“If you don’t know your worth someone will come along and determine it for you.”
This quote resonates with me because this is an accurate depiction of how self-hatred engulfed me. Growing up I viewed myself as beautiful but when I entered college my self-esteem was on a constant decline due to stress from the loss of my father, weight gain ( you know that freshman 15 that turned into freshman 40 for me) and due to scarcity of resources. When my dad died, I didn’t confront it right away because it was too painful and devastating so I used men to fill the void because as long as I had a boyfriend telling me I was pretty and loved I could suppress my emotions. So the problem with this was I allowed men to determine my worth. Naïve, I met a guy and instantly became intoxicated by his charm and kindness but overtime this turned fatal. Because I lived for his compliments, I died at his criticism. In the beginning he showered me with compliments but overtime our relationship became abusive and toxic. It started off as making small comparisons. Comparing me to other women who he deemed as beautiful with comments of changes I needed to make with my hair and how I dressed. Then comments led to insults, insults about my body. If it wasn’t my body it was my nose, if it wasn’t my nose it was my forehead, it wasn’t my forehead it was the complexion of my skin, a never-ending cycle of scrutiny. He had constructed his ideal woman, which was nothing like me. Not only did it hurt, but it also planted a seed in my heart and mind… that I wasn’t good enough and never would be. Because he knew that these things hurt me, the severity of his criticism progressed overtime to physical abuse and even comments about how my friends were more attractive and he wished he dated them, that I was too fat and even that nobody would ever want me. Facing scrutiny from every direction carved a hole of discontentment in my heart because the person that I once relied on to make me feel beautiful and precious was the very person that made me feel ugly and worthless. I realized I didn’t love myself when I tried to rationalize the way I was being treated. I equated mistreatment with passion. Fighting by day and in love by night. I dangerously convinced myself that this is what unconditional love is about. Getting belittled, choked, kicked, and even spit on but as long as the night ended in “I love you” everything was okay. I convinced myself that he loved me and cared about me so much that his actions were uncontrollable. Eventually I was exhausted from his mistreatment so I ended the relationship.
Leaving the relationship didn’t heal the self-hatred and I realized that when it resurfaced in my next relationship. One night I found myself going through my next boyfriends phone and unfollowing someone beautiful on his facebook and when he asked why I replied with, “I just don’t like her.”
I had no real reason for it. The truth was I saw beautiful women as competition because I had no confidence. So I had to evaluate myself and ask myself “Do you not like her or do you not like you?” I didn’t like myself and this issue of jealousy stemmed from my ex boyfriend comparing me to other women which infiltrated my heart with jealousy and discontentment. The woman I unfollowed on his facebook may not have even been his type but because my previous boyfriend had ingrained in my mind what beautiful was I was brainwashed to believe that there was only one kind of beautiful and I feared losing him to that. So at this point I had to give my insecurities to God and reconstruct my self-esteem.
I reconstructed my self-esteem using various methods. I recite affirmations in the mirror daily. I tell myself, “I love you and accept you as you are today. I’m beautiful, and successful. Anything I want, I can have and there are no ceilings on my life.” By doing this I’m conditioning my mind. My mind is already made up that I’m beautiful and worthy before I step foot outside of my door so I leave no room for my self-esteem to be tampered with.
I guard my heart and protect myself from toxic people. Loving myself means more than just not taking negative comments to heart. It’s avoiding and refusing to engage in toxic relationships. I set boundaries and I have standards. I’m very selective of who I allow to enter into my world and I only surround myself with positive people.
I practice good self-care and focus on inner beauty. I exercise regularly. I lost 30 pounds because I knew my college weight gain attributed to why I didn’t have much confidence. I believe a beautiful heart outweighs outer beauty any day.
I don’t compare myself to anyone. Women are beautiful and there is no such thing as one kind of beautiful. I can be in a room full of Instagram models, Beyonce’s, Anjelina Jolie’s, you name it and I will acknowledge and appreciate their beauty without questioning my own.
I live a happy, purposeful, and whole life. I feel whole and content in solitude. I don’t need anything to validate me.
I learned that self-love isn’t a destination. It is a continuous journey so I have to pour into myself daily.
I also learned that self-love is self-acceptance. I made it a priority to fall in love with the areas that I was criticized for. I feel like so many women alter their appearance due to criticism and unrealistic expectations from men. I had two choices to either allow self-hatred to drive me into debt by altering my appearance for the approval of men or to love myself unconditionally and realize that nothing needs to be fixed because nothing was ever broken. I love every inch of myself from my stretch marks down to my feet and this is a feeling that I wish I could’ve had many years ago so I pray that everyone experiences the same thing. I desperately want everyone to know that they are beautiful and nothing short of perfection.
“To love yourself exactly how you are is to give yourself heaven”
I love you ! Thank you for reading ! If anyone needs prayer or encouragement to leave toxic relationships or tips on practicing self-love I’m here for you ! Email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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