In 2nd grade I was 7 years old attending John Diemer Elementary School in Overland Park, Kansas. There were a couple of boys that were being mean to my friend Kim Ifft, so I told them, “You guys better watch yourselves and leave Kim alone or you’re going to regret it.” Later that day I was walking home on my usual route when Bam! I got cold-cocked in the side of my head. It hurt like hell especially because I just got my ears pierced and the hit landed right on the freshly pierced lobe. I was trying to figure out what the hell just happened when boom I got shoved from behind from and fell the ground. As I looked up from the dirt I saw David Bishop and Greg Hyde running away as fast as they could. My ear was ringing and blood was dripping down my chin from my ear. It was so tender and it stung so bad. I stood up, picked up my backpack, and started running home as fast as I could.
I took the back route by the creek. I ran through all of my neighbor’s backyards, up my backyard, then finally busting through the back-porch screen door. I ran up the basement stairs and down the hall to my mom’s bedroom door where I turned the doorknob which was locked. I was sobbing as I pounded on her door and yelled, “Mommy I need you please open the door. I got in a fight and my ear hurts.” I knew she was in there so again I yelled, “Mommy please help me, I need you.” I was crying so hard I could barely catch my breath and there were tears, snot, and blood running down my face. I kept banging on the door, then I slowed down, took a few deep breaths, and I tried one more time, “Mommy please open the door, please open the door. I got in a fight. I need you.”
I waited for a minute and then I heard the familiar words, “Go away, I’m sleeping.”
I turned away from the door and walked down the hallway into the guest bathroom. I grabbed the hand towel, held it under warm water, and looked at myself in the mirror. I started to wipe away the tears, snot, and blood from my face. I noticed my swollen eyes. I just stood there looking at myself, then I looked even deeper into myself. I wiped away the tears and thought, ‘I am not even good enough for my own mother to get out of bed for.’ I kept looking at myself as tears ran down my face trying to make sense of it all. I couldn’t. I held my gaze, then straightened my spine, stopped the tears and said, “I don’t need you mom. I don’t need anyone. I can take care of myself. I am all alone and I am just fine.”
The next day after school, I crouched behind a bush and waited for David Bishop and Greg Hyde near the same spot they got me. When I saw them, I jumped and fought like hell. When I got home my dad was there. My shirt had been ripped and I had a fat lip. He said, “What in the hell happened to you?” I said, “I got into a fight with David Bishop and Greg Hyde.” My dad called for my brothers, “Michael, Patrick come here! Look at what these boys did your sister. Don’t come home from school until you make them pay for what they have done.”
The next night when my dad got home from work, he said, “Michael, Patrick did you make the boys pay for what they did to Leigh?” Both of my brothers shook her head no. My father said, “Why not?” Michael said, “Dad, when we walked up to them, David Bishop had a black eye and Greg Hyde had a fat lip and was missing a tooth. I think it was one of his permanent teeth.” My dad turned to me gleaming and grinning ear to ear. I’ve never seen a prouder look in my father’s eyes. Beaming he put his big paw hand on my head, messed up my hair, and said, “God dammit Leigh, you have more balls than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ll never have to worry about you.” In that moment with my father and the moment a couple of days before with my mother, I shaped the two thoughts that would run the next 23 years of my life. I was unworthy and I had balls.
I lived the I am unworthy story like a champ. I ran fast, played hard, and partied even harder. I got drunk and made out in bars. I didn’t date people because I didn’t want to actually slow down long enough to talk to anyone. I lived this way until I was almost 30 years old and boy was I worn out. My lifestyle changed when I met my husband, David Koechner, at an airport gate. After dating for a bit, I started getting drunk and picking fights. He asked, “What are you doing?” and I replied, “I don’t know.” He suggested we go to therapy. I ended up going by myself for two years where I began understanding why I acted the way I acted, having compassion for myself, and melting the childhood armor I had created around my heart.
When we are young we create stories to make sense of what is happening or what our young minds perceive is happening. I call this story our pebble. Every single person on this planet had a moment in their childhood that was painful to the bone and they interpreted it with the child brain and we place that thought pebble on our head and live under it. Eventually, it sinks into the center of our brain and everything we see and hear gets filtered through the pebble. My pebble was ‘I am unworthy’ and everything I saw and heard supported my story. It could show up like: They didn’t call on me because I don’t matter to them. I can’t do that job because I’m not good enough. He won’t want to date me because I am too much to handle.
You may walk around saying, “Do I want to try that exciting activity with you? Don’t you see my pebble? I can’t do something like that. I’m not good enough.” “Do I want to love you and spend time with you? Obviously, you haven’t looked up and seen my pebble, if you had, you would know that I am unlovable.”
Everything changed when I met David Koechner on December 28, 1996. David’s unconditional love started the melting of the childhood armor. I got to drop kick my pebble and replace it with the truth: I am made in the likeness of God. I came from the Stars and will return one day soon. I have everything inside of me that I need for my entire life. I am whole, worthy, and powerful beyond measure.
Do you still navigate the world through your childhood pebble? Are you crippling yourself with an old thought that no longer serves you? Join me in pulling out your childhood pebble, crushing it, rewriting a new thought and inserting that into our brain. Let’s allow ourselves to shine like the bright stars that we are. Let’s unleash our Star Power!
If you would like to dive deeper into the messy goodness of your life, join me on March 7 to Celebrate your messy imperfect life by clicking here: https://leigh.la/shop-workshop