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 }

Liza February 14, 2011

Hi Angela! Not sure I’ve ever posted but I love your blog and this post especially is just so beautiful. Loving myself– what a fabulous way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. :) Thank you!

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Corinne February 14, 2011

I can only speak for myself when I say this definitely hit close to home. I do imagine, however, that a lot of women can relate. Angela, thank you for always pouring your heart into your posts and for sharing you intelligent and thought-provoking reflections on what a lot of women go through, but won’t admit to themselves or (most certainly not) to others.

Keep sharing, growing and appreciating your gifts…

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Justeen @ Blissful Baking February 14, 2011

This is a really touching story. I was tearing up while reading it. Thank you so much for sharing!

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FoodFeud February 14, 2011

This definitely strikes a chord with me and so many others. Thanks for being so honest and brave. Happy Valentines :)

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Mimi February 14, 2011

What an eloquent, beautiful message. I’m sorry for the loss and pain you felt, but I am equally glad for the end results it helped you reach. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Zoe February 14, 2011

This post made me cry at my desk this morning at work! Amazing. Thanks :)

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Zoe February 14, 2011

This post made me cry at my desk this morning at work! Amazing. Thanks :)

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Richelle February 14, 2011

This is a beautiful post. I absolutely believe you need to have self love before you can let anynone else love you completely. I know what you mean when you say that an eating disorder affects every experience you go through. This post made me quite emotional as I thought of the struggles I went through with an eating disorder as well. I will never go back there. Thank you for sharing. I am going to write myself a love letter.

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Lissy February 14, 2011

best valentines post ever

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Alex @ Healing Beauty February 14, 2011

What a beautiful, raw, and inspiring post. Thank you for putting yourself out there and inspiring me. I am in recovery from an eating disorder and that played a role in the breakup with my boyfriend. Now I’m learning what self-love is all about and it is incredibly difficult. I think my ED causes me to try and focus on everything but myself and that will leave me empty. I think that writing myself a love letter is the most beautiful idea. I don’t mean to sound overly grateful, but I just went through a very tough week and need something to help remind me to love myself as best as I can. In the words of Richard from Texas, “You deserve your love and devotion as much as anyone.” I very much admire you and Oh She Glows and read through your old posts often to get ideas on ways to make myself glow after my ED caused me to be very sick, and I find OSG incredibly motivating and courageous. Thank you for putting your story out there and inspiring me. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Tiffany February 14, 2011

You are truly an inspiration. Thank you for always being so honest and willing to share. Your words help more than you know.

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Jodi February 14, 2011

This was so beautiful and honest and very very true! I have embraced Valentines Day this year as Happy Universal Love Others Day and that definitely includes YOURSELF. Most of all. Thank you for sharing this!

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Sabrina @ Radioactive Runner February 14, 2011

Thank you for sharing this… wow. Good for you for taking the risks that you have taken .. they really do all pay off in so many ways.
Reading this reminded me of my experiences and the endless amounts of stress eating disorders put on relationships and the obessing over calories and food intake. It doesn’t work. The only way to really over come it is to get the help needed and learn to deal with things in a healthy way.
Great post… thank you!!
PS: whatever that picture is of looks mighty good!!

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Elevine February 14, 2011

I was not at all prepared for crying while reading this post.
But, I surely did. You caught me right on the spot, and what you write is soso right.
- Letting oneself be loved is incredibly hard when it is so hard loving oneself.
Thankyou.

And, well, happy Valentines :)

xx

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KitKat @ Pursuit of Happiness February 14, 2011

Wow, thank you for sharing this! Happy Valentine’s Day. =)

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Felicia (a taste of health with balance) February 14, 2011

angela.. thank you for posting this

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Shanna February 14, 2011

Wise words at any age. I’m still very much working on this and fear I may be doing something similar to my now husband. Sigh…

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kate@ahealthypassion February 14, 2011

this is beautiful, have a wonderful valentines day!

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radioactivegan February 14, 2011

Thank you for a great post on Valentine’s Day. I am completely with you about “self-love”, although sadly not as far on the journey as you. Every day I think about how my boyfriend now has to put up with the result of everything that happened to me in the 25 years before I met him. I’m really not sure how he does; he’s a pretty amazing guy for it. Thanks for reminding me of that :)

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kathleen February 14, 2011

i don’t know if i’ll write myself a love letter but i will definitely be eating chocolate all day! lovely post =)

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Mandy@One Hungry Mess February 14, 2011

Oh so painfully true! Thank you for your honesty and willing to share your story. I really do hope you write a book on the matter someday because no one says it better than you. Happy Valentines!

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Jackie February 14, 2011

Beautiful picture!

