Without Self-Love, I Have Nothing.

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080831 0549   Without Self Love, I Have Nothing.

In 2003, after about 2 and 1/2 years of dating, Eric and I broke up. We told our shocked friends and family that it was a mutual break up, but in reality, I never felt that it was. I knew that I gradually pushed Eric away and I built a wall around myself so high that he felt like he couldn’t get through.

This ‘wall’ represented my insecurities, eating disorder, and everything that came with it. It wasn’t just the surface things- the obsessiveness, calorie counting, or over-exercising- it was the absence of self-love and my lack of ability to be loved fully in return.

Our breakup wasn’t mutual at all though. I pushed Eric so far away that he had no choice but to slowly raise a red flag and surrender. (He claims, to this day, that it was just as much his fault as it was mine, but I didn’t see it that way). It is hell living with an eating disorder, but it is probably even more difficult loving someone who has an eating disorder. Any experience that we go through that affects our self-esteem changes who we are, how we act and react, the things we say, how we carry ourselves, the fights we have, and how much we let our loved ones in. Eric got bits and pieces of the ‘fun, authentic, happy-go-lucky Ange’ and other times he got ‘Ange with no self-esteem or confidence’.

On the day we broke up, we lay in bed, crying and embracing each other knowing that as soon as we let each other go it would all be over. I told him that I would change and I would get help once and for all, but he was firm that we needed time apart to grow as individuals. He never said or made me feel that our problems were my fault or that I was the cause of the troubles. He took more blame than he probably even deserved, but I guess it does take two to tango. We talked and cried for hours and hours that day before he finally had the courage to leave. I really didn’t think he could do it. We were soul mates after all, high school sweethearts who had big plans for our lives.

I closed the door and collapsed in a heap on the ground, sobbing, but with no sound or tears coming out. I was now officially empty, but not in the way that I had wanted to be. Suddenly, my goal of being ‘x’ weight didn’t matter to me anymore. Nor did it matter how many calories I ate for lunch. I felt like a selfish a-hole. How ironic that I believed being thin would solve all of my problems, when in fact, the pursuit of thinness ended up causing so many more problems than I ever dreamed of.

I sat there expecting Eric to come back knocking on the door.

He didn’t, though I knew he wanted to.

Eric wanted to stay in touch, but I severed all communication after I saw him at my birthday party the next week. No calls, no emails, no msn chats, no seeing each other. I had a stiff upper lip through it all, but it was the only way I could move on.

Our break-up had a silver lining that I couldn’t see at the time; during our time apart I was able to reflect on things that I needed to change in myself. After the partying (and pretending like I didn’t care) got old, I started to work on me for the first time in years.

As it turned out, we ended up getting back together later on that year. By coincidence we ended up in the same Calculus class at our university and after an awkward Long Time No See and small talk, I figured that would be the end of it. For weeks, Eric asked me to catch up over coffee, but I politely declined. My broken heart had never mended itself and I was on guard, but ultimately, I couldn’t deny the love that I felt for him. I avoided him like the plague because I knew what we had was still so strong. I decided I was willing to take the risk.

I’m not going to say that it was easy when we got back together because for a long time I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. If the insecurities were bad before the break-up, they were twice as bad the months following getting back together. I thought he was going to run away whenever there was a problem, but he certainly proved me wrong. I also proved myself wrong by learning to love myself and to give myself entirely to someone else. We both grew up a lot and we learned how to communicate more than ever.

To me, Valentine’s Day isn’t about $75 wilted roses, boxes of chocolates, or mushy Hallmark cards. It’s not about cramming into an over-packed restaurant and selecting off a special Valentine’s Day menu. It’s certainly not about the gifts, although I guess any of the above can be fun if you make it. Love isn’t always a fairy tale. Relationships are complex and ever-evolving with ups and downs, but I love them just the same.

Most of all, Valentine’s Day reminds me that without Self-Love I have nothing.

Without Self-Love I can’t give to others in my life. I can’t be a good friend, daughter, sister, or wife. Whether you like this holiday or not, you can use it as a time to reflect on the love you give to yourself. If you are anything like me, this is an area that needs constant attention and daily care. My challenge to you is to start a new tradition on Valentine’s Day- write yourself a love letter and read it over often!

(Oh and I lied, it is definitely about the chocolate today. I recommend eating it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.)

20101123 IMG 3098   Without Self Love, I Have Nothing.

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{ 231 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna February 14, 2011

This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Thank you. This means everything.

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Kari February 14, 2011

Ange – thank you. For this post, and for your honesty throughout your blog. It really means so much to me to be able to read your thoughts, reflections, ambitions and all you have achieved (materially, of course, but also as a person :) ). I am sometimes so honoured to ‘know’ you that it blows me away! Enjoy your day today and I am so very glad you were able to take the leap of faith required to get back together with Eric when you did. I bet he is too!

