Back before I met my wonderful hubby, I was a pretty unhappy person. Three messy break-ups over the course of three years destroyed my self esteem. I had a few friends, but not many and the person I’d considered my best friend turned around and stabbed me in the back a year beforehand (taking a number of our friends with her). I spent a lot of time convincing people I was happy while I was a right mess inside.
I was so desperate for attention, good, bad, it didn’t really matter. And I went to some pretty self-destructive extremes to get it. I won’t go into much detail because those are difficult memories, but it was purely luck that kept me from getting myself seriously hurt.
When I looked in the mirror I didn’t see a person that deserved love and affection; I saw a fat, ugly woman that was fortunate to get any consideration from a man. I allowed myself to be used and hurt by people to whom I shouldn’t have given a second thought, but felt they deserved it for paying me any mind.
When I sat down to eat, I didn’t think about what I needed to fuel my body. If it made me feel good at that moment, that’s what I ate – never mind I felt terrible afterwards.
At the same time I struggled to keep up a good front for the world. To my parents, to my peers, to my professors I was the perfect student, daughter, friend, and colleague. I carried a 3.8 – 4.0 GPA my junior year of college, I got involved in all kinds of activities, but I hated myself. I didn’t date any of the men I went to school with because I was too involved with the jerks crushing my soul. I’d look at the girls around me – smiling, laughing, happy – and I’d want to be them because being me was so depressing.
I spent my life pretending I was anyone else but me. I’d traipse off to the renaissance faire to dress up, talk funny, and leave my life behind. There I allowed myself the leeway to feel just a little pretty, but couldn’t get that owing people feeling out of my mind. Usually I felt a little better if I only knew their first name and they only knew mine – that way they couldn’t find me later, but that didn’t always work.
Over those years, however, there were rays of hope and love. I discovered I had friends that would stick with me through the hard times, people who would stop me from making very, very bad decisions, and comfort me when I made those choices. A lot of who I am now is because of those folks, and they helped me reach a place where I could start to be happy with myself again.
It took me several years after meeting my hubby to really come to terms with my past. No, it wasn’t suddenly a magically magical life with rainbows and kittens and sunshine. We put a lot of hard work into the ten years of our relationship and had our ups and downs. The difference was I finally met someone who was worth the work, who appreciated and respected me, who saw the beautiful person I was even when I didn’t see it, not someone who upon viewing with beer goggles wasn’t entirely repellant.
And sometimes my past rears its ugly head telling me I don’t deserve the happiness I have. It’s the little devil on my shoulder that misses the freedom of those times. Isn’t it crazy that I forget how much I disliked myself? Disliked how I felt all the time? But I just have to take a few moments to remember the tears, remember the soul aching pain, the heartbreak and the hurt to know I would never want to go back to that life.
I just have to keep repeating this to myself: I deserve to be happy and I am worth it.