Returning to Tenderness

After a life of tennis training, drug taking and ‘Do-It-Yourself’ in overdrive, practitioner Mary-Louise Myers shares how she eventually came to find a truly tender way of being with herself.

by Mary-Louise Myers

I was a gorgeous little girl who started playing competitive tennis at seven to win my father’s attention: each time I won a match he would pat me on my head and say, “well done, little one!” (I don’t think he could remember my name!). That was my way of getting the attention I was craving for. I was Victorian junior champion at a young age and continued to spend all my younger years training or playing in tennis tournaments around Victoria. As I reached teenage years I realised that I did not even enjoy playing tennis. I now know that I only did it for recognition and acceptance.

I gave it all up and started down a path of anorexia and bulimia. My father was obsessed with his own weight and his family’s. My sister was given diet books at around the age of 13, mind you, looking back she was simply going through a chubby stage and I was championed for being skinny. From a young age there was a lot of emphasis on how you looked, not your being. (Please note I am not in any way, shape or form blaming my parents; they were good people who did the best they could.)

When I started to develop breasts I would wear two, sometimes three very tight singlets to cover the fact that I was developing into a young woman. Again, later in life I understood why I did this. I had been sexually abused at a young age and did not want sexual attention of any kind from the opposite sex. Interestingly enough in my present field of Esoteric Women’s Health I have met hundreds of women who have had a similar experience. During those years I had intense hate for myself and my body. I struggled through those teenage years either covering my body like a sack, or as I got older and began drinking and taking heroin (at age 16), I would “flaunt it” thinking I had gotten over my issues, not realising that I had just buried them in a haze of drugs and alcohol.

I realised that I could not look lovingly at myself in the mirror and that I would always find criticism in what I was seeing; no matter how skinny I was, I always thought I was fat. I thought my legs were ugly and I never wore a short skirt because I hated my knees and of course, I found something wrong with my butt. I continued to dislike my breasts and hated them being touched when having sex. I would always make some excuse why they were “off limits” when having sex. Mind you, the whole sex thing was something that I put up with because at first I was prostituting myself to keep my heroin addiction going and then, when I was married I was told that it was my duty as a wife to have sex whenever my husband wanted it. I would always be drunk or on drugs… I could go on but I do not want it to sound like a soap opera.

Let’s fast-forward to when I started to see Serge Benhayon and do the Universal Medicine courses. I was living on a 13-acre property that I had bought to start a community with a group of people, led by a new age guru that I had totally given my self / life away to (and my money!!). The guru, at this stage, was no longer in the picture and I was on the property maintaining it all by myself thinking this was a great new part to my life (a great achievement one could say considering my previous history). You would find me whipper snipping, lawn mowing, slashing on a big tractor, tarring roofs, chain sawing trees etc. etc. and those that have lived on a property like this know the intense amount of work involved. The reality was though that my body was like a man’s body and I championed this thinking it was great because I could do as much as any man could. I had no idea what it meant to be a nurturing woman and did not even know that I had an issue, I thought this was how it was. There were no true role models to show me anything different, and in so many ways this was a much better life than my past.

I started with Universal Medicine at age 45 and, as some may know from my previous article (Life beyond Addiction – One Woman’s Experience), I gave up drugs and alcohol very easily – but more than this occurred. I started listening to my body and heard loud and clear from my body that I was harming it not only with the drugs and alcohol but the way I was treating it, doing all that very hard physical work on the land, always doing, doing something and not caring and nurturing myself. I got to feel that it was the same pattern as when I was young. Still seeking recognition and acceptance – this time in the form of a beautiful property that people would admire. Through listening to Serge’s presentations on Women’s Health I began to recognise and feel how hard my body was. I remember this being a real shock at the time, but it was a shock I needed to begin to change how I was living. I began to realise it was not what I was doing so much but the way I was doing it and yes, there were certain things that I chose no longer to do because I could now feel how much it hardened and harmed my body. Slowly I started to honour my body and myself. I started to be gentle with myself and truly nurture and care for myself, this I had not been taught as I was growing up. Again, no slight on my mother, she had not been taught this either.

