Love yourself

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This blog is for everyone who contacted me in private or public about one of my previous blogs ‘ Freedom’. I was brought to tears by you reaching out to share your stories with me. I’m touched by the strength in your daily struggles and the memories that you hold on to. I’m inspired by you. Thank you for reaching out, thank you for sharing. Vulnerability is not weakness, it’s powerful. Freedom in your mind and thoughts, freedom in your choices, freedom in your movements, freedom in your memories, that’s what I strive for.

Whatever you choose to do, please don’t suffer in silence. So many people are hurting in isolation. Facing mountains they cannot climb alone. Confronting battles they don’t know how to navigate. Someone somewhere can help. Talk, be heard, share… nothing is insurmountable and although it may seem like it sometimes, you are not alone. Sometimes you just need to reach out, cry, scream, whisper…just be heard. You deserve to be heard, valued and appreciated.You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for, but you don’t need to carry the weight alone. A problem shared is truly a problem halved.

I had the unfortunate experience of being bullied for just over a year some time ago. I let someone make me believe I was inferior, worthless and incapable, and once a voice is prominent enough, allowed enough volume, and persistent it becomes the only noise you hear. Abuse can come in so many forms…all are unacceptable.

Emotional abuse is like an undetected gas leak. You often don’t see it coming or realise when it’s escalating. It’s difficult to even quantify its impact but the trail of destruction is undeniable. When I think back to those dark days when I didn’t want to get out of bed or eat…when the smallest feat seemed impossible, when I almost took a woman out for pushing me on the Northern Line, and cried when I dropped a bag of percy pigs, I genuinely thought I was losing the plot. I remember someone telling me how much I had changed and asking me what had happened to the Tinu he used to know? I had no idea? What had happened? Where had she gone?? Had she left the building? Had I really changed so much? I hadn’t noticed….but one day through a blur of mascara I turned off auto pilot. I decided to actually look at myself in the mirror. It felt like I was staring for hours, I just didn’t recognise myself. I was a hollow resemblance of the confident girl who interviewed Tony Blair in her teens, and gave Ann Widdecombe a run for her money.

I had allowed someone to impose their own self hatred on me. I believed her. I don’t know why my self esteem was so low but it was, and the consequence was years of self doubt, low confidence and an impenetrable imposter syndrome. I’m in recovery now, I removed myself from the situation and have started some serious kumbaya sessions listening to kick arse Ted talks and getting my mojo back. I didn’t see it coming, and I didn’t recognise just how bad it was as I was actively avoiding every reflective surface and hiding in my own shadow. That’s how I believe the bullying went from a few snarly throw away comments to a barrage of painful, insensitive relentless attacks. I stopped looking in the mirror. I was ashamed of what I had become, and in running away from it I was only making matters worse. Bullies thrive on victim isolation…don’t be a victim and please look at the beauty you see in the mirror before you don’t recognise the person staring back at you. Love yourself.

I keep coming across these new social media phrases, ‘self love’, ‘living my best life’ and ‘self care’ essentially they all mean the same thing…be good to yourself, but what does it mean to you? Everyday I’m choosing to love me. I’m doing something ‘selfish’ that makes me happy and makes me a priority. Today I painted my nails, yesterday I bought a bottle of root beer and didn’t share it! And I loved it….so rock and roll! Whatever your situation is, the daily choices you make paint your life’s canvas. I constantly remind myself of the advice given on aeroplanes…put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t help anyone if you cut off your own supply. So I encourage you to do abit of self hugging and loving today. Make a point of doing something for yourself everyday, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, and take time to look at you.

Feeling trapped and stagnant is a painful position to find yourself in. Claustrophobic, suffocated, helpless, directionless. But there’s a light at the end of every tunnel. And you can create that light…don’t wait for someone to hand you a torch. A well known proverb describes hope perfectly, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it turned into a butterfly.” Hope is an expectation, and my hope for you is that you harness the strength within you to move forward. That you see your glass half full and change your perception.

Scars are the best tattoos. They represent battles fought and won. They tell a story, your story. Stop hiding your scars and show them with pride. You are winning. Every night my son and I pray and go through positive affirmations. If you ask him, he’ll say he’s a winner…and that he’s always on top. If a two year old can do it, so can you! You are a winner.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.