Self-love isn’t about achieving self-perfection. It’s about recognizing your flaws and yet loving yourself anyways. It’s the ability to look in a mirror and not hate your rolls or thick thighs or that one patch of hair that never seems to lay flat. It’s being able to see yourself in a new light, one that highlights your inner beauty and incredible strengths. Self-love is the understanding that even in your lowest moments, you are still beautiful. And while this may be a difficult concept to fully grasp, it is one that I will strive for every day in every moment I’m alive. We must learn to love ourselves rather than rely on the world to do it for us because if that is the case, we will always be sorely disappointed.
It was in the stillness of each moment that she found her peace.
The silence did not make her fear, but brought her sweet release.
When the world was too loud, her thoughts were often lost in the noise.
Yet, in a moment of quiet, she found her hidden voice.
And oh what a beautiful voice it was.
It was Sunday evening, and the pleasant scent of grilled chicken, roasted red potatoes, and steamed asparagus drifted comfortingly through the air. Candles flickered silently on the table, and all that could be heard were the hushed clinks of silverware against plates piled with food.
She looked up quietly in hopes of catching his eye, but he continued to stare blankly down at his own plate of food, seemingly content with the overwhelming silence that surrounded them. Her shoulders drooped and her gaze fell. She straightened up. She didn’t want to seem too visibly upset.
The clinks continued as her mind began to race frantically. There must be something to talk about, she thought to herself as she continued to rack her brain for conversation starters.
“How was work today?” Damn. Could she not think of anything more interesting to say?
“Fine,” he replied with a grunt. More silence. More frantic thinking.
“How’s your dinner?”
“Eh, could use more seasoning.” Ouch. Her heart stung. How long had she been working on this dinner? How many recipes had she searched through in hopes of finding something to his liking? Part of her was broken hearted, another part furious, yet all she could say was simply, “I’m sorry, hun. I’ll try to do better next time.”
“Okay.” That was all he said. They continued to eat in silence.
As dinner came to an end, she silently began to gather up the dishes. He scooted back in his chair, stood up, and without a word, disappeared up the stairs.
Is this how relationships are supposed to feel? she thought sadly to herself as she made her way to the sink, arms piled high with empty plates. The overwhelming loneliness wrapped itself tightly around her body. It slithered its way up her legs and across her chest. Her breath became more shallow until it felt as though she may stop breathing all together.
PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, her mind screamed as her fingers gripped tightly to the counter. A single tear slipped its way down her reddened cheek.
With the dishes done and the table clean, she made her way up the stairs. He was lying silently on the bed, phone in hand, tv blaring in the background. She quickly undressed for bed and slowly slipped under the covers. She pretended to focus on the television screen as he continued to scroll through Facebook.
An hour passed in this way. Awkward silence, at least for her, hung thickly in the air.
“Is everything…okay?” she asked even though she already knew what his answer would be.
“I’m fine. Just been a long day.”
“Well if there’s anything I can do…”
“I know.” Silence.
“I love you” she squeaked barely above a whisper.
“Love you too.” Her spirits lifted, but only a little.
As he stood up to turn off the lights, she carefully rolled towards the wall. Her mind was filled with many thoughts, but the one that stood out the most was simple.
I may be lonely, but at least I’m not alone.
Her eyes closed, and she fell into a restless sleep.
I can’t sleep. My eyes are red, my mouth is dry, my lips blistered from my obsessive licking. I roll over. My arm goes numb. I switch sides. My other arm goes numb. I roll onto my back. A brick crushes my chest, and the air struggles to fill up my lungs. In a blind panic I bolt out of bed and into the bathroom. My heart is racing, hands are sweating, knees are trembling, mind is faltering.
No one can know. No one can see. I MUST keep this a secret. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. Everything is fine. Everything WILL BE fine. I’m okay. I’m okay.
My uncontrollable sobs threaten to creep out from underneath the locked bathroom door and break the quiet silence of the night. I cover my mouth with a towel and let the tears flow freely.
They mustn’t know. No one can know. I’m okay. Please let me be okay.
The world around me is spinning. I hold onto the edge of the bathtub and slowly lower myself to the floor. Why is this happening again? Why am I so sad? Why do I feel so alone?
I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m…not…okay.
The realization of this sends me into another round of heaving breaths and muffled sobs. I can’t breathe. Why can’t I breathe? The air is thick and heavy and threatens to choke me. I cough and cough as if I can somehow cough up all this pain that’s threatening to tear through my chest.
I’m not okay I’m not okay I’m not okay Oh God why am I not okay why is this happening to me why can’t I just be okay please stop please stop please stop
My breathing steadies. My chest begins to rise and fall, once again at a steady pace.
Just. Breathe. Everything will be okay. Breathe.
And it’s over. Just like that. Another panic attack has come and gone. I stand up slowly, my knees still shaking. Staring back at me from the mirror is an image of a broken girl, her face a dark shade of red, her eyes even darker. She’s a mess. Her matted hair is stuck to her freshly wetted cheeks, her nose dripping like a leaky faucet.
I turn on the sink, check to make sure the water is cold, and then splash a wave onto my face, not caring where the water goes. It trickles down my red cheeks, washing away the sticky warmth my tears had left behind. A few more deep breathes, and back to bed I go. Sleep won’t come easily tonight.
No one must know. No one can see.