Disclaimer: sensitive subject matter related to self-harm
“And if I asked you to name all the things that you love how long would it take for you to name yourself?” Gabby Bernstein. I hated myself for a really long time. I tried to kill myself, I spent my days wallowing in a stew of hateful, horrible thoughts, I hurt myself and I certainly didn’t care. I tried to pinpoint the reason behind such violent self-aggression and I couldn’t. I mean, I know the events that led up to me hurting myself (I discussed this in my story Scars. Please note that series has sensitive subject matter as well.) but I can’t pinpoint what it was in my brain that said, “Cutting yourself is the answer or swallowing a bottle of Tylenol will do it.” Even after I recovered, I still spoke to myself like I was disposable. A decade after the physical self-harm, I was still hurting myself.
When I read this quote, something hit me: the things you want in life will never happen if you keep treating yourself like garbage. When you live in a perpetual cycle of self-hatred, how can you ever see the good? I certainly didn’t believe the good would come and I watched as people succeeded in things they wanted, and experienced the freedom I wanted, and functioned and thrived after making mistakes. And I became resentful at first. What made them so special that they didn’t have to have their mistake thrown in their face? Well, you keep bringing it up—no one is throwing it in your face except yourself. I did it to myself. No one told me I was unworthy—I did that on my own and they responded based on what I was willing to take.
Self-love is a tough one when we either have an underlying chemical issue (anxiety, depression, etc.) and when we are trained that self-love is selfish and wrong or indulgent. The truth is we need love more than anything in this world and we NEED to love ourselves. We have to care. We can’t expect others to feed us what we need or to make our goals happen. We need to learn to believe and trust ourselves enough to make it happen. Now, don’t misunderstand: our worth isn’t tied to our achievements either, but knowing that we are capable helps boost our morale. We are also trained to look at the negative all the time so seeing something we’ve done in a positive light is a huge boost.
It took me every bit of 37 years to treat myself like I gave a damn. I mean, before that, my ego would pop in quite often and tell me I was the shit only to be cut down just as quickly which would send me spiraling again. I’m ok with that because any confidence that comes from the ego isn’t real anyway. The point is, to really care and to want to be here took a long time. To realize that I was worth being here and I had something valuable to contribute took even longer. Embracing my humanity and softening the edge I brought to the world allowed the pieces of me that I hid to come out. And those were the pieces I nurtured. I hope to help nurture that in some of you as well.
I still struggle some days to love who I am. I’m flawed and I always held those mistakes against myself, like some sick tally letting me know how unworthy I was of anything. But I’ve turned that around and learned to learn from those mistakes. A perfect life isn’t the goal and it’s totally unrealistic. You don’t need to be perfect to be worthy of love. The fact that things went wrong before doesn’t mean they will always go wrong—that is a part of life. Start with forgiving yourself and loving yourself—and if you can’t do that, start with accepting yourself. I promise it gets easier to love yourself with time. Just try. Remember, your humanity is what makes you amazing, that is what the world needs. So love yourself with fervor and intensity and share that with the world.
If you’re struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.