I know that’s controversial, to call myself beautiful. Trust me, as someone who was raised in a puritanical cult – a cult with teachings that went out of their way to convince us all how worthless, sinful, and wrong we were – that’s not an easy thing to say. The sirens are sounding blindingly loud in my brain. “Who do you think you are?” they’re shouting. “Don’t be so full of yourself! You’re not beautiful at all!”
I hear them. I ignore them. I ask you for your patience with me for this concept.
You see, it’s not all about me. Or actually about me. Or at least not just about me.
I am part of a Facebook group of Second Gens (those of us born and/or raised in a cult) from my “church.” And I have numerous Second Gen survivors from other cults (and from “just” dysfunctional families and childhoods) who reach out to me. Nearly all the time, their self-ingrained revulsion is as deeply carved as mine. We were taught, blatantly taught at times, to mistrust ourselves, to revile ourselves, and to sacrifice ourselves. We were taught that to treat ourselves well, to want or need anything, or to think highly of ourselves at all was dangerous at best and sinful at worst.
Those teachings are deeply entrenched. I describe them as complex carvings in my brain. Like the tracks for luges, icy and confining, that shoot that sled down to the finish, the grooves in my brain shoot me down to the self-lambasting and judging that I was taught. Or that I needed to survive.
So, instead, I’ve learned to say this to myself – and to all the Second Gens I meet, to the other strangers who reach out to me, and to you:
“I am (you are) beautiful. I don’t (you don’t) need anyone else to tell you that for it to be true.”
Too often we look to others to tell us what we want to hear. To make up for our childhood scars. To make us somehow feel better.
I’m here to proclaim that, IMHO, it’s time to give that to ourselves. Or at least, it’s time for me to give that to me. And I offer it to you.
To put my hand on my heart and tell myself, as often as I want to hear it, that I’m beautiful. That I’m magnificent. That I’m amazing. That I’m spectacular. (You all know what that word somehow means to me.)
I’m taking a risk by publicly sharing this, but I promise you that my giving myself this love and acknowledgement has helped soothe and heal me even more. I suggest it to my friends, to other Second Gens, to clients, and to strangers. I suggest it to you.
Because I know you were beautiful before someone said you were. And I know you are beautiful now.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!