From the time I was born I was different. Born two months premature, I spent the first part of my life in the hospital in an incubator, and it would be weeks before I could go home into the arms of my mother.
Most of my early years were spent in rehab, strengthening a body that didn’t have time to fully develop. I was small and weak. I would live most of life with that image of myself, reinforced by hurtful words from kids around me and what I thought I was supposed to look like as a teenage boy.
When I was just a child, I was diagnosed with ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. I ran around out of control, and I had an impossible time focusing in school. Like so many other kids with ADD, I was prescribed Ritalin. Every single day I would be pulled out lunch and recess with my friends, and I would be called into the nurses office at school to take my pill. Every single day. It felt like the normalcy of childhood was being taken away from me and I was being reminded again and again that I was different.
It made me feel like something was wrong with me. Like I needed to be fixed. Like I wasn’t enough.
I would carry this feeling with me through all of my childhood. It was never enough and I was never enough.
I would get good grades at school, and I would compare myself to other kids and be hard on myself. I would grow up up constantly comparing myself to my sister, wishing I could just be smarter or better. I was never happy with where I was at, and through all of it I felt this pain in my heart. A pain that I could never understand.
Growing up as a highly empathic child feels confusing and impossible. In constant pain when those around you are suffering, especially those that you love deeply. It felt like no matter what I did it was never enough. I could never fix it. You can feel their pain as if it’s your own, and you feel confused because you don’t know why. You find yourself crying, and as a boy you’re just told you're being too sensitive.
I felt different. I felt like something was wrong with me. Like I wasn’t enough.
And this is the part I really want you to get. ALL of this with the most loving parents in the world. Because even though my parents loved me with everything they had, I never learned how to love myself.
I could still see the little kid who looked and acted different. Who needed to be fixed. Who felt over-sensitive and in pain from those who were around him. Who never felt like he was emotionally ready to handle what life was giving him.
This is how fragile the mind and heart of a child is. This is how painful childhood can be, no matter how much love we give our children or how hard we try to protect them from the pain.
Last year, at a personal development conference, I was asked to write down my limiting beliefs I had about myself. Without thinking, I wrote down “I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve love.”
I sat in serious pain as I stared at those words. The realization sank in. I have been giving and serving my whole life because I thought I didn’t deserve to receive. I didn’t deserve love. I didn’t deserve money. So every time those things came into my life, I would reject them or give them away, or find a way to sabotage them. Because the pain in our childhood creates the beliefs that we live our entire lives by.
But what if somebody would have come into my life when I was still a child and told me that I’m not different? That there’s nothing wrong with me. That I was perfect, just the way I was. That I didn’t need to hurt anymore. That I was good enough. That I deserved it all.
It would have changed my entire life.
That’s exactly why we created RENEW.
I’m not standing by as our children continue to hurt their way through this pain, when we can be giving them the tools to overcome it. When we can show them how beautiful and unique they really are. When we can help them truly learn to love themselves, and start treating themselves like the love and perfection they are.
I’m asking all of you to join me, and do whatever you can to help us reach our goal and bring RENEW to more kids.
Join as a fundraiser.
Join the RENEW family.
Connect us to people who can support this vision.