Shannon was my third guest as a launched my Abundant Parent workshops.  (Catch my other blog post with her workshop and links!) I struggled with self-care well before I was a mom, but becoming a mom didn’t make that need for self-love go away, it only exaggerated it!

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Self-love and self-care was not always a priority in my life. 

Many of you who follow my posts have heard me talk about my childhood and learning from a young age to put my own needs second to those of my single-mom who fought cancer much of my childhood.  But in this simple act of empathy and compassion for the enormity of her struggles, it set the president for my becoming a wife and mother who put myself last. 

That all changed when I went through my divorce.  I knew, that in order to maintain this pace of being a single mom while simultaneously modeling for my daughters a mother with self-respect, self-care would have to play a MUCH bigger part of my daily grind. 

The biggest obstacle to overcome in my choice to improve my efforts of self-care was my own lack of self-love.   This was partially an energetic inheritance from my mom who also struggled with self acceptance and love, but there is so much more to this as a girl growing up in our times, isn’t it?

There was the confusing sexualizing of my gender from very young ages. I should preface what I am about to say by sharing that I had not met my biological father until I was 18 and hadn’t had consistent male role models in my childhood. When I was not yet 12, I hadn’t even started my period yes, I was being pursued and oggled by men easily 2 or 3 times my age.  I know this is common for many women I spoken to about this. With no understanding of a healthy male role model, it left me with the conclusion that women’s value was based on their sexual appeal and of course with that, their looks.  Perhaps what I craved was the approval of that male role model in my life, but without that, I came to seek the approval of other men.

Now, I was also very shy, so I was not pursuing sex at this age, but as I filled in with my womanly curves and understandings of men over the course of the next 10 years, I would continue to measure my worth by the attention I could receive.  

The other message I was always receiving from my mom was how smart I was, and how my mind was my greatest asset, but when I would catch wind of the gossip my male peers would chatter I received messages like “She has big tits but she’s dumber than a box or rocks.” and such. Dumb seems harsh, but I was very trusting and left myself very vulnerable.  And so I would not only see my value in what I could visually and physically do for men, but then also question the very gift of mind my mom said was my greatest asset. 

But men weren’t the only problem.  Children can be very unkind.  The girls who would purposely throw balls at my face in elementary school gym class, the boy who said my nose was too big in middle school, and then into adulthood I learned other women didn’t love themselves either, and so instead they hated one another. 

I began to see women as the lesser of the sexes, because I couldn’t yet see that they were acting out of the same fear and pain that I had. 

This changed when I was pregnant and met a wonderful group of maidens journeying into motherhood while we attended a prenatal yoga class together.  We lovingly bid each other farewell as we reached our due dates, and collected again on the other side, bringing our babies together, and sharing our fear and hope and struggles.  This was the first time that I loved my body, even though it was the worst is looked from a social standpoint, because, my god… my body did an amazing thing.  Look at what my body could do!!!   And this was the first time I loved and trusted a village of women. Sure that they would always have my back in this crazy sauce adventure of motherhood.

But, even then… it was all in the name of my children… I would sacrifice, all my needs for them. 

So when did my greatest turn towards self-love occur? Interestingly, when I was hated most by those I had been closest to.  Divorce is ugly.  As I often share, divorce is a death that is not socially recognized. There is agonizing grief.  Where there was love, by not only your partner, but so many others, there then grows hate. I was devastated and hopeless. While I tried to put the pieces together of this life I never wanted for my kids, they watched me for cues, signs that they could trust they were safe, that I was still be the solid ground they could lean on as always. But I wasn’t.  I was scared.  Looking at me today, you wouldn’t even recognize that broken and shaken women. 

But out of the ashes they say.  And it is true.  Devastation is quite clarifying. As the smoke rises and you see a clear view of what is left there for you to grow from, you find the riches.  I had few friends left, but they were good ones, I had a lot less financially, but we weren’t starving, I has downsized to a tiny apartment, but it was home and our haven and it kept the rain out, and everyday there were reminders that I was still alive, my heart was still beating, and that there was joy…. even in the rubble. 

As I rebuilt from this time, I discovered beautiful amazing souls who were making it their life work to serve and elevate others, Brene Brown, Abraham Hicks, Patricia Evans, the guests of Lewis Howes and Oprah….  their words and stories showed me the way.  I would heal, and better, I would love….. My God would I love…. I discovered, through finding self-love that I could love all things.  Even the ugly, hurtful things. 

Self-love has exponentially returned love to my life.  It’s so easy to love when you love yourself.  It feels good to be the mom my kids can emulate to learn to love themselves.  They are learning to give themselves grace, to respect themselves enough to have boundaries, and they are learning use that guiding force of love to serve and understand others.   And I did that!  The little girl who couldn’t love herself…. I did that. 

My MUST Read Book List as You Learn to Love Yourself.

In this book, Brene Brown just happened to write everything I needed to hear at the point in my life I was releasing my false grasp of control and leaning into love and trust.

As someone who has dedicated her career to teaching parents to lean into the Law of Attraction, I have to have at least one LOA book on my list. I listen to Abraham-Hicks EVERYDAY. Love, love, love.

Anyone who has struggled with unhealthy relationship dynamics in childhood or as an adult MUST check at Patricia Evans. We learn our own inner voice from those around us when we are not conscious of the pain of others.

As the daughter of a single mom, becoming a single mom of two daughters, this book was so clarifying and compassionate in peeling back the layers of vulnerability for men.

And this book, by Don Miguel Ruiz, that I have purchased so many times I have lost count because I keep giving it away. I LOVE this book. Great starter book for mindful living!

About Leah:

Author of “Where the Light Is… A Parent’s Guide,” and best selling author Leah Recor is a mother of two young girls, driven by a holistic path to help parents heal their stories and connect with and empower their children.  Leah is also a Co-Founder of a nonprofit mentoring children facing life-altering conditions with creative writing. 

Leah is available for onsite presentations of The Abundant Parent to organizations and corporate entities.

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