By: Lauren Ely
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt abandoned. My father didn’t care enough about me and my family and was not a part of my life for much of my childhood. When I fell extremely ill with severe anxiety, my mother did everything she could to help me get better, but eventually gave up over the years. I’ve gone through friendship after friendship and have felt extremely alone for most of the years of my life. As much as I hate to admit it, I still fear being alone. I still fear being left behind.
When I graduated high school and survived the dreadful years of being told I was “emo” and should kill myself, I thought college would be so much better. I thought, perhaps it will be during these next 4 years that I will find my true friends and the love of my life, if I’m lucky. After all, it was always my biggest dream to find my bridesmaids and my groom during my college years. But in all fairness, college has turned out to be both the best years, and also the absolute worst years of my life.
I finally decided to break up with my long-term boyfriend halfway through college because I came to discover how little he actually cared for me. He was never there for me, never made time to even talk to me, and treated me like nothing more than just an object. I thought to myself what am I doing? I deserve so much better. But my later experiences only made me feel the exact opposite. Ever since I’ve been single, I’ve been lied to, manipulated, used, and left behind by men who seemingly once cared. I should say boys, though, these were not men. It was like a constant pattern though; forever falling in love and getting my heart broken in the end. Over and over and over again. Forever convincing myself I wasn’t good enough, or that I must be ugly. I began blaming myself for the bad people who so easily walked out of my life, and I had actually convinced myself that I was ugly. That I wasn’t enough. That I didn’t have what these other girls had. I had taught myself how to loathe my own existence.
To top it all off, something even more traumatizing and scarring would happen to me on the night of Valentine’s Day my junior year. Though most of my night was such a blur, one thing that I DO remember very clearly was repeatedly saying, “no, no, I’m not ready, I don’t feel comfortable.” This was the first and hopefully the last time I went unheard, was disregarded, and sexually assaulted. I felt like I was living in a horrible nightmare, being either forced or convinced to open myself up to others, both physically and emotionally. Every morning, it took the greatest strength for me to just get myself out of bed. Most days I couldn’t even get dressed until 4 in the afternoon. I rarely ever made it to class, began failing terribly in school, and ended up having to change my pre-med major and bury those dreams of someday becoming a doctor. I had spiraled into a deep depression, was drunk most days out of the week, and I was afraid for my life every single second of every single day. I would never wish for anyone to feel so alone and be in such a dark place like I was. To put it simply, I felt like I was trapped in a dead, empty body, barely gripping to life. So Worth Loving is what I turned to for hope. It’s what made me feel like I wasn’t so alone. It was my inspiration and my reason for why I’ve been able to dig myself out of such a scary mess. I could never thank them and their followers enough for what they’ve done for me.
I got more involved with singing, started taking poetry classes, and I even made my own poetry portfolio. I’ve printed out a poem titled “Love After Love” that perfectly portrays the importance of loving yourself, and I’ve taped it to my mirror. This is what I read every morning when I wake up. I moved to the other side of the world for a few weeks and hiked a whole lot of mountains. I found beauty in my surroundings and learned I had a whole lot of passions I didn’t even know about. All of these things were my own form of therapy; this was what made me happy. Soon enough, I began to realize that there is a whole world out there that is filled with things that bring me happiness, I just failed to see them for far too long. And all this time, I was giving other people the power to dictate my value. I gave other, irrelevant people the power to make me feel worthless and hate myself for too many years of my life. I failed to recognize that my worth was not dependent on others, and that no one could dictate that but me. I was blind and naïve and I wish I could take it all back. I wish I could take back all the years I spent telling myself I’m ugly and not good enough. I was the biggest and most hurtful bully in my own life. I failed every single morning to look at myself in the mirror and realize how actually unique and valuable I am for just being me. No one in this world is me, and that in itself is something so beautiful. And still, to this moment, I am so upset with myself for wasting such a perfectly great strength of making it a point to just be happy for way too long. I was the victim and the bully at the same time, how twisted and messed up is that?
SWL has helped me get through so much in the past few years. I’ve struggled with terrible anxiety and depression and have encountered some awful people and experiences, but I know that if I can make it out of a complete mess, you can too. It takes a lot of time and effort, but if you continuously tell yourself how beautiful and worthy of love you are, you’ll begin to actually feel it and believe it. You’ll learn to let go of people in your life who don’t deserve you and don’t deserve to stay. You’ll learn to be empowered and to never allow someone to treat you as if you’re nothing, because you’ll know that you ARE something. You’ll learn to appreciate all of the beautiful things and people your life has granted you with that you weren’t able to see before. You’ll learn to think more rationally and stop blaming yourself for bad people and bad things that hurt you. You’ll also learn that not everyone in your life is going to stay forever, and that’s okay, because when you meet those special people who will love you and never leave, all the pain you’ve gone through will have all been worth it in the end.
But for now, spend time with yourself. Spend time getting back to a healthy physical and mental state. Spend time getting to know yourself more and discover your passions, goals, dreams, and fears, but most importantly, spend time learning to love the very amazing, strong, and beautiful person that you are. Never let someone else dictate your happiness or your potential. This was the biggest mistake I have ever made. You are worthy of all things wonderful, so go and be happy and screw the people who try to convince you otherwise! After all, they don’t deserve any of your energy or time anyway. Listen to me, you weren’t born to live a miserable life. You are breathing and you are capable of so many great things, so go. Go and shine.