Tears

Tears are amazing. They can be incredibly therapeutic and useful for processing so many emotions on many ends of the spectrum: from sadness to joy, depression to hilarity. I’m so grateful for the ability to feel strong emotion and to express it in such a tangible way. Tears are an excellent release of feeling, sometimes multiple emotions at once (especially for teenage girls, as my sisters teased my thirteen-year-old overly emotional self: “why don’t you cry about it? Now laugh about it. Now cry about it. Now laugh about it.”). 

I’m a movie crier. I cry in pretty much every movie I watch: Disney movies to action to period pieces to comedy. It doesn’t matter what kind of movie it is, I’ve probably cried in it. I suppose it’s because I’m overly sensitive and empathetic. Last December I stopped crying in movies. Processing my own pain, I cried a lot. I could barely squeeze out a tear in the saddest of movies (unless I was already crying about something else). I suppose I didn’t have the emotional energy to cry for the people in movies. Honestly, this scared me, I couldn’t verbalize it at the time, but I was scared that part of me (my empathetic side) had disappeared.

There are randomly things that remind me of how far I have come in my journey of healing, even in only 10 months. I am happy to report that my movie crying self has been restored. This probably sounds silly and trivial, but I cried during “Gravity.” Actually cry is an understatement. I sobbed, the kind of sobbing where you leave the theatre with swollen, ugly, puffy eyes and everyone looks at you funny wondering what movie you were watching. And I wasn’t crying for myself. I was crying for the characters. I was crying as I imagined her fear, her pain, her emotions. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. I’m a sucker for stories with a strong, female lead and character development (thanks Mom and Dad!). I thought it was very well done. And I cried. A lot. So it will always have a special place in my heart as the movie that reminded me that my empathetic, movie-crying self still exists. It’s the little things in life I suppose.

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Learning to Like Myself

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with my dear friend Kellie. As we were chatting about life and some things I had been processing, I suddenly had an epiphany while we were talking that I shared with her: “I like myself!”

I realized that for the first time in my life I really like who I am and who I see myself becoming. Actually, there is video of 3-year-old me and I seem pretty confident in who I am and how great I am. So I suppose sometime in Elementary School is when my self-esteem started to plummet. I’m not sure why. I don’t think I was bullied. I certainly was teased and life was somewhat tumultuous for a few years. I had to deal with things that I would not wish on any fourth grader. Life was really stressful and I was sick all the time. My mom had to come pick me up from the clinic a ridiculous number of times because I had thrown up or felt like I was going to. I threw up on the first day of school for many years and I missed many days of school due to “stomach pain” (read: stress).

Somehow I had gotten it into my head that I was overweight, stupid, and would need to work extra hard to be worthy of love. I would say things or do things and if people laughed at me or teased me I would replay that moment over. And over. And over. And over. My stomach would get all knotted up and often I would tell myself how stupid I was for saying whatever I had said.

In Middle School and High School, I continued to feel this way. It was bad. I put on confident airs, I had many friends, and I tried to pretend I didn’t care what people thought of me (not sure how well I did this). But I would lay awake at night, replaying my day, scolding myself for the many stupid things I had done. To some of you who have never struggled with self-esteem this probably sounds melodramatic. Others may know exactly what I’m talking about.

It took facing the most devastating rejection I can imagine to build up my self-esteem and to stop caring about what other people think of me. It seems so weird to even type that; it’s certainly not logical. But it’s been true for my life.

When I faced the rejection of divorce I had to truly look at who I am as a human being. I realized that I needed to stop letting other people tell me who I am and tell me how much love I am worthy of receiving by how much love they were giving. I spent months praying, seeking Jesus, and learning who I am (this is definitely an ongoing process). The more I fall in love with Jesus, the more I am willing to let Him tell me who I am, the more confident I become and ultimately, the more I like myself.

It’s still blows my mind a little bit that I can say this: I like myself. I make mistakes, but that’s okay (as my mom told me once, “mistakes are a part of growing up”). I don’t really care what people think of me. Do I want people to like me? Sure. Does that consume my thoughts? No. Do I enjoy receiving compliments? Absolutely. (Who doesn’t?!) And what’s even more fun is that I actually believe them now! I still have more work to do. And it often takes an act of will power to not care what people say. But those moments are becoming more and more infrequent. I spend way more time liking myself now then being frustrated or stressed with/about myself.

Can you say, “I like myself” and mean it? If not, I encourage you to start looking at yourself beyond your flaws and faults! You don’t have to wait for emotional devastation like I did to begin this process. Take time to figure out who you are on a soul level and learn who you are as a person, beyond your roles and what you are doing. And I am willing to bet that you will start liking yourself too! Dear friend, please know you are worthy of love, that you have worth, and that you have something to offer those around you! Be at peace with yourself and then you will be able to grow and love and be better at just being you!