This may come as a surprise to some, but I haven’t always loved myself. I think those around me have the tendency to look at the confidence I have now and assume it’s one I’ve carried with me all my life, and I can’t deny that over time, I have become increasingly confident in my body, my writing, my job, etc. However, there’s a huge part of me that feels as if I’ve somehow failed to mention many of the struggles I’ve endured in the process of getting here. And honestly, portraying self-love as a simple task is one of the biggest lies I can tell you.

 

The majority of my life has been spent absolutely despising my body. For the longest time, it was never something I felt proud of or comfortable in. Instead, I remember constantly feeling ashamed and embarrassed of almost every little characteristic about me. Six years ago, my insecurities, along with a few other circumstances, manifested itself in the form of a self-harm addiction. It’s a struggle I’ve kept almost entirely to myself throughout all these years, but something I can now look back on and say has defined a lot for me. I’ll spare going into too much detail about the horrors of addiction for the sake of others’ recovery, but for years, this was a huge obstacle standing in between me reaching self-love. What I realize looking back on it all now is that my body has always fought for me to heal. Every single time I hurt myself, my body worked tirelessly in attempt to heal what I had done, just as my body works to fight off an illness when I’m sick. Our bodies never stop fighting. They work all day and all night long, day after day, looking out for us. It’s taken me so long to realize that the one thing I’ve been fighting against all these years has never once stopped fighting for me, so why was all my energy going towards destroying it?

 

Photography by Kathryn Paige

 

I have now been in recovery for quite some time. However, scars still remain. Not only have I had to learn how to accept my body, but I’ve had to learn to accept all the scars that now come with it as well. Having some of your biggest mistakes permanently written on your skin for the world to see is hard to say the least. I’ve had people stare at them in obvious discomfort, wondering why I do nothing to hide them. I put no effort into covering them up or touching them out of Instagram posts, not because I’m proud of them, but because I’ve finally reached a level of comfort with myself. After years and years of degrading myself and avoiding mirrors, one thing has become increasingly obvious: This body is the only one that I get. It’s the one and only thing that’s guaranteed to stick with me throughout my whole life, and no matter how much I hate it, there is absolutely nothing I can do to change that. I could spend my whole life at war with myself and feel completely justified in doing so, but the sooner I learned to love what I have and let go of what I don’t, the sooner I could be happy.

 

Once realizing this, I gained a new perspective on how I viewed myself. I began to realize just how easily I tend to dismiss my body and the things it tells me it so desperately needs. Our bodies will fight for us so long as we nourish them like they deserve, so it’s our job to care for them so they can care for us in return. I’ve made it a habit to listen closely and become super intentional to what my body is telling me. I go to sleep when my eyes feel heavy instead of pushing through another episode on Netflix, try to eat when I’m hungry instead of waiting for a more convenient time to sit down and eat, and hydrate whenever the thought crosses my mind. I began making peace with my body, and looking after it instead of destroying it. To this very day, I am absolutely overwhelmed with amazement when thinking about how much easier it’s been to love myself since taking the time to simply listen.

 

Self-love, as well as recovery, will most likely be one of the most challenging battles I face in my lifetime. There are still many days when I wake up and want to fall back into old habits, and I have to constantly remind myself that I am worthy of every kind of love imaginable, no matter how insignificant I sometimes feel. I have a heart that is so incredibly passionate to love others, and I have to remember that I deserve that same love I am longing to pour into those around me. I am so very worthy of my own love, scars and all.

 

Photography by Kathryn Paige

 

I have spent

years seeking peace

only to find it

right here with me;

 

I am a white flag

in the land I was raised

to believe was a war zone,

 

and I am so full of love,

and I am endlessly

pouring into myself.

 


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