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Emily February 14, 2011

Beautiful post Angela. As I go through my own breakup right now, I know that self-love has a lot to do with why I was never truly open in the relationship. As hard as it is to admit, me not loving myself has played a huge role in the walls that are up with people in my life. I am re-inspired, after reading your post, to keep pushing on to learning to love and care for myself. I want this time in my life to open me up for the next right person that comes along, whoever it may be.

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 14, 2011

Fantastic, moving post. I a so glad you both were able to recover. Happy Valentine’s Day!

(Awesome choco pic too… food. porn.)

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Jenny February 14, 2011

I loved this post! First of all, I’m happy for you guys. I was with my high school sweetheart for about 8 years, and we couldn’t make it work. I find it so awesome that not only have you guys stayed together, but you have allowed each other to grow! I found I couldn’t mature while with my high school boyfriend, so it had to end. No tears, I’m happier now…but the whole “there is nothing without self love” hit home! I still struggle with this. As a whole, our society focuses too much on weight. It is critical to be healthy, but whether your arm has a little flab when you aren’t posing with your hand on your waist is really not important. I wish we could be happier with the way we are, as we strive to be our best.

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Moni'sMeals February 14, 2011

Raw and Real. That is a great and uplifting story. I had no idea!

HAPPY HAPPY Valentine’s Day!

xoxo

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Jennifer @ keepitsimplefoods.com February 14, 2011

Beautifully said. Glad you found a way to give yourself the love you need and deserve.

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Lara February 14, 2011

i’m a long time reader of your blog, today your words have striked a particular chord in me. my anorexia pushed away the only man i have been with that i could have seen myself marrying…while that was almost eight years ago, my struggles have dwindled over time (though recovery is still a daily process) and he is now happily married to a wonderful woman, i still think about what i gave up in a haze of self-loathing and depression…your words today helped me realize how far i have come since then…thank you.

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Lauren February 14, 2011

That brought tears to my eyes. I 100% agree that self-love is the most important thing of all.

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Lauren February 14, 2011

Angela, this is such a beautiful post! Thank you for being so candid and sharing your story with the blog world. I think it is such an important point to make that loving yourself allows you to love others. You and Eric are very luck to have one another!

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rebecca lustig February 14, 2011

I’m in tears. I went through an incredibly similar experience this past year. I can’t express enough how warming and comforting it is to know I’m not alone– and that I’m not so crazy after all. THANK YOU, for this. It completely changed my day around, and my thoughts on self love.

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rebecca lustig February 14, 2011

OH, and it gives me only the most hope.

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Astrid February 14, 2011

This is an amazing post. I love the idea of writing yourself a love letter.

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christyn @ All Ways Nutritious February 14, 2011

beautiful angela! i have never looked at valentines re: self-love, but its BRILLIANT.

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Victoria February 14, 2011

OH MY GOSH. I read your blog daily but this is my first time commenting. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST. My boyfriend and I, of 3 years, went through the exact same thing just a few weeks ago. My eating disorder has caused so much strain on our relationship. It wasn’t until he broke up with me that I realized that so many things just dont matter. I never saw it coming and I have never felt so much heartbreak and pain in my life. After taking a week apart with no communication (obviously not as long as you and Eric did), I wrote him a 4 page letter and we talked a few days later. We decided to get back together and so far it’s been really good. I’m (slowly) taking steps in the right direction but I need his support too. I can’t even believe someone went through the exact same thing and I completely understand the self love… I’m trying to be positive and happier every day.
P.S I’m a fellow Canadian too! Born and raised in Edmonton :)

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Suzanne @ continuing my education February 14, 2011

What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Michelle S February 14, 2011

Thanks for that post. It meant a lot to me. I broke up with the love of my life last June after two years of being together. I was a very bitter, angry person and always fought over stupid little things with him. I had major insecurities and was afraid of losing him. I knew that I didn’t want to be that person any more, so I broke it off. It’s been about 8 months now and I miss him with all my heart. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I’ve spent the last 8 months working on myself. I’ve made a lot of progress and I hope to one day be with him again. It gives me hope to read your story and know that it’s possible to get back with an ex for good. It also gives me hope that I too will live a healthy life with confidence and alot of self-love. Thanks again.

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Ashley - Findlifestrhyhm.com February 14, 2011

I couldn’t agree more with this post. You must love yourself first before you know how to love and let yourself be loved. And I too plan on having lots of chocolate today!

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Erin February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day Angela! Thanks for this amazingly honest post. I met my hubby when I was 19 and he was 22. We just celebrated our 17th Christmas together and have been married 13 1/2 years. My struggles with an ED, perfectionism and low self-esteem have often strained our relationship over the years. I am still really working on all of these, and am trying hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have made it through every challenge so far though, and I have no doubt that we have grown stronger as a result. Every year brings new and different challenges, but our love is stronger than ever and I have faith that we can overcome anything life throws at us. I so look forward to reading your updates every day – thank you :)

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Ariane February 14, 2011

I needed this SO badly today. You are amazing :)

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