It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self love deficit. – Eartha Kitt Mcdonald
I had issues accepting who I was after trauma. My perception of myself was distorted and I struggled to define who I was outside the trauma. I had lost my voice and my sense of self. My self-esteem was completely shattered. My future had definitely collapsed because of the burden of the memory of the trauma that was bound to stay with me forever.
It would be a lie if I said I did not miss who I was before my trauma. I missed the precious moments of being care free and being free from the shackles of chronic pain and my memory. I truly struggled to think of myself as being a somebody because I was programmed to believe that I would be a nobody or that I would not amount to anything.
With all the stereotypical views from the media and cultural biases that came from the community at large, my feelings were validated despite them being wrong. They influenced all the relationships that I had after my diagnosis of CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I realized after a while that I would often sacrifice my time, energy and effort to relationships that weren’t meant to be because of my low self-esteem and the way that my trauma had shaped me. My relationships were basically a reflection of how I viewed myself and how I often projected myself around people. There was a void, a self deficiency that I tried to fill by being around people that I thought were obligated to love me. These relationships were basically an externalized projection of my insecurities and my self doubt.
I had spent so many years not realizing that I had to work on myself before loving other people. When I started focusing on myself, my self esteem improved and I was able to navigate through life being able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy (toxic and narcissistic) interpersonal relationships. The lesson was worthwhile because all my relationships are now healthier, and for most of my life I had struggled to form healthy relationships. I realized that it is crucial for a person to put themselves before anyone else. It is essential for one to take care of their own needs and more especially their mental and emotional health.
I truly believe that to be beautiful is to be yourself completely. You do not need to take advice from other people and be accepted by them. You need to accept yourself and follow your intuition. Your heart knows you best despite your circumstance. If you try to change yourself in order to fit in, you will struggle for the rest of your life. You do not need to seek recognition from other people but you need to be confident with whatever you are feeling and with what your intuition tells you. If you stray from these you might feel lost and incomplete; leading you to seek external validation. The truth is within yourself and not outside of you.
True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself and having confidence in yourself. – Thich Naht Hanh
Below is a poem that helped remind me how important self care is and how essential it is for one to love themselves before loving someone else.
LOVE AFTER LOVE
by: Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Thank you for being with me. I look forward to seeing you here again. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.