When I was a pre-teen I hated myself. There was not one thing I liked about myself. I looked in the mirror every day and fought to find something I thought was good or that I liked and I’d come up empty. I was overweight, had a bad haircut, and poor fashion sense. People made fun of me. A boy I really, really liked said that while I was really, really nice, I was too overweight for him to date. No one chased after me. No one danced with me at dances. The amount of self loathing I held was put out there for everyone else to feel. I measured my worth by the positive attention I got from others and there was very little of that so I felt completely unworthy to be a part of the world.
My parents took me to see a therapist because they were wise and saw that I was in pain and somehow knew that they couldn’t help me the way I need to be helped. Every day my therapist made me hold a mirror up and look at myself and tell her what I saw. Everyday there was some sort of criticism; my face was puffy, my hair was greasy, I had a pimple, my eyes were too far apart, my nose was too small, my cheek bones were non existent, and the list went on. Every day all that came out of my mouth when I saw myself in the mirror were insults. I was pissed off at the therapist for making me look at myself, I was pissed at my parents for making me see her and I was pissed at myself for being such an ugly, horrendous piece of shit.
I remember like it was yesterday the day that all changed. My therapist asked me to look in the mirror and this time I said “my eyes are a really nice color of blue”. It was the first time I ever said anything nice about myself but I had exhausted the list of negativity and took a chance. It paid off. It only took one positive comment from myself to make the greatest shift in my thinking. I had a nice shade of eyes. From there I saw other positive attributes with the help of my therapist and I decided I was worth fighting for; I was worth taking care of and being with and I didn’t need anyone to do that for me. I started taking care of myself and loving myself and it was amazing. Yes I lost weight and yes I came through the other side of puberty but even more so, I had a confidence that shined through every pore in my body. It was palpable. I truly loved myself and didn’t care what other people thought of me. I cared only what I thought of me. And this lasted a really good long while.
Until I entered middle age. When you are in middle age things start to change once again, much like when you are going through puberty. Puberty changes you to move into adulthood and middle life moves you towards the rest of your life. And it is a struggle of epic proportions. All of my love myself has been replaced with critiques of myself once again. I have crow’s feet, chest and chin hair, a muffin top, and thighs that rub together when I walk. People call me ma’am at the store or the gym. Nobody is lusting after me. My husband and I have fallen into the rhythm of almost 18 years of marriage. There is no chase or wanting or longing anymore, we are a sure thing. The attention from others is negligible at best. My self worth started to diminish like the definition in my stomach. I once again became all of my short (yes that is a short joke) comings. I no longer felt wanted or appreciated or worthy. I counted on others to make me feel better about myself but that didn’t work. Because in the end, the only person’s opinion that matters is mine. Mine and mine alone.
So here I am, me, looking in the mirror and struggling to find the positive and the love for myself. I am desperately searching for the love I feel for me, not the love that others give me. I am looking for that woman I know exists inside of me; the one who feels all the love in the world for herself. The one who chases after herself and doesn’t need anyone to “want” her or make her feel beautiful. The one who attends to herself so that she doesn’t need the attention from others to make her feel good. This is the summer of me I have decided. It is my search for self love that has long since been forgotten. It is a love letter to me, a love story to end all love stories, it is the love affair to remember. It is one of the hardest journeys I have ever taken and I don’t have a sherpa to help me with the heavy stuff.
I may die trying, but I am worth it.