I’m a pretty big self love advocate (just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere and didn’t know). It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life, encouraging women to discover the ability to love who they are.
This path hasn’t been easy. I haven’t always loved myself, in fact I have downright hated myself, loathed myself, and wished that there was some way I could erase my existence. I don’t like the thought of other women feeling that way. I don’t want YOU to feel that way. I want to show you the path. I want to tell you that whatever reasons you don’t like yourself – they aren’t good enough. You deserve more.
I want to tell you what my life looked like before.
My apartment looked like something out of Hoarders.
Maybe not as bad but it was pretty close. Dirty dishes in the sink that had been there for months and months. Used paper plates thrown haphazardly on the floor. Stains on the carpet and furniture because when something spilled I didn’t care enough to clean it up. Clothes everywhere, piles of empty pizza boxes, and bags of trash that I didn’t care enough to take out to the dumpster. Anyone looking at that scene would just think how lazy and sloppy I was.
In truth, I was depressed and I found it hard to care about anything. Apathy and lethargy were my best friends.
I look back now and I wonder how I could live that way. I see so many connections with what was going on inside of me and what was manifesting in my home. I didn’t feel like I was worthy of a safe space, a comforting space, or a space that made me feel good about myself. Realizing that I do deserve those things, realizing that I am lovable and my home should be lovable and I am allowed to love and be proud of my home, is part of what self love has given me.
I ate my feelings and I had a lot of feelings.
I had no concept of self control or nutritional awareness when it came to food. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and I didn’t care how bad it was for me. If I wanted to eat a whole package of bacon for dinner, I did. I ate pizza all of the time, ice cream, cookies, and chips were my major food groups and it never bothered me. I never moved, I never exercised, I sat in front of the TV or played computer games and that was my life and I just didn’t care. I looked in the mirror and saw nothing but someone who was fat and ugly. I refused to see anything else.
I’m not saying you have to be a health freak, far from it. I’m also not saying that your weight equates how you feel about yourself. (I consider myself quite pleasantly plump!) You should be aware of what’s good for you and what isn’t and then make conscious decisions that involve moderation and mindfulness.
How I treated my body was another indicator of how little I cared about myself.
I surrounded myself with people that didn’t love me.
This one still frustrates me, there’s still lingering dread when thinking about the people that I used to let into my life. When I was nineteen I had my first ever relationship and he happened to be married. Being the “other woman” had an extremely destructive impact on my life. It was the first time I had ever been in love, ever been kissed, ever felt like someone actually cared about me and in the end, it reinforced every bad thing I had ever thought about myself. Unworthy. Unlovable. Unwanted. Not-good-enough.
Two years later I was still the other woman. I had given him over at thousand dollars in an effort to help him get his life together and move out. I had been lied to more times than I thought possible. I had been ‘cheated’ on. I had been mentally and emotionally manipulated and verbally abused. I stayed in that relationship because I was completely convinced that it was all I was going to have because no one else would love me and when he finally left his wife? Only then would I have proof that I was worth something. (spoiler alert: he didn’t leave her for me)
That is how little I loved and valued myself.
I hurt my body on purpose. (trigger warning)
This one is harder to talk about. I used to cut myself… a lot. One of my ways to self-injure was to cut words into my skin. Even though it’s been about four years now, I still bear scars on my thighs that say ‘broken, ‘unloved’, ‘worthless’ and a slew of other terrible things that I felt defined me. I think it was my way of punishing myself for being a terrible human being. Looking back, I know that I wasn’t a bad person. I did bad things, but in the end I was a sad, broken, lonely girl. I no longer feel rage at myself for what I used to be. I feel a lot of sympathy and a lot of compassion. Now I look at those words that mark my skin and they don’t have meaning to me anymore other than to stir up compassion for the girl I used to be.
They just serve as a reminder of the things that I am not.
So that’s my story.
I feel that it’s important to share because I know how hard it is. I’ve been there at the bottom, I’ve hated myself and my body in some of the worst ways that you can and I bounced back. I didn’t let it be the end of my story, I didn’t let it define me, I didn’t let it stop me from being more than I ever thought that I could be. I never thought life could be this good and it is. I’ve been happy for the first time in a very long time. I’m healthy, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I can look in the mirror and be okay with what I see and all of that started with a choice.
I decided that I needed to change my life.
So I did. It wasn’t easy. I had to choose to acknowledge that I was depressed and find ways to cope with it. I had to choose to start seeing my body as something that was deserving of love and start loving it myself. I had to choose to cut the negative people out of my life. All of those things were hard and it got worse before it got better. But now it is better. The really bad stuff took place about five years ago but I still had a lot of stuff to work through two years ago, I still have a lot of stuff to work through today but I know I am strong enough to do the work.
I totally and completely believe in myself and I believe in you too.