When I was in therapy a decade or so ago, I used to sob hysterically to the therapist - so desperately wanting him to “fix” me - but I didn’t even know what was “wrong” with me so I'd beg him to tell me, “why am I like this?! What the hell is wrong with me?!”
I was so desperate for answers. Why was I living in such a war with food, my weight and myself? Why couldn’t I stop eating like a pig (that was my judgment of my habits at the time)? Why was I so angry all the time? Why did I wake up every morning so full of dread? What was that huge, empty feeling in the center of my chest that I kept trying to fill with food?
I honestly had no earthly idea and he never gave me any answers, or solutions for that matter, but eventually I did find them.
What did I find?
💔 I didn’t love myself - but more specifically than that, I did even like or value myself. I hated and was ashamed of the person I thought I was. 💔
That was at the root of everything in my life that wasn’t working - and frankly, it’s at the root of just about everything for everyone. It just manifests in ways and to different degrees in different people.
For me, the empty hole, the anger, the body hate, the obsession over my scale, the eating habits, the war zone inside my head, the codependency (though I didn’t even realize I was codependent at the time) all those things were just the way that underlying truth was manifesting in my life.
See, that’s the worst part of not loving or valuing yourself. You end up so consumed with trying to prove your worth by fixating on what you think other people want, expect or need you to be that you lose sight of who you are.
You lose sight of your worth.
You lose sight of your own truth.
When you lose sight of those things, external feelings of love and belonging are the only things you have left to rely on to fill that need - but nobody else can ever fully love us in the way we need to be loved so life becomes one big chase.
The chase for the perfect weight.
The chase for the perfect diet.
The chase for the perfect exercise program (and the self-judgment when you can't stick to it).
The chase for other people’s love and acceptance through those or a hundred different things.
And it becomes a life-long chase because the “fix” of external validation never lasts long so we need to just keep chasing more every time it wears off.
It played out something like this: When I believed, at my core, that I was fat, ugly, stupid, worthless, damaged (or whatever), I was constantly in search of outside praise, of hearing how great I was, of having people tell me I was amazing and beautiful and worthy - or I'd try to prove it by obsessing over food, weight, scales, etc so I'd look "perfect".
The longer I'd go without a “fix” the more I'd feel like I need it and the more willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
I'd get down on myself, have more “fat” days, feel sad, depressed or anxious - obsess over ways to make other people happy so they’d need or like me more, (etc) until I'd get the next fix.
When I would get the next short fix of external validation (someone made me feel good about myself, or the scale went down, or I'd manage to “eat good” or whatever), I'd feel better temporarily but that feeling would wear off rather quickly and what remained - what always remained - were the underlying beliefs and gaping hole where my own love and acceptance were missing.
The thing is, it's a whole lot easier to rely on other people, events or things to fill that need but it’s a whole lot more satisfying, healing and long-lasting to learn to give it to yourself -- all the time.
Loving yourself is acceptance and compassion.
It’s understanding you don’t need to be perfect to be good enough.
It’s understanding that you are not your mistakes, your darkness or your past - you are not your body, your weight or your food choices.
And it's understanding that learning to love and value yourself is a forever kinda practice and being gentle with yourself while you learn.
You are life. No more. No less. That means, exactly as you are, you are as valuable and whole and worthy and full of infinite possibilities as any other life on this planet.
And if that’s not something to love, I don't know what is.
Tell someone you love them today, but more importantly, I’d like to challenge you to stand in the mirror and tell YOURSELF... "I love you".
Be your own Valentine.
Today and every day. <3