I was telling my story to someone the other day and he asked me “If there was one word you would want people to know when they hear your story, what would that be?”. It took me what felt like forever to answer that question as I thought about my journey of heartbreak and growth over these past few years. We laughed when we both realized we had been thinking the same word. When people hear my story, I want them to think, “strong”.
Even though strong describes me and my story, I didn’t become strong overnight. Strength required long nights of tears, frustration, screaming, confusion, and hurting as well as joyous, beautiful days of dancing, laughing, smiling and loving. And even today as I sit here and consider myself to be strong, I know how easily I can be set back when someone says something hurtful to me that reminds me of the times when everything felt shattered, when I lost sense of who I was, and when I felt small, useless, less than, and unworthy. When that happens, I am swept away into flashbacks of all of the painful memories and I become fearful that all of my progress that has made me so strong, has been wiped clean.
In those moments, I am reminded of the years of my life when the very person that I depended on for validation of my self-worth was the very person who let me know time and time again that I wasn’t worthy, that I was irrational and emotional, and made me feel small for how I was feeling. I am reminded of the darkness and emptiness that took over me when all I craved was to be accepted. I was searching for acceptance in all of the wrong places and it took me too long to realize that the acceptance I craved my entire life needed to come from the very person staring back at me in the mirror – I finally realized that it needed to be me and not someone else that made me feel worthy for simply being me. And so after 3 long years, I left one of the most toxic situations of my life- I took my yelling mouth, broken promises, broken heart and years of memories and finally, finally walked away. The moment I let myself loose of that relationship, was the moment I gave myself permission to find myself.
Today is a special day for me because one year to date, I walked away from pain and walked into my self-love journey. Over the past year, I have realized not only that I am capable of whatever I put my mind to, but that I truly am an amazing person inside and out. Confidence radiated through my veins for the first time in my entire life, to the point where I barely acknowledged compliments because I knew it all too well myself. For the first time in my life, I felt beautiful, and sometimes I had to stop myself in sheer disbelief that I was so boldly thinking such confident thoughts. So why then does it cut like a knife when I am brought back to those dark days? Why can’t I stop the tears from flowing when a comment is made that makes me doubt myself – the person I have worked so hard to love and accept? Some days are really easy and I just want to laugh and dance for how far I have come, but some days are really, really hard and I can hardly look myself in the mirror or hold a conversation without second guessing myself and I am quickly sucked back into the black hole I neatly buried myself into for years.
Maybe you have been in this position too and reading this is bringing up some not so pleasant memories, but the beauty of the rollercoaster ride that goes on in our heads, is that we are human, our lives are messy, but it is okay, to simply not be okay. Grant yourself that space to feel how you feel, let your emotions out in the best way that you know how. Give yourself permission to cry, laugh, run, dance it out, scream, cry some more, find quiet space, take time, and in my case cry and dance some more. Give yourself permission to be beautifully, simply, you. Refuse to let the emotions you are feeling now dictate who you are and how far you have come. Know that you are not alone, we are all going through our own struggles, and no matter how big or how small they may seem to us or to others, it is important to know that it is okay to feel how you feel no matter how seemingly small the problem. Breathe. Have faith that you will be granted another day to wake up and look in the mirror and realize how magnificently beautiful you are, despite your puffy eyes from crying or your scratchy throat from screaming. Give yourself permission to cry and then give yourself permission to smile your beautiful smile behind those tears.
I think the most important thing I have realized on my journey is that we should acknowledge that we are human and that we will have slip ups. You can feel so incredibly confident one day and so incredibly broken the next. Today, whatever you are going through, embrace your unique journey and remember to love yourself through it. You may make mistakes, you may have setbacks, you may endure many defeats, but you will be a stronger person because of it. You will love yourself more for being genuinely honest with yourself in this growing and healing process. You will fall 7 times and pick yourself up 8. You will keep fighting for you, because you are worth fighting for. Leaving that relationship I was nervous, unsure and scared of change but I knew one thing for sure- I was excited for the future of who I would become and where I would be headed. I knew for sure it would be one of the hardest journeys of my life, but an unexpected benefit of this whole ride was learning that nights spent crying on the bathroom floor with my heart open gave me permission to be imperfectly perfect, entirely okay with not being okay. And when I look in the mirror and see the smile through my tears, I smile even harder because the girl staring back at me is stronger than before, and a bad day and some tears aren’t enough to set me back.
Be Beautifully Simply You