With the teachings that were coming from the Women’s Health presentations and as I started to live them day to day, my life changed. It was not rocket science stuff – just simple things, like lovingly being with nurturing and caring in everything you do, for example tenderly washing your body in the shower, not quickly and roughly as I had been doing (not daring to look at my body); then gently dressing myself in clothes I felt to wear rather than what you think you should wear according to the latest fashion. Then having fun putting makeup on just for me, adoring myself in the mirror in the process and not just putting it on to look good for others. This was an enormous healing for me and thus had started the path of loving myself and my body. I am now 54 years old, I love my body and my breasts (and even my butt!) but the most amazing thing is that I cannot find anything wrong with my legs or knees anymore and love wearing skirts. I have re-connected with the gorgeous little girl I once was and am well on my way to re-claiming the beautiful woman I now know myself to be.

The Esoteric Breast Massage contributed to the healing of accepting and loving my breasts and my body. I am particularly passionate about this modality, to the point where I am now the Australian Trainer and Northern Rivers Co-ordinator of the EBM, as I know the significant changes it has brought about in my health and wellbeing and that of hundreds of other women over the years.

I continue to go to all the Esoteric Women’s Health presentations run by Natalie Benhayon and have sessions with her on a regular basis, as this young woman is my inspiration and a true role model for all women. She is bringing to me and to women worldwide the next round of teachings that we need in order to continue to develop into the true, tender woman that we innately know we are.

P.S. One year ago I went through menopause. I was having regular periods up until they stopped completely, I did not put on weight, I had no mood swings, no hormonal issues and no hot flushes. I would not have been aware that I was going through menopause except for the fact that I no longer got periods. I know that putting into my life what I learnt through Esoteric Women’s Health greatly contributed to the ease with which I went through menopause.

Below is a picture before my involvement with Esoteric Women’s Health and  now.

313 thoughts on “Returning to Tenderness

  1. ‘Returning to tenderness’, I absolutely love the word ‘returning’ because even the biggest, buffyest guys and the most hardened of women have all been the epitome of tenderness at some point in their lives and for most of us it was when we were young.

  2. You are amazing Mary -Louise what an absolutely fantastic turn around, I love your transparency and openness to share, you reflect to us all that healing is always possible once we choose love.

  3. Those moments of looking in the mirror and criticise ourselves becomes a well worn path till we are blessed with someone in our life who points out that we would not behave this way or say things that we say to ourselves to anyone else.

    1. Unfortunately we do, we do say the most appalling things to other people, we criticise, condemn, ridicule and destroy other people and this we can only do after we have first done it to ourselves.

  4. Deeply inspirational the way you have transformed your life from one of frantic doing to embracing your tenderness whole heartedly which is reflected in every aspect of your life.

  5. Mary-Louise your photos speak volumes there is such a difference between how you were before you attended Esoteric Women’s Health and how you were after, you look younger brighter and full of vitality, open and super tender and ready for life. You show that whatever happens in our past we can change, it does not have to have a hold on us and affect us for the rest of our lives

  6. So deeply touching thank you Mary-Louise for sharing, I feel so inspired by you, you are an absolutely amazing lady who has touched my life and has made it so much more richer, You are totally gorgeous.

  7. Great testimonial of how making simple choices on a consistent basis actually turns our life around. Often we’re looking for the one thing, that magic pill, course, book or healer, that will change our lives – still searching outside of ourselves. But we all do know, underneath and deep within, the choices we know we need to make to live more of who we truly are. The more we make those self-caring choices, the more we start to connect to and live from who we truly are and not a version of ourself we’ve created to fit what we think others want us to be (but actually, they usually don’t, because they know that version isn’t the true us, too).

  8. The more we are honest about what we are feeling in our body the more aware we become of what and how we do things has an impact on the body, we then are more able to choose to do things in a far more loving and tender way which makes a huge difference to how we value and nurture our body.

    1. And sometimes what we feel is harming to the body is completely acceptable and normal by the mind or others around us. But that doesn’t stop it being abusive to our body and honouring that is amazing.

    2. So true and also the more we notice when we don’t do something with care and attention. It is like the body calls us back and won’t let us go too far away from that level of care again.

  9. Profound life changes that have been chosen here are deeply needed in our world today. To portray ourselves as men (something I tried hard to do for many years) is not holding or honouring of the woman inside. Until women can again clearly see, feel and accept that they are strong, dependable, supportive, caring and loving deeply in their essence, these choices will be present, but pushed aside.

