Loving myself has never came easy to me. In fact, if I were to look how I love myself as a relationship I would say it was abusive.  For many years, I have hated myself inside and out because of societal and cultural pressures. I always struggled with my weight and my round face. I was told I was not pretty enough, not talented enough, not skinny enough, and not smart enough many times in my life, sometimes from those I loved. Through the years, I despised myself so much that I used food to comfort myself and self-harm to punish myself.  It was not until I was diagnosed with Major Depression about five years ago that I realized I had to be courage and love myself.

At first, it was like learning how to walk all over again. I had to combat the negative thoughts in my head and replace them with the truth. I began to write on post its things that I liked about myself. It was difficult at first, I struggled to find things I liked about myself.  I started to stick the post its everywhere in my house. On my bathroom mirror, my front door, my kitchen, in the fridge, and above my bed. Anywhere and everywhere that I would look, especially places that I knew I would think negatively about myself. I slowly started to listen to the beautiful things my support system said about me.  I also began to say thank you to compliments instead of saying something negative about myself in return. I believe that self-care and my support system not only helped me learn to love myself but also saved my life. I started to love myself and in return I started to be active in my own life.  I went back to college and was the first person to graduate in my family. I started to walk marathons and trails. I moved to a city have been dreaming of moving to since I was a teenager. I began to make real connections with people and encourage them to love themselves.  I also decided to go to graduate school in order to be able to work with people in crisis. I love my life, the scars, the battles, and the joys.

Learning to love myself took time and it still is a lot of work. Every day I have to decide that I am worth loving myself and receiving love from others.  My post its may be fading but they are still a reminder that I am enough and that I am deserving of love. I still struggle with my weight, I still doubt if I am smart enough, and I still struggle with not fitting into societal norms. However, now I am able to combat my feelings and find other ways to express them other than eating or harming myself. That is what this journey is all about for me. The positive post its do not make my thoughts go away, but they remind me of what I am fighting for. They are a constant reminder that I need to love myself in order to live a full life.

Val Tovar

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