A lot of people look at me and they see a strong-willed, put-together, and driven young woman who knows what she wants in life. But there’s one secret those people do not know: I have spent the last 22 years of my life creating that illusion and desperately trying to keep up with it.
I wasn’t always this girl. I used to be in a really dark place, and sometimes I still am.
There have been times in my life where nothing made sense. Nothing felt okay.
There were times when I was not okay.
When I look back on who I was just a few short years ago, compared to who I am today, I realize just how bad things had gotten at one point. My life hasn’t always been bad looking in from the outside, but internally I was deteriorating.
I was drowning and no one else could save me, not even myself.
I was killing myself, but not in a literal sense. I was killing myself on the inside. I was depriving myself of things I needed to survive, the most important being love.
I allowed people into my life who destroyed me, who tore apart my self-confidence and my ability to believe in myself. I allowed people to treat me like sh*t. I allowed others to hurt me, but more importantly, I was allowing me to hurt myself.
And I made excuses for everyone, including myself.
No one could love me because I was unlovable.
No one could care about me because I was unworthy.
Everyone who had hurt me had been right, because in the end, I wasn’t good enough.
For years this was the narrative that played out in my head. These were the things I thought about others. These were the things I thought about myself. And I continued to compare myself to others. I told myself that I deserved the awful things I allowed people to do to me, and in return, I did awful things to myself.
I struggled with addiction, whether it was controlling what I ate, or self-harming, or drinking. There were days when I just wanted it all to go away. Sometimes I begged God to end it all because I thought things would always be this way.
Then one day I realized that it wasn’t other people who were making me feel this way. I was allowing myself to feel this way.
I let other people control me, for years. I let the actions of others dictate my self-worth and how I viewed the world. Instead of seeing all the things I should love about myself, I chose to see all the things I hated about myself. Instead of recognizing all the accomplishments I made and struggles I had overcome, I dwelled on the things I had failed at. I looked for any reason to justify why I wasn’t good enough, instead of believing in all the reasons why I was.
And for a long time, I hated myself for this. Because I knew I was allowing myself to crumble, to fall deeper and deeper into a hole I never thought I would get out of. But one day I woke up and decided that I was right all along- I didn’t want to exist.
I wanted to live.
It’s easy to get lost in the what-ifs and should-haves of life. I could easily regret my past for the rest of my life and the person that I was. But I refuse to let myself dwell on the past anymore. I am not ashamed of who I was, because I am proud of who I have become.
I am grateful that I went through some of the hardest and darkest times of my life, because it was in those times that I learned how to be my own light.
And I have never shined brighter.
I don’t need anyone else to carry me through the hardships, because I push myself. I don’t rely on others for happiness and acceptance, because I have found it within myself. Losing everything I had was not the easiest journey, but I gained more than I could have ever asked for in the end. It tested me in ways that I could have never imaged and showed that I was stronger than I could have ever been.
No, I don’t love everything about myself. I still struggle sometimes, whether it be with appearance, how I see myself and my weaknesses, etc. But it has been through my hardships that I have learned to love myself in spite of all those things.
This not only changed my life for the better, it made me who I am today. Standing on the other side of the mountain, I can finally say- it was loving myself that saved myself.