The Lotus of Self Love

Artwork by Lyndi Munguia

Up until this very moment, I have understood that I am a flawed human. However, I have been fortunate enough to learn one life changing fact – I am worthy of love.

This is not a story that begins in a positive way. It is more akin to the story of a lotus flower that rises from the mud.For as long as I can remember, I {unfortunately} always had a reason to be self conscious.

In elementary school, I had freckles, glasses, and ears that poked out instead of lying flush against my head. The mean kids would call me freckle face, four eyes, and dumbo. I would puff out my chest and talk back like I couldn’t care less, when in reality my confidence retreated.

In middle school, I went through puberty and acquired big birthing hips in spite of my waist staying the same size. I also grew seven inches over one summer and came back as one of the tallest girls in my grade. As if that wasn’t humiliating enough (because what boy would want to date a girl taller than he is), the growth spurt stretched my skin enough to create stretch marks on my hips and inner thighs. I thought I was a freak because most girls were still skinny and short with perfect skin. I, on the other hand, was this fat, ugly, freckled giant that was completely unlovable. Somehow, though, I felt a little gleam of acceptance every Friday when the game of “slap ass” was played at our school. This game involved boys walking around school and slapping the girls on the butt for no reason whatsoever. When I was chosen to be a participant, I felt a short burst of self confidence.

In high school, I started trying to gain approval from the wrong kind of people. I let myself believe that I was worthy of love because boys wanted to see me naked. I let boys take advantage of my lack of confidence in myself. My insatiable desire for approval gave me an excuse to accept any kind of attention, even through the most abusive relationships. I even went so far as to send a full body naked picture of myself to a boy I was dating. A hard lesson was learned when he shared that picture with a multitude of people and I became the talk of the town. After my accident, I gained weight due to lack of exercise, which brought me further down the slippery slope of self loathing.

In college, I dated a series of men. Each one taught me something to help me improve upon myself. I accepted abusive behavior, which taught me how to deal with people who need time to be angry. I accepted people degrading me and beating me down because of the way they looked. I accepted people calling me fat and not caring about my needs. I allowed people to treat me terribly because it was what I had been conditioned to believe I, the fat, tall, unworthy girl, deserved.

At a time when I needed it most, yoga kicked in. Through yoga, I learned to love myself through my practice and listen to my body. I learned to take care of myself first, so that I was better able to take care of others. I stopped accepting negativity, and I began to push negative people away from my life. I stopped accepting criticisms and continued to do whatever my heart desired – even if that took me down a difficult path. Unfortunately, I also began to suffocate and cling to those who treated me well. Once a person pulled me close as I broke down, I held onto them so tightly I’m sure it was hard to breathe. Yoga preaches non-attachment and it is {thankfully} sinking in.

Yoga also brings about the best people. My Lorelei has helped guide me to becoming a better me by supporting me and lifting me up during my trials and tribulations. More yogis than I can count on all my fingers and toesΒ taught me how to love and support someone who doesn’t know how to love themselves.

A few weeks ago, I had a little chat with a fellow yoga instructor I respect very much. Somewhere along the conversation, I said “I don’t care if you like me. I like me.” Except my voice gave my secret insecurities away. I actually said “I like me?”, as if I were asking him permission to like myself. I am grateful that he did, as silly as it sounds, give me permission to like myself. From that moment, I have been better able to love myself in a way that I deserve, open myself up to loving completely, and furhter dismiss any “love” that is not worthy.

In case you are wondering, YOU are completely entitled to love yourself in the best, most irrational way. Let go of what the world tells you. Be unashamed by your body and however much you care to show it. You are wonderful. Believe it and you will shine brighter than all the stars in the night sky. No one should be given reign over how your body “should” look, as long as you feel good. No one can make you feel unworthy without your permission. Don’t give that power to anyone. You deserve nothing less than extraordinary. You deserve all the real, honest love that makes your heart sing. A love that connects from deep within you and envelops you completely. Believe it! It is yours for the taking.

The mind is a beautiful thing once you get it on your side. And like a lotus rises from the mud, my self love rises from the past that no longer weighs me down. I hope to see yours rise soon, too. ❀

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