“I’m just like my mother.”
20 WONDROUS STORIES OF RADICAL SELF LOVE
Exclusive Excerpts from Acclaimed Author Andy Chaleff and His New Book Release: “The Wounded Healer”
In This Story: Andy meets a friend who reveals the struggles she is having with her mother. She learns to accept that she is very much like her mother, and in doing so, finds release.
Exploring the Series: Andy is leading the way in supporting people to fully love themselves. Through the “projection and reclamation” method, he holds the hands of many as they discover newfound freedom and radical self-love. In this series of 20 stories from the book “The Wounded Healer”, we examine some of the most familiar archetypes as real people overcome common yet deep struggles we all face that get in the way of loving ourselves completely.
“We are all just walking each other home.”
I drive to Saugus to meet an old high school friend, Rocky. I had reconnected with Rocky two years earlier on a chance meeting in Amsterdam. She shared with me a project in Kenya she was working on.
While on her trip to Kenya, Rocky had visited an orphanage where she discovered that the priest running the orphanage was sexually molesting the children. Instead of doing what most of us do, raise our hands and ask, “What can I do?” Rocky decided to do whatever she could to get the children out of that situation. She started by renting a location to house the children. Ten years later, she was responsible for feeding and clothing more than fifty children in a building complex into which she poured her life to support.
I was in awe. It was one of those stories that make you question what contributions you have made in this life. What risks you have taken. It got me thinking: What am I not doing because it isn’t convenient? Where am I comfortably drifting? Inspired by Rocky, I began thinking less about how I wanted to live, and more about how I wanted to die. What in my life is worth dying for? I imagined my funeral service and thought, What will they say? How will I be remembered?
Those questions inspired this trip. When The Last Letter was well-received, I followed the impulse to take this journey. I had no idea how I’d achieve this or even if it was possible. I just knew that I was going to do it. I was dedicating myself to something greater than myself.
Rocky taught me that to act is more important than to rationalize why you are not acting. I am missing this urgency in myself. I see how thoughtful I have become, and in that thoughtfulness, I have lived with a sense of complacency.
Visiting Rocky is a time to celebrate what she has inspired in me through her selfless action. I see in Rocky something that I am beginning to discover in myself. Fear and uncertainty are no longer guiding me. A clarity of purpose has taken its place. It is a time to cherish Rocky, and myself, for doing the thing that isn’t easy. It is my opportunity to pay off an unspoken debt.
Andy is offering his exceptional coaching as a gift to experience this body of work and new book. Any of the free digital workshop dates below:
Rocky and I have a few hours to spend together before we begin our session. We find a local sushi restaurant where we catch up with each other. The last time we spoke, she shared the tension that she was experiencing with her mother, which she had felt since our childhood. “My mother is so difficult,” she says. “She’s self-absorbed and hard to deal with. I’m not interested in having any contact with her. I don’t need her energy in my life.”
I understand. I learned early in my coaching practice that there is no use discussing a topic that is already so clear. It tends to create frustration. So I handle it lightly.
“How is it for you?” I ask.
She says, “I am sad about it, but I don’t have an alternative.”
I say, “What happens when you are with her?”
“Well, it always ends in a fight. She tells me what I am doing wrong and I react to it.”
She then goes into several stories. I can see she is creating a caricature of her mom. I know it because I have done the same to my father. I’ve shared the same stories over and over again so that I could crystallize a picture of him. This helped me justify all the reasons we were not speaking.
Although I sense this, I don’t share it. I learned long ago that trying to help someone before they have a question is wasted energy.
She continues sharing and I ask, “Would you consider writing your last letter to her?”
She winces. “I don’t believe I am ready for that yet.”
“Yes, I can imagine.”
We spend the next hours talking about everything under the sun. But I am well aware that the invitation to rethink how she is in relation to her mother has set off an avalanche in her brain.
We come back to the subject and she asks, “How were you able to make peace with your father? He did so many terrible things. What changed?”
See What Experts Are Saying Below About “The Wounded Healer: A Journey in Radical Self-Love”, Now Available on Amazon
I say, “For years I did not really see him. I knew how he made me feel and I blamed him for that. I didn’t allow myself to see him for who he was, to just let him in. I didn’t know how to say no to him without it being a defensive reaction to him.”
She nods. “I guess I have not really done that either. And I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.”
I say, “Understandable. Somehow when it’s a parent, we feel as if we can’t say no. What I’ve learned is that if I am comfortable holding a ‘No’ with love, I can let just about anyone in.”
“What is a ‘no’ with love?’”
“That’s when I say no to a situation, not the person. For instance, ‘I love you, but I can’t let you do that.’ Or, ‘I know this is important to you, but it cannot happen that way.’ If you are comfortable with loving, and at the same time not self-sacrificing, it’s easier to let people in.”
“To do that, I would need some compassion for my mother.”
“Yes, that would help,” I respond. “But even more important than compassion for her, I’d consider compassion for yourself.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if you look at all the things that you judge in your mother, I think you’ll find that you have those same traits as well. I can imagine that you judge those parts of yourself.”
She has not anticipated this direction, and it’s obvious on her face.
I ask, “How would it be for you to say, ‘I am just like my mother, and it’s okay.’”
“No, you’re not going to get me to say that,” she protests.
I smile and say, “You know me well enough to understand that I am going to get you to say it at some point or another. So why not save us both the effort?”
She says it. Not once, but many times. I watch her soften. At first, it is all rational. Then it turns to a loving voice. Her body relaxes. She says, “Yeah, I can feel that.”
A few weeks later, Rocky calls to inform me that she’s met her mother for the first time in years. She tells me that it was a wholly different experience. “It was weird. I wasn’t charged. I just felt sorry for her. I never realized how stuck she was.”
She thanks me and we have a laugh together. We both appreciate how wonderful life becomes when you don’t spend all your time letting it be consumed by others. We just need to accept that we are just like them.
Andy Chaleff is one of our heroes in the profound work of healing our world’s heart.
He is an acclaimed author, motivational speaker, talk show host of “A Wonderful Chaos”, a conscious business advisor, and a beloved mentor to many.
He dropped everything and devotionally toured across America for three months holding “Last Letter” healing circles for a wide array of communities to safely explore the depths of their grief, giving people permission to release suffering and move forward with an opened and unburdened heart.
This recent body of work, “The Wounded Healer”, showcases personal stories of breakthroughs where most people deprive themselves of self-love. We are honored to showcase excerpts from this transformational series. A voice of clarity and wholeness in our transitional time.