Looking through my Instagram feed today you would look at me and likely think that I am a confident woman and that I love my body (which would be a correct observation), but that wasn’t always the case...
There once was a point in my life that I hated myself so much and I thought that the dreadful number on the scale defined who I was. But, here’s the thing about taking a look at someone without knowing anything about them – you have no idea what journey that have been on to get to where they are today. One of my favourite things to do when I meet to women is to talk to them. I want to hear their stories and find out how they arrived to the point they are at now. The journey to loving one’s self and their body goes deeper than most would think and it truly starts from the inside.
Most women (and men) who have achieved their goals usually faced an uphill battle to get there. Along the way the things they learned shape their journey and who they become. You’ll also find that what was meant to destroy them is the very thing that made them stronger, gave them the drive to push forward and helped define their purpose to help other people. That is my story - what was meant to destroy me and brought me the greatest amount of pain, actually launched me into my destiny.
As a little girl I hated myself. I hated my body and that I was bigger than all the other girls in my class. I was heavily bullied, beat on and even tortured in my own mind by this horrible, negative tape that played over and over in my head: “I am ugly, I am fat, I am too hyper, I am not enough, I am too annoying, I am a fat whale, I’m a pig…” and the list went on and on. Add on top of things that at the age of 21 my parent’s divorced and it shook me to the core. I didn’t deal with that pain so, it just added onto the mountain of pain I had already survived. I had no self-esteem or confidence and I made a lot of poor choices, especially when it came to men.
In my early 20’s I met this guy online and we started dating. The first day I met him he told me I was the one and that he was going to marry me (why that didn’t send me running boggles my mind!). But he also told me something I had never heard from a man - he told me I was beautiful. I thought that was the goal in life – get a man to think you’re beautiful. The only thing is, that was enough for me. After knowing he thought I was beautiful it was like it didn’t matter how he treated me. Right from the beginning he was controlling, emotionally and eventually sexually abusive and he cheated on me on the regular. I kept taking him back with the empty promise that he would change.
The only thing is….he never changed, he actually got worse. I ended up marrying him, despite finding out he cheated on me a month before our wedding with one of his exes. Two long, painful years after our wedding we separated. One day, something just came over me and I knew I couldn’t live in that pain for one more day! I told him things had to change or he had to leave, and so he left. The next 10 months we continued this dance of back and forth where he would use me for that ‘one thing’. Eventually I found him with someone else, who he had actually been seeing for a while. I guess his whole “I’ve changed and there’s no one else baby” was a lie – just like everything else.
During those 10 months and then into the next 4 years to bring us to today, I have invested the time to heal my heart. It has been hard but I have learned so much. I’m sharing my story with you so that you know what can happen when we don’t see our value, worth or beauty. When we are hurting, we accept any form of ‘love’ no matter how distorted of a version it is. That needs to end. It’s time to stand up for ourselves, learn to love who we are – mind, body, soul and spirit. You need to realize that you deserve so much more. It is possible to get to a place of confidence and self-love.
Here are some way that I have learned to love myself that you can do too:
1. Get a piece of paper and some colourful markers (or pens, markers just makes it more fun) and start listing out the things you like about yourself and make some new “I am” statements. No more I am ugly, I am fat, etc. This is time to re-record that tape in your head! These can be things you know you posses as qualities and attributes and it can include ones you hope to possess someday. Some of mine were:
- I am strong
- I am confident
- I am beautiful
- I am courageous
When you are done that list (and you might need some help from family and friends to make that list like I did) put it on your mirror and every morning read that out loud to yourself and really look at yourself in the mirror. Do this every day until you finally start to believe these things. For me, that took six whole months but one day I finally looked in the mirror and had love for myself and my body – even at my heaviest weight of 320 pounds! And that’s when I really started living!
2. After some time of building yourself up, it’s time to start dreaming again. Take some time to write out some of your dreams and goals for the future. When you get out the things that excite you and on paper you will be amazed and how they come to pass. I wrote plus size modeling on mine two and a half years ago (and erased it three times before it actually stayed on my dream board!) and my dreams really have come true.
3. Surround yourself with positive people. If you have people in your life who are negative, cleanup is necessary! It can be very hard but you need people in your circle to help build you up. If you need some new people, start exploring some groups or club in areas that interest you. Join a workout class, start an art class, volunteer somewhere – there are so many ways to add new, great people in your circle.
4. Start Journaling. I have found journaling to be so helpful in my journey. It’s helped me get out my thoughts, pain points, celebrations, etc. and it’s helped me process everything I have been through, good and bad.
5. Take care of YOU! Taking care of you is a very big part of this. For me it meant learning balance and not working 70 hour work weeks. It also means taking time to read, relax, journal, and take care of my body. I take care of my body because I love it, not because I hate it. Regular exercise and proper nutrition has helped me in ways I can’t even explain.
One thing to remember is that this really is a journey. It’s not always about the destination. I have days that are still tough but then tomorrow comes. Take it one day at a time and make YOU a priority because you really are worth it.