In this article, I’ll be discussing self love, the highs and lows of life, and toxic situations, along with how to conquer insecurities within yourself. I will be discussing parts of my life that have impacted me for a long time, and which helped me reach an outcome I never could ask more for. This article isn’t just meant for people who suffer from Crohn’s, but for anyone who suffers from these inner demons we always seem to find. Whether you’ve experienced abuse, losing a close friend, or an absent family member, these are all things we can overcome. It just takes time.
Warning: This article contains themes of rape, self harm, depression and trauma.
I’d like to start off with telling you all a little bit about my past with depression and personal insecurities. When I was twelve, I suffered from the loss of my grandmother who I was deeply close with. She passed from breast cancer which also spread into her bones. After, that, I found myself realizing how hard life could be. I didn’t have my father in my life growing up for about 13 years, due to substance abuse, and she was the closest thing I had to him (she was his mom). After her funeral I began questioning why my father wasn’t around and why life was so hard and wondering if there was a God, and if so, why does he take the most innocent and beautiful souls from us?
When junior high started, I found myself being bullied. Rumors were constantly spread about me at my tiny private school and they would really make me look down on myself. I struggled with weight, due to girls calling me fat and a rumor that I was pregnant (in seventh grade, I hadn’t even had sex yet *eye roll*). When eighth grade began, the bullying intensified. Girls began telling me to kill myself and calling me way more harsh names. I was self harming at the time, and they’d make fun of that as well, while encouraging it, so I did what any rash teen would do, and ran away with my then boyfriend. We got caught, I went to a juvenile detention center and then spent a month on house arrest. I started at a new school, and things began to seem somewhat better. Until the boy I was dating began turning abusive. The yelling and fighting and controlling turned into pushing and shoving and threatening to kill himself, or hurting me. I was fourteen when I fell in love with him and stayed with him until I was sixteen. On top of this, I fell victim to sexual assault and convinced myself that “I’m his girlfriend, this is what I’m supposed to do“. Even if I told him no. I kept this all to myself, for fear of him and fear that he was right and no one would ever “love me” the way he did. Then I ended up leaving him and he showed up at my school, dented my car door, and later that night broke into my home when I was home alone and I was forced to call the cops on him. Which resolved nothing except I never heard from him again.
For a very long time, I was in denial about what happened. I didn’t really understand until people helped me realize what I had gone through. I couldn’t accept it. I hated him for a very long time and then recently I realized, I can’t continue to hate someone, especially when they don’t even realize what they did was wrong. I tend to make up excuses for peoples actions and I believe we just were too young to understand our emotions. We fell in love hard and fast and we didn’t know how to process that so we became controlling and possessive. That led to abuse that I didn’t really realize was abuse until much later. But like I said, we were young. Now, I’m not excusing his actions, but, I have learned to forgive him whether he knows that or not. I can’t continue to hold on to this anger, as it’s only taking a toll on me. What’s the use in being angry with someone, especially when I haven’t spoken to them in nearly 4 years. It took me a very long time to be able to call what he did to me, rape. Because it’s such an ugly word. And most people when they think of rape, they see it as violent or from somebody they didn’t know. You don’t usually think of a boyfriend raping their girlfriend. But no is no. And of course, there were times I said yes, but there were also times that I did say no. And that’s enough for it to be assault. It’s hard to think that someone who claims to love you, could do that. It makes you build up this wall around you that you may never want to tear down. And there are still days, 4 years later, where I can’t handle anyone touching me. Where things remind me of him or I feel how I felt when I was with him. I also had hated sex for a long time, and couldn’t find a way to enjoy intimacy, until I was able to meet the right person.
In the images below, there are texts from that person from when we were not together, but I was still to scared to cut him off. This is what I endured, yet still couldn’t call it abuse. If a man says these things to you, it is ABUSE. Warning for below photos, as they are vulgar and depict abuse.
I was 14-16 years old when I was with him. Remind you, these texts were from when I was either sleeping, with family, or at work. I was accused of cheating, when I never did. (He was also the only man I had ever slept with at the time). I was threatened with a gun he owned, and cheated on by him. He would make me send photos to him of where I was just to prove it to him. I wasn’t allowed friends of either sex. He once broke up with me for seeing a movie with my step dad. I couldn’t wear tank tops or show my shoulders or belly. On Halloween one year, he drugged me, raped me, and then cried because I was shaking so bad and my eyes were red and I thought I was having a seizure. I threw up eight times that night. It took a lot out of me to end this relationship, but it helped me grow as a person and learn, and truly, I hope the best for him and that he gets better.
