Updated: Oct 6
Some call her "my reflection", Issa Rae of the award nominated HBO series, Insecure, calls her "mirror b***ch*. I just call her "Her". She is the one that stares back at me in the mirror; keeper of my secrets and insecurities. She sees me at my most vulnerable - she is the woman in the mirror.
While my relationship with Her is one filled with love and understanding, it was not always this way. Within the last 3 years, my uterine fibroids had grown so large the bump that was a secret between Her and I, began to get attention. Especially when I was bloated during my period. This was a very vulnerable time in my life as each inquiry as to how far along I was warranted an explanation about an intimate issue I preferred to not share with others. I was in constant mental and physical pain, and desperately seeking guidance from health professionals from all disciplines. I was convinced my uneven bump was all everyone could see (yes, I am vain sometimes) and that my body was attacking me for not being so kind to it.
My relationship with Her became strained; I avoided mirrors, dressed in oversized sweaters, and silently began to whisper unkind words to Her. Yes, I dared to tell myself I was not beautiful, and I was damaged. Without realizing it, my thoughts dictated my actions. I began to gain weight and eat unhealthy, which only made my condition worse.Those who loved me most seemed to notice before I ever did, that I was being self destructive.
I am not proud of these moments and I am still healing from the wounds I caused during these times. I am however proud to say my relationship with Her has evolved to one of self care, love and holistic nurturing.
For some it comes naturally but for others like myself it takes work. Initially I felt guilty when indulging in self love practices. With time I realized self love is a necessity and not a luxury. It took 5 valuable lessons before I could confidently say I was now on the path to self love:
1. To love yourself you must get to know yourself
While the idea of being by myself was always appealing for my introverted soul, I never appreciated it more than when I became more self-aware. I began mindful journaling to understand my inner workings rather than simply for creative release. Where I was unable unearth the motivations for my actions, I employed psychometric tests and sought feedback from those I love and trust. The ability to evaluate myself and understand my thoughts and emotions, helped align my behaviour with the re-affirmed self value.
2. Self Love is self-empowerment - it is not selfish
Self-awareness then paved the way to self-actualization. When I could see me, I could bring me into existence. My needs became goals, and my weaknesses claimed a new light as opportunity for growth, while my strengths forged into reality my hopes and dreams . I stopped asking the world for permission to love myself, and started doing it so I could be better for me, and for the ones that loved me most.
3. Self Love is not just body love.
When I began my journey I fell into the trap of self pampering. I thought getting my hair done, joining a gym, and dieting to alter my physical appearance would confirm my love for self. It took me less than 3 months on this body-love mission to realize the work needed was within because while everyone else was acknowledging the "good change", I felt no better. It wasn't until I began working on loving me from within.
4. Self-care is the root of Love and not just self-love but all love.
I had to learn to love my thoughts, be kinder to my body, and attentive to my energy so I could love me better. This meant learning to say no to invitations that drained me , and setting functional boundaries with those I love. It meant slowing down and recharging when I needed to, and not when the world gave me permission to. It meant taking responsibility for my self-care and wellness and making me a priority too. I was finally grasping the notion that saying 'no' to others to attend to my physical, mental and emotional needs, meant saying yes to me, and my journey.
5. The best healthcare plan is a self-care plan.
When you are kinder to your body, mind, and soul they respond in kind. I found greater peace with my thoughts at night, and felt more refreshed everyday. The pains and discomfort of my fibroids were silenced without the need for prescribed medication or their side effects. My overall mental, physical and emotional wellness improved. I was no longer a passenger on my wellness journey and reclaimed the driver's seat when it came to my healthcare.
It has taken me more than a couple of years to understand the delicate relationship between body, mind, and soul and how a balance of love for all is crucial to my overall wellness and happiness. I am still on this journey, and I am sure I have more to learn. When I do, I will be sure to share. So stay tuned.