Self-Love Letter

Dear reader,

Love the person you’ve become because you fought to become her.

Say the positive things out loud. Use your voice. Let it ring in your ears.

Look at you!

Your spirit is bursting and beautiful. It is impacting. It is courageous. It is your essence and it’s the sexiest thing about you.

Your mind is unbelievably intricate. Just imagine all that it holds and how open it is to absorbing more and more and more. The thoughts you are capable of are astounding. The way your mind is wired is unique and fascinating.

Your body is incredible. It can bring life into the world. It’s a home for everything that makes up who you are. Woah! So, maybe society/media/mean people have helped you make a list of things that are “wrong” with it. My thighs touch. My cheekbones aren’t defined enough. I’m not thin or toned enough. My eyelashes aren’t long enough. My stomach isn’t flat enough. My butt isn’t big enough. I’m not tan enough. The double chin.  F*ck that. It works. It knows what it needs. It has strong parts and soft parts. Maybe you are decorated with freckles, scars that tell stories, and curves that you rock so hard sometimes they spill over your jeans. So, what? Say the positive things out loud. Hey you, you have a cute nose. Your hair is enviable. Your eyes sparkle. Your lips are alluring. If you’re the only one confident in that, be content because you are the only one in charge of believing it for the rest of your life.

Your heart is admirably full at all times. You know how to put it to good use. It is great, big, and beating.

Your voice is sweet and important. Use it wisely. What you have to say matters.

You are incredibly fortunate to be you. You will be one of your greatest discoveries.

Some parts of you will remain constant. Some parts will change. Hey, it’s a journey. Be kind to yourself. Do something that your future self will thank you for.

Love, TaylorIMG_2197

Good Girl

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I’m sitting on my therapist’s couch, clenching wads of damp, mascara covered kleenax in my fist.

I’m a crier. If you get me alone and talking about anything remotely emotional, the tears just flood in. It’s uncontrollable. I don’t even mean to most of the time. I try not to. It’s something I used to feel like I had to apologize for.

My parents tell me that when I was a little kid all they had to do was give me a look or raise their voice and I would start sobbing in remorse. Apparently their mild signs of disappointment were enough of a punishment for me. And this is still a thing. A while ago someone wrote me a lengthy message all about why and how this particular thing I had done was wrong. It wasn’t even something I had done to this person, but they wanted to make their opinion known and because I felt like they were disappointed in me, it ate at me for weeks. I cried. I wrote replies and deleted them. I was praying to get a sense of whether there was something I needed to feel ashamed of. I felt self-conscious and worried until I came to a point of realizing I had absolutely nothing to apologize for. I was okay with this thing. The other person involved was okay with this thing. The person who wrote me the message was not okay with it, but did they really know everything going on? No. The point being…I tend to base how I’m doing/feeling on how other people are doing/feeling and it’s really annoying.

“So, if you weren’t being the care taker or the good girl, then who would you be?” my therapist asks me.

An impostor, but a less stressed and anxious impostor. No…I don’t know.

I get what she’s doing. She wants me to connect these roles to my own self-worth. And she’s right. Because in my mind, if I’m not sending you a random card in the mail, or bringing you soup when you’re sick, or driving you to the airport at 4:30 AM, or buying you coffee, or volunteering for your event, then you won’t have any reason to like me or desire to do the same for me. And if I’m not always encouraging, forgiving, listening, reachable, peaceful, putting the needs of others before my own, accomplishing my goals, following the rules, making sure everyone understands me and is okay with who I am, etc., then I’m not being a good girl. I feel worthless if I’m not those things. That’s been one of the hardest parts of getting divorced; not feeling “good” anymore. And it’s not like anyone is making me feel that way. I’m doing it to myself. Why? Because for me, it’s always been the wrong/bad choice and all these other choices piled up that led to the “bad” one. It’s the whole thing where the one thing you would never let happen, happens and life becomes painfully ironic. Sigh.

But I can’t just turn these instincts off. I’m probably always going to try too hard to do the right thing. I will feel insanely guilty if you’re ever unhappy with me. I’m always going to worry too much about how other people are doing. And maybe swear words will always sound contrived coming out of my mouth and I’ll never have the ability to smoke or take a shot without looking absolutely ridiculous. But hey, it’s cool guys. I have this sense of obligation to be someone no one needs to worry about, someone who doesn’t ask for much, someone who has it together, someone who is always reliable and conscientious. Someone who lives her life in the lines. Creative, colorful lines, but still organized in a particular fashion.

Maybe a sense of obligation isn’t the right phrase because I’m fairly certain it is ingrained in me. I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t want to be someone else. But I’m working on catching myself before I step too far, you know? There has to be a happy medium between, “Hey! These beautiful qualities make up the fabulous being before you” and,”You’re trying way too hard and becoming increasingly detrimental to your own mental health. Chill, lady.”

So, I’m working on not getting taken advantage of. On not feeling hurt when I give and don’t get what I’d expect in return. On not doing something because I should or shouldn’t but instead because I want or don’t want to. I’m navigating my way through the past, trying to piece together what happened that caused me to arrive at this particular place. And in doing so, I’m processing how to move forward and be more in tune with my own wants and needs. I’m trying to find my voice and not be afraid of it. I’m getting better at bracing other people’s emotions and opinions without making it all about me. Because honestly, (and this is what my therapist is so good at reminding me of) I’m not all that important. And that’s a relief.

