How My Inner Child Gave Me the Gift of Loving Myself
by Taylor Nicole (aka "Tayco")
I am worthless, I am nothing, and I don’t deserve love . . .
At the young age of 5 this was my mantra, a solid fact in my brain. When you’re a foster child and without a home, it’s hard to make yourself believe you have a place in the world.
Imagine living what you think is an "average, normal life" even if you’re facing abuse. You’re just a baby, a child, a teenager. Suddenly, without what seems to be much notice, you’re taken from your family—your home, no matter how twisted your concept of home had been. You’re placed in a new family’s care, and told that although they are not your family, they will be taking care of you from now on.
You are limited on information you should have access to, and you don’t know where will be your next "home" when you’ll be forced to leave again, if you’ll see your old family again, or where your next real home will be, if ever. This is the reality I lived in, as well as the reality of the half million children who are currently enrolled in foster care in the United States.
I was finally adopted by a family after being in two foster homes. I was loved and cared for. I never went a day without, up to my high school graduation and even after. Yet, I still couldn’t believe that I was loved.
The concept of being loveable was foreign to me. My conception was that I was damaged goods, messed up in the head from my time in foster care. No matter how much affection was shown to me, I couldn’t let myself believe my adoptive family loved me. I was always waiting on the day they told me I wasn’t good enough, and they would trade me in for a newer, fresher model.
That day never came, but the day did come when I left for college. Then I left college behind to “follow my heart” to a man who wasn’t worthy of my love, and who abused me for years. I let him though; he said I love you between the insults and hitting, and that was all I needed.
Between the abuse and the growing PTSD I ended up in the hospital in a psych unit the summer I turned 19. I was killing myself. I was breaking my heart repeatedly, unable to think I would amount to anything. I was worthless, I was nothing, and I still didn’t deserve love. I hated myself. My doctors recommended group therapy to help me gain my life back from the clutches of the mental illness that had formed over the years.
Little did I know, a simple meditation in the group therapy would change my life forever.
The meditation started with us “wandering on the beach.” It brought me comfort to start the meditation at a rocky beach, and while listening to the meditation I dived deep into my own visualization.
Unlike what our counselor was saying, my beach was dark; I couldn’t tell if a storm was approaching or if it had just passed. The sand was damp and murky, turning slightly into mud. The waves crashed harsh against the shoreline, the water a dooming gray, and although the vision should have been alarming, I was at peace.
As I walked along the shoreline, chilly from this storm (also visualizing myself a thick sweater), I made out a figure—a small girl. She was alone, her hair tangled against the ever-growing wind. We sought shelter in a church (whereas the counselor told the group we stumble upon it). My church had been abandoned; it was nestled away in a rock-like cave. It was as dark as my beach, and somehow infinitely colder. The little girl guided me to the stained glass. Then she showed me her biggest fear. The counselor told the group to take a minute and visualize the child’s fear.
Up high on the beautiful stained glass you can see her alone. She was broken, surrounded by bits of the glass that has clearly cracked over the years. She held my hand tightly as we looked up to the spectacle. She told me to look next to her fear, where mine lay. That was where I saw myself. Much like this little girl I was alone. I was sobbing in the glass portrait, my heart in my hand. I could almost hear the glass scream as it exploded.
The counselor asked us to wake from the meditation.
I opened my eyes and quickly, wiping the tears from my eyes. How did my cheeks get this wet? We’re told that in this visualization that the child is us, at the age of 5. The visualization was supposed to represent our childhood fears, but also our adult fears. My answer was the same to both questions: my biggest fear was not being loved, then and in that moment.
The answer for me was always love. I had to learn to love myself.
I fought for love with an abusive ex for a year after the meditation, until I surrendered the endless battles of abuse. I moved out, moved away, and moved on with my life, starting fresh in the town where my parents first fell in love.
On lonely nights, I would think of the meditation, and would be overcome with sadness, because once again I was alone. Then, as if brought on by magic, my thought process changed. I wasn’t actively seeking love, because there was a slight glimmer of love for the warrior in my life, for the woman who had survived endless tragedies, for the girl who needed love more than anyone— myself.
I started to recognize the beauty within me. I started to treat myself to nice dates, and call myself nice names. I showered myself with affection. After starting to treat my life with love, love started to flow in, and I met my future husband. Soon after being engaged I discovered I was pregnant with a beautiful little boy. Our family was complete.
Today my life is an abundance of love. I have a loving husband, a little boy who fills my heart, and I’m often overwhelmed by the love I receive from my adoptive family, and friends.
However, I’ll always remember my first real love, and the person who showed me I was capable of love: the little girl who thought she wasn’t worthy of the air she breathed, the little girl who needed an I love you like people need air to breathe . . . my inner child.
Taylor Nicole (aka Tayco) is a young author, mental health and foster care advocate based out of New England. She is a mother, first and foremost, to a toddler, Jack. Taylor is the author of the memoir Free Tayco, and the vocal talent behind the podcast Tayco Talks, and the director of Tayco Films. For more information, please visit the following links: