My Journey to Self-Love

It is never easy to write about your own insecurities, and yet here I am, dedicating an entire blog to them. Maybe I’m crazy, or maybe, just maybe, this might be the best thing I’ve ever decided to do. Either way, here’s the deal. Whether a thousand people read these posts, or only one, my goal still remains the same. The purpose of this blog is for me to begin my journey towards a little concept known as “self-love”. 

For those of you who don’t know me that well, and even for many of you who do, I suffer a daily struggle with my own self worth. While I understand that many people often have days where they don’t feel great about themselves, for me it’s different. Pulling myself out of bed everyday is a struggle. Seeing myself in the mirror is torture. Going out in public alone is terrifying. The point is that on most days I literally hate myself. There, I said it. Everything becomes a struggle, and while I usually have a fake smile painted onto my face, it’s almost always in response to me trying to hide my own fears and anxieties, or even to simply keep myself from breaking down into a mess of tears. 

Now, before I get any negative comments, let me go ahead and say this: no, I have not been diagnosed with any type of mental illness, depression, or anxiety disorder. However, most likely the reason for this is because I’m too scared to go and get tested. That being said, I am not trying to self diagnose myself with any kind of condition. This blog is simply a way for me to come to terms with myself and hopefully bring me to a point where I can finally look at myself in a mirror and not absolutely despise what I see.  

If you have managed to read this far, congratulations. I know my writing style can be a bit “rambly”, so I am thankful to you for sticking through it to the end. Please understand that this blog is not going to be easy for me. I’m typically the type of person who listens to everyone else’s problems rather than ever talking about her own. It’s difficult for me to open up to others, but I believe that if I try to document my journey, while also trying to come to terms with who I am and what my purpose is, then maybe I will be able to inspire someone else who struggles from similar issues to my own. 

At the end of the day, I would like to hear that someone else found some sort of inspiration from this blog; however, my main goal is to simple: I want to love myself. That concept seems foreign to me, but hopefully by the end of this journey it will feel natural. Thank you for taking the time to read this little introduction to the future of my blog, and if you continue to follow me on this journey, I hope I can inspire you while also inspiring myself. 

Enlightenment

There was an eerie silence in the abbey that day. The morning prayers had been said, and the nuns had quietly floated their way back into the solitary confinement of their tiny rooms. Lilly Madison, tired of a morning spent all alone, slowly and carefully turned the smooth silver knob of her dark wooden door and slipped into the empty hallway. The door let out a silent whisper of protest as it shut behind her. Glancing in both directions, Lilly glided gracefully down the stairs. The smooth beads of her silver rosary swayed back and forth as she pushed past the heavy wooden doors to the chapel and made her way down the aisle towards the heavily adorned altar. She glanced briefly up at the image of Christ before kneeling at the foot of the cross.

This was unnatural for a nun of her status. As a new member of the convent, she knew that she was not supposed to be wandering the halls alone, nor was she allowed to enter the chapel without a guardian; however, none of this stopped her from slipping her rosary from around her neck and letting the cool beads grace the soft tips of her fingers. With each bead her fingers passed, she prayed a small prayer: one for guidance, one for forgiveness, one for peace and understanding. She prayed for strength, and that God would provide her with the means to accomplish her task.

During the many days, weeks, and months that she had spent alone in her room praying and meditating over the scriptures, she had come to an enlightenment like no other. Lilly truly felt as though God had spoken to her directly, but she kept it quiet for fear of condemnation from the other nuns. She was well respected by everyone, a promising new nun surrounded by a cloud of potential. The abbess had become quite fond of her, and had taken her on as somewhat of an apprentice, mentoring her in the ways of the abbey and helping her to reach a new level in her relationship with Christ. Every day, Lilly fell to her knees in sovereign adoration and prayed that God would make her more like the abbess. After months of waiting for an answer, she finally felt as though she had discovered the very will of God.

The sturdy sound of the chapel bells pounded her out of her thoughts and pulled her to her feet. The abbess would be making her way to the garden for afternoon prayers. Her time to act was now. Rosary in hand, she eased her way out of the chapel. A brilliant smile spread its way across her rosy cheeks. The beads now felt warm in her hand, and she clutched them tightly to her chest as she cascaded down the hallway, through the front door, and across the lawn to the prayer garden.

The gate let out a scream of resistance, startling the abbess from her afternoon prayers.

“Lilly? What are you–”

There was hardly enough time to react before Lilly wrapped the silver string of beads tightly around the neck of the abbess. Pulling her to the ground with all of her weight, she held fast to the rosary, making sure to cut off all air as the abbess struggled for a breath. No screams could be heard as her face slowly changed from a rosy pink to a deep shade of blue. Lilly stroked the hair of her suffocating mentor and began to pray.

“Lord, guide me in my mission to serve you. Cover me with your grace and protection. Allow me to complete the task that you have so clearly made known to me. Give me the peace and understanding to know that your will must be done. Forgive me of my transgressions, and help me to forgive those who have done me wrong. Restoreth my soul, and lead me down the path to righteousness. Guide me as you have guided the mother abbess, and allow me to continue on with her vision for the future of the church. Bless her in death as you have in life, and lead her safely to the pearly gates of heaven. In Christ’s holy name I pray, Amen.”

