Survivors of childhood trauma, especially those who have developed severe mental health conditions like dissociative identity disorder, borderline personality disorder, or major depressive disorder, sometimes hate themselves for who they are and where their lives have gone.
To be clear, this is not something only relegated to survivors. If you took a survey on the street and asked people if they love themselves many would either say no or would look at you like you were nuts, or worse yet, evil.
The truth is that self-love is different from vanity or self-absorption. No, self-love is a healthy way to look at oneself and to live well despite what other people say about you or what happens to you.
What Does Self-Love Mean?
Self-love means accepting oneself with all our flaws, restrictions, and goof-ups we might make in our lives. It is also being able to look in the mirror in the morning and not look away because you believe you are ugly.
You are not ugly you are a human being and we all have physical flaws that we don’t like.
I can feel some of you cringing as you read this article. You think I’m promoting something that you find disgusting and/or impossible. I assure you; I am doing neither.
I’m authoring this article to tell you that loving yourself, all of you is vital to being successful in life because it cushions you from the trauma and drama you will face as you grow older.
Looking in the Mirror
The first step to beginning to love me was to accept that image in the mirror. I know this will sound scary, but you must look at your body, all of it so that you can accept it for what it is without judgment.
Yes, it is harder than it sounds but when I, at the request of my therapist Paula, took a big mirror, lay on my bed naked, and looked at myself at first I was revolted.
There before me was what I had long considered my enemy because I thought I was vulgar looking. I saw myself in my mind as a disgusting looking monster who should be shut away. I avoided full-length mirrors in department stores and brushed off compliments when I received them.
However, after doing this exercise with the mirror, I began to realize that I was no uglier or prettier than anyone else. Yes, there were many flaws such as my being almost 300 pounds and I had huge scars from surgeries, but I understood finally that I wasn’t vulgar, I was okay.
Owning Who You Are
It is too easy for multiples to say they do not own the emotions or activities of our alters. After all, it feels all the world as though they are different people with different lives.
The reality is, of course, that there are not separate people living in our heads. They are all parts of one person, they are all you and they are all me. Owning who I am was incredibly important to be able to heal and move on with my life.
It has taken me thirty years of arduous therapy to finally accept my emotions and actions plus taking responsibility for them. I am completely responsible for every action, every word, and every emotion that is experienced in this body.
Self-love is what makes accepting all the parts of me because the first thing I had to do was to stop fearing and hating my alters and love them instead. Once they became like my children, I was able to love them and eventually they trusted and loved me.
I was learning to love me.
The Power of Self-Love
Some of you out there may be reading this and thinking why on earth you would want to practice self-love. After all, you are just pieces of meat that doesn’t deserve respect, dignity, or love.
But the fact is that just as you respect and love others you deserve the same and perhaps because of what you’ve been through even more so.
Once you love yourself, you will find that you have more power than ever before to face your past and get through therapy. You’ll find that you are never alone but full of alters who love you and you love them.
Because you love who you are and all parts of yourself you can face anything and conquer any challenge. You will be empowered like never before.
Keep Working You’ll Get There
I am speaking from thirty years in the future from where many of you are right now. I struggled ridiculously hard to get where I am today. It was not easy, and it won’t be easy for you either.
I have some encouraging words to those of you who are right now stuck in self-hatred and the serious mess of the trauma and drama of self-discovery.
It’s going to be okay. No, really.
If you keep working and keep walking you’ll get to where I am. It’s not that I’m in any way perfect or have all the answers but I am happy and feel comfortable in my own skin, something that took me years to accomplish with help from a very competent therapist.
Keep working. Keep walking. Never give up.
And, most of all, keep working on loving yourself, all of you, because I already love you for just who you are even though I’ve never met you in person. Why? Because you are a fellow human being, that is all.
Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do. ~ Brene Brown