"When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don't be afraid of the dark" -Lyric by Oscar Hammerstein II / Richard Rodgers
Dear friends, I write to you today with the faith that you are taking the very best care of yourselves. It has been a cosmic storm of emotional energy lately. I love the lyrics of the song that I have titled this blog with. Herself360 has published more of my essays, and I have added one for you here. Keep the faith. Till we meet again, -K
Faith and Female Friendships
The day that I received the most profoundly impactful advice of my life felt quite humbling. Raquel leaned in, looked me square in the eyes, and asked, “Kris, do you love yourself?” A good long minute of uncomfortable silence passed. I think my head actually snapped back like I had been physically struck by her words. I had a gut punch reaction as I slid back in the leather booth seat, making that noise that only happens when it’s quiet. I took another sip of my cocktail and geared up for self-protection mode. “Put that mask back on Kris, she sees right through you”, my inner voice declared- "Game on"!
Leave it to Raquel to completely shift our reunion lunch to a heart to heart over salads. It was not what I expected, but it was what I needed. I’m grateful to her now, but boy, in that moment I felt exposed as a fraud. Raquel had been my boss seven years prior, an outstanding mentor and a friend. I would describe her as blunt, bold and fearless. I greatly admire her. Her intentions were sincere, but I felt judged nonetheless.
I was a very different person back then, full of fear and lacking faith. I was masquerading as happy and successful. In reality I was juggling a demanding career, caregiving my mother, and working a side job that I wished was my career. I appeared to have it all together, successfully hiding the imbalance from most people, but Raquel is not most people. I had become an over giving, workaholic, who loved everyone but me. I could never admit to Raquel that she hit a major nerve. I lied and told her that in fact I did love myself. “Maybe not as much as you love yourself,” I delivered with the sting of Scorpio sarcasm. Raquel exposed me, and I really hated that. I also hated that I lived a life that was inauthentic.
During that lunch, which I had no appetite for now, I listened and stored away her sage wisdom about the importance of loving myself. Raquel and I both knew I was undervalued by the people in my life because I did not love myself. I grieved the loss of people I couldn’t bear to live without. I was obese and suffered from low self-esteem. I lost one hundred pounds after undergoing bariatric surgery. My blood pressure bottomed out under anesthesia and I had a profound near death experience (NDE). The weight loss didn’t boost my confidence or make me happy like I thought it would. The NDE didn’t miraculously change me into someone who loved and appreciated life. I continued to struggle.
When Raquel told me years ago that I could manifest my best life through self-love, I thought I wasn’t worthy. My faith was weak from victimhood. With help I shifted to survivor. I achieved a state of harmony and fulfillment. The unconditional love and support of female friendships led to my transformation. Gradually healing took hold, I found my faith and successfully transformed my life. I will always be a work in progress. Daily I practice metta (loving-kindness), meditation and self-Reiki. It has been quite a journey to self-actualization. I love the quest and teaching others what I have learned along the way. One of my favorite workshops to facilitate is about establishing healthy boundaries. It is the ultimate act of self-love.
I struggled alone, uphill for so long. Even though the climb made me stronger, it would have been easier had I removed the mask and asked for help sooner. If any of this resonates with you as you read and absorb it, don’t be afraid. Find your safe people and reach out. Surrendering takes trust and practice but it is worth it. The term “breakdown to breakthrough” comes to mind. With the support of my female friends, coaches and mentors, I got to the other side of that hill. They are all amazing women, and I’m so very grateful to each of them. That side job I mentioned, that’s my private practice now. I’m blessed to work as a coach and Reiki Master Teacher. I love the past me, the present me, and intend to embrace the future me with loving kindness.