Today's guest post is a beautiful personal essay by YBCer Margarita. I love the way she writes, and hope you'll love it just as much as I did. If you do, feel free to let her know down in the comments section below. xoCandace
I remember the day I stopped loving myself. I was eight-years old and spent my days outside laying belly-down on the grass watching grasshoppers and chasing after butterflies. When I was with nature, my being was peaceful and my heart an open flower. On this particular day, my family and I were out by the water with my dad’s friend, a troubled man who is no longer in our lives. I sat on a rock with a compact mirror I took from one of my older sisters, happily immersed in my reflection. On our way home, I was walking behind my family with my dad’s friend. In lightning bolt speed, he whispered in Russian, “You will always be a fat girl.” In an instant, my face reddened and heart tightened. I felt my heart bolt shut and walls immediately draw up around it for protection. As shame flooded my body, it no longer felt safe to just be me.
Out of the Dark and Into the Light
Years later I began stuffing away those words with food and other distractions. I spent most days inside journaling my self-hatred and going to parties to drink too much. While I was not drastically overweight, I despised every bulge and softness I could find on my body. I believed that I was made up of the fat that clung onto me and that there was nothing deeper the world would ever see in me. After shutting myself up with an eating disorder from my early until mid-twenties, hungry and tired, I finally saw a sliver of light trickle in. My light.
Journey to Healing
I was guided on a path to healing starting with books on creative dream making, spirituality, and meditation. Eventually I began to eat kinder foods, and let go of relationships that kept me emotionally starved and codependent for affection and validation. I walked more, really seeing the butterflies and flowers again. I saw heart shapes everywhere I went. As my heart reopened, I reconnected to the love I am like an old friend.
Editor's note: Books here are - Create a Ripple - Making a World of Difference, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, The Alchemist, The Four Agreements, Peace is Every Breath, Make Your Creative Dreams Real, The Power of Now, The Book of Awesome, and Happiness.
The path of self-love is a lifelong yet freeing journey. I discovered a few tools and gentle reminders that continue to assist me and may they serve you as well whether you are healing from a painful past experience or overall feeling like you are not enough.
- You are not the story someone else has created about who we are. As a daily practice, I remind myself that I am the only one who carries the truth about myself. It is an ongoing commitment to embrace and discover the wholeness of who we truly are rather than getting caught up in the fragmented perceptions that others have of us.
- Expressing pain is a transformative act that reveals your ever expanding and changing nature. When we stay silent even to ourselves about what we have endured or how we are feeling, we cannot shed light on our limited beliefs and thought patterns that have formed because of various experiences. Through journaling and publicly sharing my story, I have broken the illusion that I can be defined by arbitrary labels and categories, and instead have tapped into the unlimited magic I am made of. Play with various forms of expression including journaling, drawing, dancing, singing or simply opening up to a trusted friend. Try not to judge the feelings that may come up that have long been held inside of you.
- Become the creator of your reality. So often we believe that others hold the answer to how we should live and who we should be. In my case, I believed that my dad’s friend knew more about me (just a fat girl) than I did and so I sought to either hide away in shame or become acceptable (a thinner girl). Like in the classic story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz where Dorothy discovers that the almighty wizard was simply an ordinary man behind a curtain, we can come to acknowledge our inner creative and intuitive power to create our desired life rather than placing that power outside of ourselves.
No matter where you are on your path to healing, it is most important that you are gentle with yourself by respecting your personal process and timing. At 28 years old, I have now come to realize that by journeying into who we truly are can our painful stories transform into wings to carry us back towards our light.
What is one simple thing that you can do in this moment to blanket yourself with light and love? In the spirit of community and connection, I invite you to share below a practice or tool that has helped you to bring more self-love and self-care into your day. I’d love to hear from you!