Self - Love: An Ongoing Personal Battle

my mental health journey

What is self – love? It is the awareness of one's own love, feelings, and well-being towards oneself.

  This definition makes it seems so simple. However, for me it was not that simple. Self - love was an ongoing personal battle that I fought for many years; and today I am going to give you a little insight on that battle.

  Growing up, I never had a safe outlet to express my feeling. At home my feeling were often dismissed and labeled as "misbehaving" or "being weak". Anytime I felt sad or angry; I would sit in my closet or bathroom floor and cry to myself. I felt rejected, alone, and misunderstood. It never seemed like I was enough. Being the oldest child I was forced to grow up a lot quicker then I would have liked. Economically, my family struggled, both of my parents had full-time jobs, there were periods where my dad worked multiple jobs to help us get by. I became independent early on, I took on household responsibilities especially when it came to my little sister. These responsibilities forced me separate from my authentic self and be the person my family needed me to be.  

Today I am in a position where I no longer hold blame about the conditions,
I grew up in.

  Being raised in an abusive household took a toll on me. The cultural norm was to be quiet and obedient. I remember each time my parents had an "episode" I would run and hide in my closet in fear with an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. I had no grandparents that I could run away and go cuddle up to. I desperately wanted to be accepted by my cousins but because we had a significant age gap they did not want me around. 

  Needless to say, being surrounded by negativity and not having proper role
models to teach me positive coping mechanisms, meant not knowing the first thing
about taking care of my wellbeing. I was desperate to just feel loved and
accepted. That desperation put me in some sticky situations especially as a
teenager. As a result, overcompensation became my best friend. To feel even a
little bit of love I went above and beyond for anyone that gave me the
slightest bit of warmth. What I did not realize was that my actions that I justified as being a "good person" was me devaluing myself. I allowed others to not only take advantage of me but to also cross my personal boundaries despite inner self screaming it was wrong.

I also self – sabotaged good friendships and relationships because I felt undeserving.

  I was notorious for finding flaws in the another person even if the individual gave me no reason to question our relationship. I had a tendency to make the situation so bad that the person would have no choice but to leave my life. As a result, I started questioning why everyone always left? I hated that no one was strong enough to fight my “mask” and stay in my life. My self – talk was extremely toxic and it was slowly killing me day after day. I was to stubborn to admit that I was in the wrong. 

  I used to write to express my feelings. But every diary entry, every poem I wrote was so dark. Now when I go back and read them the sadness, and anger jump out at me. Each sentence was a cry for help. I wanted someone to genuinely care. Someone I could depend on. However, that person never came and the reality was that person would never come. Then at the age of 22 I finally figured out why.

The love I needed to show myself, I was looking for someone else to give it to me.

  In order to open my eyes and accept help I had to hit rock bottom beyond rock bottom. I become severally depressed and suicidal. I looked for reasons to stay out of the house. Thankfully one of my close friends introduced to a coach who was my savior. She was nurturing, honest and kind. My coach helped me through my journey and showed me my bitter truth. She helped me understand my reality... I was disgusted with myself. I was stuck in survival mode constantly making excuses for the pitfall of my life.

One day during a coaching session she asked me "what are your strengths?" All of my answers involved making others happy! Isn't that insane? My measurement of my worth was based on how everyone else felt about me. I used to think my biggest strength was putting others ahead of myself and always treating everyone with love, giving multiple chances and making myself a savior. As noble as that was and I do still carry those traits in a less extreme level now, it was destructive. 

After years of ongoing healing, I can now say that I truly love myself.

My worth is a measurement of how I feel about myself. Moreover, people can leave my life now and I can let go rather then spending weeks in fetus position questioning
the universe and putting blame on myself. I tapped into my authentic self and let her live freely without the fear of judgement.

The biggest asset in my battle of self - love was affirmations. I had to
change the way I spoke to myself. In the start of my journey, I would look into
the mirror and say, "I love and accept myself." In the beginning I would not believe
a single word. I was a numb zombie speaking into a mirror. However, after
consistency and committing to my healing journey. I can now look in the mirror
and authentically say I love and accept myself and truly believe it.

And here I am today a mother, a coach, a wife and most importantly an empowered woman who believes in herself and strives towards her dreams.