As a little girl I was taught that I existed for one purpose only and that was to serve men. I was born in servitude to a male God, my father, the men in my community and eventually my husband. This standard of women as second rate citizens was justified by the teachings of the religion upon which our community was based. From the time I was very small I was told by my family, my religion and my community that I was just a stupid girl and that I would always be worth less. I fought that feeling of worthlessness when I was small, attempting at every possible moment to aspire to the respect that boys were born with. Deep within me I knew that I was of more value than my parents and leaders were attempting to ingrain in me.
One fateful day changed my life. I did not recognize until recently just how much one moment can affect everything. I was fourteen years old when I stood on a stage attempting to convince the entire community that I was of just as much value as the boys who stood on the stage next to me. Every member of that audience scoffed me, yelling to “get that girl off the stage”. In that moment my heart broke and in that moment I unconsciously finally bought into their irrational beliefs that I was not of value. I stopped caring and believing in my own worth. When I could no longer live with the judging eyes of those around me I found my way out of that community and into the greater world.
I found a job, put myself into college and began building my life. But still within me I held those deeply rooted beliefs that I was no of real value. I held within me a “less than” mentality. As I moved through my new world I began to see a glimpse of what was available to me. My ego began telling me that I was better than all of them. That I was better because I found a way out and they were all still stuck in their stupid religion. But still deep within was a feeling that I did not deserve the life I had made for myself. Those feelings of worthlessness prevented me from fully living a joy filled life. As much as I tried to find fulfillment I simply could not escape that lingering feeling that I was worth less than I wanted to have and be.
Then I came to discover that the missing ingredient in my life was compassion. My heart had never allowed me to feel compassion for myself because I did not see myself as worthy of it. As I began the work of moving through the layers of protection I had built around my heart I found compassion for myself. I began to let go of the judgments I had held around who I am and what I am worth. I began to let go of the less than irrationalities that had been instilled in me as a child. I began to see myself for my own true worth, not just as a girl, but as a human being. I began to recognize that it does not matter whether I was born a girl, the shade of my skin, where I came from or what religion I believed. I began to internalize that I deserve all of the riches of the Universe simply because I exist.
As I let go of the judgments I had toward myself I was then able to let go of my judgments toward those who hurt me. In learning to have compassion for myself and seeing my own true worth it gave me the ability to not only understand those people in my community but have compassion for them. I was able to forgive them for not recognizing their own value and feel overwhelming compassion for all of them as I recognize who they really are and have the ability to be.