There’s a story I’ve been holding in my heart for a while now, and I’m ready to talk about it. If you knew me at Bloom Retreat or through The Practice, then you knew me when all of this was happening. If you are new to this community, I hope this story will inspire you to start putting yourself first.
I owned and ran a women’s healing center in Walnut Creek, California, for almost 10 years. My inspiration to open that space was my mother, who died young of breast cancer. She was the kind of woman who gave and gave to us kids, and to her work, and to the community, but she never gave back to herself. She died with a half-written Master’s thesis on her bed stand and a million things she still wanted to do. I believe she died young because she never put herself first. She was never shown how to value herself or how to devote her life to her own wellbeing. She became depleted in her lifelong act of giving herself away.
After she died, I wanted to give back in some way. So I created a space where women could gather, connect, and heal, so that they didn’t end up sick like my mom. So that they could see how amazing and valuable they are, and how their lives and gifts matter. I wanted to change the way women show up for themselves.
And so I did that. With two babies on my hip and a deep soul calling to create something where women could truly heal, I put myself out there and built a healing community from scratch.
And healing did happen. Women’s lives did transform. Through our connection and commitment to ourselves and each other, little by little, women started to see themselves in their wholeness. I saw women leave broken relationships, start businesses, heal their bodies, find new love, and finally put down the masks they had been hiding behind. It was pure grace and beauty. And it was an honor and gift for me to witness.
But the irony in the story is that while hundreds of women were healing and putting their lives back together, I began to fall apart. You see, I am no different than my mother, and no different than most every woman I’ve ever met. I inherited patterns of over-responsibility, over-giving, and self-abandonment from my female ancestors. These ancient patterns were passed from my grandmother, to my mother, and finally to me. And so the only way I knew how to lead and serve was to give myself away. That’s how I was conditioned to show up.
Just like my mother, I sacrificed my own health and wellbeing for others. I showed up to work when I was depleted. I gave myself away to keep the lights on and the doors open, to not disappoint those that I loved and served. Until my body took me down and I got really sick. The kind of sickness that shows you that, if you want to live, you have to change.
I was practically killing myself by giving myself away. I was my mother.
At my lowest, darkest place, I stared into my own eyes, and I saw her. Not just my mom, but every woman who walked through those studio doors. I saw that we are all the same, we are all in this together, and that self-abandonment is an epidemic for all of us.
I saw clearly that not only did I open that healing center to help other women heal, but also to eventually heal myself. All these inherited patterns came to the surface, and I was given an opportunity to finally break them—to heal the wounds of my mother and grandmother, and to light a new path for my daughter.
I realized that in order to fully heal, I had to close the doors to that healing center. I also had to leave my home of 40 years and physically move to a place with fewer distractions, so I could hear my own voice and heal from the inside out. I’ve dedicated the last several years to my own healing and to unraveling these ancient patterns.
I know as much as anyone how to over-give and self-sacrifice. Just like the women I was serving, I made the mistake of abandoning myself for the sake of everyone else. And I vowed to never do that again.
I vowed to live and lead without self-sacrifice. I vowed to break these old patterns and put myself first in service of those I love and the whole world.
And I invite you to do the same.
The world is at a turning point. After this past year and a half of the pandemic, political unrest, and disruption of our lives, we have been forever changed. We’re being shown a choice between the old way of living and being, and a new way that is asking to be born. I believe that we are living in a time of great transformation, healing, and possibility.
I also believe that all women are being called to lead right now. Women are change agents and leaders of this great transformation. We lead in our families, communities, schools, and work. But we can’t do this important healing work if we are putting ourselves last and sacrificing who we truly are.
Our gifts are needed, and we can’t lead in the way we are called to lead if we are depleted and broken. The world needs us to be fully nourished and liberated to help heal the collective. When we heal, the world will heal.
I am calling all women leaders together—women who over-give and over-serve, women CEOs, teachers, healers, entrepreneurs, village leaders, pot-luck organizers, conscious parents, and women who hold space for others. I invite you to join me in the next evolution of The Practice—a sacred community of women leaders radically committed to themselves in service of those they love and the world we live in.
I am opening a new Facebook group where I will be offering a free weekly Sunday Service for women to gather and connect in this spirit. Our first Sunday Service is August 15.
In the new FB group, I will be going deeper into my story and why I think the world needs us to start putting ourselves first. If this resonates with you at all, then please join us.
Go HERE to join the new Facebook Group. Our original/older Facebook group for The Practice, it will be closing soon. Everything will be moving over here. So if you’re in the current group, please join our new one so you don’t miss anything.
Aug 15, 2021 (and every Sunday moving forward)
9:00 am PST
Recordings available in the group
Let’s pioneer a new paradigm of women leaders showing up for themselves first. It is time to break these ancient patterns.
Michelle Long, MA
Founder of The Practice