I still get breakouts.
I’m 38 years old. I have smile lines, crow’s feet, gray hairs and…acne.
I have seen dermatologists.
I have tried all the remedies, from natural to mainstream. I have had Microderm Abrasions, taken prescription medications and added tea tree oil to my witch hazel toner, still nearly every pore on my face is clogged. The only thing I haven’t tried but am strongly considering is Rodan and Fields (I have someone don’t @ me).
I don’t like my breakouts. At all. I want them to go away.
This is just one example of the countless things I don’t exactly like about myself. My habit of interrupting. The size of my hips. My struggle with anxiety. How fast I eat. The way I plop down into a seat instead of sitting gracefully. My stretch marks.
Yet, I totally and completely accept myself for who I am.
I see me the way I imagine our creator (if we have one) sees me. The way I see my children.
I have so much compassion for myself, I can’t help but let it overflow to others.
Not always, and not perfectly. I am flawed, after all.
Sometimes, I set such high expectations for people that when they inevitably let me down, I am unable to show them compassion. Of course, these end up being the people closest to me. If my lack of compassion has ever hurt you, I am truly sorry. I am doing my best.
The ability to offer compassion starts with the self.
In my earlier years, when I didn’t have compassion for myself, I certainly did not have compassion for others.
I had something for people, and I think it stemmed from a good place, but I wouldn’t call it compassion. I had almost an unhealthy version of a compassion-like experience. I would feel their pain. I would take on their struggle as if it were my own. To my own detriment, I accepted responsibility for their problems.
This was all my own doing. No one in my life who confided in me or reached out to me in their time of need made me feel like I should do anything specific. They probably would have preferred I be a listening ear and maybe offer a comforting word. Instead, feeling as though it were me going through a particular difficult issue, I acted as though I were going through that very same issue. If at any point, I overstepped my bounds and took on your problems as my own, I’m truly sorry.
I see now what I was offering was misguided. Pure in intention, but unhealthy for all involved.
Chalk this up to things I don’t like about who I used to be.
Still though, I can look back on that teen and twentysomething girl, the one who doesn’t know anything about anything, with compassion. I can acknowledge her mistakes and love her for who she is.
You don’t need to like everything, or anything about yourself in order to accept yourself.
I can’t lead you directly to self-acceptance. I wish I could. This journey, it’s different for everyone. For me, it has been filled with pain and sorrow, heartache and struggle, yet moments of sheer, unadulterated bliss. My path isn’t straight. It is filled with unexpected twist and turns, setbacks and beautiful moments.
The journey that led me to self-acceptance was like Sheryl Strayed’s hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, only with less blisters. Nothing I could’ve imagined, yet everything I needed. Quite a few times where I didn’t know if I would make it out alive. And I certainly didn’t survive my journey unscathed.
I have cried harder over the last 18 months than I have my entire life. At the same time, I have felt more contentment than ever before. My anxiety has never been worse, yet it has never had less of a grip on me.
I could walk you through my journey in explicit detail, but it is not important. Your Eat, Pray, Love experience is going to be your own.
Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert had vastly different, yet similar experiences. I will never hike the PCT. I will never travel the world in search of myself.
I had to do this work in the midst of my job, carpool, overdue bills, snack days, volleyball and my husband’s unemployment.
My journey is far less cool than most memoirs. And yours likely will be too. That’s okay. You don’t have to uproot your life or your family. I don’t know exactly what your journey will look like. I can’t carve out your path for you. All I can tell you is your destination should be self-love and self-acceptance. You don’t have to like everything about yourself to get on the road, and if you think working to accepting yourself means working to like everything about yourself, I must warn you, you are on the wrong path.
Liking yourself has nothing to do with accepting yourself.