After experiencing a significant loss, your whole world stops. Everything that you thought you knew suddenly becomes questioned. The places that you stood the strongest and most secure seem to be the places that crumble the most. But where you were once wavering, it feels impossible to again find solid ground.
As time passes and healing occurs, we learn to pick up the pieces. And we put them back in a way befitting of our new life.
For me, however, the hardest (and most rewarding) accomplishment that I have gained post-loss is learning to love again.
And while I have opened my heart and learned to love another again, what I am referring to here is something that had always been just out of my reach: learning to love myself.
All my life, I’ve had a sense that I was “different” — there was never one place that I just “fit in”.
And all my life, I have struggled with that. A sense of community and connection to other human beings was one thing that I always longed for, but never felt that I found.
Losing my husband, I was forced to be alone again. I was forced to look at myself and who I had become and I realized that I did not recognize that woman at all. Who I am at my core was so tightly tied up and hidden within myself that I couldn’t find her for a long time.
I had become a woman who let things happen to her. I had become a woman who did not feel confident or secure enough to speak up for herself. I had become a woman that was used, abused and taken significant advantage of. For nearly thirty years of my life, my true self had been slowly fading into the background. Every time she tried to peek out, she was met with disdain and disapproval.
By the time my husband died, I had no idea who I had become. I was a result of a series of traumatic life experiences and overbearing, judgmental societal pressures.
Who I have worked to become (and who I’ve always known I could be) is not widely accepted by our society. Who I am is not always met with joy and welcoming arms. Who I am makes people uncomfortable.
But finally, finally, finally.. I love who I am.
The transition has been occurring for quite a while, with many thanks to a few key players for recognizing the real me, openly approving of her and encouraging more and more of her to shine through.
I remember the day that I sat down in my therapist’s office, having finally come to the “aha” moment that I had been fighting, struggling and searching for for well over a year. I sat down with such lightness, such joy… I have never felt so happy. I finally found myself. AND accepted her.
I still sometimes struggle with not being accepted by others. Who doesn’t want to be liked? But their disdain for me is solely a reflection on themselves. And I have no control over their thoughts or actions.
Learning to love myself has been an uphill battle. But it is one that I would trade for nothing.
I am finally the me that I have always wanted to be. The me that has always been lurking under the surface.
I have finally found myself. I finally love myself. And I cannot wait to share the true me with the world.
My only regret is that it took this long to set me free.