  10. A gorgeous example of how we can change through CONNECTING more deeply as opposed to doing more, or trying any ‘out there’ lifestyles, diets or programs.

  11. Yes, we can think we are living in a better way, but has anything really changed, are we still abusing our body in some way or other, ‘I started listening to my body and heard loud and clear from my body that I was harming it not only with the drugs and alcohol but the way I was treating it, doing all that very hard physical work on the land, always doing, doing something and not caring and nurturing myself.’

  12. “I realised that I could not look lovingly at myself in the mirror …” This is so common for women today. There always seems something to criticise about our bodies, rather than appreciating and loving them. Since treating my own body with more tender care I feel more appreciative of it and yes i now love it – yet am now in my sixties – than ever in my life before.

    1. I am in a very loving relationship with my body. Sure I could criticise it for many different reasons if I was to look at it from a purely aesthetic point of view but I never do that, it simply doesn’t come into my thinking and that’s because the way that I move doesn’t allow for me to have negative thoughts about either myself or others. By ‘movement’ I am referring not only to the way in which we move our limbs but our thought patterns and speech as well. The quality of all of our movements dictates the quality of all of our movements and so if we’re continually having negative thoughts about ourselves and our bodies and also moving our eyes in such a way that when we look at ourselves it is with disgust or perhaps dressing in such a way that continually expresses lack of self worth then will ensnare ourselves in a cycle of self loathing. The way out of such a cycle is to start to introduce true self care, by that I don’t mean sudden strict exercise and diet regimes, I mean simply starting to make gentle, loving choices on behalf of ourselves. The result is nothing short of miraculous. I know because I am living it.

  13. It is interesting how often the reaction to not feeling hurts is to try to bury them with drugs and alcohol, and that this is not the answer as it does not actually address the hurts, they are simply festering underneath and meanwhile our whole way of living is conditioned and influenced by them because we do not want to feel and let go of them. Learning to be more loving and tender with our body helps us to start to feel what we have buried and to be able to let go of what is not true or supportive.

  14. Reading your story Mary-Louise reminds me of the power of love and that when we choose to live and express it, miraculous changes occur in our lives. This is clearly evident from the amazing changes you have made to your life Mary-Louise…. all deeply inspiring.

    1. There is nothing that the power of true love (not the emotional bastardised version) can’t transform because it returns everything back to it’s original state, which is love.

  15. It is amazing the huge difference to our whole way of being when we start choosing to be more self-loving and self-caring and honouring how we feel within our body.

  16. Thank you Mary Louise for sharing your experience, as it shows us that is possible to raise from a very extreme situation like that you were involved in, with the best of supports.

  17. A profound life experience, so much in this article. I am really inspired by the possibilities of menopause and what it will bring. Becoming more aware and caring for my body and cycle potentially support how the menopause will unfold.

    1. The support of Esoteric Womens Health has had a profound effect on me and my relationship with my body. Menopause has not been the drama is could have been, instead it has offered me an opportunity to go deeper in my relationship with stillness.

  18. Tenderness is and has been an interesting one for me. I recall many years ago during a psychology session I was having at the time, the psychologist asked me what it meant to be tender with myself. I honestly couldn’t answer. She asked how I would treat a toddler if they fell over and I had to console them, how would I be with them? I said I would pick them up in my arms, hold them gently and speak with them very soothingly and lovingly. She is bingo…..that is being tender, so you do know what it means and that is how you need to speak to yourself, just like you would to a toddler who has hurt themselves.

  19. It is interesting how much we use our body without taking any care of it or appreciating how amazing it really is. What makes us at one moment want to hide it and the next flaunt it to get what ever we want, to. If we were brought up to truly care for ourselves and love our body we could never do all the crazy things we do and think it is ok.

  20. An inspiring story Mary-Louise, it is not our true nature to be tough and hard and that we are living the exact opposite. Being able to return to our true tenderness is possible the more we deepen our connection with ourselves, truly nurture our body and honour how we are feeling.

    1. Absolutely and it is so supportive to have role models to reflect and guide us on our journey of return and Mary-Louise has certainly done this for so many women over the years.

