Learning to fall in love with yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It is difficult, however I believe that truly accepting yourself is beyond valuable, precious and should be a goal you set to achieve everyday.
Not so long ago, I fell out of love with myself due to a toxic relationship. Someone I expected to love me the most, did not return any love back to me. I felt that if I was being treated so poorly from someone I held very important in my life, and if they did not value my thoughts or feelings, then it must be because I did not deserve love and that my thoughts & feelings were not valid. Constant emotional and sexual abuse took a toll. Eventually my self esteem plummeted and I turned emotionally numb. As a result, I was miserable, depressed and prone to several anxiety attacks a day. The worst part about all of it was I thought that was acceptable. I began to look in the mirror and see someone starring back that I did not recognize. It horrified me that I could not relate to the reflection in the mirror. I began to stare at all the features I hated about myself and wonder why my reflection was so ugly. I had truly lost myself, and I did not remember who I was anymore, what I loved or what I was good at.
When that relationship came to a destructive end, I felt broken in every way imaginable. I had put so much time, effort and love into it and in the end, I had got nothing out of it. I felt used, burnt out, and exhausted. The pain I felt was intolerable, making my anxiety and depression skyrocket – I was even hospitalized. I began to realize that the most painful part of the entire relationship was that I had spent an entire year falling out of love with myself. The emptiness surrounded me, because I had forgotten how to comfort myself.
For so long I expected the relationship to fill the emotional gaps in my life, and to make me happier. I then realized that the relationship was actually causing these gaps. One of my biggest regrets is knowing deep down that I should have ever stood for what was happening to me, but I chose to do nothing about it.
Slowly I started making myself do activities that I remembered I used to enjoy, but never set aside time to do them. I made sure I did things that made me happy. I would watercolor for hours, spend time in nature, do yoga, listen to music, or watch my favorite movies. By doing these activities I found something so foreign to me; I found comfort. I started to discover myself again. I started to realize that I could enjoy myself and that I was a very enjoyable person. I started to look in the mirror and for the first time in a very long time, I recognized my reflection starring back. My eyes were no longer numb and emotionless, they had life and feeling.
“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously” – Sophia Bush.
Slowly, through continuous hard work I am rebuilding myself, and starting to fall in love with myself. I am still very conscious of all my multiple imperfections; however, I am now carving out my own definition of perfection. I have started to believe that I am beautiful, and often wonder why I let myself be in a situation that was so destructive to me. I won’t lie, I am still sad, and I am still confused, as any person would be when their love is so easily thrown away. However, now I am more aware of what I am capable of and I respect myself more. I feel so free and each day is a happier one. I will never let anyone treat me like that again. I did not find what I wanted in that relationship, however I found what I absolutely do not want. Through complete destruction, I am starting to find strength.
You may be thinking, why is this a big deal? It is your responsibility to take care of yourself, and not to carry your problems with you and make them someone else’s problems. You are special, and it is my deepest wish that you read this and if you find yourself relating to any of this, then do something about your situation. You are worth it, you are strong, and you are loved.
I urge you to set aside time to know yourself better and to be with yourself and truly admire yourself. Do not lose yourself, and do not force yourself to do something, to be with someone, or be somewhere that you aren’t happy with. Cleanse yourself of those situations that have no intentions of helping you grow into the best version of yourself. You may wonder why I have decided to put together such a personal post. It is my dream that my writing will help someone going through a similar situation. I am also proud of myself for getting to this point. It would have been much easier to let my anxiety and depression win, but I fight each and every day, because it is what I do. I encourage all of you to set aside time to partake in activities that bring you true happiness, and be truly present while you do these activities. Do not let anyone treat you poorly, remove yourself from toxic relationships and move away from those that do not seek to give anything back to you. Do not settle or stay in situations that make you feel alienated from yourself. You are so much more important than that.
Thank you Ashley of Ashley Anne Photography for your wonderful photography!