Self-love can be so exhausting sometimes. Taking time to learn what it is that I truly want and need to feel valued in this world and then giving it to myself takes so much energy. It has been a lot easier to walk around pretending I am happy and I love me all while covering up what I truly think of myself. Behind closed doors, I have found that calling myself the many things others have labeled me over the years to be both comforting and second nature. Crying and feeling sorry for myself is a lot fewer steps than working towards ending such toxic behavior.
Being bullied in childhood is something so many of us can relate to. Having a characteristic society says makes someone less than or undeserving of love and respect is all any of us needed to be targets. Social media have raised awareness that yes something has to change. I am so happy to see that it is becoming cool to speak up against the bully and to accept those who look and act different. What is not being discussed, though, is the mental health of the person after bullying has taken place. It is so easy to post a meme about self-love and about not caring what others think, but what happens when the person has already internalized what was being said? Why are there not more people discussing the steps to reverse the damage the ugly words have already caused? is this damage reversible?
For me the words so many spoke and continue to speak stuck like glue. I had been hearing how unattractive and weird I am for so long I found comfort in it. Go ahead call me fat I already know I am. Go ahead call me sloppy I am use to it. He can’t like me I am too big to be liked. She doesn’t want to be my friend. I am too emotional. I am a trouble maker. Now I dare not say any of this but it is rare that I was not thinking about it! Those words nobody remembers calling me I REMEMBER. They said them and I ran with them, replaying events and situations over and over while smiling as if nothing was wrong. Remember the saying “I’m rubber you’re glue, everything you say about me bounces off and sticks back on you.”? Well, I have been glue for majority of my life. The inability to let go of pain from the past lead to the inability to cope with present pain on an individual situation basis. For example, a man I was dating long distance came to visit me and was no longer interested after we spent time in person. The way he talked before coming to Cali was as if this was it. He made me feel special. But after he left it all stopped. He tried to use the “I am not ready for a relationship” excuse but not even one year later he was engaged. I immediately took this situation and added “it’s because I am fat and sloppy and too emotional and nobody will ever love me.” Looking back now I should have just dealt with the rejection in that specific situation. I could have saved myself many tears and frustration! But, I have finally decided to put that work in and stop taking the easy way out of covering up my self hate and the labels I have now placed on myself.
What if I wore those labels for the world to see? What if I told people these are the words I have used to describe myself for years? What if everyone knew that I struggle with self-love as a result of never dealing with childhood bullying? What if finally at age 27 I decide to LOVE all of me? What if I finally peel the labels off? So much work! So much easier said than done, but I want my smiles to be of joy. No, I DESERVE joy. I deserve to actually feel how I pretend to.
I did a photo shoot with a very close friend of mine and amazing photographer Tyree Thomas @ivistofoto (thank you bro) as a declaration of me ready to take the labels off. I am ready to replace each negative word with a positive affirmation. I am ready to cope healthier with life’s stressors on a situational level and no longer spiral into “I hate myself and my life” any time things are not going my way. You see those words on me? I promise you they won’t be able to label me any more!
Healing from years of bullying is not a process that occurs over night. You will have days that feel like you are just starting this journey, but I urge you friend to never give up on the fight to self-love and wholeness. Look at yourself and say “I AM BEAUTIFUL” “I AM ENOUGH” “I AM NOT THOSE NEGATIVE WORDS THEY SPOKE ABOUT ME.”
If you feel like you are tired of fighting and can not go on, know that you are loved and you are needed on this Earth to fulfill a purpose that only YOU can.
Whatever you are struggling with, you don’t have to go through alone. A lifeline is available 24/7 at 1800-273-TALK (8255).
You, my friend, are enough!