Looking In The Mirror And Hating What I See

self-love

I used to hate my body. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. I’ve been battling acne since I was 14. I’m over 30 and still crossing swords with my childhood nemesis. But it wasn’t just the acne; I battled cramps, PMS, being underweight, overweight, and so on. My body had to deal with something at every point, and I was not too fond of it. Having the face of a toddler didn’t help either, so self-love was a concept that was foreign to me for a long time.

It takes a lot of time and effort to hate yourself.

When I turned 20, I started getting compliments on my appearance and shape, and it felt good whenever I got those. Until a few days pass, and I start feeling ugly again. So I actively tried to fish for compliments. I’d put on makeup, so I don’t look like a child or dress in t-shirts and combat pants with palms. It was a roller coaster of emotions, from trying to look like a lady one day to acting like it didn’t bother me and going full-on tomboy the next. 

None of it made me feel any better. By 25, I’d started binge eating and then forcing myself to throw up to get rid of all the food. Which caused more breakouts, and made my teeth sensitive, which led to me feeling even worse about myself and finding more comfort in food—a never-ending cycle of self-hate.

I battled the constant need to kill the person I saw in the mirror every day and reinvent myself. I’d obsess over magazines with models who had the perfect body. I’d binge-read books on dieting and exercising and watch motivational videos for hours to help me get fit, look better, and feel better. I did everything but love myself. I was vicious with my criticism while advocating for women to love themselves. Anyone could smell the hypocrisy from miles away.

self-love and finding beauty in imperfection

It wasn’t just physical; it was everything. I couldn’t accept failure and couldn’t allow myself to be anything other than perfect. I’d sooner not try than fail, so I stopped trying. I’d procrastinate, wait, and watch until I was sure there was no room for failure. I’d stopped living and taking risks; I was playing it safe and losing myself.

Thou canst not think worse of me than I do of myself.

Robert Burton

It was so bad I wrote a list of everything I didn’t like about myself, physical and mental. I was harder on myself than anyone had a right to be, and I knew it, but I couldn’t stop. 

I finally ran into depression.

I said before it takes a lot of time and effort to hate yourself. You must actively pick faults, focus on weaknesses and failures, constantly talk down to yourself, and internalise those thoughts. This process comes with a lot of anxiety and compulsive behaviour, eventually leading to extreme depression. 

Having a support system that understands you and truly sees your pain is essential. I wish I’d had one earlier, but I didn’t. That probably made things worse for me, but eventually, I found my tribe. People who had been through exactly what I was going through could help me express my deepest darkest pain in ways I couldn’t. Finding people who have been down a path you’re on is a blessing. They can help you navigate through the horror without losing yourself.

On Hard Truths And Self-Acceptance.

It was time to have candid, hard and uncomfortable conversations with myself. Break every piece of me and analyse it with clear eyes. The only goal was to understand who I was and where my pain came from. Find the root and rip it out. Trust me, this process is almost always ten times harder than people make it seem.

It took months of self-evaluation, self-awareness, and intentional self-love to get me to a point where I started loving myself again. My inner child, hidden for years and drowned out by my pain and self-hate, surfaced, beat down, overwhelmed, exhausted, but wide-eyed and ready to live again. It was time to go through the same active process, but I was doing things differently this time.

  • I woke up every morning, and instead of picking out the things I didn’t like about myself, I identified the parts of me that were unique.
  • I worked on treating my acne but didn’t focus on the flaws.
  • I focused on my eyes, bright and shiny, always ready with mischief.
  • I saw my cheeks; it was cute that I had just one dimple when most people had either two or none.
  • I saw the gap in my tooth not as a deformity but as a uniquely endearing quirk. My smile was radiant and contagious, hearty laughter that tinkled.
  • My brain has always been a well of knowledge, constantly soaking up more from random places. That was nothing to be scared of.
  • My spontaneity and impulsivity fueled my creativity and helped me take risks that paid off in the past. Fine-tuning will work the same way processing diamonds work.
  • My big heart meant I had the unique ability to forgive, love unconditionally, and weather storms with hope.
  • I have pretty feet and dainty hands, and my nose looks like a chipmunk’s.

I started eating healthier meals, not with a focus on losing weight, but to change my lifestyle. I started exercising, not to have the ass cheeks of a model but to feel lighter and have the energy I need to get out and live.

There’s no transformation without honesty.

Addressing the root cause of my pains destroyed their power over me. Understanding why my mind went straight to the negative made it easier to curb negative thoughts before they even took root. I spent more time basking in God’s love for me and how that supersedes any negativity I might have because how can I hate myself when God loves me so much? Self-love became increasingly more effortless by the day. With that came a yearning for peace and unending joy. With intentionality, I’d avoid any activity or person who brought doubt or negativity into my space.

It’s been five years since I started my journey to a new life, and I have achieved more in the last five years than in the previous years. Actively loving myself has penetrated every area of my career, emotions, mental and physical well-being, love life, and spirit.

It’s been a worthwhile journey, and I encourage everyone who feels lost or uncertain or filled with a fear of the future to take this journey too. Let me know what’s holding you down and how you plan on taking your life back.

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