7 words repeated to me time and time again. My mom had a lot of repetitive sayings my brother and I had to listen to over the years, and although several of them including, “a place for everything and everything in its’ place”, “don’t be sorry, be conscious”, “nothing less than a bath and a half”, and “it’s better to be pissed off than to be pissed on”, will carry on with me for life, one of my favorites were 7 words that I repeated to myself for years “I Can Do Bad All By Myself”. My mom went through a life of abuse before she met my dad, and I vividly remember her telling me that all those years ago, she told herself she wasn’t going to stand for that abuse anymore, because quite frankly — she could do bad all by herself.
My mom tried to prevent a similar lifestyle for me, as moms do, but even though those 7 words played over and over in my head, I couldn’t quite make myself that third person to truly see what my relationship was doing to me, I couldn’t embody the meaning of doing bad all by myself. How could I ever do bad all by myself, if I couldn’t even stand the thought of truly being by myself, being alone, being without the person I had come to depend on for all of the wrong reasons for three years of my life? How could I learn to provide myself with the love and attention that every inch of my being craved? I couldn’t fathom those ideas, so I disregarded the thoughts, and I stayed. Year after year, fight after fight, disappointment after disappointment, I stayed. I stayed because in between the tears, there were smiles, there were laughs, that made the tears and the fights seem not so bad. So I stayed. And I stayed until I couldn’t stay anymore, until I felt so small and worthless, and my heart so tired from what seemed like falling in and out of love. Finally, I found strength to decide it was time to give up on what I was so desperately trying to make work.
And although I was sad, so very sad and so very scared of what it would mean to be alone, I was relieved, I had been set free. I was set free of the late night arguing, of the belittling, the shameful words thrown at each other carelessly. I finally had permission to be me, to be unapologetically Ivy. But because I had depended on someone else for so long to give meaning to who Ivy was, I had no idea who the girl staring back at me in the mirror was. But I was determined to find out who that person was, no matter what it took. On that day, driving the all too familiar two hour drive home, I left the past behind me with every mile and drove forward into a new life.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. Maybe you have just gone through a horrible breakup, whether the relationship can be reflected on in a positive or negative manner, breakups suck, plain and simple. Maybe you truly have no idea who you are or what you are capable of. If you are like who I was (and who I still struggle to not be), you depend on another individual, be it your spouse, parent, friend, boss or coach, to bring you happiness, you don’t think you are good enough or beautiful enough, you don’t feel confident, and you crave external validation from whoever will give it to you. Maybe today you are feeling like, enough is enough, you no longer want to depend on someone else for what you want to be able to do for yourself. You want to create your own happiness, you want to feel good enough, you want to learn how to validate yourself rather than needing external validation to survive. It has been a year and counting on my journey, a journey filled with ups and downs, days where I feel so beautiful and confident, and others I feel myself desiring someone else to tell me I am beautiful, just to confirm it for me. It is never an easy journey, but I want to share with you, how I learned to embody those 7 words as a part of my new identify.
How to be bad all by your (beautiful) self:
Practice Daily Affirmations
This is the first thing I did for myself after my break up. I knew I needed to learn to love who I was, and learn how to feel beautiful inside and out on my own. I was sick of asking the question “Do you think I am pretty?”. So every morning, I have an alarm in my phone, that reminds me it is time for me to practice self-love. And I stand in front of the mirror and tell myself “Ivy you are beautiful, and I love you”. And then I proceed to write 5-7 things in my journal that I love about myself, and 5-7 things I am grateful for. It is one of the most beautiful ways to start my day. It seems like such a trivial exercise, but with time, I truly began to feel happier and I learned to love the person I was becoming. Now when I look in the mirror most days I shock myself with my beauty with all my flaws and I embrace this beautiful self-love I have created.
Start Taking Risks
My confidence level was so low. My lack of confidence and self-esteem were 90% of the reasons why I never fully accomplished all of my goals athletically. So after my break up, I decided I needed to grow my confidence. So I started doing things I would typically never do. I signed up for a pottery class, and a glass blowing class, alone. I knew no one in the classes, but I made myself show up with a smile and actually hold conversations with people. I learned that I could push myself out of my comfort zone, and that people actually liked me for me. I learned that if I was positive with myself for who I was, I could put my mind to things I once thought impossible. Whatever scares you, get out there and try it, you may just surprise yourself.
Have Solo Dance Parties (Do What Makes You Happy)
There is nothing better than throwing on some of your favorite music and dancing out whatever you are feeling – sadness, frustration, or just dancing because you are happy. I never thought I would be able to have fun by myself but some of my favorite nights I have spent since my breakup include myself, a glass of wine, and some crazy music. I have learned to laugh at myself. I have learned to be silly and embrace that me being silly is just simply who I am. I feel the most beautiful when I can let my hair down, dance and simply be me. Whatever it is that you do that makes you happy, go do that, be silly by yourself and for yourself and fall in love with yourself in the process.
I always knew I needed to get help for the way I was feeling through therapy, but stigma held me back. For me, simply talking about what I am going through and how I am feeling allows me to feel that I am heard and how I am feeling is valid and provides me with some of the best breakthroughs I have ever imagined. I can’t stress enough how important it is to seek help if you are feeling like you are not okay and need professional help. Despite the stigma and what others may say, be selfish and put yourself first to make a decision for you and get the help you need. Therapy truly saved my life because even though I felt set free after my break up, I stood in a dark place. Talking about where I was and where I wanted to be truly opened my eyes to what I have gone through and how to be a better me.
When You Have a Slip Up, Forgive Yourself, and Move Forward
Not every day will be perfect, forgive yourself anyway. Go back to your affirmations and remember how beautiful you are. Remind yourself on the days you feel like you don’t like yourself of all of the reasons you loved yourself on prior days. Keep reminding yourself, keep moving forward. Cry about it as much as you need to, but know that your journey is a beautiful journey and with hard work you can rise above all that you have been through and let your confidence shine through.
I worked hard to get to where I am today, and I know I am constantly striving to not be set back, but I allow myself to be me, I forgive myself, and I forgive others. And on the days that I find myself feeling like I did on that two hour drive home, feeling pretty bummed for whatever reason, I find myself picking up the pieces, putting myself together one by one, knowing I am stronger than yesterday, because just like my momma, I can do bad all by myself.
Be Beautifully Simply You