We all have the capacity to love. After all, is it part of what binds us together and is part of our humanity. However, as a student of transformation and what it truly means to be human, I recently discovered that I’d been holding back both giving love as well as receiving it.

I have always considered myself a loving person, but when I really took a look, I saw that there were parts of me that I was afraid to share with people as part of my survival mechanism. Without realizing it, I kept people at arm’s length emotionally, always keeping a smile on my face, never admitting when I felt less than awesome. I was wearing a mask and didn’t even know it; never letting people get to know what was really going on inside of me. Through my commitment to transform this area, I decided to go deeper to uncover the reason for this and the moment that it all began. What I discovered is that it began much earlier when I was in elementary school.

I was around 10 years old when I started to get bullied at school for being smart and smaller than the other kids. Wearing glasses and wearing the latest fashions from Zellers didn’t help me either. I remember thinking, “I don’t belong.” Around the same time, my parents announced that they were separating. We were so young. My little brother was only about 3 years old. We had suspected something was going on for a while, and eventually, my dad admitted that he had been having an affair and was expecting a new baby. I remember standing at our big bay window, my heart breaking, watching my dad walk out of the house and into a waiting brown car. At that moment, I decided that “I didn’t matter, I can’t trust men, and everyone I love will leave me.”

Fast forward into my teens, I found myself wanting attention so badly, and attracted to the wrong kind of relationships; the kind that ended in heartbreak, cheating, and emotional abuse. I always wondered why I kept making the same mistakes, and I later realized that I was attracting the same type of men inside my own belief that “I don’t matter, I can’t trust men, and everyone I love will leave me”. Inside of this, no one could really get to me. I put on my armour, and my protective mask, and would prove that I was strong. The ironic thing about it is I so desperately wanted to be seen, heard, and known, and yet when I got acknowledged, I literally could not be with it. I would dismiss it, downplay it, question that person’s sincerity, and unable to graciously accept the compliment. It was horrible. I wanted to be loved so much, yet I couldn’t believe that someone could love me that much. And even if they did love me that much, it would be a matter of time until they left. This is the vicious cycle I was stuck in. The story, “I don’t matter” affected every part of my life.

Once I was able to discover this blind spot, and how it had been negatively impacting my life, I create a new future and commitment to not having that conversation shape my life and how much of myself I would share. I have learned to open my heart, to embrace my softness, and share myself. I love sharing my time, my empathy/sympathy, my resources, my experiences, and being generous. This is why I love coaching. It allows me to be authentically loving self, and just sit with them and give them my listening. Sometimes that’s all we need; to know we are not alone, that someone cares enough to listen, and that we are human and we’re doing the best we can. Giving people space and compassion to be vulnerable is such a gift, a gift I willingly give at any time.