When You Stop Using Your Heart As A Punching Bag

About a year ago, something pretty shitty happened to me. A fight-or-flight response was required: I chose to bathe in self-pity, drowning in my own filth and misery. I had slipped past shore, was lost, and eventually found myself at rock bottom. Through reflection, taking accountability and many “a-ha moments,” I realized what bulldozed me to my lowest point: myself. Not him, not her — myself. I didn’t love myself. In fact, I was using my heart as a punching bag, and asking others to “Step right up!” In the last year, I changed that. I decided to love myself. I came back swinging. And so many beautiful, brilliant things in my life occurred quickly after.

When you decide to love yourself, the sharp, stabbing pieces of your broken heart dissipate.

Without self-love, we are weighed by failure and more than willing to pile on blame and responsibility for doomed and severed ties. This activity only breaks our backs — the same backs we dismembered bending over backwards. Spineless and feeble, we are putty in the hands: something to be rid of, something that slips through. In this pitted state, we are blind to the truth that we are worthy of greatness, repentance, and tender past our wounds. It is self-love that molds our matter into something solid. With self-love, the putty is reconstructed to build a fortress of strength, sufficiency, nobility and courage. Once you are standing tall, you will look below to see that the pain that brought you here is beneath you. In time, you will make baby steps then graduate to strides, running past demons and haunted memories.

When you decide to love yourself, you are introduced to yourself.

When sweating from societal pressures and bloated from media consumption, our identity can be muddled and contrived. Conditioned to base our happiness on how happy we are making others, it’s natural to collect our needs and dump them in a graveyard with the rest of our dreams, goals and bucket lists. Before long, the tightrope we walk between subservience and self-serving turns into a noose, smothering us. We are left reaching for something or someone to save us. Self-love breathes a new life into our lungs. When health and happiness is a priority, we visit that graveyard of dreams, goals and bucket lists, and breathe life back into our passions. We are reintroduced to abandoned pastimes, and we get to know ourselves again. You can save yourself; you just have to love yourself first.

When you decide to love yourself, you will experience true love.

When we are plagued with doubt, loathing and insecurity, we are crippled with the false notion that someone will still love us anyway, thus giving us permission to love ourselves. When unfamiliar with the brilliance and reassurance of self-love, we come to believe that love can be, must be, and will only be something difficult and something that pierces you. Naïve and emotionally isolated, we will stay in unhealthy, unsatisfying friendships, relationships and partnerships, particularly ones that reinforce the doubts we have within ourselves. Self-loathing is a fatal tango, in which it leads and we follow. Because it cuts so deeply, we mistake the rush of emotions, the breathless dizziness, and the motion of being jerked and pulled in the dance for passion. The confusion only translates into our relationships and partnerships. Once we love ourselves, we identify our happiness and needs as priorities. We are alive knowing our worth, and that feeling unloved or emotionally —deprived is nothing we have to endure again. We begin to embark on relationships where we are cherished by our partners just as much as we cherish ourselves. We recognize that love does not have to be difficult or unrequited, nor should a relationship act as currency for validation. With self-love, you choose refreshingly honest relationships, and enter a romance with your own happiness.

When you decide to love yourself, you see the truth.

When we do not love ourselves, we are deaf and blocked from many things and many joys. Privy to the “noise,” we turn up the tune of rejections, negativity and the confusion. Consequently (though understandably), we buy into a lot of the bullshit, put up with a lot of bullshit and believe a lot of bullshit. But self-love always reveals many truths. (We all have a different, unique truth.) And the truth will set you free.

If I have one piece of advice, it’s to love yourself first, because you are beautiful and deserve pure happiness without self-sacrificing stipulations. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

featured image – Erin Kelly

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