What happens when you don’t realise your own self-worth and constantly have the thoughts of not being good enough?
This is how Gracie felt for most of her life, and like many people, she didn’t know how it felt to feel good about herself. This later manifested as problems in her relationships where she went from one abusive relationship to another. She finally realised that she deserved much more, and believing this is what has transformed her life.
The struggle to keep up with perfection
I grew up in a loving family with both of my parents and two older brothers and there wasn’t anything significant to create significant trauma in my life – at least not in the normal sense. My brothers were both very bright and went to grammar school, and so it was just expected that I would follow in their footsteps. Although there wasn’t excessive pressure on me by my parents, I did manage to scrape by and had to work very hard to get there. And that’s kind of how it’s always been in my life l – I have to really push to get anything. I loved the school because a lot of my friends were there, but if you’re weren’t an A* student, then you were perceived as second-rate and inadequate. So although I was a bright child, I always had the feeling of not being good enough. I was never outrightly compared to my brothers, but there was always the thought in my head that they were better than I was.
My feeling of low self-worth went into my relationships and I found that I was regularly emotionally abused. But I didn’t even recognise it as abuse because it was all I knew and it was how I felt about myself. And if you hear something often enough, with someone calling you degrading names or stating on your appearance, then you start to believe it. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time they were lovely, but there were moments that were terrible, and it just got worse and worse as time went on, and with each new relationship that I had. I didn’t understand at this point that I could change this pattern and that so much of this came from the fact that my self-esteem was so low. I was young and naive and just not aware of energy and healing, as I’m sure many people out there experience as well. That’s the reason I want to help people – because if you don’t know how to spot certain signs, then you won’t respect yourself and think that everyone and everything else matters above you.
With each relationship, as things progressively worsened, it was very evident that they were being abusive. But at that point, I thought so little of myself that I felt that I actually deserved it.
The catalyst for transformation
My last and most abusive relationship eventually came to an end, which was a decision that I didn’t make. In fact, having my boyfriend break up with me put me into a deeper state of self-loathing and I became angry with myself as well. “How could I be so stupid?” I had even booked in some therapy sessions for myself towards the end of the relationship because I thought that I was the crazy one and that it was me who was the problem in the relationship. It took my therapist to point out to me how she realised just how much I hated myself.
Luckily I had a great network of friends who all cared about me and my wellbeing. They made me realise that I needed to start recognising my good qualities, which is the irony because I was always the person who saw the best in everyone and tried to make them feel good about themselves. I was working as a massage and beauty therapist and I was known for the way I could make people see how beautiful they were, not only from the outside, but also from within. But it’s easier to see things and give advice to other people than it is to see the truth about yourself.
Healing for mental clarity
Two months following my break-up, I was invited to work at a women’s yoga retreat as a massage and reflexology therapist. I was lucky that I was also able to participate in the powerful group meditation and yoga sessions, as well as have my first energy healing session.
I cried a lot during the session. For the past seven years, I had been this person who thought very little of myself, and it wasn’t the actual break-up that made me feel so bad but the fact that he had broken up with me. I gave so much in the relationship and I had gotten nothing back, and now my self-esteem was at an all-time low. But after the retreat, I felt like the constant brain fog that I had was lifted and that I was finally taking off the rose-tinted glasses.
During the following week, I spent time with my parents and had a lot of alone time to reflect. I felt very alone and lonely, but I also started to realise that I deserved much more than I had put up with for such a long time. Before I was too afraid to speak up and although I might have realised some of this about myself on a deeper level, I was too scared at how my life would change and how much I would have to face about myself.
Diving into the deep end
I basically was so scared of being on my own that I decided to dive into the deep end, and tried to learn how to enjoy being in my own company. So I did things like go to the cinema on my own, having coffee on my own and just spending time with myself. This is the reason I didn’t leave the abusive relationships for so long – because I was so scared of being alone. But if you love yourself then you’ll never feel alone. I had so much to face, and so much to forgive myself for that I was so scared of spending that time to face myself. That’s why so many people don’t do this – because you will be forced to take a long hard look at yourself and face the truth.
I’ve always felt that I’m a spiritual person and have tried bits of meditation and yoga. And when things started to turn around for me, I found that I was really going into my spirituality, doing a lot of inner work and reading spiritual books. The one in particular that resonated with me is The Four Agreements written by Don Miguel Riaz. It’s a simple book but it really helped me to realise the importance of self-love. It talks about the victim mentality, and I definitely felt like I was a victim and wondered why this was all happening to me. But now I know that you don’t have to be the victim and that you can take charge of your own life.
I finally felt more peaceful than I had ever felt in any relationship. I didn’t feel like I needed to be in a relationship at all and spent a year on my own. When I was in my past relationships, I always felt anxious, worried and insecure. I didn’t feel that I could fully be myself and instead, I think I tried to be who I thought my partner wanted me to be. I was finally able to feel amazing just by being me. I decided what I wanted to do each day, with or without company, and there was no time limit – I could enjoy whatever I was doing and not think about anyone else but me.
And I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t want to bring anyone else into my life who couldn’t add something to it – I would rather be alone. And if they would bring any drama into my life, then it just wouldn’t be worth it. A few years ago, this would have been completely unheard of – I feel like I’m genuinely a different person and that I’m a much better version of myself.
When your energy changes, the relationships that you attract also change
My friends finally convinced me to try and meet someone by using a dating app. And so I did – not out of desperation of the need to be in a relationship – but I thought why not, and had no expectations.
In under two weeks, I decided to accept an invitation to dinner. We met after a few days and it was like I had known him for years. He was just nice. And there were no games and he was very honest about what he was looking for. It just felt right. The best part was that I was so open with him, and for once I was comfortable at just being myself. I wasn’t afraid that he wouldn’t like me or that he would think I was strange. I used to be so afraid of judgement and my friends always asked me why I was a different person when around my partners. But I was finally able to be myself and show him all of my sides (including the weird ones!). I was no longer afraid to talk about my interests – my crystals, my moon rituals and even calling myself a white witch!
What advice would you now give to your former self?
I would let myself know that I am not a victim, and that how I treat myself and think of myself is going to be reflected in my relationships. If you don’t respect yourself, then people will walk all over you, and even walk away. It’s important to know that what you attract depends on you. And now I’m in a happy and fulfilling relationship where I am an equal – and it’s all because of me and how I feel about myself.
It’s also important how you speak to yourself. If you are overly critical about yourself and constantly say and think these things, your mind actually hears it and will end up believing it more. So you need to be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best friends. And finally, never stop being who you truly are. You shouldn’t try to be something that you’re not – whether it’s because you fear the judgement or are scared that they won’t like the real you. If that’s the case, then it’s not worth it. So always be yourself and then the right person will come along when the time is right and value who you are.
Click here to read Gracie’s article, “Gracie’s Top Tips to Start Your Journey into Self-Love”!