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I was completely unaware of my surroundings as I stared at the mirror. The reflection was that of a young woman with long hair and sad eyes. Her body looked damaged and malnourished: her ribs and collarbones were sticking out, her belly was bloated, her skin was so dry it was bleeding in certain areas, and her legs were covered in bruises. She looked familiar, but not quite.
It was only when I caught a glimpse of the two moles above her lips that I truly believed this person was me. It was me in this body; the face with the bitter expression on it was mine. I was about to feel sorry for this being, when suddenly an angry voice – was it my voice? – started speaking.
At first, it was merely a whisper. It wasn’t very clear. Pretty soon, however, the words became louder and undeniable: “liar, disgusting, not good enough.”
These words were nothing new to me.
In fact, I was used to them. It was actually a peculiar situation. The way I struggled with self-hate was in the form of a defense mechanism, for nothing anybody could say to me would be worse than what I had already said to myself.
Needless to say, my plan wasn’t working out as well as I had expected. While it might have protected me from other people’s criticism, this habit of mine was most definitely forcing me to face the worst enemy I could have ever imagined: my own mind.
You would think I could have come up with a better plan as soon as I realized how dangerous and out of hand the situation was turning. And yes, it did occur to me, but the cycle kept going nonetheless. I did nothing to stop.
You see, these self-destructive tendencies need to be fed, and we do this by repeating them, over and over again.
The more we act on them, the stronger they get, until they finally become real. They are, in many ways, an addiction.
The voice in my head was terrifying. It was incredibly overwhelming, to such an extreme that I developed unhealthy behaviors not only to cope with said voice, but also to punish myself for letting it control me. “You’re weak and fearful” – I pulled my hair out. “You’re only good at causing pain to the people who love you” – I skipped a meal or exercised intensely for hours. “You’re a hypocrite and a coward” – I pinched and scratched the skin on my toes until they bled. “No one will ever love you, you’re too damaged” – I drank until I felt numb.
Living with a never-ending war inside one’s mind is exhausting. I didn’t want to live like this anymore, but I refused to give up on life altogether. So I decided to save my life and start loving myself in the process.
I knew all those things I despised about myself were still there, my flaws were not going anywhere.
I made the choice to give them kindness instead of hate.
Sounds too simple, I know, easier said than done, right? But the thing is, it can absolutely be done.
For me, it was a matter of changing words: “evil” became “compassionate;” “unique” instead of “worthless.” I chose not to see myself as a victim. I am a survivor.
Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s not hard; it takes a great deal of patience, willpower and commitment. To be honest, there were days when I felt I had no strength left. The voice in my head was louder, more furious than ever, and it was right during one of these moments when I realized the reason it was screaming was because it was dying. Moreover, strength is not something we can run out of, it’s something we build, and it is up to ourselves to make it infinite.
I found myself standing in front of the mirror again. This time I didn’t need the reassurance of who the person I was staring at was.
My mind was quiet as I once more caught a glimpse of the two moles above my lips. It was only when I smiled that the voice inside my head broke the silence and murmured the word “beautiful.”
We are not helpless when it comes to our thoughts.
We can develop the ability to choose them. How amazing is this? We actually have the power to change our lives for the better. It’s all in our hands. All the happiness we could ever wish for is already within us. It has always been.
I am proud to say I did it. I love myself entirely and unconditionally. My life is not all rainbows and butterflies though, then again, no one’s is. I still struggle. I still have bad days and really bad days, and that’s ok. We cannot avoid pain or unfortunate events, but the decision on how we take them is all ours.
Turns out our mind can also be our best ally.
The voice inside my head is now soft, patient, and nurturing. “I’m sorry you’re having a bad time. You’re going to feel really bad for a while, it might hurt and you are possibly about to experience some terrible urges that will cause you harm if you act on them. Please remember that the pain will pass. You are strong, you are important, and you deserve to be alive.” – I stroke my hair and plant a kiss on my forearm.
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