When I received the words from this beautiful woman I don’t know if she had any clue the impact that they would have on me and the level to which I would be able to relate. More and more in my adult life I am finding that having anxiety about abandonment and being left behind is a very very common thing. For so many years I felt alone in my story. All of my friends with their perfect little families, and I was the child of a terrible and pretty violent divorce. I always felt that I was alone. That no one could understand me. That no one would know what it was like to be the one left behind. That I might be the only one with “daddy issues”
But through my work with LRP I am exposed to so many incredible women and so many women who are willing to share their stories with me. Through this work I have learned that I am not alone.
I am not alone in my anxiety, I am not alone in my self doubt, I am not alone in my fears of the unknown…
And I am not alone on my journey to constantly strive to beat the voices of worthlessness.
I was talking to my therapist the other day, yes, that’s right, I go to therapy…and I am incredibly proud of myself for it. I believe we overall need to de-stigmatize mental health and start realizing that help exists for a reason….but I digress…. I was talking to my therapist the other day and she asked me a very triggering question…she asked me to define how one achieves self love.
I sat there dumbfounded at my lack of words….here I sat, a woman who’s business is named The Self Love Experience and yet it took me a minute to find my words. It was the conclusion that I came to after that really grounded me even more in my mission.
Self Love can come in many forms, but I think the core root of it is that self love begins when you push yourself past your comfort zone to do something for yourself.
For me that comfort zone is relaxing. I constantly guilt myself when I want to take a break and work myself to sickness. For Kristen self love comes in the form of a special yoga class and time with her fur baby Baxter, For Erin Self Love comes in the form of pushing herself to do things she has never done before and put herself out there.
I have been doing years of work on learning to love my body. Learning to dress my body. But I had never spent the time to learn to love my own mind. So here I am, in therapy, carving out scheduled time off, and doing something that makes me feel uncomfortable because I know that I deserve it.
So what is Self Love?
Self love starts the moment you decide to do something for yourself.
Now, buckle up because today’s babe is about to open your mind and get you thinking about yourself, I know she did for me. Continue below to read her story!
“The most important thing I learned about myself when anxiety finally pushed me into therapy in my early 20s was that I have a powerful need to be good enough for everyone around me. Full disclosure: I was adopted as an infant…it was the classic tale of adoptive parents told that they couldn’t have a child and birth parents who were too young to raise one. It’s never been a secret…my parents have always made it very clear to me that, while I’m not blood related, I am no less their child than my two sisters, who unexpectedly came along later. Consciously, I’ve always believed that they truly mean that… But as many adopted children can understand, the subconscious abandonment issues are not fully engulfed by any amount of love given by adoptive families, friends, lovers…not even our own children. And so I spent the first half of my life so far doing anything and everything I could to prove to my parents that they were right to “choose” me…I busted my ass, stressed myself to the max, overachieved in everything I took on. Obedient child, check (for the most part). Academics, perpetual honor roll. Big sister, solid role model. Softball, star pitcher. College, academic and athletic scholarships. And everything in between. My stress back then was productive…it motivated me to reach my end game.
Unfortunately, on the flip side of that coin were my “failures”. I went through a rebel phase (not by today’s standards, but for my perfectionist self in the 90s)…and although I was an expert liar (sorry, Mom & Dad!), the guilt inside started to eat me alive. Of course, in adulthood, there are increasingly larger challenges, which lead to more satisfying successes…and also more debilitating failures.
Among my most consistent failures were relationships. I was always the jealous, clingy girlfriend who needed constant reassurance that my partner loved me enough to stick around. For those who stuck around long enough to try to convince me that I was loved, I often found myself seeking affection from other partners (again, really good liar). I was incapable of believing that I was good enough for anyone, no matter how many times anyone told me that I was. Picture my anxiety (and as it happens, my blood pressure) skyrocketing.
I met my husband when I was just turning 22 and he was 32. I was a hot mess emotionally, but was able to play the part of the fun, carefree, no-strings-attached kind of girl. Until I wasn’t. My insecurities started to trickle out, and then the floodgates eventually opened. Our first five years together were rocky…I was trying to navigate my emotions, he was walking on eggshells. Now we’re 16 years in, with two beautiful daughters. He reminds me every day how much he loves me, and that our babies are lucky to have me as a mom. But I never fully believed it…in fact, I’ve often felt like motherhood has been my biggest failure, and that my my girls deserve so much better.
…Enter the LRP crew. “Self-Love Experience” sounds so empowering, but it’s still somehow an understatement! What Lindsay, Erin and Randi did for me was a game changer. Having originally booked the session as a gift to my husband, I walked into the studio with very little self-esteem and my trusty anxiety (we go everywhere together). What happened in the studio transcended the physical…I had pushed myself to do something that was so far out of my comfort zone, and nailed it; I felt brave. Lindsay was so passionate about capturing these moments and so encouraging; I felt beautiful. I held some pretty impressive poses (she’s not kidding when she says streeeetch!!) for longer than I thought I could; I felt strong. I realized that even though the end product was intended as a gift for my husband, the real gift was mine; I felt relaxed. I felt worth it.
It’s now been two months since my session. I can say with absolute sincerity that, for the first time in my life, I believe my husband when he tells me I’m beautiful. I believe him when he says he loves me. I believe my parents when they say they’re proud of me. I believe that I’m doing the best that I can as a mother, and that my girls don’t expect perfection. I’ve spent my entire life trying to be good enough for every single person that I care about…except myself. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am worth it.” ~ Ms. S
Hair and Makeup by: Erin Marie Artistry
Personal Styling by: Randi Poillon for The Shops at The Loft