Recently my daughter, Chloe, got engaged.  It’s been a happy time, getting to experience her excitement and joy as surprise after surprise unfolded.  As a mother, there’s nothing better than seeing your child happy.  Seeing a man who cherishes and adores my daughter bend on one knee and propose…well, let’s just say it was extra special.  I was on a high for days, living vicariously through Chloe as she reported the details of their vacation in Charleston, South Carolina, the proposal, and the celebration of her thirtieth birthday.

After the fairy dust settled, I found myself reflecting on some of my own experiences, which were in stark contrast to the ones my daughter experienced.  I could feel a cloud of sadness coming over me.  “No, no, no! I don’t want to go down this path,” I thought.  But then I remembered that, rather than push down negative emotions, it was better for me to feel them, let them come through, be healed, and transmuted.

So, I braced myself and hung on for the ride.

For as long as I could remember, I had a need to be chosen. Yes, I also had a need to be seen as many of us do, but it went deeper than that.  I wanted to be the one who was picked, adored, cherished—the one who was so special that it was a forgone conclusion that she would be chosen. Whether it was a contest in grade school, a part in a school play, a solo in the chorus, or picked for a team in gym, if I wasn’t chosen, I immediately equated that to not being loved.  As a highly sensitive child living in a world where people didn’t talk about things like highly sensitive children, I stood out as a “cry-baby”, a sore loser, or a drama queen.

My self-worth was completely tethered to the external.

As I got older, I internalized these feelings of “less than” and convinced myself that I was unlovable. Whenever I did get a “win,” like getting a lead in the school play, I was on a high. My self-worth was completely tethered to the external.  Needless to say, when I asked a boy to our junior semi-formal and he turned me down, I was crushed.  I can still remember what I wore that day.  I remember how embarrassed I was. I remember how mad I was at myself for putting myself in that position. Mainly I remember willing myself not to cry until I got home.  Later that day I found out another girl had asked him to the dance.  He said yes to her.  She was chosen. I was not. Therefore, I must be fat, ugly, gross, and utterly delusional for even thinking I had a chance.

A few years later, when I met who would later become my husband and Chloe’s father, I was struck by his attentiveness, but also, I sensed he felt lucky to be with me.  As time went on, he would verbalize that very sentiment. That was music to my fragile ego’s ears. Not a day went by that he didn’t tell me I was beautiful.  He happily introduced me to family and friends.  I heard stories that he had been dating another girl, but that, when he met me, he broke up with her. I had a fleeting pang of pity for the “other” girl, but mainly I felt elated that he chose me.

This went on for four years, off and on, but mostly on. I was going to college and would see him on breaks or he would come visit me at school.  My friends and family would often mention how devoted he was to me and how much in love we both looked.  For the most part, it was a very happy time and it never occurred to me that it would change. He was my first serious relationship and although we had a series of break-ups and make-ups, I always assumed that ultimately, we’d be together.

Soon after I graduated college, we got an apartment. We were both very excited to have our own space and at first, it felt a little like “playing house.” For the first time, we could live by our own rules. But in a few short weeks, the illusion of domestic bliss was smashed into a gazillion pieces.  A drug addiction which was easily concealed from me when we both lived at home, now became glaringly obvious.  Money began to disappear.  Valuables began to disappear.  He became violent.  My self-worth once again started slipping into the abyss.  I had no idea how to navigate addiction and naturally (and wrongly) thought that if he really loved me, he would quit.  He didn’t.  He chose drugs, not me. And he made this choice over and over for years until one day, I was done.

I like the phrase “pick up the pieces” because, in truth, that’s what it feels like—gathering tiny shards of your heart and slowly and painfully putting them back in place.  Other times it’s more like calling whisps of your Soul back home.

The pieces don’t come back all at once or on your timetable though.  It’s a slow-motion mosaic and looks like a bit of a mess for quite a while.

When I finally dated again, I was scared.  I didn’t want to be hurt again. I had become friends with the new guy at work.  He was funny, smart, and charismatic.  Everyone liked being around him, including me. Several of the women at work were interested in him. When I realized that he was interested in me romantically, my walls immediately went up.  I didn’t want to date someone I worked with.  Plus, he was several years younger than me.  But after a time, I caved. Plus, he had his pick of many women and he chose me—my Achilles heel.  At first, it was amazing. We had so much fun together.  I had never imagined being in a “normal” relationship. That year was one of the happiest of my life.

