Hello everyone and happy Thursday, wherever you are in the world! Today I’m continuing to share with you my personal struggle with mental illness–and triumph over it–in a little series called A Light in Darkness.
What is A Light in Darkness all about? It’s where I share the highs and lows, the tears and scars, and the joy and spark and love that has ultimately gotten me to this wonderful point of my life. My path, my beautiful life. I hope that by telling my story, I can inspire others to keep going with their lives and feel wonderful.
I am by NO means a trained counsellor. I cannot offer you professional advice. I do hope that my words help, and it will be wonderful if they do. My only training comes from life itself, and I’m still learning! You can read my first post in this series here.
Loving myself has always been something I’ve badly struggled with. Severe anxiety, depression, and putting up with parental emotional abuse for many years can do that to a person. Always being made to feel helpless, dependent, and like I couldn’t do anything right. Always being told my emotions and opinions were wrong, that I couldn’t make decisions for myself.
Being told that my mental illness was fake and just for attention. Being constantly nitpicked, mocked, and berated. Having my weight and breast size frequently criticized.
That if I wasn’t exactly like my adopted mother in all ways, I wasn’t worth her attention or love. When she would get angry at me for no reason, she would explode. She would say the cruelest things, often jumping on past or sensitive issues to tear me down. She would use my passions, hobbies, anything I loved against me to shame me.
She told me no one loved me except her and my dad, that everyone was out to get me, so I would stay as close to her as possible.
And then there was her famous “Get out of my sight. You disgust me. If I look at you I might kill you.”
I felt like there was something wrong with me. I felt absolutely unlovable, shamed, and like I had to remain very small and quiet and obedient to be loved at all. I had to hide who I was at all times, and whenever I felt my true self coming out, I beat myself up and hated myself. Later, I would be stuck in a bad spot between squashing and hating my true self, and desperately trying to detach from my mother’s attempted cloning of herself into me so I could find who I really was. I continued hiding, making myself small, and fearing retribution if I liked who I was that wasn’t someone else’s ideal. It made my depression deepen into frequent feelings of suicide.
This was all incredibly crippling, as you can see. It led to many years of self-hate, cutting as forms of release and punishment, suicidal thoughts, and not being true to myself.
My view of my body didn’t exactly help, either. I’ve struggled with my weight since I was a picky eating toddler who was deeply indulged and spoiled with junk food. I’ve spent most of my life battling, losing, gaining, and trying many popular diets (SlimFast, Weight Watchers, etc.) and exercise programs (30 Day Shred, P90X). I’ve experienced various results of success, but I was usually cut down by my mom buying even more junk food than before and giving me her I’m-disgusted-with-you-and-you-obviously-hate-me-if-you-don’t-eat-this-food-and-you’ve-ruined-everyone’s-day tirade when I politely declined it.
My youngest sister was, like most girls including myself, poisoned by magazines and television. One time she turned to me and asked why I was so pale and fat compared to the gorgeous, sunkissed–no, sun SHAGGED–women she always saw in media. She had to be about six or seven years old. Back then, I was very thin, but I nitpicked every aspect of my body and face and found myself to look gross because I had stretch marks, wide-spaced breasts, ghostly skin, imagined pudge, and because I didn’t have the poreless skin women had in magazines. We both soon found out about airbrushing and Photoshop!!
I’ve spent so many years being deeply concerned about my weight and appearance! I’m currently the biggest I’ve ever been, but I’m working on getting healthier for my own sake, not anybody else’s. If someone else doesn’t like who I am because I’m fat, then they can go to hell. And I’m doing this without despising myself or beating myself up!
That goes for my emotional healing, too. If I slip up, make a mistake, act like my adopted mother, or do anything that used to earn my own hatred, I quickly give myself a mental hug and do something nice for myself. Sometimes this can be as simple as using a nice body butter, or doing my nails, or making tea in my favourite mug. Anything to remind myself that I’m truly a lovely person, amazing and colourful in all my facets, and I deserve to be loved. This plan doesn’t always work, but I just pick myself back up and start over the next day.
I am celebrating who I am, what I can do, and I will no longer allow past abuse, media, other people–and myself–to overshadow that.
I’m AWESOME. No matter what I weigh, no matter what I look like, no matter my mental illness. My opinions, thoughts, and emotions are all valid no matter what.
And I think we should all cut ourselves slack. We can’t–and shouldn’t–mold ourselves to someone’s ideals of who we should be. We wouldn’t be so critical of our loved ones and friends for not being perfect or for being themselves, would we? We have this one life, and why not spend it being kinder to ourselves?
Finding that you deserve to be loved, just like anyone else, and seeing how wonderful you really are in your imperfect glory, is your first step to wholeness in healing.
What are you like in your imperfect glory? What do you think is worth celebrating in your life?
Love and light,