“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
I saw this quote the other day and it hit home. Do I love myself? I think that’s a pretty loaded question. I remember hearing as a kid that nobody could love me if I didn’t love myself. I felt like that was a load of garbage. It turns out that it was a load of garbage in my case. I think for me personally, it took the love of someone else to show me what I was worth.
Like many children, I was bullied in school. I was a size 16 in middle school and the kids would tell me I was a beached whale, I was disgusting, I was as big as a house, and pretty much any other insult about an overweight person that you can think of. I was a size 16!! That’s overweight, sure, but it’s not whale sized. I’d love to be that size now! I wish I could go back and tell the younger me that those kids were crazy, but I know I wouldn’t have believed it anyway. If you hear something long enough you start to believe it. Unfortunately, we tend to pay attention to the negative things that are said to us more than the positive. My parents always made sure to tell me how much they loved me, how beautiful I was, how wrong those kids were. I thought they were only saying these things because they were my parents and it was their “job.” Well, they were absolutely saying those things because they were my parents, but not because it was their job; because they loved me and could see the beauty that I couldn’t.Sarcasm became my ultimate defense. I honed that craft for years until I could deliver the sharpest insult presented as a joke and get a laugh from people. I liked the attention I got from being funny. I felt like if I was getting attention for how funny I was that it would take some of the attention off my weight and how gross I was. I would say that the best laugh was at another person’s expense. I wasn’t nice, but I didn’t see it that way. I truly didn’t mean any harm, I just thought it was funny and I thought everyone else thought it was funny. Since then, people have told me how I hurt them in the past, even that I made them cry, and I can’t describe the shameful feeling that comes over me when I hear something like that. I went from the victim to the bully, and even though it was all in good fun for me and I wasn’t intentionally hurting others, that’s not how it was for some of my victims.
Time went on and eventually I had this amazing husband who loved me and I wanted to be totally worthy of that love. Chris made me feel more confident about my body, and that was the first big change. Sure, I’d still love to be thinner than I am and I have days where I feel worse than others regarding my appearance, but overall I’m happy with my own body now and I treat it better than I used to (unless I’m on vacation, then all bets are off! Haha). I had a lot of talks with Chris about how I didn’t like the person I was. He thought I was crazy, he said I was perfect, but I knew there were things within me that I needed to change.
Until I moved away from home I didn’t notice those things for what they were. There’s something about being away from everything familiar to you that really gives you perspective on your life and what it’s been like up until that point. I think it was a combination of moving away from home and having a baby that opened my eyes to the type of person I had become, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want my kids to grow up and become the bullies and I knew that if they saw their mom making fun of other people that’s exactly who they would become. Since I moved to England I also grew more confident in my own ideals and beliefs and that helped me feel more confident in myself as well.
I knew the type of person I wanted to be; a loving, tolerant, non-judgmental type of person that my kids could look up to and emulate. I’m not the person that I used to be. I still joke around, I’m still sarcastic at times; but not at the expense of someone else. I don’t think I’m anywhere near as harsh as I used to be. I’m far from perfect, there are many times in life I should keep my mouth shut and I don’t, but I’m trying. It’s a daily struggle to be a “good person,” but I’m happy with this version of myself that I am now. So do I love myself? Yes, I do finally love myself. I can say that with conviction and without embarrassment and I hope you can say the same about yourself.