Regardless of what happened to you in the past or how you were mistreated by others, what matters most is how you are treating yourself today.
As a child and young adult I was molested by a male baby sitter and doctor. I suffered under religious and societal persecution. I was not a good student, or pretty, or self-assured and was told I was not smart enough, I was worthless, and that I would never amount to anything. People said and did lots of hurtful things to me. I was mistreated in harmful ways. Ridicule, bullying, and judgment made me angry.
When I expressed my anger I was punished or shamed into repressing my emotions. I felt rejected, unheard, and my emotions discounted. Often I’d express that I was angry, sad, fearful, disappointed, only to be told, “Oh no, you’re not feeling that.” As a young person I learned to mistrust my own perceptions and suppress what I felt. Not being able to express anger in healthy ways I turned that anger and frustration inward.
I developed many negative and self-destructive habits like smoking, drinking, and moving from relationship to relationship. I allowed myself to be mistreated and abused. I did not set boundaries, had no ability to stay true to myself, allowed people to use me as a doormat, and was co-dependent looking to other people for validation and self-worth. I spent without responsibility putting on a good show to for outside world that I was happy. There was a time I abused prescription drugs and alcohol. I did not care about the risks and thought dying would be the answer to my messed up life.
One day I was blessed with a huge self-loving realization. It was not possible for me to wave a magic wand and presto the sexual molestation was erased like it never happened. I had no power to fix or change other people or my past and how I was treated. So, why was I still allowing a horrible past to dictate how I was living in the present? Why was I still treating myself badly? Who was going to treat me in the loving, respectful, and supportive ways I wanted if I did not treat myself lovingly, respectfully, and supportive first?
To let go of my past I had to become focused on and responsible for my present. I had to get my act together by getting my behavior together. I had to let go of feeling deserving of abuse. Deep down I knew I was not now, and never had been, deserving of mistreatment. People do hurtful and stupid things. But that did not mean I had to keep the self-abuse alive.
As we enter 2015, let go of the idea hurting yourself will get back at those people who hurt you in the first place. One of the greatest acts of self-love is refusing to allow your past to define your present. Self-love begins in earnest when you accept that regardless of what happened to you in the past or how you were mistreated by others, what matters most is how you are treating yourself today.
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