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  • Katrina Steel

Breaking Needs Real Tenderness

Updated: Oct 14

I've been off line for a while getting lost with the bodhisattva (my youngest son) in the Philippines... Time away for healing and restoring, reevaluating and reconnecting. This year has been a huge one for me. I experienced tragedy with the suicide of my father, and I met someone who met me and then, not as innocently as it started, it ended... Those two things combined, resulted in what I realise now, was my undoing.


Breaking Open can Heal the Heart

It was like all my pain from the past came back to haunt me. All the layers of hurt that came from my childhood with an alcoholic and abusive parent reopened. It took me back to a space where I lost touch with who I am and anything about me that was worth of loving. I fell out of love with me.


I have done a lot of work in my life reparenting and repairing the broken heart of my abused and criticised child. I have worked hard to learn how to love me and believe that someone else would love me. However when these two things collided it ripped all my defences down placing me again in a world of fear, insecurity and heartbreak. I became, in my eyes, unloveable. I was revisited by all the demons from my childhood. Memories and thoughts flooded my mind tormenting me. It was incessant and relentless. And, it was too much to bare and I began to break.


I watched as each of the many balls I juggle began to fall at my feet. I was in dismay as never before had I not coped. What you learn growing up in an unsafe home is chronic self reliance. My famous line is, "I don't fall apart, when shit gets tough I thrive".

In crisis I've always over functioned. Until I didn't this time. I just couldn't and because of that I had no idea why this was happening to me. The scariest thing is I was unable to do anything to stop it.


I was falling down. I was breaking down.


As a therapist I could see it happening and I had all the resources, which I applied. That meant for several months I kept myself afloat. I intellectually processed my grief and loss, compartmentalised my thoughts and emotions into categories and applied 15 years worth of therapeutic skill in 'managing' my 'pain'.... Until I couldn't... Until my ship of 'I've got this' sank.

I can see now that my "coping" was actually shutting down and shutting off. I was so hurt that I had turned off and became a shell a do’er. And my do'er wasn’t doing anything to help or to heal. And with that I realised, I had to feel.

I had to press pause and allow myself to embrace the wounds and take time for myself to break. Breaking was what I was desperately trying not to do and yet breaking was the very thing I needed for, as I would realise later, it would allow me to put myself back to together differently.

In my broken, I learnt so much about myself and my 'ways'. I learnt my 'I've got this' was keeping me from the love that would help me heal. The love that helped me heal was the allowing myself to slow so I could feel and honour my pain. My broken forced me to ask for support, to share my story and to expose my vulnerability and pain. I was forced to exposed my helplessness. I was forced, as I kneeled on my bruised and bloody knees to reach out for kindness and compassion from others and to learn to give it to myself. I had never given leave to slowing down to care for myself before, or needing support from others previously. I had always been the supporter. The capable. The able. I had to learn to receive... and that I was worthy to... things had to change.

It was in the broken and the fear that I was unloveable, that I was left with no choice but to allow myself to be loved and learn self compassion.



I needed time and space to heal. I needed real deep fucking compassion for myself and my pain. I needed to hold myself tenderly and compassionately. And as I learnt this and practiced this, my undoing become my redoing. In this process I learnt how to be different with myself through deep pain. I learnt to be kind and gentle and slow. I learnt how to truly love and care for the abused and criticized child within. I tended to her hurt and fears. I offered her the safe haven she had always wanted. I learnt that what my childhood had taught me about being strong and independent left little room for my human fragility and genlte heart. It was not safer to be alone and to not depend on another. I learnt to reach out for help and that you can depend on those who love you. I learnt I am loveable and I am loved.

It is in the breaking of ourselves that we are truly called to face our shit, own our shit, heal our shit, and let go of our shit. It is with true compassion and vulnerability that we can heal and make ourselves whole. It is the art of kindness to self which makes this journey peaceful. It is the asking for help and receiving support that makes this journey doable. It is the realisation that the breaking of us can be the making us and that all pain can be healed when it is held tenderly.

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