Loving Yourself Through the Struggles: Chapter 3, Christina's Story

Hello readers! Welcome back to my series, "Loving Yourself Through the Struggles".  If you haven't read last week's chapter, definitely click here! Today, we enter into chapter 3, or our next segment, with my next guest blogger: Christina! To give you a background, Christina is a lifestyle blogger, a wife, and a mother (the triple threat as I would call it). You can find her on her blog, "Navigation to Happiness", on Twitter, and on Instagram. Alright, without further ado, here's Christina!

My Yellow Brick Road to Happiness

It can be hard to be yourself in a world where society is trying to get you to change. I never felt like I was able to be happy or that I was worthy of love. My life began as an unplanned pregnancy and I grew up feeling like I had to prove to my parents that I was worth giving up their dreams. That I somehow had to pay them back for the life that they could have had if they didn't become parents. It was a childhood of crying behind closed doors and never feeling like they would love me as much as they did my younger brother.  Please don't get this confused as to having a terrible childhood; my parents are incredible people and I never went without, but it was how my mind made me look at life.

My parents weren't the only ones who made me feel like I was unworthy. I spent more time losing friends than I did making them. I felt alone, and I absolutely hated myself. I wanted nothing more than to disappear, I even counted down the days until my eighteenth birthday so that I could start over in a place where nobody knew me. I would call it a fresh start, a clean slate, a do-over of the life that I was supposed to have.  

When I graduated from high school, I took a gap year and eventually went to college to pursue a degree in Psychology. I met my husband on our first day of classes and we eventually started dating. It was an odd, but heartwarming, feeling to be with someone who believed in me; however, I was shocked that I still felt angry and sad.  I always thought that I was miserable because I was single and that was what my worth was based off of – whether or not I was desirable and loved. I soon discovered that there was more to life and to happiness than being in a relationship.

Soon after my husband and I started dating, I was the target for my first real bully – his ex-girlfriend. Sure, I had people talk about me behind my back before and received anonymous hate messages on Tumblr from people who knew me in real life, but this one was different. She did her research on me to “eliminate my chances” at being with her ex. She saw him as her property, that she was entitled to his commitment, and I was the one to blame.  She told me that nobody would ever love me, that my own parents didn't love me, that it was no wonder why my best friend (and first love) left me, and that, “instead of talking about suicide – why don't I do everyone a favor and do it already.” She took every demon I had, every skeleton that was hidden in my closet, and used it against me. In fact, she continues to stalk me to this day and still blames me for how miserable she is. I was truly terrified of how it made me feel to see it all outside of my head.

The reason that I mention this is because I let someone, who was a stranger, have the power to destroy me. I put in the overtime to learn how to love myself, my body, and forgive not only the people who have hurt me but myself for the mistakes that I had made.  It was a huge weight off my shoulders; it brought peace and freedom into my life. There is nothing anybody can say that will make me feel that low about myself again.

About a year later, my daughter was born, and I was suddenly thrown into a world of clarity. I became the person that she would look up to for her self-esteem and I was her first role model. In fact, the realization that I had to be better towards myself was when I saw my two-year-old daughter glancing into the glass of my mirror where she called herself fat and ugly; something that she had seen me do many times beforehand.  I was devastated that she's been tuned into me all this time, and already picking up on these issues. As her mother, I want to teach her how to silence the voices inside of her, making her feel like she's not good enough. I refuse to let her grow up how I did.

Last year, I realized that I had to do this for myself – that I had to take the reins of my life and started my journey to being happy; which is where my blog was born. I put in the time to rewire my brain, to exchange the negative thoughts to looking at things more positively. I used my blog as a safe outlet to express myself and feel without causing pain. It was therapeutic to get it all out of me in a healthier way.  I unfollowed people who were posting things that triggered me, deleted my Facebook account, went to the dollar store to create a self-care box, took the time to schedule some time to myself so that I don't burn out and it has all done wonders to my mental health!

The way that I started to see life was that I could remain the miserable person that I hated, or work a little bit harder to become someone that I wish I had in my life. Someone who woke up every morning, opened the curtains to dance in the sunshine, and be happy to be alive.  I was reborn from the ashes of someone, who feared everything, into someone who laughs, appreciates the little things, takes more risks, and truly loves to be here on this planet.

I'm happy to say that the relapses are a rare occurrence, the reflection in the mirror smiles back at me, and I no longer feel like a ghost or a backseat driver to my own life. I've found myself and I love every little jagged piece that makes me, well, me. 

It wasn't easy making this transition in my life, but I had enough of being constantly sad, feeling sorry for myself, and I took the initiative to change. I made this choice when I was ready, not when people were telling me I was in a phase, not when they said to “snap out of it”, or when they told me things would get better. I didn't believe them, I had to make this choice myself.

I continue to use my blog as not only a place where I could express the person that I am, but to document my journey and to build a community of people who feel the same way.  I have met some lovely people in the blogging community and found some wonderful opportunities I thought would never be a possibility. I truly feel like I belong and have found my purpose – like I was meant to go through what I did so that I could be a blogger who learned to love herself despite a life of feeling terrible.

It was no easy task, but I have conditioned myself to be positive in a negative world.  Sure, I still have moments where anxiety is a little bit louder. I still have those days where nothing seems to go right and days where I want to feel sad and angry – but that's okay!  I have learned to not only be myself but love everything that used to make me shrink into a ball.

I would have never believed this was possible; that I had the power to be happy this entire time. It reminds me of Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz”; where she had the power to go home to Kansas since before her journey in Oz ever started. Instead, she had the quest of finding the “magical being” who could solve her problem for her, to gather the broomstick from the Wicked Witch of the West, it just seemed like it made more sense that it would have taken more steps and work to get somewhere than it did – with a dozen of tasks to get to where she needed to be. 

I had to find the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion to believe in my journey, to beat the Wicked Witch of the West who wanted to see me fail, and begging the world around me to help me find my happiness. Realistically, I had the power within me the whole time – my effort and confidence are my ruby slippers that helped me find a life of happiness – my Kansas. Instead of saying “there is no place like home”, I was telling myself “this is not the life I want anymore” and “there is nobody like me”.