Today I want to talk about, what I believe is the most important step in anyones recovery: Loving yourself.
For a long time, I was afraid to think about the mistakes that I have made. Whenever I did, my head would spin, my heart would ache, and often, I would go into a full blown panic attack. For most of my adolescence, my strategy, to overcome these feelings, was to simply never think about the things I didn’t like about myself. Although denial was easier than facing my darkest thoughts, ultimately it was never going to lead me anywhere good.
When I was 18 years old, I began my second serious relationship. This was the first time I truly gave someone else, a glimpse into the panic I felt about myself (Although, I didn’t actually have a choice, we lived together). I expected this person to run and hide, or to become distant, once he knew who I really was, but for a long time, he stayed. Having someone truly accept me, made me feel whole for the first time, and I ended up diving so deep into that feeling, that I actually lost myself even more.
I based my sense of self worth, on whether or not my partner loved, and wanted me, and I needed constant reassurance that of these facts. Needless to say, when this relationship came to an end (as many young relationships do), I was left in complete turmoil. My constant supply of reassurance was gone, and I had to face myself again.
To say that this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, is actually an understatement. It has been terrifying, finally allowing myself to sit with all of my loathsome, and self hatred laced thoughts. There were times, over the last 8 months, where I really believed that I had gone mad. My thoughts were racing, bombarding me with images, that I had fought for years to suppress. I was completely alone for the first time, and it was like I was stuck in a nightmare, reliving my worst memories.
Eventually (of course) I hit a breaking point. One night, I lay curled up on my shower floor, head in my hands, and sobbed until I finally had no tears left. When I eventually clambered back into my empty bed, I told myself that I was going to change. I wasn’t going to blame myself anymore for the things I had no control over, and I wasn’t going to hate myself anymore, for the things I feel I should have been able to control. I let myself mourn the loss of innocence, that comes with accepting your flaws, and mistakes, and then I forgave myself.
From that night onwards, I have worked hard to change the way I view, and treat myself. Instead of succumbing to the panic, that accompanies flashbacks of the things that I am ashamed of, I remind myself that I am human, and that, just like everyone else, I am allowed to grant myself forgiveness. This is one of the most important strategies that has helped me to get to where I am today; reminding myself that I deserve to be treated with the same love and respect, that I give to others. It is easy to treat yourself like the enemy, but it is much more freeing, to love yourself instead.
I want to remind you all, that loving yourself, is not a sin. Yes, it can be selfish, to put yourself above others, and to love yourself more than them, but that doesn’t mean that it is wrong. Since I have started loving myself the most, I have been able to give so much more to the other people that I love, and no-one can convince me that this is the wrong path. I am proud of myself, and of the person that I have become, and I will never apologise for that again, especially not to myself.
Thanks again for being here, I hope that you are all treating yourself, and others, with kindness today. Sending you love and encouragement xox