Learning to love myself
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Why is it that we put so much pressure on women to be "perfect"? Who are we doing it for? It's certainly not ourselves. That begs the question. Who is more important than yourself?
Before I had my son, the answer should have been no one.
But I've always tried to make everyone happy. I was born the kid that tried to make everyone happy, but myself. Making myself happy felt selfish, as I think it does for many women. But unhappy people don't often make great friends. I will spare you the stories of tears and broken friendship bracelets.
Fast forward a couple decades and I am a new mother. Giving more than I've ever given before. Everyone talks about the joys of motherhood, until you join the club. Most people hush the ones who say "you'll never sleep again" because they see the gleam in your eye as you wave your ultrasound in everyone's face. Ignorance is bliss people.
Nothing highlights a self-care deficit like a seemingly life threatening lack of sleep, someone sucking calories out of you on a daily basis, and no help. By no help I mean your loving husband going to work everyday so you can stay home during your non-paid maternity leave with this new bundle of joy.
To be clear, my son is perfect except for a minor (MAJOR!?) sleeping issue early in life that will be discussed later. Being a mom opened my eyes to why not taking care of myself was no longer an option.
The first step to self care, is self love.
Nurses are taught to make sure patients basic needs are met. These basic needs include hydration, nutrition, elimination, and basic safety. New moms barely meet these needs for themselves, if at all. I can't remember how many times I went without lunch because Jack needed something, only to remember I'd had one glass of water all day. When was the last time I peed? I couldn't remember. I was in a fog of sleeplessness and doubt. I didn't really start taking care of myself until I hit my low point and had had enough (a month of waking up every 45 minutes all night to a reflux stricken baby).
I had my aha moment when I realized I couldn't be a good mom without taking care of myself first.
My only regret is wishing I had realized sooner that my lack of self care wasn't new to motherhood. I have spent my entire life putting other people first and not taking care of myself. I'll spare you the sob story details but bottom line is that things had to change, and it couldn't wait.
How did I learn to love myself?
I started taking proper care of myself and didn't apologize for it: Despite my type A personality, I am a chronic apologizer. I made time in my day to drink enough water, improve my eating habits, and make sure I made it to the bathroom (alone whenever possible #momlife). I've heard to the phrase "you have to date yourself first" and I am now a firm believer. I am much more grounded, sane, and open to new opportunities when my basic needs are met. And yes, sometimes a manicure is a basic need. Bottom line is when I started taking care of myself I started feeling better.
I acknowledged insecurities, and dismissed them: Feeling better led to learning how to accept myself for how I am, insecurities and all. Everyone has insecurities, but people don't usually share them. Society as a whole likes women to associate their worth with their appearance. This seems to leave women safeguarding any possible weakness or unattractive feature. I'll be the first to admit how pale I am (which if you haven't noticed is not in right now). I used to yearn to be a sun kissed bronze goddess. But that's not my reality, so why worry about it?
I forgave myself for past and future mistakes: Oh, this one is a biggie. It took me a long time to swallow the fact that I had made some decisions in my life I couldn't take back. For starters, I've got some tattoos that will be pricey to remove. I have nothing against tattoos and have seen some amazing ones in my life, but teenage me went a little overboard. As you get to know me, you'll figure out that when I commit to something, I'm all in. Also, everyone has people they've hurt. There are things I've said I wish I could take back, things I've done, the list goes on. But at the end of the day, all of my choices led me where I am today, and I'm good with that. I'm at peace with who I am. Everything was a part of your journey to get here. Make here a great place by giving yourself the gift of forgiveness. You're just one person who did the best with what they knew at the time. Hindsight can be a bitch, but as my husband likes to say, "now you lost some of your dumb skin." Chances are you will keep making mistakes so lighten up, and learn.
I surrounded myself with the right people: I am a better person when I'm with my husband. I know this for a fact because we were apart for four long years and I missed him everyday. I tried life without him, and it just didn't work. Thankfully, he felt the same way. Everyone has a person, doesn't have to be a spouse. Make sure your bestfriend really has your best interest at heart. Friends who drag you down aren't your friends. People who laugh at your crazy dreams and tell you they're impossible aren't your people. You might have a picture in your head of who you want your friends to be, but looks aren't everything. Be open to finding your people in unexpected places, they might just surprise you.
- I made myself a promise to never settle: I never want to settle for just ok. I never want to go back to not taking care of myself, step back into that fog. I want to be the best mother I can be. I want to be the partner my husband deserves. I want to be a good person, that gives back to their community and leaves the world better than I found it. I ultimately want to help people, that's why I became a nurse. I don't believe I can achieve any of these things without self love.
Loving myself has led me here.
I may not look any different than a few years ago, I'm certainly not more stylish. I don't have much more money, or have many more friends. I still don't have abs. But for the first time ever, I love myself. I can tell you with complete honesty that loving myself is the best thing I've ever done. It's opened my life to more love than I've ever experienced, because loving myself allows me accept love from those who willingly give it.
To keep myself focused on positive change I've been using THIS JOURNAL.
Do something for yourself today, something you've been wanting to do for a while but haven't made time for. Leave a comment and let me know how it feels! Where are you on your journey to loving yourself? I know mine will always be ongoing.