As a kid I had a really hard time loving myself. As a teen, I loathed who I was and despised what I looked like. An eating disorder ensued. Self-mutilation in private was a common occurrence. I had an abusive relationship with clinical depression and I flirted with thoughts of suicide. Fortunately, I never had the guts to go ahead with it.
My twenties were spent trying to peel off layer upon layer of self-hatred. At 29 I managed to write and publish my first book, Me siento gorda (I Feel Fat) about my battle with bulimia and depression. And I felt like a fake. There I was being interviewed on TV, telling others how to recognize and overcome a distorted self-image and where to find help for their eating disorder, and yet I had not conquered mine.
It wasn’t until I turned 35, was married and pining for a baby, that I started to really take care of my body and soul as they deserved. That marked the beginning of my path to self-love. A few more authored books later, I also started feeling more respect towards myself intellectually. And when, at 37, I held my first-born in my arms, I experienced unconditional love for her and a sense of spiritual and emotional fulfillment that has only expanded since.
At 40, when many women are dealing with teenage kids or even grandkids, I gave birth to my second baby. By then I utterly and completely respected myself as woman.
So I spent my 40’s not only nurturing myself as I’d never done before, but also modeling self-respect and self-love for my daughters. I didn’t want them to grow up hating themselves as I had done. Every year during their physical check-up their doctor would ask each of them: “Do you like yourself?” and they would look all googly-eyed and answer a resounding, “Well, yeah!” as if it were the only choice. Thank goodness they didn’t know it could have been different for them.
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Now at 50 I look at pictures of myself as a kid, as a teen, a young adult, and I wish I had known back then how much I really deserved to be loved by me. The upside is that, had I not battled with self-esteem issues then, I possibly would not be as empathetic and grounded today. I might not have turned out to be such a good role model for my girls, now 13 and 10. I have no idea what’ll happen as they get older. But right now, today, they are confident, outgoing and fun-loving, the way it should be.
At 50 I can wear a T-shirt that says #LoveUrself and own it! It took a lifetime for this to happen, but the results are worth every single step of my long and winding journey to self-acceptance.
If your self-esteem is not where it should be, no matter your age, get help, find a support group, see a therapist. I’m not kidding. It’s no small deal. When you’re finally able to completely and fully love who you are, you become a better person, a better woman, mother, friend and lover. If more of us loved ourselves unconditionally, the world would be a much nicer place.
So take up the challenge if you dare. Update your status on Facebook, post a picture on Instagram, write a blog post, send a tweet, and tell us why you #LoveUrself. Fake it till you make it if you have to! And don’t forget to use that hashtag. Affirmations are powerful.
Please know that we will all cheer you on!