As a child, I quickly learned how my family interacted with each other and how they showed love to the people they were close to. What I didn’t know was their love was extremely damaging and unhealthy. I grew up believing that I wasn’t worthy of anything greater than what they had shown.
I grew up watching my father beat my mother until her body was covered in black and purple bruises and I thought that it was completely normal for couples to interact that way. I thought that those who loved you would hurt you sometimes. I thought that it was a part of life that needed to be accepted. I swallowed that truth about my life very easily and unfortunately, it followed me. Even today, I catch myself settling for things that I don’t need. It’s a constant battle. It’s important to remember that you’re worth every positive thing that this world has to offer.
There was a point in my life when I had such a low self-esteem and I carried it into my relationships. I never thought that I deserved someone who treated me with dignity and respect. I couldn’t even treat myself with dignity with respect, so how could I expect anyone else to do that?
I struggled with self-harm, eating disorders, drug abuse, and negative body image. I never felt good enough for anyone and so I aimed extremely low when it involved friends and partners. I for involved with a man that was so toxic, he nearly killed me and I willingly would have let him. Our relationship revolved around sex and drugs. We were both kids from broken homes and we latched onto that because we felt that no one else would have accepted our baggage. When he started hitting me, I accepted it because I thought it was normal. What could he have possibly done to me that I didn’t already feel about myself? When he started cheating on me, I blamed myself because I wasn’t enough for him and I allowed it to continue to happen instead of walking away.
Around this time, my parents sent me away to boarding school and if it weren’t for them removing me from the situation, I would have never left him. After boarding school, I stopped doing drugs and self-harming. I still struggled with body image, but I wasn’t doing anything unhealthy to prevent myself from gaining weight. Anyone who looked at me would have thought that I had been cured or maybe I had just gone through a phase in my life. But, that wasn’t true.
Throughout high school, I struggled with depression, but instead of focusing that depression onto unhealthy habits, I became obsessed with schoolwork. Yes, it’s better than doing drugs, but too much of anything isn’t a good thing. I didn’t want to deal with my issues, so instead, I read a book or studied for my AP exams. However, I was very aware of my issues and I slowly worked on them, but honestly, I’m never going to wake up and just be cured.
Unfortunately, my self-esteem and my love for myself is something that is going to be a continuous effort and that’s okay. I’m worth the work and effort. We all have things that have happened to us that have left us tormented in some way. I think it’s important to realize that we don’t have control over the past. I can’t change the way my parents raised me. But, I can change what I do about how I let it affect me in my adult life. My parents don’t think twice about how their actions affected me, so I don’t waste my time crying about it anymore. It’s so important for us to find out worth and truly realize that no matter where we come from, we deserve love. We deserve to smile and be happy. We deserve the type of happiness that is felt deep in our soul and not just signified by a smile on our face because let’s be honest, in your search for happiness, you won’t always be happy in the moment. The bigger picture is what’s important.
I am obsessed with love, which is currently a fault of mine. I love to love people. I fall very easily and settle for love easily. I think that I subconsciously do that because I forget to love myself, so I look for other people to try to love me. But, it doesn’t work at all, and it never well. You can never expect someone to love you if you can’t love yourself first. This is something that I am currently struggling with.
I just got out of a five-year relationship. I was supposed to marry him but I called off my wedding and part of that was because I didn’t feel like I was focusing on myself. Now that I am single, I still find it hard to focus on myself but I am working on it. Instead of trying to find someone to love me, I really just need to love myself and focus on my future. Surely, there is someone out there that will fall in love with the type of person that I have become. I’m just going to do things for myself that make me happy.
I got a tattoo with a heart and banner that says “Myself.” Typically with this tattoo style, you’d get someone else’s name in the banner, but I’m important too, and I’ve got to love myself and make changes so that I am able to love myself.
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Written by: Torie Sims