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JenATX February 14, 2011

I agree. thank you so much for the honesty. It must have been hard to let so many people know what a hard time that was for you.

This post really brought tears to my eyes & I felt for you. Break ups are so hard :( I’m glad it worked out for you and Eric because 1. yall are so cute and 2. he says & does some hilarious things.
Happy Valentine’s Day!! <3

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Stefanie @TheNewHealthy February 14, 2011

This is an absolutely beautiful post (as usual)–thanks so much for sharing.

I, too, believe that in order to truly love others, you must first love yourself. If you can’t learn how to love yourself, then you certainly can’t give others the love they deserve.

I’m so glad you were able to find that self-love! Sometimes the best learning experiences are presented through an unfortunate experience! :) <3

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Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen February 14, 2011

This is beautiful. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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The Restaurant Manager February 14, 2011

What a wonderful post. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

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Alaina February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day Angela. I really believe that this holiday has become so commerical, but if someone can see it the way that you do; that loving yourself allows you to love others, then there is definitely some meaning behind a day like today.

<3

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Brandy February 14, 2011

Wow I really needed to read this post today……Thank You

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Renata February 14, 2011

Beautiful and succinct as usual. Thank you :)

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aprildreaming February 14, 2011

It’s absolutely amazing how much we learn when we’re alone. When my now-husband and I went through a rough patch, I learned so much about caring for myself and enjoying life by doing things that brought happiness to me.
Even now though, the first thing that starts to go when I get stressed out, anxious, and worried are those lessons I learned – the importance of caring for myself.
I think we all can use that reminder – self-love comes first – and I love the idea of writing a letter – something physical to pull out during those times when we need a boost, when we can’t remember on our own why it’s important to take care of ourselves.
Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Johanna February 14, 2011

Angela, thank You for reminding me on this basic but powerful thing. Love Your blog!

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Pam February 14, 2011

Wow!
*tears*

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Red Deception February 14, 2011

That was so lovely. Both of you overcame heartbreaking odds to discover you truly belong together.

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Valerie February 14, 2011

Angela, you are truly an inspiration. I hope one day to recover the way you have. I am trying my best to focus this year on making peace with myself and my body, and finding a way to be healthy and happy. I am so happy for you and Eric. Have a wonderful day!

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Hannah February 14, 2011

This is, without doubt, the best Valentine’s Day post I have ever read. Every part of it resonates with me, as part of the reason I know that I’m single at 23 (and have always been single) is that I’ve spent so much of my life hating myself that I pushed away everyone who came near (romantically), not being able to accept that they really could care for me.

I’m so overjoyed that your story had a happy ending (no, a happy continuing) – it gives me hope.

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Amelia February 14, 2011

Right now I’m going through an almost identical situation. The scenario you describe – calorie counting, obsessive exercising, thin-fixated mindset, is EXACTLY what I’m dealing with right now. Not only have I jeopardized my health, but I’ve also come dangerously close to losing my sweetheart because of my selfishness. I can’t thank you enough for posting this and sharing.

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Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA February 14, 2011

What a beautiful post. I know it’s not fun to look back on bad times with the person you love so thanks for doing it.

Last summer I broke up with my boyfriend of five years under similar circumstances. We haven’t gotten back together and it’s unlikely we ever will, as we now live 2,000 miles apart, but I’m amazed at how much I learned and how much I grew from the experience. And I will love him for the rest of my life and be so happy for everything the relationship brought me — and happy for the lessons I’ve learned being single, too. I’m so glad you learned to love yourself and that you and Eric have each other. You’re an incredible couple.

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Leia February 14, 2011

This is such a heart-warming post, Angela. And I am so glad you and Eric got back together!! :)
I have dealt with insecurities, too, and I totally agree that you need to be confident and self-assured if you want any of your relationships to be successful.

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Veronika February 14, 2011

Thank you very much for your openness! I think self-love is the only way you can hold on to a serious relationsship. I love your story and hope you two will be very happy for the rest of your life :)

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Kate February 14, 2011

I’ma long time lurker on your lovely blog Angela, but this post moved me to comment. It was exactly what I needed to read today, not because it’s valentine’s day, but because my self-love has taken a hammering lately while I put everything else, and not myself, first. Thank you so much for this reminder, which I’m not ashamed to say bought me to tears. Happy valentine’s self love day!

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Sabine @ thefruitpursuit February 14, 2011

I did exactly the same with my ex boyfriend. I was so deep into my eating disorder that I pushed everything and everyone away. and once I started getting semi-better, I just couldn’t regain that feeling for him I once had so I broke up with him. I am happy for you and Eric things worked out afterall :)

x sabine

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Sarah (Flavoropolis) February 14, 2011

What a moving post. Learning to love oneself enough to truly receive others’ love is definitely one of the greatest challenges but most fulfilling and soul-awakening undertakings out there. It takes daily care for me too, thank you for reminding us all of something so important.

