She’d tell me all the ways I wasn’t enough, and I’d shrink at her words.

It’s not big enough, grand enough, fast enough. You’re not smart enough, kind enough, good enough. I don’t feel pleased enough, proud enough, sure enough, she said.

I could do anything to set it right, but it was never enough, and I could go anywhere to escape, but she always knew where to find me.

When she spoke, I tasted the metallic sting of fear. Shame burned my eyes. Each time, I braced myself for her to strike. I only ever found the empty air.

Every time, I discovered again that she is me.

I didn’t want to acknowledge this part of me. I thought maybe if I was better, she’d finally approve. Or if I moved faster, she couldn’t keep up. Or if I pushed her down and deep, her words couldn’t reach me.

And it worked just enough to make me think it worked. She quieted for a moment, but she always returned.

One day, perhaps out of desperation or exhaustion, I decided not to fight. I closed my eyes, and I listened

On that day, she told me of my flaws, and I heard her pain.

She told me of my brokenness, and I heard her broken heart.

She told me of my inadequacies, and I heard her fear.

And when she told me why I wasn’t worthy, I heard her asking for help.

All this time, is this what you were trying to tell me?

I’d like to say that everything changed then, but in truth, it took a while for me to trust in this. I was surprised every time we got to this point: She’s afraid, and she’s trying the best she can.

With practice, I learned to hear the questions in her words.

How can I be brave?

How can I be loved?

And today, I fully believe that she’s a child, really, soft and scared and crying out for help.

We’re in this together, I tell her now.

I carry her close to my heart. I hear her judgments and tell her, I love you. And I feel her exhale.

Today, I see that she’s not fighting or chasing me. She’s not the one in control. It’s me leading her.

With practice, I’ve learned that I can’t lead her faster than she’s ready to go, and leading her can’t mean moving her away anymore. I can only lead her closer. So, today, I choose to join her.  

I want her to know like I do now that her true nature isn’t fear. It’s love.

When she joins me, I choose peace and remind her that I love her. And when she doesn’t, I still choose peace and remind her that I love her.

Sometimes she listens, sometimes she doesn’t. Either way, I can make the same choice.

I can choose peace when I’m aware of the fight, and if and when I get pulled in, I can choose peace when I resurface. And no matter what, I can remind her of my love. @ralph_leslie (Click to Tweet!)

I look for the light for both of us now.

Where she sees threat, I show her security.

Where she sees scarcity, I show her plenty.

Where she sees obstacles, I show her opportunity.

And where she sees fear, I show her love.

More often than not, that’s all she needed to hear.

Leslie Ralph is a psychologist, writer, and artist who hopes to leave the world a little brighter than she found it.  Her people are creative, sensitive spirits who crave love and peace, inside and out. Leslie is the author of There, I Might Find Peace: Poetry and Prose, Mantras and Meditations for Peace, Love, and Strength. Download her free gift, a ritual for receiving, a daily ritual for bringing more love and light, clarity and confidence, meaning and connection to your life. You can follow Leslie on Facebook or Instagram.

Image courtesy of Raychan.