How Unconditional Love Transformed Kerry Washington’s Family

Photo from Kerry Washington’s Instagram

How Unconditional Love Transformed Kerry Washington’s Family

By Movieguide® Contributor

While on the “Jesus Calling” podcast, actress Kerry Washington shared how secrets kept her from feeling loved, and letting go of shame allowed her to grow closer to God.

“I think that one of the things that keeps us from feeling lovable is shame,” Washington said. “And I think that often family secrets contribute to that sense of shame. Just the fact that we’re kind of invited or tempted, seduced into holding back these secrets about ourselves and our families perpetuates the idea that there’s some part of who we are that is unlovable, that if people knew this secret, that we would no longer deserve or receive love.”

For Washington, these secrets and her questions about her parents’ relationship weighed on her from an early age. This manifested itself in panic attacks, which she began having at seven years old.

“They happened usually alone in my room at night when I was feeling stressed out or scared or unsafe,” she explained. “You know, as kids, we fill in the story of like, ‘What could that be? There must be something wrong with me. I must be unlovable, and there must be something terrible that I don’t know about.’ So that is, I think, where a lot of the anxiety came from.”

It wasn’t until college that Washington realized what these panic attacks were and was able to start seeking help for her anxiety. As she rose to fame, part of the healing process included opening up about her private life.

Most recently, she has done that through her new memoir, “Thicker Than Water.”

“There is the risk that some people might like me less or respect me less or judge me more. But I also know that there will be some people who still love me and that I will get to love myself more by letting go of the shame, and so it’s worth it to me,” she continued on the “Jesus Calling” podcast.

“When I let go of the need to keep things secretive, then I’m affirming that truth, you know? I mean, you don’t have to be liked by everybody,” Washington added.

In her memoir, she reveals a secret her parents kept from her until 2018.

“My parents shared with me that my dad—my beloved dad—is not my biological father,” Washington said, per NPR. “I was born from a sperm donor, at a time in the ’70s where…it was considered risky and important to remain secret.”

She shared how this fact impacted her relationship with her father growing up, even though she didn’t know about it.

“When my dad told me, I realized that every time that I have said, ‘I love you,’ to my dad, that there has been this little part of his brain, conscious or unconscious that has had to have said, ‘She loves me because she thinks I am her father,'” Washington told ABC News.

“The moment that he told me, I realized that I had the opportunity to, for the first time, love my father unconditionally,” she continued. “That he got to hear me say, ‘I love you, even though I know.'”

The actress continues to practice unconditional love.

“In our house, we say, ‘We are each of us a child of God. We all deserve to be loved unconditionally. We are all worthy. We are no less than or no greater than any other person,’” she said.

“I think that when we have the courage to be in the reality of who we are, and that we all come to this world with limitations, I’ve been able to do that more courageously, knowing that when I’m not perfect, there is this greater sense of a Heavenly Father that I can lean [in]to to get the things that I don’t get from my earthly mother and father,” she added.

“There’s room for people to not be perfect and for us to still love each other unconditionally. And that, for me, is one of the real gifts of stepping into my truth with my family, is that I also get to step into more faith, and I also get to love them more as humans,” Washington concluded.

Movieguide® previously reported:

Actress Kerry Washington recently revealed how the power of prayer helped her through an eating disorder. 

“I could feel how the abuse was a way to really hurt myself, as if I didn’t want to be here,” she said of her college struggles with disordered eating and suicidal thoughts. “It scared me that I could not want to be here because I was in so much pain.”

The SCANDAL star shared that it wasn’t until she prayed for help that things started to change. 

“The first thing that put me on my knees—like the first time I got on my knees and prayed to some power greater than myself to say like, ‘I can’t do this, I need some help’—was with my eating disorder,” Washington explained.

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