Wednesday, 8 March 2017

ACCEPTING MYSELF





In honour of international women's day.

Over the past fifteen years of my life, accepting myself for who I am has become something I have found increasingly difficult. The constant reminder in magazines of the 'perfect woman' and this is how you should look articles is sometimes a little overwhelming and I struggle with accepting the person I am.

In the past I have suffered from bullying something I don't normally like to talk about but I feel it's important as so many of us have been through it. The two years I spent suffering in silence were the most painful of my life. The whispering in classrooms, the throwing of food at me, the pulling my chair out from under me trick, the nasty names; the constant repetition of 'you're fat, ugly and worthless.' As a thirteen year old girl, who was bright and beautiful and going through puberty, this immediately impacted on my life. Even now as a twenty one year old, I experience the same paranoia anywhere I go, even with people I know and love. At a time when I was changing, growing and morphing into the person I am now I was experiencing complete hatred and alienation by people I thought were my friends and by people who didn't even know my first name. In those two years I did things I am not proud of, lost my way considerably, shut myself down in my bedroom and spoke to nobody living my life through social media.

You try to move on, you try to put your best foot forward and plaster a fake smile on your face but sometimes that was just too impossible and I would rather cocoon myself in the safety of my duvet and stay in bed. The comment that really stayed with me was 'you're fat.' When I was nine I began to develop Arthritis, a condition that effected my movement. To go from someone who was active and enjoyed sport (swimming mostly) to someone who could hardly walk up the stairs was quite difficult and it took it's toll on my mental and physical wellbeing. I still remember being stood in the playground now, surrounded by girls who taunted me and pointed at the parts of myself that were different from theirs. It's difficult to forget that. Even now as an adult, I find it difficult to look at myself in a mirror and like what I see staring back at me. I feel I have let myself down a little.

Even though at the moment I am losing a lot of weight (and feeling amazing) I still question myself at every turn. I never congratulate myself for the things I achieve, I never take a moment just to say 'you did a great job' and I never ever accept a compliment. I suppose that's the curse of not seeing the full worth of myself, something I have been trying to change slowly over time.

Over the past three years I surrounded myself with people who negatively impacted my growth and brought back a lot of these memories. Friends I thought loved and cared about me decided to turn their back and become the people I had learnt to fear. That's something that takes a while to get over and move on from but in this last week I have been helped by friends, good honest positive people who want to make a healthy impact within my life. It's something I will be forever thankful for. I suppose that's why I am writing this post.

I was talking to my friend recently and she said something that really stuck with me.

"You're worth more than anything this world knows."

Immediately my first response was to bring up everything that is wrong with me; I have too much cellulite, stretch marks, a massive arse. I wanted to instantly reject what she had said, turn it back and say 'that is just not true.' But why isn't it true? Why do I always think I am worth nothing? I then found myself getting back at the fact I didn't think I was worth anything, because I am. Everyone is.

This particular friend is a beautiful, compassionate and honest woman and I often find myself wanting to be like her. Another fault. I am never happy with the body and mind that I was given. A creative, funny, kind and beautiful mind that has gone to waste because of my desperate need to be better and be beautiful. 

It took all my strength to text her back a simple thank you and found how much it helped me to do that. That set off a chain reaction through my mind of all the things I have done and been good at over the past years.

I am a fantastic writer and love writing poetry and prose about everything and anything. I am a reader and constantly have my nose in a book exploring different worlds and watching characters develop over time. I am totally in love with blogging something I have neglected and realise how much writing everything down really helps me to reconnect with myself. I am a great singer, though only in the shower and my intense love of music of all genres is something that gets me through the day. Especially Ed Sheeran. I am a good girlfriend and have a wonderful relationship with Lewis and that is something I can be extremely proud of. I am a great listener and a good friend. I try to make myself open to everybody, letting everyone talk to me about anything they want. I love sitting and talking with friends over coffee and I should embrace those simple moments more.

Yes, I have stretch marks but the stretch marks are there are to show how much I have lost from around my waist as they dull in colour. I look at those stretch marks as a map. This is where I was and look at the distance I have travelled and what a journey it was. Yes, my bum is big but who cares. Seriously who cares? Women are made differently, everyone looks different, it is about time we just embrace that. It's about time I learnt that women support women, people support people and those that don't need to make a quit exit, stage right out of my life.


