Take the Steps Towards Yourself
Writing about self love, self compassion and self respect is a bit like writing about a bad relationship. It’s not something that comes easily. However, deep down in my heart, I know this is a message that needs to be shared for too many battle with this day in and day out.
Self love, self compassion and self respect are new companions in my life.
Thankfully today they walk alongside me, an openness for each other to be there, space to breathe and to settle, as we get to know each other after so many years apart.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
We haven’t had the best of relationships. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that for more than 20 years it was almost as though we couldn’t even look at each other…talk to each other or be in the same room as one another.
We were officially at war.
Each shot fired pierced my heart and fuelled the insidious demons in my mind, slowly becoming my own worst enemy.
At 6 years of age the war started.
For whatever reason, I decided I was not good enough and that I needed to change who I was. Imprinted in my mind I remember sitting at school assembly critiquing the size of my thighs, pulling down my skirt to cover what I felt was skin folds that were so revolting and so imperfect.
My heart breaks for that little girl and all that she felt because it was at that moment she began to turn against the most important person.
As the years went on this struggle inside continued. No matter the amount of love from my family, the good school or the stable environment, the feelings of loneliness, of never fitting in and of always been the odd one out continued.
When we do not hold a sense of love and acceptance for ourselves, no amount of outside influence will ever fill us up. We will always be searching for more, trying to fill an empty vessel that is yearning for one thing.
Perhaps this was the catalyst, for when ‘the gun was fired’ Depression and Anorexia Nervosa entered my life and it would never ever be the same again.
To the onlooker, especially in those formative years many would have said I looked as though I was holding it all together. However, in effect, what you had was a chronic people-pleaser + chronic perfectionist and a high achiever. No one knew about my inner demons, the thoughts that would belittle me to nothing, the tears I used to cry myself to sleep with or the 6 year old who every morning would stare at her thighs in the mirror, promising to change them for they were so hideous.
Sadly I always believed I would feel the odd one out for the rest of my life. Living life going from day to day, pushing down my insecurities and my fears, and believing that I wasn’t worth much was second nature. I didn’t know anything different.
For a while, it did all seem doable – try and get on with things, build a life, and do what I loved. Somehow for a while this worked just enough so I could get by. However just as a car needs fuel to drive, my own fuel tank was slowly reaching empty. Somehow my attention needed to grabbed. Perhaps the Man up above knew that there were better things in store for me.
For whatever reason, thyroid cancer provided the catalyst for my life to be thrown into pieces. Being the perfectionist that I was and the one that held it all together, silently within I turned more and more against myself, hating my body for this ugly mess that it had created.
If the door could have been shut any tighter, it now had a deadlock on it covered in chains.
The relationship had sunk to an even greater low.
At the point of desperation, there was no option of an out, and maybe, just maybe, this relationship could be mended after all.
Through unraveling all parts of me and surrendering over my control, I began to write a new chapter in my life.
Slowly I took a step towards the door, I turned the handle and I opened it.
I stood there for a while looking inside, not sure whether it was safe to go inside.
Mustering all of my strength and courage, I pulled out a chair and I sat down.
I grabbed hold of my six year old’s hand and I held it.
I hugged her.
I held her in my arms.
And I let her know that I was back, that we had some talking to do, and that one day, we would love each other again.
I told her that one day, self love, self compassion and self respect would be our friends and that in this union, things might change, decisions might be made, people might walk out, and life may look oh so differently, but by God, I wouldn’t leave her again.
Today we are learning to be best friends.
More than that, I am taking the steps to be a parent to my six year old self within.
For it is when we nurture those parts of us and allow our most vital needs to be met we are reminding ourselves that we are enough. Every time we use our voice to speak up against injustice or merely to give an opinion on something we allow ourselves to be seen. A new identity is forming, a self that is not separate, but one which is whole. It is in the mending of those parts that have felt so broken, so left out and so undeserving that in allowing the space to breathe, the daily acts of self love and self care and the tender touch of self compassion that a wholeness emerges.
In this process of learning to sit with pain, to tenderly let the tears drop, to move through grief and despair, and to give permission to be absolutely you in this world, change takes effect.
It is these attributes that one learns to re-parent themselves, to become their own best friend and to rebuild a relationship that once was so hostile and almost deadly.
And when old feelings of unworthiness, of fear and anxiety arise, as they will over the rest of my lifetime, I hold that six year old in my mind. I cradle her in my arms and I remind her that she is totally enough in this world as she is. That she does not need to change one bit of her to fit in, because it is her uniqueness and her sensitivity that makes her the person she is today.
It is through this act of self love and compassion that old demons are fought, new choices and decisions are made and that you truly begin to know what it means to reconnect with your true self and to be the creator of your own life.