 

Memories: Part Three- Field Trip

It was a cold and dark morning. The sun was still fast sleep behind the misty mountaintops as we lined up outside of my middle school waiting for the Greyhound buses to arrive. On one side of me stood my mother, all wrapped up in a warm winter coat, trying her best to fight off the early morning chill. On the other side of me sat my suitcase, packed full with enough clothing to last me for the three-day, two-night field trip I was about to go on with my sixth grade class. In my arms was Mr. Bear. I had pulled his hood up onto his head in order to keep him warm, and I held him tightly against my chest. While most girls my age were embarrassed by their stuffed toys, I paraded mine around proudly. I had no shame and couldn’t care less if the others thought he was childish. There was no way that I was going to let him miss out on the exciting adventure I was about to have at the Atlanta Zoo.

When the busses finally arrived, the smell of exhaust filled my nostrils and nervousness began to creep through my veins. As a “grown-up” twelve year old, I felt as though it was childish for me to be feeling this way, so I did my best to put on a face of indifference as I shoved my suitcase into the bottom of the bus. My mother pulled me into a tight hug as the tears began to roll down her cheeks. “Your first time ever going away from home!” She said between sobs as I desperately tried to wiggle from her tight grasp. “Mom! People are beginning to stare!” I said as she held me tighter. “Let them stare!” She cried. “I don’t care! I’m going to miss you!”

When it was finally time to board the bus, I turned to look back at my mother. She was smiling as the tears continued to flow from her eyes. I smiled and waved back, trying my best to keep up my bravery charade. Once I was seated comfortably on the bus, I sat Mr. Bear snuggly in my lap and waved out the window to my mother one last time. Despite my valiant attempt to remain brave, a single tear still managed to escape from my eye as the bus began to make its way out of the parking lot.

Memories: Part Two- My Tenth Birthday

February 9th, 2004 was the day that I turned ten years old. My childlike mind was full of excitement over the fact that I was finally turning a two-digit number. “Turning ten is a big deal,” I remember my dad telling me. “You’re no longer a little kid anymore. You’ve officially joined the big kids club!” This, of course, filled my little heart with pride, and my excitement for the day only grew stronger. My mother was busily preparing for my party. I had invited all of my close friends and was waiting impatiently at the door for their arrival.

Finally the time had come, and one by one cars begin pulling into the driveway. Sleepovers had always been my favorite way to celebrate my birthday, so my party guests entered my house lugging sleeping bags and pillows in preparation to spend the night. The kitchen table slowly began to fill with brightly wrapped boxes and big, shiny bags tied tightly with colorful bows and twisty ribbon. The kitchen held a variety of smells: the savory aroma of pepperoni pizza stacked high in cardboard boxes on the counter, the sweet and familiar smell of cookie cake that my mother had bought every year for my birthday, and the faint smell of my friends’ houses that lingered on their pillows and bags.

After scarfing down my last slice of cookie cake, I ran to my mother, begging her to let me open my presents now. After some convincing, she finally gathered everyone in the living room, and one by one I began to unbox or unbag the various gifts I had been given. To this day, I still love the sound of ripping wrapping paper and the slight crunch it makes as it falls to the floor. As usual, my mother would make me pause after opening each gift, pose for a quick picture, and then thank the person from whom the gift was from. Gift after gift was opened and this routine continued. Pause, pose, thank. Pause, pose, thank. Finally the sad moment had come in which I had reached my last present. This present was in a brightly colored bag with a tag reading, To Lindsey, Love Mom. Slowly and carefully, I tugged at the purple and blue ribbons, until the bag was open. After tearing through towers of tissue paper, I could finally catch a glimpse of the furry white ears that poked up through the opening. With a burst of excitement, I pulled out the fluffy, white bear with the purple, draw-string hoodie and quickly ran to my mother for a warm and loving embrace. It was in that moment that my “creative” ten year old mind decided that the most appropriate name for my new friend would be Mr. Bear.

Memories: Part One- The assignment

“Choose a specific object that you’ve encountered throughout your life,” I read aloud from the paper that holds my assignment. “Write a brief series of descriptions of moments in which the object has played a role.” My mind begins to race. What is something that is important to me? I do a quick scan of the room, when suddenly, it hits me. My eyes begin to focus as I hone in on the object that has been with me since I was only ten years old: my stuffed bear. Once upon a time, this bear had been all white, fresh and new. However, now he’s beginning to grey with age. He’s wearing a purple draw-string hoodie with the words “LOVE U” right in the center in all caps. The strings that hang from his hoodie are beginning to fray, and his once fluffy fur is now matted and dirty from long nights and playful afternoons spent outside in the dirt. To others, this bear may seem like just another ratty old children’s toy, but to me, he is so much more.

As I slowly and carefully pick up my bear, memories of moments both happy and sad fill my mind. His familiar fur greets my fingers and sends my mind on a memory-filled rollercoaster. His dark round eyes stare back at me, and his face holds a comforting expression of understanding. How many nights have I hugged this bear, tearfully believing that he was the only one who truly understood me? How many times have I carried him along with me on long family vacations and reluctantly left him behind to wait in the hotel room as we went out to dinner? What is it about this bear, this stuffed animal that has brought me so much happiness? As I hold him in my arms as I have done so many times before, my mind begins to replay the day in which I first laid eyes on him.