A couple of weekends ago, I had a dainty little heart inscribed on my wrist. Such a simple gesture, but it means so much to me. It’s a reminder, a symbol of hope, my own little rebellion.
Loving myself is one of the hardest lessons for me to grasp through my therapy. It’s an ongoing process. I have times where I can be okay with who I am, how I look, what size I wear. Those times are much more frequent these days. I am able to hang out in the mental space of contentment, acceptance and gratefulness for the way I am made. Pure wonder at my good luck to live my amazing life. Other days, often on the days I feel stressed or inadequate in another avenue of life, I spiral into this terrible swirl of hating myself. I’m not moderate with it. I feel embarrassed to even walk around in public because of the way I look. I can’t look in the mirror. I want to stay in bed.
I’ve learned, though, that it’s all in my head, because I am always the same me whether I feel content with how I look or whether I feel ashamed. I don’t really change day to day or week to week. Recognizing that my brain has a pattern of turning on me, I’ve learned ways to short circuit it. I’ll notice a distressing thought pop up, I’ll recognize the way I’m feeling and then I’ll follow-up with a more moderate thought. I’ll keep going back to that moderate thought over and over until my brain breaks free of its pattern of beating me up. Often, that thought is simple: I love myself. I say it because I do love myself in so many ways. I love that I care so deeply for the people in my life. I love that I am thoughtful. I love that I am smart and kind and joyful and hardworking. I love that I keep reaching for the light and good in my life, even when things are really hard.
This simple little tattoo on my wrist is now my constant reminder to hinge my thoughts on love, both for myself and for others. It’s a nod to how far I’ve come on this journey to stronger mental health, a delightful pause to appreciate my growth and to set myself up for success as I continue to work toward being the person I want to be.