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Carrie February 14, 2011

I have been reading your blog for a while, but this is my first time commenting. I feel as if I wrote this myself. I also lost a relationship very dear to me because of my eating disorder (among other things). The emotions you described are all to familiar to me. Thank you for such a beautifully written entry.

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Ashley February 14, 2011

Thank you Angela for this post! I’ve been struggling with this lately, and I know it’s been causing quite a strain on my boyfriend and I, who’ve been together seven years. Like you, he’s seen me struggle through my anxiety and depression– and though we never officially “broke up” there was a year or so where we were just together just because everyone was used to it. Yes, we really thought that! Terrible. Like you, I walked out on two jobs recently, on a mission to self-discovery I guess. But it’s only going to come from within me– not from anyone else. And reading this has given me an extra dose of inspiration. Thank you again for sharing:)

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Melissa February 14, 2011

Hi Angela,

I’ve been reading and following your blog for the past 4 months and have tried a few of your yummy recipes with success, but have been too shy to say hi.

After reading this post, I am compelled to de-lurk. Thanks for being sharing your (and Eric’s) story. This post is moving and honest. You are a real inspiration..

Love, Melissa

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Albizia February 14, 2011

I’ve been following your blog for a while but I’ve never commented before. Well, today is the day to stop lurking and thank you for all your wonderful posts and wish you all the love your heart can take. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Traci(faithfulfoodiefashionista) February 14, 2011

Thannks Angela for being so open and honest…..it helps me more than you will ever know :)

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Laura @ Starloz February 14, 2011

your incredible strong & inspiring angela. you are exactly right. without the love for ourselves, we can’t share love or let others love us.

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) February 14, 2011

You surprise me each and every week, Angela…your courage, your strength, your candor in posting highly personal things like this, you surprise me and inspire me. You help me realize that the things I’d love to post about, but don’t, that they are post-worthy.

“Love isn’t always a fairy tale. Relationships are complex and ever-evolving with ups and downs, but I love them just the same.”–
Amen sister. Amen. Couples who say they never fight, never have harsh words, that it comes so easily, I am happy for them. That has not been my reality but after 13 yrs, I wouldnt expect it to have been a fairy tale every step of the way.

Thank you for sharing your journey, your history, and for loving yourself enough to recover from your ED, to work your recovery, to work at your marriage and relationship, wow…I could go on and on but I am rambling and very moved by your post and story.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Eric :)

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CathyK February 14, 2011

see, this is why i love your blog, angela – some entries are sooo funny and others are just so beautiful and full of meaning, written straight from your heart.
thank you for sharing so honestly, and for the life-lesson that your story provides. it’s early on valentine’s day morning, and this post is a wonderful early-day devotional reading for me.
happy happy heart day to you and eric. i’m so glad your love story included a “back together again” ending.
xoxo!

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Aly February 14, 2011

Angela, you rock!! I applaud you on your willingness to share your struggles, your triumphs, for becoming vulnerable for our benefit. You are an amazing woman!!

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Lou February 14, 2011

happy valentine’s day. that was very generous of you to share your experiences and thoughts…and you are certainly lucky to have your husband :)
i totally agreeee on the chocolate bit!!

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JL goes Vegan February 14, 2011

What a raw and loving post. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Lauren at KeepItSweet February 14, 2011

Thanks for sharing that story. It really is so important to be able to love and respect yourself. On another note, I made chocolate almond butter yesterday and loved it!

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Lindsey @Textbooks and Cookbooks February 14, 2011

Such a great post, thank you for sharing!

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olivia February 14, 2011

I always read your blog for recipes and smoothie ideas. This is the first time in my scattered reading that you have become a real person, a real woman, to me.
You really helped me today (and not just with what to eat for dinner)

Thank you so much.

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Foxy February 14, 2011

What a beautiful post Angela! Thank you- I needed this today.

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Julie @ Shining From Within February 14, 2011

That’s so true. You need to love yourself before you can love others. That breakfast looks so sinfully delicious, too!

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veganlisa February 14, 2011

Angela – what a beautiful, honest, generous post. I am truly touched (you can tell by the tears).

I will write myself a love letter and give my beautiful self some chocolate today.

Sending you and Eric lots of hugs today.

p.s. We have the same middle name :)

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 14, 2011

You just told MY love story with the Husband – no joke. We went through the exact same thing, for the exact same reason. It was the best thing that ever happened to us though. It was hard and horrible, but we grew so much as people while we were apart.

That was a beautiful story.

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Ashley February 14, 2011

This is such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing :) your blog always brightens my day. Happy Valentine’s day!

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