I think I forgot how to love myself.
In between all of the inspired messages, the reassurances from church leaders, the daily reminders of love, and the occasional moments of pride, I forgot what the words really meant. I knew how to love others. But I didn't know how to give that same courtesy to myself.
I forgot that I'm fragile. I forgot that I'm still just a kid in so many ways, that I'm still growing, still learning, still a little shaky. I forgot that I'm...allowed to be imperfect.
I wanted to be a girl of sunshine. It seemed impossible right now, with the way my life was. But oh, I had visions in my head of a girl everyone loved, of a girl who seemed to glow from all the joy in her body, who couldn't seem to contain all the love she felt. "I'll be that girl one day," I told myself. "Everything will be perfect," I'd say. "I can't wait to be her." So I waited anxiously for the right time to become that girl, and while I waited, I began to fall apart.
Because I wasn't that girl right then. I wasn't, and it broke me. I was a messy girl, with a dark and messy mind, who couldn't seem to do anything right. I knew I could, but at the moment, I couldn't.
So I thought I was worthless.
And I reminded myself.
"Look at them," I'd say to myself. "The three of them are going to writer's conferences, together, with beautiful stories. They're younger than you, and better than you. You're a failure as a writer."
"Look at that wonderful, friendly, outgoing, and deeply loved girl. You will never be like her." There are so many girls I've said this about.
"Look at all the ways that your sister is better than you. You have no good qualities like she does," I'd remind myself. "You're such a disappointment."
"You're pathetic," I'd say every time I did my schoolwork. "You're so bad at this. You'll never succeed at college, and you'll never get a job."
As I ignored the flaws in others and ignored the good qualities in myself, I fell apart. It happened slowly, with many breakdowns along the way. Many nights of tears, many days of self-loathing. I hated who I was, and I didn't quite realize it until I opened my mouth a few days ago.
It was just a bit of chastisement from my mom, but I began to rail on myself. Out loud. I was saying terrible, cruel things, about a girl who was a pathetic disaster, a failure, a mess. I said things about the girl I believed I was.
It scared me. But it happened again. The pressure that had built up for months and years was spilling out, not for the first time, but I was finally realizing how destructive it was.
And then, there was last night.
After a busy and stressful week, and then a day that started out happy but turned downhill, I broke down.
You see, I haven't written in a long time. I'm in the beginning of the second draft of Children of the Nameless, and it's going badly. I had to force myself to write, and every word, every sentence was torture. And so I broke down last night, admitting my frustration to my dear friend, and she said something I wasn't expecting.
"Krissy? I mean this in the most loving way possible, but is writing good for you right now?"
It was something I knew, but had been too scared to admit consciously. Writing hurt. It honestly hurt, but I wouldn't let it go. I didn't know how to make it stop hurting. It was scary, but even scarier than that, I realized that I didn't know how to make myself happy.
I can't tell you how scary that was. I'm the happy girl! I'm the friendly, loving, playful, and sorta weird girl! I can't not be happy.
But I wasn't. I was basing my self-worth on my writing, on my talents and skills, on the way people viewed me. And as someone who is very good at doubting herself, I had no real foundation for my self-worth.
I didn't love myself. I didn't know what that meant anymore.
I realized that I needed to learn how to love myself. I couldn't wait until I was in college with a good job and a cute boyfriend. I couldn't wait until my book got published. I couldn't wait until I got my life together.
Because, for me, I won't get my life together until I love myself. I can't spend my time obsessing over the writing I'm not doing, beating myself up for procrastinating my homework, and then be successful at life. It won't work that way! I'm a fragile girl, just beginning to find myself. I'm not perfect. I won't ever be. But I can, and will, get better.
And so that, my dear friends, is why I am setting aside my writing for a time. I may write short stories on occasion, and I will certainly still write poetry, but I don't have the mental and emotional capacity to write Children of the Nameless right now. I might come back to it. I might not. I'm still figuring this out, you know? I'll be honest, I'm a messy girl. I don't have a handle on this life thing yet. But I'm working on it.
Starting today, I will learn to love myself. I will be gentle when I make mistakes. I will not hate myself for my flaws. When I fail, I'll let myself cry for a minute, then get back on my feet and try again. I will understand that my brain does not function as well as others' do, and I will not hate myself for it.
Starting today, I will learn to love myself. I will learn to love every curve, every inch of the body I still sometimes think is unattractive. I won't be ashamed of my smile. I will embrace my style, even if I don't have it figured out yet.
Starting today, I will learn to really, truly love myself. It'll be a process. It will definitely take time. But I'm going to work hard at it. And someday, I will be a messy girl, with a love bigger than her body, and sunshine glowing through her broken pieces, and I won't be quite all right, but I'll be happy.
I think I forgot how to love myself. But I remember now.