    2. “Protect self at all costs” has become our collective motto, hence hardened bodies, protective strategies, reactive ways and emotions galore. Sort out the pain that we are harbouring and our need for these behaviours simply drops away and we are left gloriously exposed for the world to see and loving it!

  21. The difference between your two photos speaks volumes Mary-Louise and is a great reflection that it is possible to return to a true quality of living and building a tender and loving relationship with ourselves.

  22. Our parents are gorgeous beings that have done and are doing their best In life. We cannot blame them and neither can our children blame us for the way in which we have brought them or are bringing them up. We are blessed to have children as equally children are blessed to have parents and together we are given opportunity after opportunity to grow and evolve. When we see it in this light we realise we can learn so much about ourselves and others in life simply by the seeing and healing the amazing reflections within our family.

  23. I think it’s definitely worth appreciating the power of being tender with our bodies and being – it’s not an airy fairy quality but an innate part of who we are.

  24. I truly admire your contribution to the Health of many women through your EBM’s and your great and informative sharing with us all. Thank you for your inspiration!

  25. There are so many ways that we abuse our bodies and it is truly inspiring to read how you turned this around and reconnected with what it means to treat yourself with deep tenderness. It is beautiful to observe your ongoing process with this and the huge reflection you are to so many women.

  26. Caring for, nurturing and deeply looking after ourselves is such an important part in life and yet we do not learn it but learn instead to put everything first before our own wellbeing. How blessed we are that it is never to late to learn and change the course of our way of living and you are a great example Mary-Louise.

  27. It is amazing the harm that can come from burying our issues… and not addressing what is there so that it can be healed. I love however that no matter how bad life may be, the journey back to ourselves is always available and transformations like what you have experienced are possible with love as our foundation and guiding light.

  28. When we start listening to our body our awareness deepens and we are able to clearly feel the extent and true impact our lifestyle choices are having on our body. The more we commit to truly nurturing and caring for ourselves the more we feel our innate delicateness and tenderness within, beneath a hardness and protection from pushing our body beyond its natural limit.

  29. Thank you Mary-Louise for inspiring so many women to truly look at ourselves with loving tenderness.
    To appreciate ourselves and our journey through womanhood, through sharing your journey with us.

  30. It is so interesting that many women, myself included, are feeling and looking more vital – and younger – as we age, since attending Universal Medicine presentations and Esoteric Women’s Health events. I certainly love and honour my body more nowadays, despite being in my sixties.

  31. Deepening my connection and relationship with my body has enabled me to expand my awareness so that I am able to feel how very sensitive my body truly is and that the more caring and tender I am with myself the more I want to nurture and look after my body and not push it beyond my natural rhythm.

  32. I have never heard of a woman that has gone through menopause as effortlessly as you have. I too have been greatly supported by Esoteric Women’s Health presentation and modalities to connect to what is going on in my body and live in a way that is more supportive. I am going through the menopause and so far it has felt very symptom free. I have not had the hot flushes some women talk about. It will be interesting to observe how it pans out.

  33. Such an incredible transformation Mary-Louise, and knowing you personally the photograph from 2012 now looks super different to how you are today! It goes to show that deepening the love in relationship to ourselves never stops, and there’s always more to expand on.

  34. Great to hear the ease with which we can just go through the menopause by your example here. I can feel some changes going on, and wonder whether I too might embrace the way forward as readily as it appears you did. Thank you for sharing that.

  35. I remember starting a swimming club at a very young age only to get recognition and attention from my dad – I actually hated competing and would feel sick at entering races. I didn’t care much for sport and yet I found myself entering races. I won plenty of cups and medals but it didn’t make me happy – in fact it made me very sad as i thought this was the only way that I would be seen. I couldn’t wait to give it all up but yet old habits die hard and I remember taking up running in my early 20’s to impress my boyfriend at the time. I ended up injuring my knee – thankfully so I never continued. But unless we heal our hurts, this seeking of attention continues in other ways such as being academic, working hard and long hours, taking new hobbies, being seen to be perfect, keeping the house immaculate etc.

    1. Yes.. we continue this seeking of attention from outside of ourselves until we recognise that all it’s doing is hurting us, as we strive more and more to live up to an unattainable ideal of perfection. Thankfully our body is reflecting this back to us all of the time, until we can ignore it no longer and finally start to heal what is underlying this drive for recognition in the first place.