One thing I always say to people, is moments are temporary. Even the ones that feel like they will never end. And that’s something that takes a while to fully grasp the concept of. Sometimes it feels like whenever my life starts to fall into place, something happens, making it fall back apart again. But that’s when I have to remember that everything happens for a reason and eventually, this all will have been for something. I believe everything that has happened to me, has made me the person I am. I’ve grown from these challenges and I’m moving on. It takes time but healing is worth it. I have learned a lot from having an absent father. I used to want him in my life so desperately. My mom told me that when I was 6 years old, I used to ask her why my dad didn’t love me. Finally she had told me when I reached an appropriate age, that he was a drug addict and it was never my fault. When he got married to my now ex-step mom, I saw him more. Mostly due to her, because she wanted me there, especially because she had a daughter my age who is still a close friend. But then after about four years, they got divorced and he seemed to fall back into habits. He is so far from being fixed, it seems. And it took me a long time to realize I shouldn’t have to be the one who fixes him. He is the adult, whereas I am his child, so he should be the one reaching out to me. But, if it weren’t for me contacting him first, I’d never hear from him. And so I took that up and decided it was for the best, because having him in my life seemed to just be more issues than needed. But man, I used to blame myself so much for him disappearing, but I finally reached an age where I figured out it was not my fault. And what is best for me, is to choose my family. Because it is a privilege to be a father, but not a right. Which I had to realize with my sons father as well. But I truly stick to the fact that you choose your own family. Whether it’s cutting out certain family members because their lives seem to collide with yours, or if it’s adding friends in as family. We should never have to be around toxic people, if we don’t want to.
Self love and acceptance is a challenge I believe many people have yet to overcome. We all struggle with something. Whether that be our weight, the way our face is shaped, our nose, a bag attached the their abdomen, etc. There’s something we all are insecure with. And that’s okay. You can still love yourself and not like certain things. But the key to healthy relationships with others or with life, is to love yourself first. Yes, it’s a tad cliché, but am I wrong? I mean how can we love somebody when we can’t love ourselves properly? And then we will find ourselves settling for less than we deserve and it just becomes a chain reaction. I found myself in yet another scenario of abuse, which tended to be more mental abuse if anything, but after my son was born, I couldn’t keep either of us around out so I left. Now, of course I wasn’t perfect. I had my times too, where I was at fault and should have approached things differently. But you can only take so much pain until you yourself becomes toxic too. And that’s the hard part is excepting when you are the toxic person in someone’s life as well. And we all have been. Whether it be a friend, family or spouse. Each of us has been in a place where we haven’t been good for somebody, and the only thing you can do is remove yourself from that situation. I spent a year where I mostly had little flings here and there, but never fully let myself get to that vulnerable stage with someone. I had spent more time focusing on myself, rather than people. And it got me to a place of happiness. I figured out how to love myself by hiking and writing and even just spending time with no one, but me. Because in the end that’s all you have is you. We are born into this world alone, and we die alone. A lot of people hold fear of being by themselves, which I was one of them. I always had to be texting somebody or facetiming someone, but finally at 20, I’m at an age where I don’t feel I need that anymore. I go through times where I completely disassociate with all social media and just do me for a bit. And that is totally healthy. We need that solid concrete ground for us to feel safe within ourselves. We can’t always depend on other people to be there when we fall down.
Everyone learns how to love themselves in a different way. Some people, sadly never do. But if I can preach one thing on this site, it’s to try. There are of course days where I feel insecure or down about myself. Or I can’t stand myself even, but after a certain point you have to move past all that. When I had the ileostomy bag for four months, I was on steroids which made my face look HUGE. I hated leaving my apartment and couldn’t stand the site of myself. It took a long time after my reversal surgery and after I took myself of those steroids, for my face to go back to normal, and I really never thought it would. It was defeating. It took me so much time to get to a place of feeling beautiful, and felt like it was destroyed in just a simple two weeks. My heart was broken because of the insecurity. But I got better and everything fell back into place, as it usually does.
