Is it possible to completely transform the way you view yourself? Can you hate yourself, want to change yourself, and constantly compare yourself to others for 30 years then change that image you have of yourself? Can you see light at the end of the tunnel? Do you think that all the negativity you show yourself daily is going to help you change? Do you try to hide yourself for fear that you’ll be rejected? These are all things I’ve thought to myself time and time again.
While I was beginning to prepare for the launch of my Self Love Club, I was reflecting on my own journey over the last 30 years. Gosh, saying 30 YEARS sounds like a long time….but when I was 10, I started to realize that something was different about me. I inherited my dad’s family’s bone structure and build. I have two sisters and a mother who are petite. I was always the fat kid. The one who looked different. The one who couldn’t fit into the clothes at the stores everyone else shopped at. The one that couldn’t fit into seats on roller coasters. The one who broke many a chairs in the lunchroom in high school. During my childhood, my belly would stick out from my shirt but I didn’t seem to care until people started pointing it out. There have been so many events that have happened in my life that helped me jump on a path of self hatred.
There was that one time my grandmother said we were going on a special trip together that she was keeping a surprise. Something we’d never done before. I was so excited that I got all dressed up and was looking forward to my day with her. She picked me up and drove me straight to Weight Watchers. I don’t want to admit how young I was when this happened. But, at that moment I knew something was wrong with me. I was different and I needed to change. What I looked like wasn’t good enough for her, that she needed me to be someone else to be proud of me. That I was supposed to look and act a certain way for her to love me. She wasn’t accepting me as I was. Something was wrong and it needed fixed.
Or, the time I tried out for cheerleading. I didn’t make either of the two teams I tried out for because I was “too big.” Then I tried out for dance team. Didn’t make it there either. Finally made it to the drill team. I was so proud of myself – I made it onto a team that I worked hard to be a part of. It was an accomplishment for me! I practiced all the time, I was dedicated. Then came community day at school – we had to wear our uniforms that day. I walked into Mr. Bryan’s 8th grade science class (I remember it like it was yesterday) and I went to my seat in the back of the classroom. A classmate of mine (I’ll omit his name but I know who he is) said to me, “Oh, Maura. You’re on the drill team??” So proud of myself, I enthusiastically said, “YES I AM!” He responded, “Oh, I thought they had a weight limit for that.”
Queue the tears. Headed straight to the nurse’s office and had to go home for the day. I was devastated. My little kid heart was broken.
These are just two stories of MANY that I have that have shaped the way I viewed myself. I don’t share them to get pity, love or attention, but to show you that these kind of brutal things happen to us as women. We aren’t strong enough to know how to deal with them and each experience like this makes a crack in our heart. Cracks that we need to fill with the love we have for ourselves. But, all too often, we don’t have love, so we think people that say things about us must be right and it makes the heart crack bigger. Ultimately the cracks get harder and harder to fill. We need more love for ourselves to be able to handle all these situations. We need love to be able to move forward with our life. We need love to be able to accept the person we are today – that includes what you look like.
My insecurity, lack of belief in myself, and hatred for the way I looked lead me down a never ending battle with myself. It’s a BATTLE, one I fight daily. I always thought that I needed to change me (who I was and how I looked) in order to be loved and accepted. I feared that if I let my true self show that people would continue to reject me. This started a cycle of constant negative thoughts and beliefs in my mind and heart. Negativity that I put on myself for 30 years!! Never thinking I was good enough, never feeling like someone could love me for the real me, never feeling true love.
I looked in the wrong places for love and acceptance. In diets, losing weight, gaining weight back, losing it again, getting into a terrible relationship, gaining weight, going to extremes (running 50 miles a week), being the “funny one” all the time so people wouldn’t see the bad parts of me, holding myself back from doing things fearing rejection, not taking chances, getting depressed because I couldn’t maintain the changes I was trying to make. I felt like a failure. Something was wrong with me. If I could just change myself, I could love me. Why couldn’t I change?
Maura, WHY CAN’T YOU CHANGE????? I have on many occasions yelled this to myself out loud, crying as a drop to the floor in agony that I’m just not right. Then I realized, I can’t change because I was running away from the woman I am, and my only purpose in this world is to be my true unique self. I was doing a disservice to myself and the world by trying to hide myself behind all these masks I put up. Not realizing that being someone other than myself was a losing battle. And, I don’t want to fight anymore. I’m tired of fighting. This battle is exhausting. There has to be a better way for us to live because I couldn’t go on anymore. I needed peace. Peace that could only come from within.
I started my own self love journey thinking that it would make me a little happier, not realizing the MAJOR impact this would have on my life. I’ve completely changed the way I view myself. I can honestly say that I love myself, I stay true to myself, other’s opinions have no impact on me, I live my life unapologetically, I have confidence in who I am, I know that my looks don’t determine my worth, I know that I’m better when I’m being true to me.
It took work to get there. I developed strategies that I still use to remind myself that I’m worthy of love — most importantly, love from myself. I created self love programs that challenged me to really look into the mirror and see what I was doing to myself. How could I expect to be a positive force in this world if all I was doing was hating on myself? You can’t. You can’t change or be good for others when you are so horrible to yourself. You are harder on you than you are on anyone else, but the good news is that you can change! You change the way you view yourself…the feelings you have for you! You become lighter, you have a better outlook, you feel happy, you have stability, you stop sabotaging yourself, you want others to have what you have! This journey of mine is not all that different from what others have experienced but I’ve learned the tools to get to a place of love. And, I have a passion in sharing that with others!
In the end, here are a few things I’ve realized:
-The only opinion that matters is the one I have of myself.
-That the real me is one fabulous woman.
-It’s OK to love myself. It’s not vain or narcissistic or conceited.
-It takes hard work to get to a point of acceptance of who you are and what you look like.
-It’s work that never ends. I need to constantly nourish my mind, body and spirit to recognize that I am fabulous.
-Every day I have a choice to make. Whether I’m going to view myself with love or hate.
-Even though I love me I can still want to change things about myself. The difference is I’m changing from a place of love, not hate.
What change do you want? How do you want to look at yourself? What do you wish you looked like? Do you hold yourself back from doing things because you are afraid of how you look or what people think about you? What should you be saying to yourself day in and day out? Is what you’re doing right now working for you?
If not, I want to help! This is why the Self Love Club is so important to me. I’m going to be sharing my strategies and SO MUCH MORE with everyone because I want you to have the peace I have.
Nothing good ever comes from hate. But so much good …. good you can’t even image …. comes from love! Let me help you stand up and shout that I LOVE MYSELF!!! It feels so good when you do!