As a baby, I had a tumor on my face. The tumor grew rapidly and aggressively when I was just a few weeks old. At the time there weren’t a lot of treatment options available. By the time my parents found a surgeon who knew how to treat me I had a tumor that covered most of the right side of my face. This resulted in numerous plastic and reconstructive surgeries until I was 21 years old. As you can imagine I was left with scars on my face. Due to the trauma I faced, I developed self-limiting beliefs about myself. I told myself I wasn’t pretty, I’m fat, no one will want to be with me, I am not worthy. I felt like my scar defined me and I was always self-conscious that people only saw my scar and not who I truly was.
I was so consumed with other people’s opinions of me that I never nurtured my relationship with myself. I never stopped to ask myself, “Do you like you?” I spent every moment wishing I could change the way I looked instead of appreciating the life I had. I was literally wasting precious moments worried about trivial things instead of living my life. Who cares if I have a scar and who cares what size jeans I wear. Those things do not define who I am.
I look at myself in a completely different light now. I see someone who has been faced with adversity and has come out on the other side. I am freaking amazed by everything I have put this body through. This body has survived over 20 surgeries. This body put one foot in front of the other when my dad passed away. This body gave me strength when I got divorced. This body has walked hundreds of miles in the ER helping save other people’s lives. This body has held me up when I was drowning in my own negative thoughts. So yea, this body might not be perfect by society’s standards but this body is perfect to me. I had to learn to love myself as I was, imperfections and all. My body is a gift and I only wish I had realized it sooner.
Learning to love and accept myself did not come easy though. It took many years of self-destructive behavior before I understood what self-love meant. Here are 5 tips that helped me move out of my toxic headspace.