(You Should) Love Yourself

My journey of self love has be a long, bumpy road. I grew up thin as a rail with a metabolism that was fast as lightening. I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and not gain an ounce. I went to college the same size I was when I graduated high school, A cup and all.  At some point between the ages of 18-23 I got fat. I kept eating what I wanted, drinking beer, and nursing hangovers with McDonald's double cheeseburgers. At some point around the age of 24 I decided enough was enough. I replaced my daily Mt. Dew with coffee, stopped covering my food with ranch, and chasing my meals with beer. Without doing anymore than a few diet changes and going to the gym 4 or 5 times a week, I dropped 30 pounds. I felt good about myself because and got a bunch of new clothes. I was happy. I was also living with anxiety disorder that wasn't yet diagnosed. I knew I had depression, but that wasn't consuming me like anxiety was. My ambition to lose weight and my decision to seek a counselor happened at the same time. I wish I knew what clicked in my brain for that "Ah-Ha" moment to strike me, because I could sure use it again.

Life was a rollercoaster after that. It's during that same time period that I met Matthew, tried everything I could to get him to leave me alone and showed him the worst sides of me. Turns out all that did was bring him closer. Oops. =) I struggled a lot the first year Matthew and I were dating. I had just gotten out of a long term relationship and it wasn't a clean break. I was trying to find myself while proving to others that I wasn't who they thought. I had a lot of days that I just didn't want to be. I didn't want to let anyone else in and I sure as heck did want to fall in love. It wasn't until our relationship really got serious that I started learning how to love myself. They always say you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. I see that to be both true and not so true. I can see how it is difficult to truly love someone when you don't have an ounce of self love, but I am also a believer that it is loving others that teaches us to love ourselves. Matthew may or may not realize that it was HIM who taught me to love myself. I have come a long ways in the past 5 years, but I still have some room for improvement. For a long time I didn't fully understand what all went into to self love. I thought self love was looking in the mirror and being all "Hey I look good!" or "Damn I am hot!". That's not what self love is all about. Of course that goes into it, because who doesn't want to look in the mirror and feel like that?! Matthew was (is) always so good about complimenting me, and shutting down negative self talk. He tells me I'm pretty when I am a hung-over disaster, he tells me he likes my outfits when I think they look terrible on me, he likes my hair wavy when I say it looks stupid, he convinces me that I look skinner even when I can't button my pants, and he doesn't ever, EVER judge me. These little things that he does eventually sink in and I eventually start to believe some of those things about myself. Because I'm not the skinny girl I was when we met I got in a terrible habit of comparing myself to others. Matthew doesn't care that I'm not that same skinny mini, because that place I came out of when we met wasn't a good one. Why do I care? Society has been so terrible at telling women what they should look like and advertising fad diets, and making clothes smaller every year. I can't even buy shorts that cover my ass cheeks, and that is pathetic. They're calling a normal/average size plus size. They're fat shaming body mass index's over 15, they're saying if you don't exercise and work out daily for hours on end that you are lazy. And God forbid you have a baby and don't immediately go back to the pre baby weight. Or worse yet, how dare you not exercise and work out DURING pregnancy. I am so tired of seeing all of those "fit mom" articles and pictures where the people IN those articles are saying there is no excuse. You don't need an excuse. It's called a reason. They aren't the same.

 I can go days without comparing myself to anyone, or even looking at those around me, and I have stints of time where I am so down on myself using every derogatory worked to describe myself. The other day it was "fat, frumpy, gross, disgusting, cow" etc because I was so frustrated trying to find a dress for an upcoming event. When Matthew suggested stores others had gotten dresses at I said "well, I'm a lot fatter than them, so it's not as easy". I don't know anything about those people who I only met once but that was what came out of my mouth. It's like anxiety, I know they're ridiculous thoughts, but I can't always stop them.

I am continuing on my journey to self love by limiting the amount of time I spent looking at others when I am out and about. I am learning to accept myself as I am. I can honestly look in the mirror and see that I am pretty. I can leave my house without any make up on and be confident. I can spend time on makeup and hair and feel beautiful. I can take a compliment without an awkward response. I have gotten up enough courage to sit at our pool in a bikini without caring what others may look at me and see. I do my best to not pay attention to what others are wearing, because I feel like if I don't notice them they won't notice me. What I can't do is go shopping without getting down on myself. I can't take group pictures without sucking in my stomach. I can't look at pictures that aren't in selfie mode and think I look good. I can't stop obsessing over not having double chins. I have some work to do, but I have gotten so much better at loving myself. I have a family who loves me, a husband who cares deeply, and a puppy who doesn't care how fat or thin I am. I have a good life, I am healthy, I don't deprive myself of things I enjoy, and I have self control when and if I want to.

It's been a journey to fall in love myself, but it's all be worth it. I love myself, and so should YOU!

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