My Story

Louise L. Hay is a longtime contributor to The Light Connection . It's something we really appreciate. As often as we have read her, after reading her story below, I was surprised at how little I knew of her life and the flow of it. We know she is the bestselling author of numerous books, including You Can Heal Your Life and I Can Do It. Her works have been translated into 29 different languages in 35 countries throughout the world. For more than 25 years, Louise has assisted millions of people in discovering and using the full potential of their own creative powers for personal growth and self-healing. Louise is the founder and chairman of Hay House, Inc., which disseminates books, audios, and videos that contribute to the healing of the planet.

Hay House is celebrating it's 20th anniversary in 2007. How Louise has accomplished this is as interesting and amazing as what she has accomplished.

Here she tells her story. It's from her new book, The Times of Our Lives (Hay House, Jan. 2007), which includes stories from Sylvia Browne, Joan Borysenko, Gregg Braden, John F. Dimartini, Wayne Dyer, John Edward, Caroline Sutherland, Doreen Virtue, Stuart Wilde, Candace Pert and many others.

First Louise describes her new book.

—Steve Hays

“Over the years, as I've read the words of the authors who've contributed to this book, I've often thought, What an incredible collection of ideas, revelations, and inspiration! I've long wanted to present some of the outstanding stories within these works in one place so that you, the reader, can be as entertained, enlightened, and enthralled as I've been.

“So, within these pages, you'll find some of the most fascinating true accounts you'll ever come across. The contributors are from virtually every walk of life and have gone through a diverse array of experiences that will evoke wonder, awe, laughter, tears, amazement…yes, all of these emotions and more!

“Please enjoy this book, and hopefully it will inspire you to be more cognizant of the touching, wondrous, and miraculous occurrences that are a part of your own life.

“But first, I'd like to start out by sharing something very personal with you….” —Louise

My Story

“Will you tell me a little about your childhood, briefly.” This is a request I've posed to so many people who have sought my help. It's not that I need to hear all the details, but I want to get a general pattern of where they're coming from. If they have problems now, the patterns that created them began a long time ago.

When I was a little girl of 18 months, I experienced my parents divorcing. I don't remember that as being so bad. What I do remember with horror is when my mother went to work as a live-in domestic and boarded me out. The story goes that I cried nonstop for three weeks. The people taking care of me couldn't handle that, and my mother was forced to take me back and make other arrangements. How she managed as a single parent inspires my admiration today. Then, however, all I knew and cared about was that I wasn't getting all the loving attention I once had.

I've never been able to determine if my mother loved my stepfather or whether she just married him in order to provide a home for us. But it was not a good move. This man had been brought up in Europe in a heavy Germanic home with much brutality, and he'd never learned any other way to manage a family. My mother became pregnant with my sister, and then the 1930s Depression descended upon us, and we found ourselves stuck in a home filled with violence. I was five years old.

To add to the scenario, it was just about this time that a neighbor, an old wino, as I remember it, raped me. The doctor's examination is still vivid in my mind, as was the court case in which I was the star witness. The man was sentenced to 15 years in prison. I was told repeatedly, “It was your fault,” so I spent many years fearing that when he was released he'd come and get me for being so terrible as to put him in jail.

Most of my childhood was spent enduring both physical and sexual abuse, with a lot of hard labor thrown in. My self-esteem got lower and lower, and few things seemed to go right for me. I began to express this pattern in the outside world.

There was an incident in the fourth grade that was so typical of what my life was like. We were having a party at school one day, and there were several cakes to share. Most of the children in this school except for me were from comfortable middle-class families. I was poorly dressed, with a funny bowl haircut, high-topped black shoes, and I smelled from the raw garlic I had to eat every day to “keep the worms away.” We never had cake; we couldn't afford it. There was an old neighbor woman who gave me ten cents every week, and a dollar on my birthday and at Christmas. The ten cents went into the family budget, and the dollar bought my underwear for the year at the dime store.

So, on this day we were having a party at school, and there was so much cake that, as they were cutting it, some of the kids who could have had cake almost every day were getting two or three pieces. When the teacher finally got around to me (and of course I was last), there was no cake left. Not one piece.