Self care.

Recently I was reading Sarah's blog post ( we are on the same course at university ) all about self care and how her struggles have led her to find ways to deal and make a positive change in her life. It really impacted upon me. It took a moment to realise that as someone who suffers from depression and has done for many years, I have never found a way of really caring for myself and my mental health. I really connected with her point that to be on your own and spend time by yourself does not make you lonely or anti social. I really needed that because honestly I have been told many times that I am not very social for sitting in my room reading a book, but we all need that time to ourselves.

Slowly I myself began to find ways to make myself happy and find worth in myself through doing things that fuel the mind and rest the body.

Baths. Okay, generic, but they really help. My little brother Joey bought me a lush box for Christmas and I completely forgot I hadn't used it so I popped a Father Christmas bath bomb in the bath, surprised when the pink exterior released the very dark green colour that lay inside. It was a shock. It smelt amazing though. Just taking a few moments in the water was really relaxing and it gave me time to read and forget about all the worries. I have found since pampering twice a week I have really seen a difference in myself. Plus, I smell like a sweet shop.

Books. Sarah mentioned this in her post but reading is something that can really transport you away. I have piles and piles of TBR (to be read) books on my bookshelves and realised how wasteful it was to not read them. I made a start going through the piles and since the beginning of February I have managed to read five books, including The Shack which is the most incredible book I have ever read. I have found that escapism in books and the passion I once had for reading has definitely returned.

Spending time with friends. When you suffer from depression or any other mental health issue, you do shut yourself away from time to time and whilst some isolation and independence from the outside world is good, for me too much sends me on a downhill spiral. It has been fantastic to reconnect with some of my friends and spend time with my closest ones too. Each one of them has an individual quality that makes them unique and beautiful but all of them have a positive input in my life.

Clear out. I find that making a fresh start is important. Not just clothes, make up, books. Friendships too. Deleting people off social media, who have affected me negatively has been the best decision. It's not enough to remove them from my physical life, I had to remove them from everything allowing them no access into the things I am doing. This is a fresh start, a beautiful new start and that is something I am very thankful for.

Where from here?

I feel like a blank, white canvas. No paint has touched it, not even a pencil and I have the entire space to work with. I could do anything I like. I have started thinking about the future, not with the nervous anxiety I was before but with hope and excitement. Small changes bring the biggest outcomes.

I do see the worth of myself. I am worth more than the way I have been treating myself since I was thirteen. I am worth more than the way I was treated by bullies and by the people who were meant to be there for me. I am worth more than the way I have been treated by friends who turned away and enacted bitterness and nastiness towards me. I am worth so much, so so much more.

I am not saying I don't feel worthless sometimes, because there are days when I climb into bed, wrap a blanket round my shoulders drink tea and think about everything that is wrong with me, but this is becoming more and more infrequent. I really am beginning to love myself, love what I create and love the things I am good at. I am also seeing the worth in myself by the love of my family and my second family (Lewis' family) who have never once let me down. I suppose I am growing more and more into my own skin everyday and feeling good about it.

I am so incredibly proud of the journey, the long trek to get where I am now. I can say I am nearly over the last mountain down into the valley where I can sit and relax.

Today is International Women's Day, a day where we can celebrate the accomplishments of women, the strength and determination of the female character, the love we have for the women who influenced is and reflection for all the women around the world who are being put down, oppressed and violated. The solidarity we have for one another keeps us going. I am so proud to be a woman. I am nearing the end of my university life and I am so excited to see what I do with the degree I will receive at my graduation. I will wear that graduation cap with pride, for real.

Now more than ever, I realise that the women plastered on the front of magazines, whilst still beautiful are something I can never be, but I can be beautiful in my own way. Every woman can be beautiful. Whether tall, short, skinny, curvy, brown hair, blonde hair. Whatever. Each of us is made differently. I am so thankful for that. What would the world be like if we all looked the same? Our self worth should be found in our personality, the compassion of our minds and the bravery of our actions.

You are worth more than anything this world knows.



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