Learning To Love Myself Again

Learning To Love Myself Again

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I’m in need of a savior, but I’m not asking for favors
My whole life, I’ve felt like a burden
I think too much, and I hate it
-Silence; Marshmallow ft Khalid

It has been a really long time since I’ve had the guts to write a blog so personal.

As you all know, I recently moved from Whitby to Kingston which was a really big change. I didn’t think I had it in me, even with so much support. Mentally it was hard to wrap my mind around even though I knew Kingston was the better spot for me to settle down and grow old in, it was still a little bit foreign. I grew up here, and all my family is here – but in most ways my LIFE is in Whitby. Toronto is also home to me. It’s a strange feeling that I’m constantly going back and forth between which feels like home. I guess they are both home, for different reasons.

So there was a lot of reasons I left Whitby, but a big one was the fact I was in dire need to get back to my roots and dig deep in finding “The Old Erin”. These past 5 years have been nothing short of traumatic, and in turn I have had some incredible changes and emotions. Mental health really took a forefront in my life in these last 5 years and I was under a constant cloud of self hate, anger and depression.

First my dad got Cancer- that was incredibly stressful and really hard to wrap my mind around. I’ve written blogs about that before so I won’t go into too much detail but the struggles of going through that brought up uncontrollable anxiety and panic attacks. It was extremely tough on me personally, I had zero coping mechanisms. Everyone deals with it differently and for me it was really hard to manage. Even now, it is a difficult topic I have trouble vocalizing as it just brings me back to a dark place. If I talk about it I choke up, because it was just such a dark and uncertain time. What is even more ironic is we are coming up on the 5 year mark in 2019 which is considered Cancer Free. Its a big hurdle to overcome and while I am the most proud of my dad, I am also proud of myself for not letting that situation bury me over the years.

In the last two months since moving to Kingston I have really had to learn to love myself again. After being in an incredibly toxic relationship over the course of three years, I was drained of any amount of self love. Toxic relationships truly change you, in the worst ways. I am so incredibly thankful to my good friends who stuck with me even when I wouldn’t leave because I was too stubborn. They loved me and hugged me while I cried and never left my side or did not have my back for one second. I hope and pray anyone else going through a toxic situation has friends to lean on. I would not be alive if it weren’t for those friends today –that is for certain.

I spent years loving someone who did not know how to give respect or love. I don’t doubt for a second that this person did not love me, I just think he was never taught about love and respect. No matter how much I was open about my feelings of rejection and hurt, he was unwilling to look in the mirror and make changes. I was blamed for every problem and told it was my anxiety, or my lack of self confidence. Even though I didn’t see it then, it was the constant criticism that causing my anxiety and self hate. At some point I got lost in the atmosphere and just fell apart. I believed the horrible things I was told about myself, and I punished myself for being that way. I was too skinny, I was too pale, I didn’t eat enough, I wasn’t fit enough. I couldn’t cook food right, nor could I dress in a way that was appreciated. There was absolutely no acceptance of who I was as a person and instead of leaving the toxic relationship I stayed. Anyone who has experienced this I think can understand the feeling of truly loving someone with every piece of yourself and wishing they could love you the same. I would have done anything for this person, and wished every day I would be accepted, loved, and embraced for who I was.  I knew if I could just be accepted and loved the relationship would improve. What I didn’t know, was that he was incapable of giving me what I needed. So instead I stayed, and continued to fall deeper and deeper into hating myself. I really felt if I couldn’t get him to love me, that I wasn’t worthy period. I was told so often about what I lacked, what I couldn’t do, how I couldn’t do it, and why I wasn’t doing it right.  This went on for 2+ years of constant back and forth. With each day that passed I just wanted to be loved, and with each hurtful thing said to me it just cut me deeper and made me hate myself more. Every day I could call my girlfriends, crying, and wondering why he couldn’t see me the way they did and everyone else around me. Most days, I felt like I would rather die than be alone. As dramatic as that sounds- unless you have been in a relationship where your mind is so controlled by the other person, it is all you think. I didn’t think I could live or breathe without him.

