As a result of my childhood and adolescent experiences, I didn’t have any confidence in who I was and my true potential for achieving greatness. My lack of self-esteem showed up in all aspects of my life. Because I didn’t receive love and validation in the way I needed from my parents, I searched for it elsewhere and in all the wrong places - romantic relationships and friendships. As an unknowing empath who didn’t have a healthy understanding of self-worth, I had zero boundaries and attracted the type of people who benefited the most from it. The relationships I chose to be in were abusive and toxic. I surrounded myself with people who always had their cups full while never having to pour into mine. For years I made the well-being of others a priority over my own by repeatedly putting myself in harmful situations. When it came to my career, I didn’t believe I could achieve what I wanted for myself. After I earned my undergraduate degree, I wanted to continue my education to be a marriage family therapist. However, being the consummate professional at self-sabotaging, I didn’t take the application process seriously and didn’t get accepted into the one program I applied to. Not long after, an opportunity in the human resources field presented itself and I took it. While being in this career provided financial stability, I never felt fulfilled with the work that I did. I was too afraid to step out of my comfort zone to explore different paths, so I stayed for years.
When my spiritual awakening happened, I knew I could no longer avoid confronting my pain if I wanted to create a fulfilling life. With my heart wide open and my mentor walking beside me, I started to action my deep healing process. Here are the steps I took:
1st Step | Meet my pain where it was at
I not only had to revisit the events of my upbringing, I had to identify how I felt and why. This is what it means to take a deep dive - going further than just talking about what happened. It’s getting down and dirty with your truth and staring it right in the face, regardless of how uncomfortable it gets. I did this by writing letters to each of my parents. By removing the pressure of having a conversation with them, I was able to focus on being completely honest in expressing my thoughts and feelings. My previous blog, "Invisible Chains | Healing My Soul, Part 2 - Worthless & Unloved" covers a summary of my experiences and reflections.
2nd Step | Accept what was and rise above
Fixating on the fact that I did not receive the kind of love I needed growing up wasn’t going to change the experiences I had with my parents or the subsequent choices I made throughout my life. It happened. I redirected my thoughts and energy on what I did have control over, and that was finding peace with the relationship I have with my parents. This meant I needed to accept them for who they are, requiring me to rise above my own experiences and the narrative I created about them. When it comes to my approach with others, it’s in my nature to not pass judgement, but rather seek to understand. Unfortunately, with my parents I held on so tightly to my pain that there was no room for anything else. Stepping out of my perspective and into theirs helped me realize how I had defined them based on their actions and inactions. It wasn’t fair to them. Instead of looking at them as my parents who hurt me, I made the conscious decision to view them as human beings who had their own experiences of pain and struggle. I needed to understand them to be able to accept them.
How my mom and dad raised me is a reflection of how they were raised by their parents, and the collective ancestral trauma that gets passed down from generation to generation. My grandparents and parents grew up in Vietnam, a country that was considered one of the poorest of their time. Battling poverty and hunger every day was their normal way of life. They were not taught how to identify or express their emotions, and nurturing personal development wasn’t on their list of priorities. Becoming aware of this helped me realize that my parents also have inner child needs that were never met. The capacity in which people are able to love stems from their own experiences with love. My parents loved me the way they were loved by their parents. I’ve read that your love language as an adult is a result of what you didn’t receive as a child. In my case, this is absolutely true. One of my top two love languages is words of affirmation and this was something I didn’t get from my parents. I used to believe it was because they didn’t love me, but now understand it’s because they didn’t know how to. They may have not loved me in the way that I needed, but it doesn’t mean they didn’t love me with their whole hearts.
