My Story

My Path to Self-Discovery and Acceptance

Yoga at Home

My Path to Self-Discovery and Acceptance
 

My earliest memories are of being alone. I didn’t have parents who were capable of loving me. My biological father was an alcoholic and a drug addict, and when I was two years old, he decided to leave my mother. This caused her to flee to Las Vegas and abandon my two older sisters and me, leaving us with my father and his new girlfriend (who would soon become his wife). I only saw my mother briefly two different times during the next five years. My dad and his new wife were deep into their addictions, so I endured a life of neglect and a lack of love. My two older sisters assumed the majority of my care, but they were not equipped to care for me as they were children themselves. They have told me that they were haunted by my being alone in my crib, wailing for human contact that first year. This set the stage for me in terms of learning that my needs were not important and that I was not worthy of love or care.
 

When my father’s marriage dissolved five years later, I was handed off to my biological mother, whom I didn’t know at all. Even though my stepmother hadn’t been available or capable of caring for me, she had been the only mother I had known. Having her walk out of my life without a second glance was horribly painful to me, and it was my second abandonment from a mother figure. I was heartbroken by that loss. I would soon come face to face with my mother’s mental illness, and the remainder of my childhood would be wrought with confusion, mental abuse, and still more neglect.
 

Coming from a childhood with adults who didn’t know how to love themselves, let alone others, especially their children, left me feeling unlovable and empty. I learned to get attention through achievement and by being really good. These elements would come to drive me. I would find myself looking for love in people who could not love me and who were not available. This would begin a cycle for me that would confirm my beliefs about myself: that my needs were not important and that I was unlovable.
 

Because I spent most of my time alone as a child, I became terrified of being alone. Ironically, in order to learn to love myself, I had to learn to be alone with myself. I did everything I could to avoid being alone. I got married young, and when my marriage failed, I took up drinking like it was my life’s purpose. It wasn’t until I let go of the drinking and began to truly spend time with myself that I realized that I had been afraid of who I was and that I didn’t really know myself at all. This is how my friendship with my true self began.

Slowly, one step at a time, I grew to know and love myself. Through my self-discovery, I learned that I was indeed worthy of love and that my needs were the most important. The more I grew to love myself, the more circumstances in my life changed for the better. Knowing my worth opened up opportunities that continued to confirm my worth. I quit attracting selfish, unavailable people and found myself surrounded by loving, available people. The funny thing is, these friends had always been there—I just didn’t see them in that way because my mindset was one of lack and of being unlovable. So even if people were willing to love me, I couldn’t accept it until I loved myself. Knowing my worth allowed things to come more easily for me. I no longer felt an urgency to control things, because I trusted that all the right steps and opportunities would be presented to me.

 

I endured a difficult childhood, but I wouldn’t change any of it. I believe that as humans we learn best through contrast. I needed to be born into a family that couldn’t love me so that I could learn to love myself and in return teach others to love. I have a belief that everything is intended to help us grow into our best, highest selves. In this way of thinking, nothing is trying to harm or punish us. I believe this is the truth because I have learned complete contentment, and I’m not sure I would have understood this love had I not experienced the opposite.
 

When I am working with people to help them find happiness, I am coming from a place of knowing. I know absolutely that it is possible for anyone to be truly happy, regardless of his or her circumstances or origin. The amazing thing about this is that it is all within our own control. It is all about our conditioning and our beliefs about ourselves and what we think we deserve. When we learn to shift these beliefs, we shift everything.
 

My entire life I’ve been drawn to spirituality, and I’ve been voraciously reading spiritual books nonstop since my late teens. In college I began researching resiliency, because I wanted to understand why some people could rise above adversity while others couldn’t. I think spirituality drew me to counseling. For me, it was a natural progression to want to share what I had learned in my own life. I had this deep knowing that it was possible for anyone to create what he or she wanted in his or her life, and I knew that adversity didn’t get to determine our life outcome. I had this burning desire to help people understand that adversity wasn’t a life sentence. I knew that this was my purpose and that this work was unavoidable for me.
                                                                                                                   -Stephani Grace