“I’m learning to love myself. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done”
Let me start this by posing a question; If I were to ask you to name all the things you love, how long would it take before you named yourself?
For almost a year now I have been working on my mental health. Last October I decided that I didn’t want to be the person I had been being for many years because it simply wasn’t who I was within me. I am feisty but I’m not angry by nature, I’m Scottish and can definitely hold my own but naturally, I’m not angry. I’ve always been a worrier, mostly inwardly within my own thoughts and haven’t really communicated them completely with most people which has cause some people to call me thoughtless or selfish over the years which hurt me a lot because I’ve always thought about other’s feelings before my own. I’m quite a complex person to understand I suppose and there’s certainly no way I’m going to be able to make you fully understand me in the length of one blog post. I mean, I’ve been talking to my counsellor once a week since November last year and as much as we’ve made huge dents and changes within myself, there’s still some work to be done. After all healing takes time and isn’t at all a straight forward line.
On my journey this past year I’ve built resilience and understood what I personally need to do to keep myself at an even keel, I’ve worked out a lot for my relationship with my Husband and we’ve got a completely different dynamic between us now that works so much better than it ever has, I’ve explored some major issues of my past and shed a lot of tears to now feel released and free of the weight I didn’t even know I had carried around for almost 29 years! I understand myself better than I ever have and yet, after all this work and effort, I’m only now beginning to scratch the surface of one hugely important task; Loving myself.
Here is where my complex personality comes in; I have never truly given a fly fuck what anyone thinks about me, I’ve never wanted to be liked if I wasn’t being liked for who I truly was. I gave up a very long time ago trying to fit in because I realised pretty early on that I wasn’t like most girls. I was bullied for many things in my childhood but to round it up I was quite an introverted, quiet young lady with minimal confidence in myself, the daughter of a parent who was trans-gender (in 1991 in a small Scottish town) who was always on the chubbier side and wore glasses from the age of 9. Yet, somewhere along the way, in the back of my head, I have let the words of others make me feel like I was nothing, that I wasn’t worth love or attention. That I truly would never amount to anything. I don’t care that the media wouldn’t class me as “beautiful” I don’t want to be their version of “pretty” but on the flip side it does affect us all when there is so much focus on weight, weight loss, wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks etc in the mix. It can affect your confidence because you’re trying so hard to be confident and comfortable in yourself but pretty much everyone else is telling you who you are needs to be “fixed’. Body shaming is rife on all sides, you are too skinny or not skinny enough, you don’t have enough ass, you’ve got too much ass…I don’t think even those who tell us what we “should” look like even know what they are talking about most of the time.
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed.
And you are beautiful.”
For years I’ve known I need to focus more on loving myself, but this has mostly been based on appearance. I seem to have a mild case of body dysmorphia and the image of myself in my head isn’t what is really looking back at me in the mirror. I wouldn’t class myself as a troll, I’m not going to hide out at the top of any ancient, historic buildings but I also wouldn’t be entering any beauty pageants or modelling agencies any time soon either. I’ve come to accept the fact that I have hips that just won’t quit and that I’m a very 1950’s, classically shaped kind of gal and I’m more than okay with that. My goal is always strong not skinny as I know this is what would work best for me and my body. In times where I’m not feeling so great about myself, it can take over, the focus on my own journey goes and I find myself starting to compare myself to other people, all the while the real me is inside screaming at that little bitch saboteur in my head while trying to make its way through all the doubts to get through to me because it knows this isn’t the way forward. My journey and my circumstances are very different, my body is my own and even if I was exactly the same weight and tone to someone else, it would look different on me than it does on her. I’ve had 2 children and that changes your body; it shouldn’t be something that we feel insecure about, those scars, marks and the “mum tum” is something to be treasured because we are incredibly lucky, many women would love to have children but can’t. It all gets too much sometimes and recently I’ve found myself keeping my distance from social media as I can’t take reading or seeing all the weight loss posts and comments because I’ve burned myself out with it all. I strongly believe that women should be raising each other up not tearing each other down and when it gets to a point like this for me, I simply can’t find the energy needed to be anyone’s cheerleader, especially my own.
To build up my tolerance and resilience again, I decided to do something for myself to completely chill out, to just have some tranquillity and complete peace. I did something that I don’t have the time to do very often and run myself a bath and use my always dependable Lush Bath bomb, that I still had from a birthday package I received last year, to give myself some well needed self-care. I added my new “Beauty Sleep” face mask from Lush also which is absolutely beautiful and does calm you right down with just the smell of it as well as lighting some of my new soy candles (responsibly sourced) that were part of a birthday gift from a dear friend I got last month because it’s something I have never done when having a bath. The final touch was music: Vitamin String Quartet does Fleetwood Mac. I lay my head back in the bath, closed my eyes and just took in all the warmth of the candles, smells of the face mask and bath bomb and listened to the music when all of a sudden it hit me. THIS was loving myself.
I grew up watching Rom-Coms and TV shows where there was always a grand romantic (and now I know unrealistic) gesture like a candle lit bath, a bed filled with rose petals etc but being the wife of someone with high functioning autism I’d need to tell my husband outright if I’d like these things so it would never be a surprise and I’ve never waited in vain for this to happen but in doing it for myself I finally realised what loving yourself is truly about.
It’s not just about loving the way you look in the mirror, it’s not about having confidence in yourself, it’s giving yourself all the romantic gestures just because you know you are worth them. In effect, I guess, dating yourself. Getting to know the real you, taking yourself out to the movies or dinner and being absolutely okay with time by yourself. No expectations on anyone else because you are perfectly okay to give yourself love, buy yourself flowers once a month, do whatever it is that makes you happy within yourself just like you would do for someone you were in a relationship with. It’s not vanity to do these things, it’s sanity! I have been to restaurants before and there has been someone on their own having dinner, reading a paper or a book, slowly enjoying their food and drink and I’ve heard people say “How sad” or “Isn’t it a shame?” but I always thought that it was amazing that these people had the confidence to do that but now I realise it may have nothing to do with confidence, they were simply giving themselves the love they deserved. It’s once again all about perception and perspective.
I have always believed to be in love with someone completely you have to love all of them; the good times and the bad, love who they are inside and love them even more when their demons come out because we all have them. It’s about having patience and understanding for that person and it saddens me that if I think about it in that context, I’ve really done myself such an injustice in my 33 years here so far. So, taking this all into account; I’ll ask you again…If I were to ask you to name all the things you love, how long would it take before you named yourself?
Start falling in love with yourself more because let’s face it, nobody needs you as much as you need yourself.
Love Hard. Be Fierce. Horns High.