I see clearly now that it was my “already confirmed belief” that I was worthless and did not deserve anything that put me at the end of the line with no cake. It was my pattern. They were only being a mirror for my beliefs.

When I was 15, I couldn't take the sexual abuse any longer, so I ran away from home and school. The job I found as a waitress in a diner seemed so much easier than the heavy yard work I had to do at my house. Being starved for love and affection and possessing virtually no self-worth, I willingly gave my body to whoever was kind to me; and just after my 16th birthday, I gave birth to a baby girl. I felt that it was impossible to keep her; however, I was able to find her a good, loving home- I found a childless couple who longed for a baby. I lived in their home for the last four months of my pregnancy, and when I went to the hospital, I had the child in their name.

Under such circumstances, I never experienced the joys of motherhood...just the loss, guilt, and shame. I only remember my baby's big toes, which were unusual, like mine. If we ever meet, I'll know for sure if I see her toes. I left when the child was five days old.

I immediately went back home and said to my mother who had continued to be a victim, “Come on, you don't have to take this any longer. I'm getting you out of here.” She came with me, leaving my ten-year-old sister, who had always been Daddy's darling, to stay with her father.

After helping my mother get a job as a domestic in a small hotel and settling her into an apartment where she was free and comfortable, I felt that my obligations were over. I left for Chicago with a girlfriend to stay a month--and didn't return for more than 30 years.

In those early days, the violence I experienced as a child, combined with the sense of worthlessness I developed along the way, attracted men into my life who mistreated me and often beat me. I could have spent the rest of my life berating men, and I probably would still be having the same experiences. Gradually, however, through positive work experiences, my self esteem grew, and those kind of men began to leave my life. They no longer fit my old pattern of unconsciously believing I deserved abuse. I do not condone their behavior, but if it were not “my pattern,” they wouldn't have been attracted to me. Now, a man who abuses women does not even know I exist. Our patterns no longer attract.

After a few years in Chicago doing rather menial work, I went to New York and was fortunate enough to become a high-fashion model. Yet, even modeling for the big designers didn't help my self-esteem very much. It only gave me more ways to find fault with myself. I refused to recognize my own beauty.

I was in the fashion industry for many years; and I met and married a fine, educated English gentleman. We traveled the world, met royalty, and even had dinner at the White House. Although I was a model and had a wonderful husband, my self-esteem still remained low until years later when I began the inner work.

One day after 14 years of marriage--just when I was beginning to believe that good things could last--my husband announced his desire to marry another. Yes, I was crushed, but time passes, and I lived on. I could feel things changing, and a numerologist one spring confirmed it by telling me that in the fall, a small event would occur that would change my life.

It was so small that I didn't notice it until several months later. Quite by chance, I'd gone to a meeting at the United Church of Religious Science in New York City. While their message was new to me, something within me said, “Pay attention,” and so I did. I not only went to the Sunday services, but I began to take their weekly classes. I was losing interest in the world of beauty and fashion. How many years could I remain concerned with my waist measurement or the shape of my eyebrows? From a high-school dropout who never studied anything, I now became a voracious student, devouring everything I could lay my hands on that pertained to metaphysics and healing.

The Religious Science church became a new home for me. Even though most of my life was going on as usual, this new course of study began to take up more and more of my time. The next thing I knew, it was three years later, and I was eligible to apply to become one of the church's licensed practitioners. I passed the test, and that's where I began, as a church counselor, many years ago. It was a small beginning. During this time I became a Transcendental Meditator. My church was not giving the Ministerial Training Program for another year, so I decided to do something special for myself. I went to college for six months--at MIU, Maharishi International University--+in Fairfield, Iowa.

It was the perfect place for me at that time. During freshman year, every Monday morning we began a new subject, things I had only heard of, such as biology, chemistry, and even the theory of relativity. Every Saturday morning there was a test. Sunday was free, and Monday morning we began anew. There were none of the distractions so typical of my life in New York City. After dinner we all went to our rooms to study. I was the oldest kid on campus and loved every moment of it. No smoking, drinking, or drugs were allowed, and we meditated four times a day. The day I left, I thought I would collapse from the cigarette smoke in the airport.

