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  • Katrina Steel

Breaking Needs Real Tenderness

I've been off line for a while getting lost with the bodhisattva 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 death 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. 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 have I not coped. What you learn growing up in an unsafe home, chronic self reliance. My famous line is, "I don't fall apart, when shit gets real 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 it wasn’t doing anything to help, to heal. 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 it would allow me to put myself together differently.

I learnt so much about myself and my ways in my broken I was forced to ask for help. I was forced to be exposed to helplessness. I was forced, as I kneeled in my bruises and bloody knees to reach out for kindness and compassion which I had never given leave to previously. I had to learn to receive... and that I was worthy to.

It was in my broken, my fear that I was unloveable that I was left with choice but to allow myself to be loved.

I needed time and space to heal. I needed deep real fucking compassion for myself and my pain. I needed to hold myself tenderly and compassionately. My undoing had become my redoing. I was learning how to be different with myself through deep pain. I was learning to be kind and gentle and slow. I was finally loving the abused and criticized child. I was tending to her hurt and fears. I was offering her the safe haven she had always wanted.

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 real compassion that we can heal and make ourselves whole. It is the art of kindness to self which makes this journey doable. It is the asking for help and receiving support that makes this journey beautiful. All pain can be healed when held so so f*cking tenderly.

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