Love,

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

 

 

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I hope that you all had happy hearts this week! I hate that couples take the cake on Valentine’s Day because really it’s just a day to overtly celebrate love. Anyone and everyone can do that. Think about or do the things that make your heart sing! Treat yo’self: to pedicures. To an extra piece. To a dance in your new underwear. To an hour of quiet. Make things: hats for people with cold heads. Drawings for people with naked fridges. Gluten-free cake for people with sensitive tummies. Tea for the friend who is sad. Give things: Nice words to people without smiles. Kisses and hugs to your grandma, boyfriend, kid or cat. Your precious time to the ignored or poor. Your prayers and thankful heart to the Creator. Remind people they aren’t alone. FYI: This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week! What a perfect way to extend the good love vibes.

It’s interesting to me how love is something so natural and yet I’m always learning more about what it actually is. What it actually means…what it looks like…how it feels. What I knew about love at 14 pales in comparison to what I know now. I wonder what I will know at 30 and 55. It makes me really excited to see how much I’ve learned but to know that I don’t know it all yet.  That there are bursts and depths of love that I have yet to experience. That there are people out there in the world that I will immensely love but have never even seen their faces. That there are places I will leave bits of my heart at, but have never been to. That there is room for my heart to grow and expand, but it has yet to be tested. Right now I’m learning about sad kinds of love. Or bittersweet kinds of love, at least. Love for what is lost and broken. Love for what is out of reach. Love in the midst of everything unknown. The handing over kind of love. The kind of love that rips you apart and holds you together at the same time. I think that’s the kind of love Jesus had. And that’s the kind of love I want to emulate, so maybe this is a good lesson. A good season of learning love.

7 Things I would tell my 14-year old self about love:

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Hey you awkward little thing, you:

1. You think you are in love right now. I won’t say you aren’t. I won’t roll my eyes at you and speak of puppy love or whatever it is grown-ups talk about. I won’t tell you that you have no idea what you’re really feeling. I will validate the in-loveness, the euphoria of it all and the earth shattering feeling of when you get rejected. I was thinking about telling you to guard your heart better (as if this is something we all inherently know how to do) so that it doesn’t hurt as much when its over (and then over again) but no…no, don’t do that. Because later on it will just feel silly. In a good way. The kind of silly that makes you smile. The kind of silly that makes you happy you experienced what you did. You eventually forget the hurt and all that’s left is a whimsical, nostalgic kind of thing. I shouldn’t say you forget the hurt. It’s definitely memorable. But the dancing in the rain kind of stuff will be more in focus. We learn from heartache. Everything is a gift, even that part. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “It’s a good thing; a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” So I guess what I’m saying is take it all in with everything you’ve got, but then let it be over. Don’t keep trying or desperately hoping for more. Let it be.

2. You’re really good at loving your friends. Love your family more. Friends will still mean everything to you. Friends will still be who you see the most on a daily basis. But don’t miss out on family. I wish I could tell you everything, but just trust me. The family thing gets much better and bigger and more lovely. So give them the quality time they deserve. Your presence is love. Its cliche, but they will literally have your back no matter what. They don’t change. They always love. They will be your sounding board in life.

3.  Sometimes love is making the decision that doesn’t seem loving. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for a person is to say, “no more.” I know you’ve had it drilled into your brain: love, forgive, love, forgive, love, forgive. But that doesn’t always look how you think it does. You’ll realize all the love and forgiveness you can give doesn’t change a person. And sometimes you end up enabling the bad things because you’re too scared of doing the wrong thing. You’re not a very brave person in that department. You don’t trust yourself very much. It makes me sad. But grace is key to who you are, so don’t change that. Just know that it’s okay. It’s okay to have a breaking point. And it’s okay to not know what God is teaching you before he teaches it to you. It’s okay to let go of whatever is hurting your heart and soul.

4. For goodness sakes, love yourself more. In order to love people well, you do truly need to be in a healthy place of loving oneself. At the end of the day, you are all you have. You have your mind, heart, soul, and body. Take care of it. Love it, with all it’s flaws and all it’s beauty. Love your body. Be outraged at the objectification of the female body. Stop trying to please everyone. It’s okay if people don’t think you’re the greatest or the prettiest. It’s okay if people don’t agree with you. Don’t burn yourself out. Listen to yourself. What do you need? Ok…now do that. It’s quite simple, really. You don’t have to go to that thing because that person will be disappointed if you’re not there. You don’t have to do every little thing someone asks of you. It’s okay to say you’re busy. It’s okay to say you need a night at home. Learn to be in tune with your gut. Sometimes you have to listen to yourself and to God and accept that someone you love might not understand.

5. God loves you, no matter what choices you make. There’s nothing you can do that will ruin His plan. He won’t see you as less of a good person if you do___. Your life isn’t going to be less full or blessed if you ___. You don’t worship a conditional God. No, really. You know this, but knowing it in your head is entirely different from knowing it in your heart. It’s a really hard thing to grasp–unconditional love. Maybe you’ll get it more if you become a mom someday. I don’t know. You definitely have a “gray” perspective. You’re really good at being accepting of everyone else and not being judgmental. You’re really good at knowing if Jesus is the Truth, you’re not…except when it comes to yourself. When it comes to your life, things are more black and white. It’s harder to believe that whole unconditional love thing for yourself than it is for everyone else. But you are, you are so radically loved and accepted just as you are. Don’t let anyone else taint your journey by comparing it to their own. And don’t do that to yourself. Live into what God has for you.

6. Sometimes love needs boundaries to keep hurt and confusion at bay. And then sometimes screw boundaries…love with abandon, my dear.

7. Some of the greatest loves of your life will not be boys. They’ll be the girlfriends who intensely know you and are your memory keepers. They’ll be the places and spaces that saw you through unforgettable seasons of life. They’ll be the children that light up your world and teach you to wonder. They’ll be the roles or vocations that allow you to live out love and purpose. They’ll be the women you look up to, the ones who blazed the trail before you and come back to walk you through it.

Love,

Taylor