Words and image by Holly Tucci
My bionic heart and I had a recent breakthrough ignited by my morning meditation practice. I’ve been doing this for close to 18 months now. I place my cupped hands over my heart, one crossed over the other. I do this often to get myself centered and focused with my intention for the day. However, it was not until very recently that I felt full acceptance of myself, bionic heart and all.
I was born with a congenital heart defect and diagnosed with complete heart block just 24 hours after I was born. I had my first pacemaker implanted at the age of nine. Since then, I’ve had eight heart-related surgeries and am currently on pacemaker number eight. Each heart-related surgery and others have left me with plenty of scars. Scars that I saw as gross and hideous for quite a long time. I hated the way they looked. I felt like I needed to hide them. I even struggled to look at myself in the mirror.
When I weighed over 300 pounds, it was not hard to conceal, and not much showed. Now, after losing over 150 pounds, I can see the outline of my pacemaker just below the surface of my skin. I can often see the wires move as I move. Just standing in front of the bathroom mirror, looking at my chest, I notice it now more than ever. So when I place my hands over my heart, I also feel my pacemaker and the wires more than I ever have.
This medical device is a part of me.
For so long, I have kept some degree of separation from it. But I now realize separation is not serving me. One might think after having a pacemaker all these years that I would be used to it. That I’d be used to what it looks like, feels like, and how I see myself. But the truth is, I’m not. You see, having all that extra weight on me was another way that I was able to hide. Not only hide my device, the scars, and the pain I felt, it also allowed me to hide from the truth.
While that didn’t happen intentionally, it was a way of hiding a part of me and if I didn’t see it, I didn’t really have to think about it all that much. Yet now, after all this time and significant internal and external transformation, there it is, I can see my pacemaker, and I give thanks for it. This is my life force. It is what allows me to live the healthy and active lifestyle that I lead. It is what allows me to have continual energy to keep going. It is what is giving me the strength to keep moving forward because I know this is the kind of life I choose to live. A life full of energy, vitality, and love. Living life on my terms, accepting myself completely and loving myself unconditionally, and saying with a beautiful smile beaming from my face, this is me!
My hope is for both of my sons (ages 14 and 5) to live their life on their own terms by their own definition and what acceptance and self-love look like to them. I know that others who deal with their own scars (whether they are seen or not) are looking for ways to appreciate themselves fully and completely. I know, because I was. I didn't like waking up feeling so full of yuck and discontent. I didn’t like going to sleep at night feeling full of disappointment for myself along with buckets of self-blame. None of that felt good. That seems like almost a lifetime ago that I felt that way, but it wasn’t. It was only a few years ago. Love, acceptance, peace, meditation, connection, these facets all intertwined together. As I learn to love myself further and deeper, I feel my love for others grow and strengthen. I know what it feels like to despise and hate what you see in the mirror, because that is what I used to feel. I know the feeling of exhaustion that washes over you trying to uphold the act that everything is okay, when deep down it is far from it. I know, because I too used to feel that way.
Will you give it a try? It’s okay. This is just you, reading this story. You don’t have to share this with anyone. But will you give it a try? Will you place your hands over your heart? Will you close your eyes and breathe and say to yourself “I love you!”?
These three words have the power to be absolutely magical when they are expressed together, strung together as one sentence, one phrase of complete truth.
How did that feel? What are you feeling right now?
I know it can be scary. It can feel a bit frightening to show love to yourself. But you know what? That is exactly where it needs to begin! Each moment of each day is an opportunity to practice self love. If you truly want to make a difference in the world, begin by wholeheartedly and unconditionally loving yourself and all that you are!
What does it mean to feel incredible in your own skin? What does it feel and look like to fully and unconditionally love yourself and all that you are? Are there still bumps in the road? Absolutely! But the time of recognition, awareness, and working through those bumps is much less and I’m learning from each step!
Dear One, I believe you are reading this for a reason. I believe there is a reason you stopped scrolling to pause and read this, because your heart nudged you to. Your heart is speaking to you all the time, asking you to be kind to yourself, asking you to love yourself the way you do your loved ones. Your heart is ready to do things a little bit differently. It’s possible. You simply need to begin within. Stop looking for external validation. Look within. Stop seeking others approval. Look within. You know what is best for you. Deep down, you know exactly what you need. Look within.
Will it feel kind of lonely at times? Yeah, it might. And that’s okay.
Not everyone in your current world is ready or willing to begin their own personal growth journey. They may not know that they need it. And that is okay. You do. You’re here. You matter. It’s time to begin within, to begin nurturing your heart in a way that will make you smile, a way that will make you feel proud, a way that will make you wonder why it took so long. Continue to know and feel this: You are loved!
Click to Read Next: From Editing My Imperfections Away to Radical Body Confidence
About the Author:
Holly Tucci is an inspiring writer and speaker. She shares about her courage and lessons learned from her life experiences as a Heart Warrior, near death experiences, and letting go of over 150 pounds of excess body weight. Holly’s focus is about being her best each day and aiming to infuse that approach in other’s lives by leading by example. She believes that communication helps us to connect with one another, and through connections we strengthen your sense of love and belonging.