But then, like a flick of a switch, his feelings for me changed.  After a year of what I thought was a thriving relationship, he broke up with me and started secretly dating another woman at work—the one woman I didn’t get along with. For whatever reason, we never liked each other.  Of all the women in the world for him to date, that’s who he chose.  That’s what hurt the most.  Soon after that, he was laid off.  When that happened, he broke it off with her. Karma? I knew she was devastated and although I’m not proud of it, that gave me satisfaction.  A few months later he reached out.  We met up a few times but ultimately, I chose to end it.  It was nice to take some of my power back.

The stories I just shared are over 20 and even 30 years old. But I shared them because these were the memories breaching the surface.  Over the last week, I’ve been able to view them again from a higher perspective of knowing and understanding.  I have compassion for these younger versions of myself and I can still feel their pain of not feeling cherished, adored, or chosen.  They just didn’t realize that they were looking in all the wrong places.  Feeling chosen is a lot closer to home.


Carol Campos
Carol Campos
Like many, I struggled for years wondering what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I had been working in the corporate world for over 20 years, most recently in a leadership role with a Fortune 5 company. Although I was consistently recognized and promoted throughout my career, I somehow knew that I was meant to do something different. I felt stuck in a life that didn’t fit, yet I had created it. What was my purpose? I had no idea. Finally, I left my corporate job and made the leap into the unknown. After doing months of self-discovery work (actually, play!), reconnecting to my higher wisdom, and re-remembering who I was at my core, I realized I didn’t have to fix myself. I also realized that I didn’t have to worry about “finding my purpose.” What I found was that I’m multi-passionate and didn’t want to be boxed into one thing. I didn’t HAVE to be boxed into one thing. I started a podcast and a blog where I explored the human experience—including my own beautiful, messy, but perfect road. This blog later became my column on BizCatalyst 360°. I became a mentor and a wayshower for others. I became a consultant to help improve company culture and improve client relationships. These are things I couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. But as often is the case, the Universe had an even bigger plan for me than I had for myself. My Soul knew what I would be doing long before I did, and I’m grateful that I followed the Divine map that was laid out before me! I love traveling, exploring new cultures, being in nature, and helping people on their own paths. I hold a B.A. in Communications from Hofstra University. I live in Massachusetts with my rambunctious and hilarious cats, Petey, and Emmett.

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  1. Great (and brave) share Carol. I’ve been doing some work lately on this subject and the notion of choosing oneself first. I think I’m ready to dive deeper as I think it could be powerful healing for one particular relationship in my life where I have felt inadequate and disregarded for a number of years. It’s time to stop putting so much stock in someone else’s choice to exclude me from their life. I’m worthy of much more.

    • I’m so happy for you! It takes courage to choose yourself, to honor yourself. You are worthy and you are a Divine Being. Sending good vibes your way. 🌺🌼🌺🌼

  2. Well written and bravely shared, Carol! I commend you. Many of us have had similar experiences. Learning to love oneself most of all and follow one’s own heart’s true leadings may be the hardest lesson to learn, and ultimately it can be our salvation. Hurray for life’s lessons and the outcomes they provide.

  3. Carol, I’m sending you a hug. I, too, longed to be chosen and to feel special. It’s amazing what you attract from that place of “not-enoughness.” Your daughter is blessed to have you as are all of the other people in your world. You are a gift, a ray of sunshine and a wonderful mentor to all.

  4. This was a lovely and honest read, Carol. Thank you (and Dennis) for sharing it. What you’re describing strikes home in many ways. I’ve wrestled with similar (although not quite the same) issues since childhood, and I’m well aware of how much they influence the way I handle not only my personal but professional circumstances in the present. I can “view them from a higher perspective of knowing and understanding” as you say … and yet fully accepting and letting them go in the way that you seem to have is a much taller order and a lifelong struggle. In so many ways, we always are who we have always been, and sometimes that is a wonderful blessing and other times a terrible and frustrating curse.

    • Thanks again, Randy. It always amazes me how much symmetry there is in our stories. I agree–letting some of this stuff go IS a tall order. That’s why I called my column, “Alchemy is Underway.” It’s a process–often a very sloooooow one–and I’m not the most patient person in the world!