There are so many memes and quotes out there that say, “Be positive, not negative. Focus on the bright side.” I’ve never been very good at ignoring the negatives and focusing on the positives.
Call me a critical, over-analytical over-thinker if you want, but at no point in my journey of self-love and self-discovery have I learned to ignore all my flaws, all my mistakes, all my regrets. At no point in my journey of compassion have I learned to ignore all the times that someone has hurt me or all the destruction caused by abuse. That never felt right …
“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.” ~Laurie Halse Anderson
It began in elementary school. I was a chubby immigrant with a thick accent and hand-me-down clothes. I so badly wanted the other kids to like me, and I had no idea why everything I said and did seemed to push them away.
My jokes and comments would trigger awkward silences or ridicule—especially in groups. Those moments were traumatizing, but they were also confusing. How could I …
I’ve done a lot of things for attention that I’m not proud of. I’ve created drama. I’ve bragged. I’ve exaggerated. I’ve hurt people. I’ve hurt myself. I’ve lied and lied and lied.
No one wants to be labeled as an “attention seeker.” When people say, “She’s just doing it for attention,” they don’t mean it as a compliment. I knew this. And I knew that people said these things about me.
And still, I couldn’t stop.
I spend a lot of time around animals, especially cats. It’s easy to see which ones have experienced starvation. They have constant anxiety about …
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.
” ~Abraham Lincoln
As a child, my father always told me, “At everything you do, you have to be number one.” I tried. In some ways, I succeeded. I got high grades. Sometimes, the highest. Sometimes, I got awards.
I became an expert at figuring out other people’s expectations and meeting them. This got me approval, but it never made me happy. I wasn’t passionate about grades, awards, or …
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
In 2012, self-love became the most important thing in my life. After self-loathing and addiction led me to rock bottom, there was nowhere to go but up. When someone asked me last year how long I’d been on the self-love journey, I counted back from 2012. That’s when I thought it began.
In my old journals, however, I recently found something strange and incredible—my self-love journey started long before I thought it had. Years prior to hitting rock bottom, I’d been having the same …
“The more anger towards the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are of loving in the present.” ~Barbara De Angelis
My first love broke my heart into microscopic little pieces. I honestly didn’t think I’d survive. Losing him was like losing a limb. I couldn’t function.
Yet, by the time that he and I had parted ways, our connection was already severed, bleeding, broken—hanging on by threads we both imagined were there.
When we met, we were idealistic, open-hearted, trusting teenagers. Three years later, we were both addicts, self-harming in our own ways, and both in …
“When you are balanced and when you listen and attend to the needs of your body, mind, and spirit, your natural beauty comes out.” ~Christy Turlington
It wasn’t until I stopped wearing makeup that I realized the hypocrisy in every “natural beauty” ad. Be natural, wear a mask, they say. Unleash your confidence by hiding your flaws, they say.
If only it were so simple.
My struggle with body image began at age five. That was the first time I threw up to make myself feel thin.
I began to heal four years ago after I almost killed myself. All …
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ~Cynthia Occelli
The whole time I was growing up, I was told, incessantly, that I was “too sensitive.” These words, when I first heard them, came from the mouth of the person I vowed I would never become.
And yet, as I grew up, these words didn’t stay within the darkness of my childhood home. They began to roll out of the mouths of kids …
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato
By all standard definitions, I used to be an energy vampire. I lived in my own self-created drama, prone to rages, complaints, and self-pity. I exhausted the people around me and played games of control, superiority, and victimhood.
I’ve heard this bundle of behaviors called a “personality type,” and I think that is as obscene as saying that a hungry person has a “Hungry Personality Type.”
An energy vampire, by definition, is someone who cannot create or sustain their own positive energy, so they take it from …
“We often say ‘love’ when we really mean, and are acting out, an addiction—a sterile, ingrown dependency relationship, with another person serving as the object of our need for security.” ~Stanton Peele
When I was sixteen, I fell in love. At least I thought I did. I had all the symptoms—quickened pulse, butterflies, and a head so full of him that all my pain and all my problems magically disappeared when we were together.
I called this love.
And why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t any young girl? Isn’t that what love is—when you can’t live without each other, when you …
“Embrace and love your body. It is the most amazing thing you will ever own.” ~Unknown
The first time I made myself throw up to feel skinny, I was five years old. My grandmother still loves to tell this story—she thinks it’s funny.
The story goes like this: I tell my grandmother my stomach feels sick. She rubs my belly. I tell her it still hurts. She asks me if I want to try the “potion.” I say, “Yes.”
The “potion,” as I realized in an unrelated context in my early twenties, was syrup of Ipecac—a strong vomit inducer. I …
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” ~Marianne Williamson
I used to have this secret habit of flipping through the DSM—The Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders—and diagnosing myself with every disorder in the book.
Reading over the criteria for borderline personality disorder, cigarette in hand and eyes wide open, I scanned the diagnosis criteria.
Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment? Check. Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships? Check. Unstable self-image? Check. Impulsivity that’s self-damaging? Check. Suicidal behaviour? Check. Unstable moods? Check. Chronic feelings of emptiness? Check. Inappropriate and intense …
“Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.” ~Julius Charles Hare
In a few months it will be the two and a half year anniversary of my mental breakdown.
I don’t really celebrate the date, partially because I don’t know it—it’s not the sort of thing that you remember to mark on your calendar—and partially because my entire life since then has been a celebration of what I began to learn that night.
I began to learn about myself.
It’s been a wild ride of healing, helplessness, forgetting, and remembering. Many times, I …
“My experience is that the teachers we need most are the people we’re living with right now.” ~Byron Katie
Nothing hurts like being misunderstood, and there is no place that this feeling runs rampant quite like it does with family.
I used to think I was the only one.
For years after I moved out, each visit back home would be preceded by careful, specific preparation. I would try to brace myself for whatever would be coming my way.
I would spend the entire two-hour bus ride turning all of the possible criticisms and probable arguments over and over in …
“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” ~Lao Tzu
I know how you feel.
You know you shouldn’t eat that cookie, but it’s as if there’s something from deep within that compels you to move your arm forward, pick it up, and consume it in one, grandiosely guilty gesture.
You find yourself performing entire series of behaviors—like reaching into your pocket, picking out the pack, getting the cigarette, and lighting it—without even realizing what you’ve done until you’ve got the thing in your mouth.
You promise yourself you won’t complain, judge, or …