I Love Me; What I Learned From My 5 year old Daughter – By Phoenix Emery

It’s interesting to stand aside and just observe my emotions.

I lost my mother in 2006. For many years I’d hear a song, see a play, or think of something I knew my mother would like and I couldn’t control the emotions that took over. I’d easily tear up and feel my body transported into the pain I felt on the day I lost her.

That had been the same with my divorce. A song, a thought, missing my ex, just having the desire to talk with her and see how her day was, I’d go from happy go lucky to an instant mush of sadness.

Through recovery and the work I’ve done this past year, it’s been easier to manage my emotions. I feel them coming, I acknowledge them, I accept them, and I try not let them overwhelm me.

If they do become overwhelming, I let them flow, but I don’t sit in the emotion like I used to. I question it. I look at it from all sides. I investigate what the emotion is trying to tell me, ask if my story is accurate, and try to learn from it.

From this observing point of view, it’s cool to watch why I react the way I do. And it’s amazing that I can self-soothe and bring my emotional level back to ground.

Today I just had one of those experiences.

I was searching online for a photo to use on a blog I had written. I typed “self-love” and found the photo above. Instantaneously, I felt like I was punched in the gut and the tears started streaming down my face. I had to take a break.

 I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t upset. What came up for me was the deep meaning behind the “I” followed by a heart and then “me.”
That has been my journey; to learn how to love myself. I never realized how much I didn’t love who I was; my negative self-talk was so normalized.
Through the past six years of recovery and my current focus on really learning how to love myself, I had forgotten that over eight years ago a little girl and I wanted to spread that simple phrase to the world.

I felt joy and relief. I felt pain and sadness. I felt guilt because I didn’t push that message hard enough then.

I felt love.

Here’s the story behind those three words.

My oldest daughter was in kindergarten and she had a goal; she wanted Dad to be home more…


So much emotion behind this. Just typing that last sentence and I can feel the rawness of my emotions and how strong they are.

That’s all I ever wanted; to be home daily.

I let the fear of starting over, the fear of failing, and the fear of doing something I wasn’t passionate about and later resenting my choice.

Instead, I leaned on the comfort and security of what I know I’m good at and receiving a constant paycheck to determine my path in my life. The path in my family’s life.

I still want to be home. I’m so tired of being gone. It’s what I pray for.

I Love Me

My daughter wrote those three words “I (heart) Me” in multi-colors on a piece of paper. She then decorated a cover page and on the last page she wrote, “The End” and “by, her name”. She stapled these together to make a book.

But, she didn’t stop there. She chose two of her friends to join her in making multiple books. She organized an assembly line. One friend designed the cover page. My daughter was drawing the “I Love Me” and “The End”. And she had her third friend stapling them together, making a stack of books at the end of the table.

“Why are you making all these books?”….I asked her.

“I’m going to sell them Dad.” She looked at me with a seriousness and confidence that only children could have. “I’m going to make enough money from these books so you don’t have to leave to go to work anymore. You will be home with us.”

Not only did she show a confidence and determination in her idea, she showed what was most important to her; Dad being home. She planned, executed, and convinced others in her vision and became a leader giving them certain tasks to make her dream become reality.

But even more importantly, she showed something that we have as kids, but we lose when we get older; she loved herself.

She truly believed in and loved who she was.

She had no doubt in what she was doing. She didn’t compare herself with others. She saw herself as the beautiful princess she was. There was no guilt and shame from past actions that filtered her thoughts. There was no feelings of being unimportant or worthless. She had no fear that she would fail in her mission.

At five years old, my daughter was present in all she did. She could be vulnerable and speak her mind without worrying what other people felt, without fear of judgment, or feel the need to filter her thoughts. She was genuine. She was vulnerable. She was authentic.

 That is who we need to strive to be.
As we parent our inner child, we need to remember who we were when we were five. We need to remember how to nurture that beautiful soul we had before everything else in life blocked us from seeing him or her. We need to find our authentic selves.

My heart goes out to both my daughters today.

As pre-teen/teenage girls they are having such a hard time. Independence from Mom and Dad, trying to find themselves, tons of self-doubt, overcome with hormones coupled with a flood of unmanageable emotions, peer pressures, embracing their sexuality, and finding what it means to be a woman in today’s world.

That doesn’t include the anger, sadness, fear, guilt, and shame they carry from my destructive actions and Mom and Dad’s divorce.

I remember asking the question eight years ago: When do we lose the childhood belief that we love ourselves? And why does it take so much pain and heartbreak to re-learn what came so naturally when we were little?

I am worthy, I am enough, and I am valuable.


Today, I have this need and desire to guide my girls and help them find the love in themselves they once had so many years ago. I also need to take Little Phoenix by the hand and show him that he too is loved.

Let’s all show a little more love today!

Originally published on Phoenix blog Together We Can Heal

Phoenix Emery

About Phoenix Emery

Phoenix has been in recovery for his addiction for almost seven years. Working the 12 Steps along with individual counseling, group counseling, somatic experiencing, trauma intensive workshops, DBT, EMDR, and doing his own deeper work to understand himself and his behaviors, he learned the hard way that there’s a difference between sobriety and recovery. Sobriety means stopping the addictive behaviors. Recovery means working your program daily, staying present in the Now, and managing emotions without being reactive to them. Phoenix felt as if his world fell apart the summer of 2016 when he moved out of his home.January 2017, Phoenix embarked on a new journey; a journey of blogging and story writing the struggles he was going through. Instead of staying stuck in his own story as a victim of a broken marriage that he caused, he embarked with a fellow friend (and head whacker), Rafiki, to help him open his eyes to understand himself, his former spouse, his children, and the world around him. This has been his journey to learn how to care for his inner child, a journey learning to love himself.Phoenix died in 2016 and, through his writing in 2017, he was reborn. With a gift of being vulnerable, the humility of not being perfect, and the desire to continue to grow, Phoenix hopes he can help others on their own personal journey of self-love.For more information about Phoenix and his adventures in healing, visit his blog at www.togetherwecanheal.com.
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One Comment

  1. Outstanding balance of vulnerable teaching in your voice, Phoenix.

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