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They’d Never Know

When I was a child, I had a mantra I would repeat to myself. As I played, while my hands and body were busy creating the scenes coming forth from my imagination, my mind was busy trying to keep me safe.

Over and over I would think to myself, “You will never be loved. You will always be lonely.” I must have repeated that phrase hundreds, if not thousands of times.

Some might say my family life didn’t warrant such drastic cruelty to myself. I had two parents. We had a roof over heads and food on the table. We went on vacations. There were no beatings. To be honest, I don’t know where this deep sadness came from, but as far as I can remember, it’s always been a part of me. I’ve always felt like I was completely alone.

I have a vivid memory from when I was around 13 years old. We were driving from an event in New Jersey, back home to New York. It was an old car, a blue Plymouth Duster, still driveable but totally falling apart. There was a spot in the back seat where the metal from the underside of the car was exposed. I placed my bare foot on it.

As it started to get uncomfortably hot, I considered removing my foot. The thought I had next is what makes this scene so memorable for me. I thought to myself, “No. When you get older you will kill yourself so you have to train yourself to be strong and not be afraid of physical pain.”

This child, who tried to be tough and harm herself as a way to keep her pain hidden from the world, wrote the following poem at age 16:
They’d Never Know
They’d never know when they see her.
She always has on a smile.
She loves to talk and laugh and sing
will all who pass her by.
They’d never know when they see her.
She’s always out with her friends.
People who know her say,
she’s a friendly, happy child.
They’d never know when they see her,
what she really feels inside.
That she’s always cheerful and happy,
so the sadness she can hide.
They’d never know when they see her,
that at one time she wished she’d die.
That she used to cry her eyes out,
every night for quite awhile.
Only she knows what she has felt
and those feelings are still inside.
But she realizes that being happy
is the only way to survive.
So she goes out whenever she can
and upon her little face
is a smile along with the attitude,
I’m glad I’m living in this place.
And all the people who see her
say there goes that lovely child – but
they’d never know when they see her
the pain she has felt inside.

I share this story not to elicit pity from you nor to express a woe is me mentality. I share it in an effort to bring light to and to help release a common belief we have in this society. That we have to hide our pain.

Sadly, my story is not very unique. Sure the exact details are different, but how many of us keep our innermost sorrow and fear locked away in our inner dungeons? How many of us live our lives with a smile plastered on our faces so others won’t know the pain we endure?

There are many perfectly good reasons we hide our pain.

– So others won’t pity us, we don’t want to be viewed as weak.
– Because we believe no one wants to hear about it.
– Because we don’t want to wallow in the negative.
– Because, especially in many self-help and spiritual communities, you are “supposed” to be positive and keep your vibe high.

But the main reason we hide our pain is because we believe that there is something wrong with us for feeling this way. We are ashamed of our deep emotions, feeling broken for having them.
Everywhere we turn we are being told to “be happy,” “choose happiness,” and “think positive.” While these are helpful ideas at times, they can also be quite damaging. For when we deny our negative emotions, we are denying a part of ourselves. We are forcing our emotions to lie hidden instead of letting them flow and release naturally themselves.

Loving all our emotions is not exactly taught in our society. But it is a huge step in our growth and a huge act of self-love.

Self-love is loving all parts of ourselves, even those that are uncomfortable. Loving even those feelings that we believe define us as broken.

What if we could take it even a step further? I can’t help but wonder: What would the world look like if not only did we love and accept all of our emotions but also loved ourselves enough to be open and honest with others about those taboo feelings?

What would our world look like if we could love ourselves so much that we said to our family and friends, “I am feeling a bit depressed lately. I could use some support. Can you help me as I go through these strong emotions?”

What kind of adults would we raise, if children could say “I am really sad” without being told they have no reason to be sad? If children could say “I am really angry right now and not sure what to do with those feelings” without being told they better be quiet and behave? And how much could we heal ourselves by giving children the love and acceptance we didn’t receive as children?

I don’t know about you, but just imagining our world growing so open and loving, for all parts of ourselves and parts of each other, brings me to tears. A world in which not only would we not have to hide our tough emotions but could share what we are feeling with others and receive help as we traverse those difficult waters.

Can we love ourselves enough now to help bring about that world? Can we learn to love ourselves enough to allow our smile to turn to tears when someone asks how we are?

I believe we can. I believe we will. I believe we are.

Let’s love ourselves so fiercely that the world has no choice but to look inward and love all parts of itself. Once we as a species have come to love ourselves, we will have no need to try to lash out, hurt, or have power over others. Because we will know, without a doubt, that we all are powerful, special and loveable.

Hedy MacDonald is the founder of Sacred Soul Gardening, a sacred space for those on a spiritual path to learn, go within, follow their hearts, listen to their own wisdom and celebrate who they are, and the journey they are on. She plays many roles including mother, wife, daughter, energy healer, intuitive artist, and spiritual teacher, to name a few. She spends her days bringing spirituality down to earth, learning by living and accepting the roles she has chosen. She believes fiercely that loving ourselves is the key to great things in this messy thing called life and that unlike what others may teach, this greatness will include parts that don’t feel great at all. You can find out more about her heart-centered work at

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