It seems to be all we hear about these days. What does it actually mean to love yourself? Well, sometimes it means eating healthy and taking care of your physical body.
Sometimes it’s accepting your body with all its imperfections. It’s giving yourself time to relax and do things that bring you happiness. It’s teaching yourself discipline and establishing healthy boundaries.
It’s learning to say no when you don’t want to say yes, and letting go of the guilt that comes along with it. There are a million different answers to that question, and they are all correct.
As I was trying to do all of these things for myself, I came across something that struck me in the chest; it took on a whole new meaning for me.
It said: I want you to imagine a 10-year-old version of yourself sitting opposite from you right this minute.
Got it? Okay, now, I want you to tell this little boy or girl that they mean absolutely nothing.
Tell them they are an embarrassment, that they’re worthless, that they are not good enough.
Are you doing it?
Can you say it?
No. You can’t do it, right?
My heart sank.
I saw my younger self standing there in a room. She was standing in front of the mirror; her shorts and underwear were around her ankles. Her little hands were trying to hide her private parts while tears streamed down her puffy, red face. She was trying to catch her breath. The man who stole her innocence was standing there, pointing at her in the mirror.
I can still hear her cries. She was trembling with fear. I remembered the day in the ditch. She came out of it with cuts and scrapes from her shoulders to her ankles. She tried to fight back that day.
These were just a couple occasions of many, and I’ve left out the gory details.
My heart dropped to my stomach because I wasn’t protecting her. Over and over again, I was putting her heart in the hands of careless people. I handed it to them and said, “Here, please love me. I forgive you, just please love me.”
I was begging for love, not realizing that the only person who needed to love me was me. I spent so much time pouring love into other people, hoping that they would see.
If I show them how much I’m willing to do for them, they’ll know that I’m worth it.
If I forgive them again, they’ll love me.
I abandoned her. She was the one who needed me the most, and I put others higher on my priority list. There is not a chance in hell that I could tell that little girl that she’s worthless. I could never look at her and tell her that she’s not good enough.
But my self-worth had a gaping hole in it. My self-value was extremely distorted, not only from sexual abuse but also from abandonment—people were supposed to love me and protect me, but their addictions consumed their life.
On the outside, I was saying, “I’m fine,” while on the inside, I felt defiled, tainted, and unworthy of love. I didn’t want to be the “broken girl” because who could love someone so broken?
I buried it, refused to acknowledge it, and tried my best to forget it. I put a smile on my face, told my jokes, and eventually, I almost believed that it had no lasting effects on me. But the little girl within me was still hurting, whether I wanted to admit it or not.
What I really want to tell her is that I will never stop fighting. I will never give up on her. It was not her fault; it wasn’t fair, and she did absolutely nothing to deserve it, but I take full responsibility for her healing because she deserves that.
She deserves a peaceful life. She deserves happy and healthy relationships and to be surrounded by people who love her.
I will do whatever it takes for her to feel safe, and I won’t ever let anything change her heart’s goodness. I want her to know that she doesn’t need to worry, I’m here now, and she can trust me.
“We are going to be happy, sweet girl. I love you.
You are so brave.
The ending of your story is going to be beautiful.”
Truly loving yourself goes so much deeper than the surface.
It’s good to love your body and accept your flaws, but please don’t be shallow when loving yourself. It needs to go down to your soul. This is about protecting and loving the essence of your being.
It’s time to work through those emotional wounds so that nothing stops you from the happy life that you deserve.
Take responsibility for your healing. If you don’t, you’re putting the rights to your happiness into the hands of the ones who hurt you.
This is how you take your power back.
This is how you switch from the victim to the victor of your life.
It’s how you give your trauma two middle fingers and say no, you don’t get to win.
Do it for the little person in you who was abandoned, neglected, abused, bullied, or taken advantage of. They need you to show up for them—to be there for them.
All of our wounds look different, but they are in desperate need of our attention.
I know you’re scared to feel it. You probably think you’re not strong enough to handle it, but I firmly believe that we were given our lives because we are strong enough to live them.
Your strength is already built inside of you, so let yourself feel it—all of it. There’s no other way around it. It all comes down to a choice.
I hope you choose to heal.
I hope you choose to love.
I hope you decide that your life is insanely f*cking beautiful.
I hope you love yourself most of all.