As a survivor, how we view ourselves can change daily.
Some days you wake up fine & love what you see in the mirror. Other days, you want to cover up everything around you that shows your reflection. Some days your brain switches half way through the day. Trauma can throw you for a whirlwind sometimes, can’t it?
The mindset that many survivors struggle with post trauma is that our bodies feel “ruined” or “cursed” or like they will “never be good enough”. We often feel like we need to hide our bodies by wearing clothing that is too big so that no one can see our figure. We sometimes avoid exploring our sexuality because we aren’t comfortable in our own skin anymore – or, some of us explore it more than we really desire to because we find validation in someone else’s sheets, and we feel about as worthy as a condom wrapper on the floor .
Sounds dramatic, hey?
This is reality for so many survivors. This is literally so normal. I know firsthand how difficult it is to shake this perception. For years I was changing in the bathroom stall before gym class. I would find myself sitting in my towel for hours after getting out of the shower because I didn’t want to see myself naked. My body wasn’t my body. It didn’t belong to me. It was a shell. I almost felt like I needed to ask myself for consent before I looked at my own breasts – let alone the rest of me. When I was in the hands of other men, however, I let them determine my worth. If I don’t let them explore me, I’m a tease. If I do, I’m a slut. I’d think to myself ‘SOMEONE PLEASE MAKE THIS LOOP STOP’. I was playing a game I knew I wouldn’t win. I was so detached from my own body. How could I give myself away so easily for some people, but I couldn’t allow myself to own the entirety of my being?
One day, I finally woke up & was just OVER IT.
I was so sick of constantly being upset when I saw my reflection. I was sick of not feeling comfortable in my own body. I was sick of being ashamed of something I had no control over. After years of struggling with my self esteem, I knew I needed to make a change. Self love, self acceptance & self awareness are three things I was lacking, but they weren’t going to just come to me overnight.
Let’s slow down a bit… I don’t mean to sound aggressive, but be real with yourself for a minute. Does this sound familiar? Is this similar to how you’re feeling?
This is such a real feeling for so many survivors, myself included, so LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
People always talk about WHY self love is important, but HOW do we achieve it?
Self love isn’t just looking in the mirror and thinking to yourself “damn girl, you look really good today”. Obviously that’s a part of it, but it’s so much more than just appreciating your appearance.
It all starts from the inside. Self love is the value in which we hold ourselves when times get rough & how we speak to ourselves on any given day – good, bad or anything in between.
SELF LOVE CAN LOOK LIKE:
- Accepting that we aren’t perfect, and never will be. No one on the planet is! We can bring kindness and compassion to our process, no matter what stage we’re in.
- Trusting and honouring to your gut – Do I feel safe? Am I calm? What do I need to adjust to achieve those feelings?
- Setting boundaries to protect your time and energy. This means turning down social invitations, limiting who has access to your time, and making sure that you put your own needs first. You might think this sounds selfish but keeping yourself healthy will actually help you serve others BETTER.
- Slowing down to acknowledge and truly EMBRACE your feelings. Say things yourself like “i’m allowed to feel sad/angry/anxious right now”.
- Catching yourself in a negative mindset or saying negative things to yourself & replacing them with something kind every time. This can be about physical OR mental attributes. Sometimes you might FEEL ‘lazy, useless, or hollow’ as a survivor, but if you catch yourself saying those things to yourself, replace them with ‘exhausted and drained from fighting so hard every day. I am a fighter, and it takes a lot of my energy’.
- Doing things that are hard, even if you feel hesitant, because you know it will benefit your life. As a survivor, sometimes little things are very, very hard. Just take them one at a time, and slowly they become easier as you realize what you are capable of.
- Taking a break from “healing” and simply, living. Take a day off from everything if you need. Your brain needs a break here and there! Go somewhere safe with safe people and do something fun that takes your mind off things, like binge-watching Netflix or going for a hike or a yoga class with a trusted friend.
- Telling yourself “I’m lovable just the way I am. I deserve to be loved. I demand respect in all forms of the word”.
- Being patient with yourself when old wounds resurface – because we all know they do.
- Forgiving ourselves for the ways we acted when we were hurting because pain was all we knew.
- Being true to yourself by honouring and respecting your own needs for love, safety, connection & security. It’s giving yourself everything your inner-child needs, offering love, understanding & nurturing every part of your being.
Here’s my question for you – How do you practice self love? Self appreciation? Self acceptance? Do you do it everyday? If not, how can you start?
You should – because you DESERVE IT.
Try meditating on those questions today if you can, and write down what comes up for you.
All my love,
Xx – K
PART TWO ON SELF CARE COMING MONDAY ! 🙂