along the way, they are made to feel bad about that.) They, like all of us, need to be loved. They’re looking for it in every one, in everything, everywhere.
Now those young people are going to grow into old people, hopefully. They are going to continue to seek love throughout their whole lives, and many of them will find generic versions of the real thing along the way. Just like I did. Just like you have. Some of them will find the rich love they crave, but so many will search forever without ever feeling truly loved or seen or valued. That thought makes me sad. For them and for myself. Ohhh, if only I could go back and tell a younger Holly what I know now about love, about life, about worth. Yes, I still struggle. I still hurt my own feelings. I still don’t fully practice what I know in my heart to be right… but I am learning. I would give my entire savings account to have one crack at the 10 year old girl I used to be.
The need for love that I had then is still the need I have now, but my awareness has changed. My methods have changed. Maybe I should go back further. Speak to the toddler who was always trying to make her escape. She would find any exit and make a break for it. She would also pass out in every car ride, but I’m thinking that was just a ruse. Undoubtedly, the toddler-me was just quietly planning her next move. I’ve always thought I had a Wanderer’s heart, but maybe it’s that of a Seeker instead. I don’t know what point in time would be the best, but I know I would, if I could, go back and have a conversation about Love with my younger self.
What I am just now understanding is that all things flow from love. Everything we are, everything we want, everything we do. Love is the beginning and it is the journey and it is the end. And after the end, it is the new beginning. I am learning that now and the more that I learn the more I want to learn. It’s an ongoing conversation with so many layers, revealing themselves at the perfect time. Like a flower blooming in slow motion on The Nature channel. Each petal forming perfectly in its own time, each color developing as the minutes tick by, not in any hurry to please anyone but itself.
The work I do with the aMasongrace project frequently puts me in front of teenagers and I am filled with so much love every single time. They are Everything. They are sweet and connected, sour and disengaged, sweaty and restless and cool and composed. Everything. All at once. When I first started this project, I wanted so badly to spare them from the hurts of life! I wanted to share every single lesson I had ever learned in the hope that it would spare them an hour of pain. I wanted to fix them up, to soothe their hurts, to hug them until they felt it through their bones and deep into their soul. I wanted to love them up so good in the 30-45 minutes I had with them that their past heard a new voice and their future felt the shift. I believed it was possible.
I now know that it would deny them the beauty of the learning. There is value in ‘sweat equity’ and sitting with the feelings and working through the pain. So instead, I string words together to create a vision for them, a vision in which they can see themselves surviving. And thriving. Excelling. Growing. Learning. Feeling. Serving. Living. Loving. I want to empower them to love themselves, and to see that no one defines their worth. Not the cool kids. Not the absentee parent. Not the hot girlfriend, or the sexy, older boy. When they love themselves, and truly see their own worth, they can face anything life throws at them. That’s what I believe now. That’s what I’ve seen happen in the lives of students.
So I am listening to Alanis and she is expressing so much self awareness. She’s acknowledging that someone loves all the parts of her and then it hits me. It’s the love I seek. It’s the intimate description of my heart’s desire and she is singing out loud for the world to hear. (The song is called Everything.) She acknowledges how within her exists a multitude of craziness and insecurity and confidence and positivity. How she is a collection of opposites, light and dark and negative and resistant and hopeful. And yet, “you’re still here.” My heart aches for that love. I want to meet someone who loves me like that! Someone who knows me as completely, or even more completely, than I know myself and loves me anyway.
I used to say Mason was the love of my life. He truly was the one person I loved with my whole heart. I loved him the best way I knew how. I never knew that kind of love until I held him in my arms for the very first time. He created a fierce mama-love within me that propelled me forward for 14 years. As I continue to exist in this world without the boy-who-split-time-twice-for-me, I am learning so much more about the power of love – its impact, its accessibility, its Source.
I look at my deficiencies as a mother (and we all have them, mamas) and see how they stemmed from lack of self-love. I look at my relationships and notice where I have settled… all because of a lack of self-love. When I’ve pursued the ‘wrong’ loves, when I’ve resisted the ‘right’ loves, when I’ve found love substitutes… each and every time, prompted by my need to be seen, known, and loved because I didn’t know how to offer that to my Self. I wish the younger Holly could have known her worth early on. Maybe she did. Maybe we all do, but the world teaches us to think and feel differently. “Don’t seek attention. Don’t allow yourself to be you. Fit in! You’re too this, you’re not enough that! Those jeans don’t fit; YOU don’t fit.” A barrage of messages from birth to death, many of which are not at all nurturing or loving.
That little Holly-gurl with pigtails and an escape plan is just older now. She looks different, but she still plans her escape, all the while hoping to be tethered, hoping to be loved. I truly believe I will find that Everything-kind-of-love one day, and it will first come from myself. It has already begun. I am looking at myself with kinder eyes and seeing Everything without shame. I want to give myself (and you) permission to see all of the parts and accept the whole. The first ‘love of my life’ should have been me. It should be me now. It should always be me. This is not wrong. This self-love will feed every thought, will drive every dream, will move my hands and feet and heart towards my divinely appointed purpose, my best life. Self-love is the discernment every heart needs to choose better, feel better, do better, and to be whole.
I wrote “I hate me. Love, me” as a confession of the issues I have with self-love. I opened the door for a new awareness. I am becoming soooo aware of the need each of us has to be loved, and the key to finding love and offering love in this world is to start with ourselves. How can we possibly fill this world with love if we exclude ourselves? That doesn’t make any sense. We must start by loving our Selves, as is. Flaws and all. (Just wait, I’m going to write about flaws next. It’s a doozy!)
If we sang this song to our Selves, what would it do?
If we offered gratitude, and acceptance, and LOVE to our own dang selves, what would we unlock within?
If we changed the dialogue in our head, how would our hearts respond?
If we cultivated a lifelong conversation with our kiddos and embedded within them a deep understanding of self-love, would it impact their futures?
“You see everything. You see every part.
You see all my light and you love my dark.
You dig everything of which I am ashamed.
There’s not anything to which you can’t relate and you’re still here.”
it’s just me…
The blog, It’s Just Me, is written by Holly Chamberlain, who makes a living as a regional sales manager for a global pharmaceutical company but who makes a life by working with teenagers, teachers, and parents to redefine the criteria for who is ‘at risk’ for self-harm and suicide. She is the Founder of the aMasongrace project and shares these core messages with students to help build resilience, offer hope, and improve self-esteem: Moments Pass, Please Stay, & You Matter. To subscribe to the blog, please visit the website, www.aMasongraceproject.com, to enter your email address. Follow the aMasongrace project on Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat: @aMgYouMatter. To invite the aMasongrace project to speak to your youth group or school, please contact Holly via aMasongraceproject@gmail.com.