How to love your tummy in 5 easy steps: Step 1

If you read the last series (yay!) you hopefully now know that:

1. I really like lists.

2. I have a thing for run on sentences.

3. These are all stories about me and my life and my experiences for all the world to see.

4. My hope is that by sharing on a public forum it will help at least someone feel less alone. Sometimes we think we are the only ones feeling the emotions we feel and while I may not be going through your exact situation, a common theme is shared by all.

Ok but seriously, what’s the trick to this self-love thing?

First and foremost you need to believe you are worth loving without any restrictions. 

People used to tell me I was beautiful, kind, fun, etc. and I would politely say thank you but in my mind I would add to it. I would complete their sentence In my head with phrases like:

  • Until you see what my body really looks like.
  • Because you feel have to say something nice.
  • Until someone prettier comes along.
  • I can go on and on.

I couldn’t even take a compliment. That’s how low my self confidence was. That’s how little I valued myself. It wasn’t just about my body anymore. Despite being surrounded by loving friends, I felt very alone in this feeling.

It was 2010 and I was in the thick of a very low point in my life. I was struggling In every way I could imagine. After 2 kids, my tummy was a mess and I kept discovering more and more stretch marks and I was up to a size 10. I was working two jobs and knew that nothing was going to change. I was stuck in a vicious cycle. In March of that year I got the news that my cousin was getting married in October. This isn’t just any cousin. This is the woman who was like a sister to me. Everyone knows how much we absolutely love each other despite the distance. I was going to do anything I could to get to her wedding which also happened to be in Colombia. My excitement of possibly seeing my family after 10 years was through the roof! They could finally meet my kids, the kids would travel on a plane for the first time, and I could show my husband my beautiful home country! That excitement was short lived. When I told my husband he said he didn’t think we could afford it and he didn’t feel comfortable flying to a foreign country where he didn’t know the language and we’d have to get passports for the kids which was an additional expense. I was devastated. I cried at the thought of missing this special day for someone who flew to come be a part of mine. I cried again that another dream had been crushed. I cried a lot at this time in my life. I didn’t know what else I could do.

This time though, I did something different. I took a stand. I was working these two jobs for a reason. I put everyone else’s needs in front of my own. For once, I was going to put me first. I was terrified to tell my husband. I was made to feel selfish but I knew that was coming. I was apparently being inconsiderate by making this decision on my own. Guilt was the strongest tool a person could use against me. It made me afraid but with the help of my parents, I moved forward with the plan despite that fear and I made it happen. I went to Colombia and was alone with my children and parents for the first time. It was beauitful to see my family. They are the most loving and caring people. I felt so guilty for not keeping in touch or visiting. I didn’t want them to be dissapointed at what my life had become.

Turns out, they didn’t care. The moment we landed in the country I was showered with love. They embraced me as if they had seen me the day before. They reminded me how amazing it was to be a part of something special. They were supportive and encouraging and I didn’t want to come back home by the end. I felt so safe and happy and a small spark ignited in me. That trip proved to me what I was too scared to declare out loud but they knew. My aunt, who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years looked at me and simply said “I am going to pray for you.” She didn’t need me to say anythingand didn’t ask for an explanation. You can hide your fears and sadness from a lot of people and put on a good show but the people who love you the most will see past all of that. It also showed me that I needed to start putingt myself first because no one else was going to and that loving myself was ok and healthy and important. They reminded me of my hopes and my dreams and did more for me in those 2 weeks than they’ll ever realize.

This was another life changing moment and what I learned from it was:

1. Loving yourself isn’t selfish. Anyone else who tries to convince you otherwise has a hidden agenda. Loving yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family. I feel like a better mother, friend, boss, girlfriend, best friend simply because I am coming into these relationships feeling complete. Loving yourself can mean letting go of things/people that are hurting you. It can mean taking time to do something kind for yourself. It can mean you taking a look in the mirror and loving every bit of what you see. Sacrifices come with all relationships but it should never be at the expense of no longer valuing yourself.

2. When people don’t love themselves that’s not your fault. I took on a lot. I am not the only one. The one thing you can’t take responsibility for is how much someone loves themselves. The saddest thing about this is that someone who tells you they love you doesn’t know how to love because they don’t know how. They can try with all of tier heart but unless they heal themselves they just can’t. Tragically this leads to animosity and your self love becomes the source of their self loathing because they just can’t seem to get what you have. Love yourself no matter what.

3. There no such things a quick fix. That realization that I needed to love myself (my whole self) happened 5 years ago. It was a spark at the time. Like any fire it needs time and work to keep it going. It needs lots of attention to turn into the roaring fire I have inside of me know. That’s the kind of fire that can’t be contained. It spills over and hopefully helps someone ignite their own.

I still doubt myself sometimes.

Just when I wasn’t sure if this was the direction I should go in or if I could cut it as a writer/blogger/whatever I am becoming, this happened:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/juliegerstein/women-are-proudly-showing-off-their-stretch-marks-with-lovey?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#.ty3GxrZPA

My little Power To Prevail Instagram that only had 3 followers exploded. I was one of about 15 accounts featured in the #loveyourlines movement article on Buzzfeed! I had no clue but then I saw this:

I am humbled. I am floored. I am overjoyed that I could be a part of this random person’s moment towards self love.

Stay tuned for Step 2

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One thought on “How to love your tummy in 5 easy steps: Step 1

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