It is easy to internalize the cruel statements and behaviors of other people–especially if those people were people we were supposed to be able to trust. Sometimes, that is exactly what abusers want. They WANT us to feel worthless and like we don’t deserve to be treated well. They want to drag us down so far that we feel like we deserve abuse. If we don’t think we are worth more, we won’t try to escape, and we will remain trapped in their controlling hell. Sometimes people treat us badly because they are too inconsiderate to realize what they are doing, they are too busy to think about it, or they simply don’t care about us.
No matter what, the problem is theirs. When I was a child, my mother literally told me that I didn’t deserve anything while she spent everything on herself. I took that belief with me. As I grew up, I expected nothing good from anyone. I made myself invisible and didn’t speak up about my needs. I let many of the men I dated treat me like dirt, and I became very co-dependent–focusing on treating people well even when they didn’t respond in kind. I had a very hard time relaxing or pampering myself, because I had been told and shown that it was wrong.
The truth is, if someone else treated me like crap, that doesn’t mean *I* have to treat myself badly. And if someone didn’t treat me with kindness, that doesn’t mean that *I* cannot be kind to myself. There is nothing wrong with caring for yourself and honouring yourself. I don’t mean in a narcissistic way, but in a healthy way.
A therapist once told me that I needed to take care of myself just as much as I would take care of my child. Would I feed my child junk food or let him go hungry? No! So of course I should feed myself good meals! Would I let someone hit or abuse my child? Talk poorly to or of them? No! So I shouldn’t let others do the same to me! Do I like to surprise my child with a fun day out? Yes, I do. And it is okay to do the same for myself.
It took me a long time to learn that it was okay to take time for myself, to enjoy life, to feel comfort and pleasure. Now, I make it a priority to do something for myself every night before bed. Even if I’m tired and ready to sleep, I take a few minutes to wind down with something that I enjoy.
It is okay to wear a pretty outfit. It is okay to paint your nails. It is okay to take a bubble bath. It is okay to get a massage. It is okay to read a magazine or good book. It is okay to watch your favorite show. It is okay to eat that piece of chocolate. It is okay to enjoy life.
If you have been through a rough time–with life struggles, short-term abuse, a tragedy, long-term abuse…it is more important than ever for you to pamper yourself and treat yourself well. If someone else was unable to do it, then step up and do it for yourself. One bad event, a series of bad events, or a bad person do not get to ruin your life and keep you from loving yourself when others couldn’t!