As a woman, it can be very hard to answer yes to this question. We pick over every part of our appearance, every decision we make, every mistake we commit. It’s not an easy audience. And the negativity that goes on in my head every day is hurtful. It’s even physically detrimental. Research shows that the flight or fight response happens not only by exterior stressers but also internal.
As much as I like to believe I’m emotionally healthy, I’m not very nice to myself. I’m disgusted by what I see in the mirror. I cut myself no slack. I’ve had a hate/hate relationship with my body forever. But I’ve learned it goes farther than a bad self image. My therapist asked me to talk about my relationship with my body and where the disconnect is. It started from a young age. Some people who held prominent roles in my development were hyper critical. My mom wasn’t this way, at least not about my physical appearance,and I don’t recall that she ever said negative things about her looks. But my feelings go beyond being teased or belittled. My body didn’t feel mine. Because it was violated time and time again. I was sexually abused as a child and sexually assaulted as a teenager and woman. I gave no value to my body. It had already been taken away. On top of all this, my body has been sliced open multiple times. I still don’t want to look at my scars. They are physical and emotional. Skin heals. Hearts don’t.
So why in the world would I ever be okay with my body? Usually, I’d just try to “fix” it. Because I can project manage my way out of anything! Except I can’t. I’d love to be a comfort to myself instead of thorn. I just don’t know if I ever learned how to care for myself in this way.
However, it’s not just my body that gets the abuse. It’s everything. The dialogue in my head is that I haven’t accomplished enough. I’m not successful enough. I don’t work hard enough. Enough enough enough.
Nobody pushes me like I push me. I will say that my mom pushed. She saw potential in me to be something. How many four year olds talk about college? I did. My worth for so long has been tied to my academic and professional success. Those were things I could control somewhat. And so I’ve been micromanaging myself for some time. And I’m no fun to work for. I’m demanding and ridiculous. But there’s no way I could work any more than I already do. I’m at 16 hour days writing 5,000 to 7,000 words a day. I do have to sleep.
At the end of the day, I’d really like to be kinder. I don’t think I’m an a**hole or anything. I think I’m a decent person. I’m a productive person that pays taxes and mostly obeys the law. I don’t hurt others or animals. I try to have compassion. Just not for myself. I still think I should be a tough shell that allows little in; because if I’ve in any way shared my life with you then you’re in. But that circle is small. And shall remain this way.
In fact, I want to challenge myself to be my own friend. I want to exercise my heart and mind, and work on my emotional health. This is something neglected and even shameful. Why? Why can’t we embrace that our emotional health is just as important as the physical? We should stop relegating emotional well-being to the shadows. Bring it into the light. In the end, we get one chance at every day, shouldn’t we live it with honesty and humility? Being kind isn’t just something we should extend outwardly. It should live inside our own skin and thoughts.
So, lets all try to be kinder to ourselves and each other.