Adverse Childhood Experiences and the path towards healing. You are not alone.
I share my trials, my victories, and my stories with you in hopes that if any of you were ever touched by childhood abuse or neglect, as I was, you will see yourselves in my experiences and feel strengthened to voice what you had not been able to before. I hope we can learn together why we respond to life through a particular lens, and that there are ways to climb out of this prison of pain, silence, and shame.
My name is Bess Hilpert

Textual Love

Try a Little Compassion…

This week I experienced a profound sense of shame about myself and my reactions from the emotionally charged week with my son. I got completely lost in my stuff, losing the focus to stay in the NOW. Having bared my truth in the “It’s Not About Me” newsletter, I received the following unsolicited text from a dear friend:

“I really hope you can be easier on yourself, and truly LOVE yourself. I do!”

This same message was repeated to me in person a few days later. Ahhhh, I have been pondering her hope for a week now.

Over and over, I put my feet to the pavement circling my neighborhood contemplating what it really means to love yourself, to truly love myself. According to Psychology Today,

“Self-love means finding peace within ourselves — resting comfortably within the depths of our being. We might find temporary respite by doing something to nurture ourselves. But a deeper inner peace requires cultivating a certain way of being with ourselves — a warm and nurturing attitude toward what we experience inside.”

Yet, as a woman who grew up in an unpredictable environment without crucial attachment relationships, I struggle to feel any lasting sense of belonging, except with Ed. Rather I carry the painful messages Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk discusses in his book The Body Keeps the Score of feeling unwanted, unneeded, and never truly being accepted. But here I was, being reminded of my original goodness by this beautiful woman and her kind words.

These words tickling at my heart urged me to recognize, in a tender and sympathetic way, the woman of today holding the little girl of the past. These words were begging me to resist my feelings of shame, fear, and grief, and embrace my deep pain with the kindness of a mother holding her child with gentleness, understanding, and care.

Compassion honors our experience: it allows us to be intimate with the life of this moment as it is. And as psychologist Tara Brach is known for saying “compassion makes our acceptance wholehearted and complete.”

Compassion means to be with, feel with, suffer with. I was feeling all of that with these few words left on my phone, as my feet traced the neighborhood path I circle when I need to return to the NOW. They caused what classical Buddhist texts describe compassion as a “quivering of the heart, a visceral tenderness in the face of suffering.”

In the face of my personal suffering, I was being held. I did not feel the need to run from my pain. I felt my heart tenderly open to the wounds of the past. The wounds that keep the story alive in my head that I am not worthy of love. That I will never be good enough. Yet, again, the gentleness of her words rang loudly in my heart… “I do!” (I do love you Bess)

Tara Brach has said: “As we feel suffering and relate to it with care rather than resistance, we awaken the heart of compassion.” She goes on to say: “As we practice responding to our suffering with the kindness of compassion, our hearts can become, as Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg says, as wide as the world.”

Arousing compassion helps us remember the love and connection in our life. We free ourselves by holding our hurting places with the unconditional tenderness of compassion. I can’t say that I’m actually able to hold this in my being for very long, but it really felt good while I did hold it. This is something I will practice!

The day after “It’s Not About Me” was posted, my son and I had a healing phone call. We both shared our feelings and experiences, along with our pains and shames. We asked each other for forgiveness. Arousing compassion, my son and I held each other across the miles as we heard each other’s pain; and, without reservation, embraced the hurt, giving it to the wind. Sharing our pain without judgement opened the flow of compassion and unconditional love, releasing the burden of shame for both of us.

Going forward, may we all be easier with ourselves. Embrace this ease and feel the gentle breeze caressing your skin with self-love.

Let us all add self-love to our ever-expanding vibrant green toolbox.

I leave you with this beautiful blessing from Irish poet John O’Donohue:

“May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening. May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.”

Until next time, friends.


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