I’ve spent such a long time worrying about what other people think of me, how other people feel about me and how I am viewed, I don’t think I ever really put myself first in terms of priorities.
My actions and words were calculated with the sole consideration of how other people would feel/think about them and to be honest, it became exhausting.
After having my son, I was quickly diagnosed with post natal depression, which eventually evolved into self harming. I couldn’t cope with what I thought were everyone’s expectations – perfect mother, perfect partner, perfect daughter, perfect friend – it was like spinning plates and I was losing control. The only control I felt I had was the cutting – I took all my negative emotion and poured it into each and every cut. It became an outlet, allowing my feelings to be manifested into physical pain.
Now, not everyone that suffers like this has the support I did, so I’m aware of how lucky I am. I went to the doctors, was prescribed medication and received ALOT of counselling and even then, recovery was a slow and labourious process but, what I learned on the way was so incredibly valuable.
I learned that it’s ok (great, even!) to put myself first – to trust my feelings and my decisions and as a result I am SO much happier. I feel like self acceptance is something within my reach now, perhaps even self love and that’s beyond any comparable value.
My therapist was able to help me strip things down and ask some really important questions. One of which was ‘who matters most to you?’. I answered this one without even thinking and she smiled at me knowingly – like I’d given her the exact answer she was hoping for. Her next question was an even bigger eye opener; ‘and how do you think he sees you? Do you think he looks at you and sees any of the so-called imperfections or failures you have spoken about?’ and then the next ‘if he knew how you felt about yourself, what do you think he would say?’. My answers to these questions made me cry, because in answering them I finally allowed myself a level of clarity that I hadn’t before.
I used to look in the mirror and the first words that came to mind were ‘I am not good enough’ but now, now when I look in the mirror I can remove ‘not good’ because I have realised that perfection is overrated – and anyway, perfection in who’s eyes?? The media? Other mothers? So called friends? They don’t matter – I know who matters most now. Who’s opinions of me matter most.
He’s 3 and my greatest achievement. When he looks at me it’s with nothing but love – flaws, mistakes, regrets, they all wash away when I look at my happy, well rounded, emotionally nourished child. So now I look at others and I no longer compare. I feel and no longer worry how that’s viewed.
Whilst it’s been a very helpful focus for me, it’s important you understand that you don’t need to have offspring to recognise that you are worthy of love and a valuable person – you just need to let any worry of what anyone else thinks wash away. Nobody else really knows everything you’ve been through and the troubles you have had to overcome. Nobody else has the right to judge how you look when you’re wearing something that makes you feel good. Nobody else has the right to criticise any decision you make that benefits your happiness levels.
Stop giving a shit about what any meaningless people think of you and start living. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that YOU.ARE.ENOUGH.
Learn to put yourself first. It feels fucking fantastic.