Back to New York I went to resume my life. Soon I began taking the Ministerial Training Program. I became very active in the church and its social activities. I began speaking at their noon meetings and seeing clients. This quickly blossomed into a full-time career. Out of the work I was doing, I was inspired to put together the little book Heal Your Body , which began as a simple list of metaphysical causations for physical illnesses in the body. I began to lecture and travel and hold small classes.

Then one day I was diagnosed with cancer. With my background of being raped at five and having been a battered child, it was no wonder I manifested cancer in the Vaginal area.

Like anyone else who's just been told they have cancer, I went into total panic. Yet because of all my work with clients, I knew that mental healing worked, and here I was being given a chance to prove it to myself. After all, I'd written the book on mental patterns, and I knew that cancer was a dis-ease of deep resentment that has been held for a long time until it literally eats away at the body. I had been refusing to be willing to dissolve all the anger and resentment at “them” over my childhood. There was no time to waste; I had a lot of work to do.

The word incurable, which is so frightening to so many people, means to me that this particular condition cannot be cured by any outer means and that we must go within to find a cure. If I had an operation to get rid of the cancer and didn't clear the mental pattern that created it, then the doctors would just keep cutting Louise until there was no more Louise to cut. I didn't like that idea.

If I had the operation to remove the cancerous growth and also cleared the mental pattern that was causing the cancer, then it wouldn't return. If cancer or any other illness returns, I don't believe that it's because they didn't “get it all out”, but rather that the patient has made no mental change. He or she just re-creates the same illness, perhaps in a different part of the body.

I also believed that if I could clear the mental pattern that created this cancer, then I wouldn't even need the operation. So I bargained for time, and the doctors grudgingly gave me three months when I said I didn't have the money.

I immediately took responsibility for my own healing. I read and investigated everything I could find on alternative ways to assist my healing process. I went to several health-food stores and bought every book they had on the subject of cancer. I went to the library and did more reading. I checked out foot reflexology and colon therapy and thought they would both be beneficial to me. I seemed to be led to exactly the right people. After reading about foot reflexology, I wanted to find a practitioner. I attended a lecture, and while I usually sat in the front row, this night I was compelled to sit in the back. Within a minute, a man came and sat beside me--and guess what? He was a foot reflexologist who made house calls. He came to my home three times a week for two months and was a great help.

I knew I also had to love myself a great deal more than I had been. There had been little love expressed in my childhood, and no one had made it okay for me to feel good about myself. I had adopted “their” attitudes of continually picking on and criticizing me, which had become second nature.

I'd come to the realization through my work with the church that it was okay and even essential for me to love and approve of myself. Yet I kept putting it off--much like the diet you'll always start tomorrow. But I could no longer postpone it. At first it was very difficult for me to do things like stand in front of a mirror and say things like, “Louise, I love you. I really love you.” However, as I persisted, I found that several situations came up in my life where in the past I would have berated myself, and now, because of the mirror exercise and other work, I wasn't doing so. I was making some progress.

I knew I had to clear the patterns of resentment that I'd been holding since childhood. It was imperative for me to let go of the blame.

Yes, I'd had a very difficult childhood with a lot of abuse--mental, physical, and sexual. But that was many years ago, and it was no excuse for the way I was treating myself now. I was literally eating my body with cancerous growth because I hadn't forgiven. It was time for me to go beyond the incidents themselves and to begin to understand what types of experiences could have created people who would treat a child that way.

With the help of a good therapist, I expressed all the old, bottled-up anger by beating pillows and howling with rage. This made me feel cleaner. Then I began to piece together the scraps of stories my parents had told me about their own childhoods. I started to see a larger picture of their lives. With my growing understanding, and from an adult viewpoint, I began to feel compassion for their pain, and the blame slowly began to dissolve.

In addition, I hunted for a good nutritionist to help me cleanse and detoxify my body from all the junky foods I'd eaten over the years. I learned that junky foods accumulate and create a toxic body. Junky thoughts accumulate and create toxic conditions in the mind. I was given a very strict diet with lots of green vegetables and not much else. I even had colonics three times a week for the first month.

I did not have an operation; however, as a result of all the thorough mental and physical cleansing, six months after my diagnosis I was able to get the medical profession to agree with what I already knew--that I no longer had even a trace of cancer! Now I was able to affirm from personal experience that dis-ease can be healed if we are willing to change the way we think, believe, and act!