Now, being pregnant with my second son, I’ve experienced a very deep low that I hadn’t been in in a while. The only people who seemed to understand was my fiance and mom. First trimester, my hormones were going insane. I never wanted to leave the house. I felt tired all the time. I felt really lonely even though I wasn’t and I just felt very very depressed. It was challenging and I felt like I had to justify to people constantly on why I was moody or lazy. Hanging out with people made me just shut down entirely. I couldn’t be in a social setting without getting really consumed by depression and just mood swings. I tried having a Halloween Party and it just blew up in my face. I just had no energy. As soon as I hit around 18 weeks, I felt back to normal. I was able to finally start socializing again and felt like I could be myself. But at this time a lot of people seemed to not like me, or just not want to be around me. And you know, I made my bed so I needed to lie in it and accept that I put this on myself. So of course I owned up to it and apologized, explaining where I was coming from, and some of my friends were so understanding, and some were not. But at that point, after you put that first initial step of effort in, and they don’t reciprocate, it’s not on you anymore. You tried, that’s what matters. And now, at 23 weeks pregnant, my baby seems to have a LOT of health issues and basically I’ve said if people can’t accept that sometimes I’m not in the best mood, I really don’t care. And you shouldn’t have to always be so concerned on how people view you. Or how people are offended by you being in a bad mood. We aren’t all perfect, and people need to understand that. So don’t ever blame yourself if a person has took it upon themselves to not accept you. That’s their loss.
It’s not often you find good friends who stick around. Especially when you go through some really dark places. Not only eight months ago, was I in such a dark bad place that, yes, I became a person who was practically unrecognizable. I was depressed, in a way that I was trying to do everything in my power to hide my true self because it was just a bad time for me. I don’t remember much, as I was drinking heavily and trying to suppress some dark emotions that I have since then, overcome. But it actually hurt a lot when the friend who I thought would help me through it or even just be there for me, as she knew that it would pass, left. I don’t blame her though, because she probably assumed I was just gone for the worst and that that was me. But I was actually concealing a lot of emotion. I was possibly in the darkest place of my life and I understand that sometimes people need to remove themselves to better their lives but things were said that will constantly be ingrained in my brain. Because it’s not like I was permanently changed. I don’t even know that person that I had become and thinking back on it, I still don’t. But what confuses me is that every 20 year old or so, has partying days. I don’t know any of my friends who don’t party. Yes, it was excessive, but it was necessary for me to grow as a person. It’s a really hard thing admitting when you are wrong. And I can admit, yes I was not a perfect person or friend. I had times where I had acted out of selfishness. But you must remember, it takes two people to cause a fight. And yelling isn’t always the best option. If we had sat down and talked about it all in depth, maybe I would have understand right then and there. But things were said, on both parts, and it just resorted to something that shouldn’t have happened. I’ve grown from it. And even though to this day it still is painful for me, as I loved this friend a lot, I know that it needed to happen at that point in time. We both were toxic for each other. Not just me, and not just her. Both of us. And sometimes admitting that, can be challenging. But you get nowhere from saying “Oh, it’s their fault. I didn’t do anything wrong, blah blah blah.” Because everyone perceives things differently, and in this case, we both were wrong for how it was approached and dealt with. And that’s a strong powerful thing to do. But god, I don’t know of any friends who were roommates, that hadn’t had a huge falling out like this. My mother even told me that when I was one years old, she and her best friend lived in an apartment together and they had a huge fight, just like this one, and didn’t speak for a whole year. And now? Still the best of friends. It happens, it’s not unusual. I just wished that I could have stated my case to her. But I don’t act reasonable when I’m angry, and it basically just turned into a screaming match, on top of me balling my eyes out, because I knew I was losing her for good. And it’s hard, God, it’s fucking hard. But the best thing you can do for yourself, is point out the problem on BOTH ends, solve it on your own, forgive them even if they have no idea you’ve forgiven them, and move on. And hey, maybe one day, you two will talk again, in my case, we have not. But that’s okay too. It’s okay to miss somebody, even if they hate your guts. Because the best thing you can do in a world full of negativity, is be a little positive.
Now, you may ask, “Mara, what was the point to this extremely detailed article about your life?” And I may answer with something like, “To show you how to love yourself!” But that’s not the case. I still have days where I don’t fully love myself, or feel confident. And that’s okay! We are all human, it’s just in our nature to have insecurities. But, you must be the person who picks yourself back up after a downfall. You can’t depend on others to. You must be the person to realize your faults after arguments, or disagreements. You must own it. But you should never feel obligated to let people take advantage of your kindness. You should also always try to picture yourself in others shoes, and reason with them. Life is suffering, and the only way to make the best out of things without putting yourself down in the progress, is acknowledging the fact that life can be a huge bitch. Just learn to get over it, and confront your problems head on. So I guess the main point to this article is to show you, we all go through shit and you never know what people are going through behind closed doors. You just gotta learn to deal with it to ultimately find peace and happiness. And remember, with time comes healing.