“The time will come when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome.”
Has this time come for you? For me, this time has only come very recently.
For most of my life – as a little girl, as a teenager, as a young mother, as a grown woman – when I looked in the mirror, the face that greeted me was not elated, not smiling, not welcome. Instead, I saw a face that was damaged, ugly, poor, full of shame, undeserving of love.
At six years’ old, I was sexually abused by my own father. This “little secret” stole more than just my innocence. It stole my pride. It stole of my self-respect, my sense of self-worth. It stole my capacity to trust, so that I was unable to let myself be loved when it was presented to me with honour. And it stole my ability to see myself as beautiful.
Fortunately, what was not stolen from me was my desire to care for others. The compassion I couldn’t offer myself was redirected to others. I dedicated my energy to my nursing career, specializing in plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. I worked in the burn unit, where my patients’ horrifying injuries not only scarred their faces and bodies, but their spirits too. I recognized that their healing needed to happen on the inside as much as the outside. I embraced my calling: to help them regain their ability to see themselves as beautiful.
Isn’t it ironic that the gifts we give to others are often the ones we most need or want for ourselves?
As I helped others heal, appearing perfectly saintly in their eyes, inside I remained wounded and imperfect. Perfection was a costume I put on every day, but it disappeared each time I glanced into my own mirror. My self-deprecation robbed me of the joy and fulfillment of being loved because I couldn’t see that I was worthy of it, spiraling me into repeated cycles of depression, pain and suffering.
I hit rock bottom in the year I turned 50. My husband passed away, followed by my mother, followed by three other family members. My grief felt insurmountable. What had I done to deserve this? Why was I not perfect enough to stop this all from happening?
What eventually pulled me out of my misery was the realization that my two daughters needed me. My patients needed me. Most of all, I needed me. But I also realized that no one needed me to be perfect. They just needed me to be strong, smart, capable, compassionate – all the things I already was. I realized that my trauma was not my doing, not my fault. I realized that I was perfectly imperfect. I realized that I deserved love and joy and happiness, and that yes, I was beautiful inside and out.
I was finally able to greet my own reflection – timidly at first – with appreciation and deep respect, with elation.
For the first time in my life, I put myself first. I surrounded myself with mentors, other women, who guided me on my new-found journey of self-discovery. I invested time, energy and resources to educate and empower myself, recognizing that I could not fully commit myself to my true calling of helping others fulfill their potential if I wasn’t fulfilling my own.
My journey has led me to this place and time in my life, forged with a burning passion to help women uncover and dispel our limiting beliefs that hold us back from becoming who we are truly meant to be. I believe that we each have the capacity to shatter the images of our pasts, and look lovingly and compassionately at our own reflections, right now and beyond.
I am Julie Atkinson. I inspire women to know they matter by awakening your beauty inside and out.
What do I do?
- I perform advanced facial treatments accompanied by compassionate conversation
- I educate women about the wide variety of beauty procedures available through Cosmetic Consultations
- I provide private post-procedure nursing care in my retreat centre
- I speak at events offered to empower women
- I lecture at esthetic and cosmetic medical conferences
- I conduct small group workshops and retreats