For as long as I can remember, I have always felt the need to 'earn' people's respect, admiration and love. I won't go too far back into my past but just to provide some insight...my alcoholic father walked out of my life when I was 7 years old, and I experienced sexual abuse as a child at the hands of 2 different abusers. Clearly, I had plenty reasons to sit in a corner, crying and shaking my fists to the heavens asking 'why me'? But instead, I channeled that pain into DOING and BEING all I could be. I was a good student, I excelled in most of the things I set my hands to do, I obeyed the rules, I stayed out of trouble and eventually became the first person in my family to go to college.
As I became an adult, I continued to strive for perfection. I did well in my continued education, performed well in my career, married the boy I fell in love with when I was 17 years old, went on to have 2 beautiful children, purchased our own home, nice vacations, financial stability...and well...you get it. I had all of this going for myself and still felt like something was missing. I felt like I DID all of these things to somehow earn or deserve a place on this planet, and I made it my mission to ensure that everyone around me knew just how hard I worked and how much they should respect my hustle. My anxiety would flare up, and fear would set in whenever someone didn't see me. I would worry that maybe they realized just how fragile I really was. Had they figured it out? Is my cover blown? I struggled to find happiness in all that life had given me. I had so many people in my personal and professional life, praise me for my accomplishments -- yet once the applause died down I still felt empty.
It was then that I realized that I struggled with lack of self-love. I couldn't stomach the ability to just 'sit' with myself, listen to all that I had going on in my mind and spirit, and decipher what it was that was broken. I knew I was broken, but couldn't figure out why? I had so much good in my life, what do I have to complain about? Well...the truth was that I was trying to cover up my self-loathing with success -- and NO AMOUNT of success was ever going to be enough to make me feel worthy because "I" didn't believe it for myself. So I did a few things: I did a 21-day detox to withdraw from some of my usual numbing tactics (i.e. alcohol). I started reading books on self-love and I began to journal every day to help retain all I was learning, while trying to make sense of all that I was feeling. Luckily, I had so many advocates to turn to...My Lord and Savior through devotional and prayer, Iyanla Vanzant, Brene Brown, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Sheryl Sandberg.
Today, I can safely say that my anxiety does not have as strong a hold on me as it once did. I have learned to love me -- all of me, as John Legend says, "All your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections". I have learned that I don't need to be perfect, or super educated, or successful to be worthy of this existence. I don't have to justify my existence or my blessings at all, I am just living my life and not wasting another moment questioning if I truly deserve it all. I hope and pray this level of breakthrough for ALL sufferers of self-hate. May my story be an inspiration to you, so that you can share your own brand of self-deprecation and how you overcome it each day. This journey is continuous, it does not end. We must honor this life, this body, this mind...but most importantly, this beautiful heart we've been given. Let's make it worthwhile.