When I look back at my life, I see a lot of different things that I could have done differently. For a long time, I was filled with an immense amount of regret about some of the decisions that I made. For many of us that suffer from low self esteem and poor body image, the decisions that we make are not always clear cut. They are often done on the spur of the moment, with little or no thinking about what the ensuing consequences of our actions will bring.
I have always suffered from low self esteem and poor body image. And as a result, many of the romantic relationships that I entered into were extremely poor choices made on my part. I was always looking for that special someone that in the words of Jerry Maguire, would complete me. During my senior year of college, I ended a long term relationship that left me utterly heartbroken. Not knowing how to handle this devastation, I immediately entered another long term relationship, thinking that this would be the solution to my heartache. I threw myself into this endeavor, and was immediately swallowed up. I completely lost sight of who I was. I ended up spending two of the worst years of my life in a verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive relationship. If my self esteem wasn’t low enough at the start of that maelstrom, it certainly had reached an all time low by the end of it.
I never wanted to be a statistic, but a statistic I became. I let someone who I thought loved me hurt, belittle, and destroy what little self love I had ever possessed. When I knew it was time to leave, I found myself begging the other person not to go. What was wrong with me??!!?! I had no boundaries, and no self respect. I even thought I deserved to be treated like dirt.
One day, it was like I awoke from a very long, bad dream. I found, somewhere deep inside of me the courage to say, enough is enough. And just like that, I left. I walked away from the toxicity in my life, and started anew. It was not easy. It was actually very frightening, and I was very lonely. I had to talk myself out of going back to that dark place many, many times. I slowly regained some sense of the self that I had buried, and my sense of self respect, honor and integrity slowly resurfaced.
Over the years I have learned many things from this episode of my life. One: it is never ok to sacrifice your self respect, your self esteem, and your integrity for someone else. Two: love shouldn’t hurt, because if it does then it isn’t love; and three: it is far better to be by yourself, and love yourself for who you are, then to try to have another person do that for you because that’s not how that works.
For many women, self love is an incredibly difficult notion to grasp, and because of this it is even more difficult to employ. For too many long years I didn’t have the slightest idea of what self love was. Thankfully, I try practice it every day of my life. It has most definitely helped land me in a much better place in my life, spiritually, emotionally, and personally. The First Corinthians passage truly sums this up for me on so many levels:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.