When I was 22, I was in therapy for an eating disorder and a bout of depression, the kind of symptoms that often accompany sensitive young women when we struggle to answer the questions: “Who am I?” and, “What the hell am I supposed to do with my life?”
I spent most of my time in therapy trying to prove to my therapist that I had it all together—that my suffering was nothing more than a piece of dog shit on an otherwise pristine lawn.
And then, she asked me: “What would you do if your future daughter treated herself the way you’re treating yourself now?”
Her question evoked the image of a little girl I knew and loved, her curly-haired head bowed with all the sweet vulnerability of a toddler. She was a child who needed unconditional love as much as she needed food, water, clothing, and shelter.
I imagined that little girl refusing to eat because she was ashamed of her body, like I was.
I imagined the little girl crippled by constant self-judgments, like I was.
I imagined the little girl secretly wishing that she were dead, like I did.
I burst into tears.
In response to my therapist’s question, I felt every fiber of my being rushing to protect my future little girl—any and every little girl, for that matter—from the suffering that poisoned my life.
At that moment in therapy, I vowed that I would learn to know and love myself unconditionally, so that my future daughter could live free from the agony of not knowing how.
And, I devoted myself wholeheartedly to my purpose: a marriage of writing and teaching the art of healing through words.
Now, eight years later, flourishing as a full-time writer and message consultant, having just formed a loving family with a man whom I love more than anyone, with a close-knit group of ride-or-die friends, and my whole life ahead of me… I’ve realized that the little girl I imagined in that fateful therapy session is closer than I thought.
She is still a part of me.
And the suffering I had once dismissed like a piece of dog shit is still within her.
The suffering I had once pushed away still lives in my mother, and her mother before her, and it’s the secret that’s kept us all silent in shame.
It’s the secret that I’ve masked with intelligence, poise, and yesses that were really no’s.
It’s the secret that blocked my purpose of writing and teaching the art of the written word, under the the heartbreak of feeling unwanted and unloved.
Yet, it was because I harbored a broken heart for nearly 30 years of my life, that I am radically open to loving even those who feel and act as though they’re the least wanted, and the least deserving of love.
It was because I harbored a broken heart for this long, that I’m able to feel and name the essence of a person: the divinity that lies behind the masks of old wounds and self-protection.
It was because I harbored a broken heart, that I can write and speak about soul-centered entrepreneurs, who come to me in joyful tears after we complete a piece of writing—as if they’re finally seeing themselves and the magnitude of their gifts for the first time.
It was because I harbored a broken heart, that I realize that I am inseparable from all the little girls and boys, all the women and men, who need—who deserve—unconditional love as much as food, water, clothing, and shelter.
And it was because I harbored a broken heart, that I now realize that the best gift I can give is the realization of how beautiful it is to know and love myself unconditionally. It’s a discovery that breathes through every word I write, edit, and speak.
As long as I write and live, I will never forget the little girl who showed me that my future daughter depends on my self-love, and on my relentless dedication to my soul’s purpose.
Nor will I forget the women before me, whose hearts bled enough to be broken open with the fierce, proud, unstoppable divinity that flows through me and my pen today.
I’m so grateful to these three formidable human beings for helping me build a writing career from a broken heart.