Eventually, at some point things really fell apart and I guess that is the silver lining to this (Cue “Dancing With our Hands Tied- Taylor Swift;; this song is the literal explanation of the entire relationship). I don’t remember the exact moment, or event that occurred. I just remember things starting to not add up, trust issues set in (which surprisingly we never had trust issues, up until the end), and we both just knew it was over. My friend Rachel was there to pick me right up and help me through that incredibly dark time. She was able to keep me laughing, busy, and moving forward. I had to push on, I had survived an extremely traumatic situation, and made it out. The hard part had just begun though. On one hand, the immediate feeling of relief washed over me. To finally breathe, and not worry about being criticized for every single thing I did or did not do was overwhelming. It was a freedom I had never felt before in my whole life. There is nothing worse than hating yourself (from the years of hearing and believing it) and then being left alone by that person. The breakup was mutual, don’t get me wrong. But I still had feelings of emptiness and like I failed because he wasn’t there.

Over the next 6 months I not only managed to move to a new city, but completely start my life over. I have worked so hard through therapy and practise to love myself again. A lot of self care was practised, and a lot of doing exactly what felt good to me was what helped me get past all the negativity that was engrained in my brain. At no point will I ever date a person who shows signs of being abusive and toxic. I can spot the red flags very easily now, and the clarity I have is nothing short of a miracle. I am so proud of the progress I made and how I got here. I am proud of the fact this move solidified my three best girlfriends. You know who you are, and I wouldn’t be the confident, beautiful, loving person I am today without you three. My friends build me up, and I don’t feel guilty for accepting compliments from them. At no point should anyone feel guilty for compliments but thats just how my mind has been trained up until this point. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have one good friend and I have been blessed with three of the best girlfriends anyone could ever need. They all bring different perspectives to my life and for each I am beyond thankful and grateful for. With the help of them, I have been able to build myself back up, and move to a new city. Friendships are incredibly important when rebuilding your self love. You need to have people who see you the way you are and know when you need some confidence.

As I dip my toes back in the dating world it’s an interesting thing. I am almost 29, at the age where I certainly know I want to get married and have a child. Finding someone who wants the same things, and is a good person is the most difficult task. Learning to trust again is a challenge, I don’t really trust anyone is good anymore and I have all these fears of letting someone in, only to have them wind up putting me through the ringer again. I think I am certainly OK with winding up alone, it is not the end of the world. I just feel that the current state of Dating in 2019 is a hot mess, in which no one is clear or kind. It’s been a struggle, but I’m happy to say I can laugh now. I can laugh when a guy wants to say something hateful to me. I’m better than that. At no point have I ever been the person to put someone else down (Probably because that is what I am used to dealing with.), but I find it’s very common. It means a lot of duds, and ghosting. It’s hard to not overthink every single thing going on, do you talk too much or too little? It’s getting easier to just be myself though and the person can either take it and embrace it, or leave. Either is fine, I’m just finally at the point where I am who I am and it’s not changing. I love myself, I am an incredibly good and loyal friend. I will never intentionally hurt someone nor do them wrong. The cool thing is though, when you love yourself, you don’t look for acceptance elsewhere. I am the only person who needs to love me and I am finally there again. Months of therapy, lots of books, and tons of writing. So many of my emotions I was able to write and journal about. Just like this blog here is something I’ve been putting off for a while because it’s just nerve-racking. But it is incredibly freeing and empowering to be able to finally speak out on these past few months and what I’ve been going through. I’m finally able to LOVE my blog, and be proud of the work I do.

I was able to overcome some absolutely wild hurdles, and come out on the other side better than ever. I am thriving, I have great friends, and a family who loves me. 2019 is not off to a bad start..

xo,

Erin

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