Sometimes what seems to be a tragedy turns out to become the greatest good in our lives. I learned so much from that experience, and I came to value life in a new way. I began to look at what was really important to me, and I made a decision to finally leave the treeless city of New York and its extreme weather. Some of my clients insisted that they'd “die” if I left them, but I assured them that I'd be back twice a year to check on their progress... and, of course, telephones can reach anywhere.

So I closed my business and took a leisurely train trip to California, deciding to use Los Angeles as a starting point. Even though I'd been born there many years before, I knew almost no one anymore except for my mother and sister, who both now lived on the outskirts of the city, about an hour away. We had never been a close family nor an open one, but still, I was quite concerned when I learned that my mother had been blind for a few years, and no one had even bothered to tell me. My sister was too “busy” to see me, so I let her be and began to set up my new life.

My little book Heal Your Body opened many doors for me. I began to go to every New Age-type meeting I could find. I would introduce myself, and when appropriate, give out a copy of the little book. For the first six months, I went to the beach a lot, knowing that when I got really busy, there would be less time for such leisurely pursuits. Slowly, the clients appeared. I was asked to speak here and there, and things began to come together as Los Angeles welcomed me. Within a couple of years, I was able to move into a lovely home.

My new lifestyle in Los Angeles was a large leap in consciousness from my early upbringing. Things were going smoothly, indeed. How swiftly our lives can change completely!

One night I received a phone call from my sister, the first communication in two years. She told me that our mother, now 90 and almost deaf, had fallen and broken her back. In one moment, my mother went from being a strong, independent woman to being a helpless child in pain.

She broke her back and also broke open the wall of secrecy around my sister. Finally, we were all beginning to communicate. I discovered that my sister also had a severe back problem that impaired her sitting and walking and which was very painful. She suffered in silence, and although she looked anorexic, her husband didn't know she was ill.

After spending a month in the hospital, my mother was ready to go home. But in no way could she take care of herself, so she came to live with me.

Although I trusted in the process of life, I didn't know how I could handle it all, so I said to God, “Okay, I'll take care of her, but you have to give me help, and you have to provide the money!”

It was quite an adjustment for both of us. She arrived on a Saturday, and the following Friday I had to go to San Francisco for four days. I couldn't leave my mother alone, but I had to go. I said, “God, you handle this. I have to find the right person to help us before I leave.”

On the following Thursday, the perfect person had “appeared,” and moved in to organize my home for my mother and me. It was another confirmation of one of my basic beliefs: “Whatever I need to know is revealed to me, and whatever I need comes to me in Divine right order.”

I realized that it was lesson time for me once again. Here was an opportunity to clean up a lot of that garbage from childhood.

My mother hadn't been able to protect me when I was a child; however, I could and would take care of her now. Between my mother and my sister, a whole new adventure began.

To give my sister the help she asked for presented another challenge. I learned that when I'd rescued my mother so many years ago, my stepfather had then turned his rage and pain against her, and it was my sister's turn to be brutalized. I realized that what started out to be a physical problem was then greatly exaggerated by fear and tension, plus the belief that no one cold help her. So here I was, not wanting to be a rescuer and yet wanting to give my sister an opportunity to choose wellness at this point in her life.

Slowly the unraveling began, and it continued until the end of her life. We progressed step by step as I provided an atmosphere of safety while we explored various avenues of healing.

My mother, on the other hand, responded very well. She exercised as best she could four times a day, and her body got stronger and more flexible. I took her to get a hearing aid, and she became more interested in life. In spite of her Christian Science beliefs, I persuaded her to have a cataract removed from one eye. What a joy for her to begin to see again and for us to view the world through her eyes. She was so pleased to be able to read again.

My mother and I found the time to sit and talk to each other in ways we had never been able to before, and a new understanding developed between us. We both became freer as we cried and laughed and hugged together. Of course sometimes she pushed my buttons, but that only told me that there was something further for me to clear.

It is now [almost] 2007, and I am 80 years old. My mother left the planet peacefully a number of years ago. I miss her and love her. We completed all we could together, and now we are both free.

Visit www.LouiseHay.com or www.LouiseLHay.com