Sticks & Stones: Letting Go of a Deep Hurt


Being 19 was the bomb! I was off at college, with no parental controls and loving the freedom and flexibility of creating my life. Each day was a learning opportunity — to discover who I was. Did I want to smoke (eww, no)? Eat another Rice Krispy bar (yes!)? I was high on life — large and in charge.

And I was falling in love.

Before college, I sailed through high school, oozing confidence, knowing that I could do anything with a bit of elbow grease and a dash of luck. Friends would hint that all my energy was a bit intimidating, but I loved being the center of attention — and my filter didn’t really exist. I’d try new things, say what was on my mind, and laugh (with the occasional snort thrown in) with abandon.

Man, I loved that girl. She was bodacious, enchanting, vibrant, and a bit over the top.

What happened next, I’m not proud to admit.

I was lying in a darkened room, with soft music, and this guy I was falling for — cue the romance — says, “Why do you have to be so weird?”

It’s been three decades since those words were uttered and it has taken me this long to recover. 

This was a transformative moment for me — not in a good way. I felt my heart deflate and my soul shrink. For the first time I felt small, like there was something wrong with me.

I may have been confident back then, but I wasn’t strong and grounded. I internalized these words and, sadly, shifted my personality — away from my authentic self to a dimmer version. I wanted to be loved and accepted. I changed. 

The relationship didn’t last. No wonder, I didn’t love me, and he didn’t love the true me either. It was one of life’s lessons and it broke my heart, but I’m incredibly grateful for it.

When you let others’ opinions and perceptions define you, you’re moving away from your authenticity. The result is a life lived on a lie, one you’re telling yourself. Your happiness, fulfillment and security are linked to a flawed story.

The way out of this hole is to reclaim yourself. Acknowledge that you’re letting the outside world define who you are and take back your power.

But how?

Through forgiveness.

It’s empowering to shout out that you aren’t in bondage to someone else’s definition of you. Forgiveness gives the strength to reclaim all the parts of yourself. It’s about letting go of the hurt and keeping the lesson, which is where you grew stronger and learned your own power.

I forgave him.

Reflecting, I realized his own insecurities were behind those hurtful words. My light was so bright that the only way we’d work is if I was equally insecure (messed up, right?). I believe that he didn’t intentionally mean to hurt me. At 19, everyone is finding their way, so I understand now the intent and the reason, which makes it easier for me to let go of this “untruth” and forgive.

The next step was harder. I needed to forgive myself.

I had allowed someone to co-opt my authenticity. Essentially shut down who I was at my core, my soul. I allowed someone else to define my value and worth. I had wanted to be loved and accepted, so I hit the dimmer switch and my light shrunk down to a tiny glow.

I acted the only way I could’ve in that moment. At 19. In love. On my own.

Reaching deeper, I forgave myself for carrying the “why are you so weird” story as my truth for three decades. I finally reached the point where I’m ready to let it go. I embrace my quirks, celebrate my eccentricities and glory in what makes me unique. 

I love me.

That’s all I need and, yes, I’m a bit weird, but isn’t it wonderful?

If there’s an outdated or even outright wrong story you’ve been carrying around, release it. Feel the weight lift and discover your true self waiting there with open arms. Then step out into the world with your light shining so bright.

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Kirstin Chatfield Barsness
Kirstin Barsness is a life coach, writer, speaker, teacher and artist. She works with professional women who want to live a fuller, more purposeful life, believing that each of us holds the power to transform. Kirstin received her certified profession coach designation from the World Coach Institute. She’s been published on numerous times in The Edge, teaches meditation through community education, and is a motivational speaker. Kirstin is a certified aromatherapist and certified crystal healer. In addition to her life coaching, Kirstin has owned and operated a consulting business for over 20 years. Her passions include her two amazing daughters and any creative project, especially watercolor painting, digging in her flower garden, walking her dog, being out in nature, and connecting with friends over a steaming cup of tea. Contact her at [email protected].


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