Mantra for today: My bad behaviors do not make me a bad person. I am innately good. What people think of me, does not determine my value. I am valuable. What others feel about me does not make me who I am. I am a diamond in the rough. I am not perfect. I know this about myself, but I am growing each day and no one can take away the joy that I discover along my own path. My past can no longer haunt me because it does not exist. It is a phantom. I am allowed to make good choices from here on out, and I will, but if I mess up, I will quickly acknowledge it, dust myself off, and move forward. Last but not least… my Higher Power only recognizes my soul, which is pure loving energy. My Higher Power does not judge the human being part of me that is imperfect; therefore, I am no longer judging myself because it is extremely harmful to me. I deserve love and I shall learn to love myself through the eyes of my Higher Power.
Ten years ago I got a DUI with my baby girl in the car, and was whisked away to jail while she was delivered into foster care. I thought I would die of shame. If I hated myself before the occurrence (which I did), I thought I deserved to rot in hell afterward. The guilt, fear and low self-esteem that followed my tragic DUI was enough to make anyone want to head for a bridge, and the bridges were plenty in the Bay Area here. But I didn’t jump (duh). I made a decision to get through it after my stepdad compassionately told me (behind a thick piece of government glass) that “this too shall pass,” and also because my grandparents still loved me regardless of the incident. If they loved me, then I must have been worth something, so I weathered the storm and it began with me taking some time to sit alone with myself. My chastising mind was hateful toward me. It told me that I was stupid, and that I was nothing more than a drunk. It told me that I didn’t deserve to be a mom, and that I was a failure of catastrophic proportions. It told me that I would never overcome this obstacle, and that the world was disgusted by me. It told me that I was scarred for life, and that no one would ever see me as anything but a fuck up. I was a fuck up. Period.
But… NO! I wasn’t. I knew this about myself. There was something more to me; something deeper, something better than my behavior, and this was my opportunity to discover what it was that I always denied in myself. I somehow saw the light, and knew that my DUI was a direct intervention from my Higher Power; not the end of me. I was lucky that no one was killed that day, but even if they had been, I would still have to either face my wreckage or fail the remainder of my life by sinking into the depths of self-hatred. I chose to face the wreckage.
It began by me walking into my bathroom several times a day and looking at myself directly in the eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul (they say), therefore, I was going to have a little conversation with the quintessential “me.” I was going to reunite with myself with positive affirmations until I believed them. I knew my thoughts were full of shit. I was on a mission to change the way I thought about myself, and then perhaps my behaviors would follow.
“I LOVE…,” I tried to tell myself in the mirror, but the words were stifled by my own disbelief, so I walked away overcome by uncontrollable tears.
The next day… deep breath… “I LOVE… Y….” Tears welling. I can’t face myself today, but maybe tomorrow.
The following day…. deeper breath… “I LOVE Y..OU!” My body is overcome with both sadness and joy. I can finally say it. I look in the mirror again… “I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU.” I smile, and then I take a break because this moment is incredibly overwhelming.
Lets fast forward to ten years later here, where I’ve been sober for three years and life is pretty damn amazing… I wake up at 5:30 excited to begin my day. I go straight to the mirror without hesitation. I look into my beautiful amber eyes and I can’t stop smiling. I don’t even notice the puffiness of my eyes, the caked mascara, or my messed up hair. I see past all this now because it isn’t who I am. Who I am is so much greater than my reflection. “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, JENNIFER! You are beautiful. You are great. Now get out there and have yourself a terrific day!”
If I were to base my self-worth on my behaviors, I would be buried under a mountain of garbage with no light in sight and no air to breathe. Why would I do this to myself? Whenever someone tells me that they are “bad,” they are making a very relevant statement that they see no good in themselves. Some of us believe that we are forever ruined. This is such a lie we tell ourselves. You weren’t born with a dark soul. We all are essentially good. This doesn’t disappear when we make bad choices. It simply gets forgotten and eventually disregarded if we continue down the dark path, but at any given time in your life, you can return to the goodness that is innately you. You don’t have to continue self-sabotaging or being destructive. It’s a matter of looking in the mirror and recognizing something greater in yourself than what you’ve been reflecting in your life. No one is genuinely “bad.” And you know what else doesn’t make you who you are? Your job, your weight, your height, your sexual preference, your political view, your looks, your smarts or disabilities, how much money you have, what sports you play, who your partner is or isn’t, your lack of hair, or your defects of character…etc. These things may be what people judge you by, but they are absolutely not who you are.
Once you begin the path of recovery (self-love), the people in your life who despise you right now, will either fall off the map because they won’t matter to you, or they will forgive you. Either way they go, does not reflect who you are. You are the only one who can love yourself the way you deserve to be loved. If you can’t love yourself, don’t expect it from others.
One last thing… For the longest time, I hated my own voice. I loved singing, but whenever I heard myself sing, I was gravely disappointed with the sound coming out. I cringed every time I heard my voice, but one day (many years later when I finally liked myself) on a bus (I don’t recall where or when), I began humming. I hummed a little louder when I realized that I was humming, and then I listened carefully to the sound of my own voice. Suddenly I realized that I have always had this voice, from the time I was born until now. It dawned on me that this voice was the only voice that was going to be with me for the remainder of my life, and that I would die with this voice. It was not an ugly voice. It did not annoy me any longer. It was actually a soothing voice, because it was familiar (like home). It was a sacred voice. It came from inside of me, and I was ME. So how could this voice of mine disgust me? It was beautiful, and I accepted it. I accepted my voice and it made me realize that I was beginning to love myself. And you know what? This love I have for myself is greater than any kind of love that would come from another human being. I don’t only love myself… I freaking adore myself. I think I’m the SHIT. Not in an egotistical manner, but in the way that a mother looks at her child’s face and sees perfection. That’s how I love myself today.
You are just as amazing as I am, but I can only lead you to the water here. The rest is up to you.