All I knew was this:
No one would ever love me. I would never be able to achieve all of the things that I wanted to do. I was too much, too big, and too different. I was broken, and because I was broken, my life would be made up of a series of disasters, one after the next. I should consider myself lucky if someone wanted to be with me, no matter how imperfect the “relationship.” I didn’t fit into any clothing that I liked. I was ugly.
It was 2004. I was a sophomore in college. I believed firmly that I was flawed and, thus, beyond help.
There were things that had happened to me to confirm these beliefs. Moments where my lack of self worth failed to keep me safe. Moments that I used to evidence my self-esteem.
At the time, I couldn’t figure a way out of what was happening to me: overwhelming negative self-talk, going out in the world believing and expecting confirmation of my negative beliefs, using hard interactions and painful experiences to chain me to the belief that informed the negative self-talk. Rinse. Repeat.
There came a moment when, on a whim, I tried a different approach – a fresh page to pour all of my fears and sadness on to.
When my pen was to paper, I had the opportunity to break out of the cycle. I had a chance to reclaim those moments – holding them up and examining them, noticing the cracks and crevices in my former air-tight belief system.
Through writing I was able to critically examine the evidence – What was true? Was it true all of the time? Some of the time? When was it not true?
What if there were some parts about myself that I actually liked?
Slowly, as evidence began to surface that I might in fact be not quite as bad as formerly believed – I found myself wanting things. I found myself wanting to step up for myself and in service of my life. I found myself wanting a real relationship – on that supported me. I found myself wanting a job that I was good at and which allowed me the time to also take care of myself.
I found that I was a person worthy of taking care of.
The reason why cultivating a daily writing practice taught me how to love myself, is that it provided me opportunities to experiment and dream where I had believed there were none. Instead of the same dead-end story with a horrific ending, I was able to narrate my experiences in such a way that they became beautiful, well-crafted, pieces of art. I was able to share my stories to inspire others who were having similar experiences. Over time, I began to understand who I was – outside of that negative image I had held onto for so long. I was able to see that I could forgive myself and others for the experiences that had harmed me, and put them to good use.
Believing that I deserved the promise of a fresh page allowed me to imagine a world for myself – a world where I no longer had to play small. In this world I was beautiful, even if just in my own estimation. In this world I was able to rely on myself to take responsibility for my life by sticking with myself, even when things became hard or scary.
A world where I was able to love myself for exactly who I was, right that moment.
That love has made all the difference.
Note from Amanda: I adore Mara and the incredible work she is doing! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her in person & I can’t rave enough what amazing work she is doing in the self-love and body-love arena. Her brand new e-course, Body Loving Homework starts next week & she is giving away a spot in this life transforming class to a lucky reader.
Mara Glatzel is a self-love coach+ writer. She works with women who are ready to create the lives they want — and deserve. Her blog — Medicinal Marzipan — has inspired thousands of women to heal their relationships with their bodies, and treat themselves with relentless compassion. Catch up with her on facebook, Twitter @maraglatzel, or join herbody-loving mailing list for secret swapping and insider news.
Mara’s newest e-course, Body Loving Homework: a guided 10-week course in using writing to get to know (and learn to love) yourself, begins October 22nd. Check out the course here.