“Kim! You are so beautiful!” said my mom, friends, family, and strangers. What no one knew, when they said this to me, was that it hurt to hear those words. Any type of compliment was so painful that it started getting difficult to hide. I smiled for pictures, and I tried to dress up as often as I could handle so I could “feel” pretty. That feeling didn’t come until 18 years later.
In 1st grade I hopped on the school bus with all the other kids and was wearing shorts on this particular day. When I sat down I looked down at my thighs and noticed they were bigger than the other girls’ thighs. That’s when the self-hate began, and it snowballed as I got older. My hair looked ugly to me no matter what so I always wanted it short. No matter what, I felt ugly. Nobody could change my mind or make me feel better.
Eventually, the self-hate turned into self-harm, and I was hurting myself physically so I could feel the pain on the outside that I’d been bottling up on the inside. My wrists and legs became covered with open wounds and scars from me cutting. One day I felt comfortable enough with one of my teachers in high school to share my cutting struggle. He walked me down to the guidance counselors office, and I went to that office almost every day after that. Although I felt pain it felt better knowing that someone else was aware of what I was going through and could talk to me about it.
The hatred towards myself continued after high school, and right after I started classes in college I dropped out and began partying a lot and got involved in a poisonous relationship. That relationship lasted 3 years, but the emotional abuse lasted longer. Because I had so much hate for myself I accepted and welcomed hate unknowingly from others. The energy I was putting off was coming back to me, and even friends started showing negativity towards me. I lost a lot of friends in those 3 years not realizing then that others were a reflection of me and since I hated myself others hated me too.
It all started to unfold the day I looked at my beautiful newborn daughter. The thought came to me, “What if she grows up to hate herself?”. My mind started to rewind, and thoughts came to me in pictures. In every instance of my life I have always been beautiful on the inside and out. When I smiled for those pictures I was hurting, but here I am today looking at them and realizing I love myself and always have. I’m still not 100% sure why I hated myself so much…maybe because I was bullied, or because of society’s standards, or maybe just maybe I was embarrassed to love myself because I didn’t know anyone that loved themselves. Whatever the reason was no longer gets to me. I have embraced me for who I am. My daughter helped me see myself as worthy, beautiful, strong. I am a reflection of her as she is of me.
So today, I want to share this story because if you or someone you know is hurting on the inside or out they need support. They need love. Loving yourself doesn’t happen overnight and is a different process for everyone. Just make sure you look in the mirror and are loving who you see. There’s beauty in everyone. Sometimes we have to show others the beauty they possess before we can see our own beauty. But there are also times when we need to seek out help from a counselor or therapist. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help and knowing you are worth it.
If you are looking for information about self-harm, please check out the Self-Harm guide on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website.
If you are in crisis, you can text the Crisis Text Line by texting “Start” to 741-741. It’s free, 24/7 and confidential.