3rd Step | Take accountability for my life
I was blessed to experience what pure love feels like after I became a mother. It’s the love I have for my daughter, Abby, that gave me the courage to start the healing process with my own parents. I wanted inner peace for myself and to be able to show up for Abby in a way that would empower her to create a fulfilling life for herself. How was I going to teach Abby to love and accept the beauty that is her, if I couldn’t do the same for myself? Reflecting on my experiences with complete vulnerability, I realized that everything that was happening in my adult life was a result of the choices I was making. I had the choice to learn from my experiences, instead of continuously victimizing myself. I had the choice to forgive my parents for not loving me the way I needed, instead of blaming them for all the challenges I faced. I had the choice to forgive myself for the mistakes I made, instead of letting my destructive behavior define my worth. I had the choice to heal my pain and move forward, instead of imprisoning myself in the past. The realization that I HAVE A CHOICE in how I view and respond to every aspect of my life empowered me to start creating the life I always wanted. I no longer saw myself as the helpless victim of my circumstances and chose to embrace the powerful warrior that is my soul.
4th Step | Give thanks to the beauty and blessings
When I started to heal my pain, I was able to make space in my heart to recognize the beauty of my parents and all the blessings they passed down to me.
My parents are survivors and have consistently demonstrated what it means to persevere. They left their home country in a small boat with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, a couple pieces of gold and determination in their hearts. Their journey led them to America where for years they worked toward their dream of financial stability and creating opportunities for their 5 children to thrive in a way they were not able to in their own upbringing. For the first 12 years after arriving in America, my parents faced numerous challenges but continued to work hard to make their dreams a reality. They struggled financially, but we always had a place to come home to, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs. Up until I was 12 years old, my parents’ line of work required them to travel across the country for long periods of time. My dad often had to go alone while my mom stayed home to take care of the kids. This put his safety at risk because of the nature of their work. He also missed out on a lot of experiences with his children, something he sacrificed for years to ensure our basic needs were being met. Having to travel for work was my parents’ temporary solution to provide for the family while they worked on establishing a business location where we could settle down.
I was a toddler when my parents opened their first store location in central California. They couldn’t generate enough business to keep it afloat and had to close shop within a year of opening. When I was in elementary school, they opened their second store location in southern California. The competition in the area was too much for their business to succeed, so they had to close that location as well. When I was in middle school, my parents opened a third store location in northern California. Third time’s a charm because they were able to establish a successful business that lasted 25 years. Unfortunately, it was destroyed last year when the riots broke out. My heart still breaks for them when I think of what happened. They worked so hard their whole lives to earn the success they achieved, and it was destroyed by opportunists taking advantage of the state our country was(is) in. What brings me comfort is knowing that they will find their way through this just like they always have anytime they were faced with a challenge. My parents don’t know how to give up and live in defeat.
Removing the chains of judgement I placed on my parents helped me acknowledge the beautiful values they instilled in me - family, loyalty, perseverance, drive, responsibility, commitment, honesty, open-mindedness and positivity. It's because of them that I learned how to be present and mindful in my own relationship with Abby. They showed me what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur and how to overcome any obstacles that come my way. My parents taught me to be the independent, hard-working, courageous and capable person I am today. I now understand and have whole hearted gratitude for the instrumental influence my parents have had on my success. I am so proud of what I have accomplished, but more importantly of who I have become.
My parents endured countless struggles and suffered a great deal to provide my siblings and I with a better life. Everything they did was with the best of intentions. They didn’t always get it right and plenty of mistakes were made along the way, but they gave it their all and that is enough.
5th Step | Let go to create
Bringing awareness to my childhood trauma, meeting my pain where it was at, accepting what was and rising above to understand my parents, taking accountability for everything that happened in my life and having gratitude for the wisdom I gained from my experiences allowed me to:
heal my pain towards my parents by letting it go with love in my heart
forgive myself for all the mistakes and bad choices I made
start putting ME first (self-love feels damn good!)
empower myself to create the life I have always wanted and deserve
break the cycle of ancestral trauma
introduce healthier ways of being to Abby and future generations
I no longer look at my parents with resentment and hurt in my heart. I let it all go so it can stay where it belongs - in the past. The space I hold for them is now filled with love, gratitude, compassion and respect.
Pain no longer determines how I live in the present, nor will I allow it to negatively influence any decisions I make for my future. Instead, I will continue to use the lessons I learn to pave the way in how I create each moment moving forward.
Love & Light,