  36. “it was a shock I needed to begin to change how I was living.” Yes we need to be shocked from time to time to get honest about what we are really doing and how we are really living with our bodies and selves to bring about change. At such a moment it feels impossible to change but I found that even the realisation is enough to set things into a movement of change without doing effort or having to beat myself up (never a good solution!).

  37. Thank you Mary-Louise your story is an inspiration to us all that it is just a choice to rediscover and live as the beautiful tender women we are.

  38. All I can say seeing your photo Mary-Louise is ‘wow talk about a transformation back to you!’ I love the changes in myself too from the amazing Esoteric Women’s Groups, my love for my body is constantly changing but reflecting back on the absolute ugliness of how used to look at myself and beat myself up with bulimia (believing I would then somehow like my body), to now is an absolute miracle.

  39. This is a great testimonial to Esoteric Women’s Health and to you Mary-Louise, as you have completely transformed yourself from the tough ‘I can anything a man can do’ woman into the delicate tender woman you always were but never dared to be. I know this to be the absolute truth being your sister as I and many others have witnessed and been inspired by this transformation.

  40. In the moment I am going through a process of learning that it is ok to be vulnerable. It does not make me a victim or less strong/powerful – au contraire! But it is such an instilled adoption that we have to secure our vulnerability, so normal and automatically that my body does become hard and tense – that I really have to learn to move in different and truly supportive way now. Lucky me, I have some amazing support from women and esoteric women health.

    1. I have come to a point where I genuinely enjoy feeling vulnerable. Because I am very solid in myself then feeling vulnerable doesn’t equate to feeling unsafe, it simply feels incredibly tender and raw and because the foundation of Me is always underneath it, I am able to embrace it and surrender.

  41. On re- reading this article I wrote over 4 years ago and seeing the photos I can feel how much more I have re-connected with my self since then. Wow, imagine me in another 4 years. All thanks to Esoteric Women’s Health who supported me into seeing there was a truer way to live and there is never a limit to how much we can deepen as the precious sacred women we all innately are.

    1. I exactly thought that when I saw the picture on the right from you – you reflect in the meantime even more tenderness and delicacy than 4 years ago. That let me realize how much we have to share every second as we will not reach a point of perfection or ‘done’ – but evolve more and more. And every step on our way is worth to share as it supports others on their way. Thank you Mary-Louise for being such an inspiration in claiming back our tenderness. No matter how far we went away from it – there is always a way back. Because it is not ‘a way back’ but it is in us all of the time. No point I have to reach or create. It is found in us when we let go and put out of the way what we have used to cover it.

  42. They say that a picture says a thousand words and in this case it does more than that. I know you personally Mary-Louise, being your niece and can completely confirm your transformation goes more than skin deep. I am blessed to have been supported by the EBMs in particular by you as a Practitioner over the last 12 years.
    You would have not been able to of supported me in the way you did, with mastitis and though a relationship brake down, if you had not first learned to love and support yourself.
    Natalie Benhayon has lead the majority of these ground breaking Women’s Health Forums and Talks, she continues to inspire me through her magazine and now TV program that are really just all different mediums contributing a similar message. That we are amazing as woman but we are our own worst enemy. Natalie dedicated her life to empowering woman to know that they already have everything they need inside of them, this to me is key to these teachings.

  43. What a turnaround in your life, from being quite a tom boyish kind of hard woman, to a tender, delicate female that you are today, ‘Slowly I started to honour my body and myself. I started to be gentle with myself and truly nurture and care for myself’.

  44. I love the remarkable images of Mary-Louise showing the difference on many things like the delicateness across the top of your chest and shoulders and the sparkle in your eyes. An amazing before and after and inspiration to all women.

  45. How we feel when we look in the mirror is a great marker for us. Can we look in our eyes and see the beauty and all the qualities we have shining out? Do we go straight to the faults and what we can do to hide or perfect them? It is a great marker of how accepting we are of our body and who we are.

    1. Yes the mirror is a “great marker” for how we are feeling about ourselves, and in my experience, and I know the experience of many other women, all we seem to see in our reflection is what we perceive to be our faults. Meanwhile there is this beautiful woman waiting to be acknowledged and honoured; now that is a true marker

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