Growing up my dad wasn’t very present in my life. Although we lived under the same roof he was never emotionally available; as drugs among other things seemed to be of greater importance and hold his attention more than my siblings and I did. On the rare occasion that he would re-surface from the garage, there always seemed to be some type of marital drama going on usually centered around my dad’s dissatisfaction with my mom’s appearance. Now as an adult I can see how this lack of a strong and uplifting male presence ultimately negatively impacted and shaped my teenage belief system in terms of how I defined my self-worth as well as what I would define as a healthy/normal relationship. I strongly believed that a person’s physical appearance was much more important than anything else they had to offer and therefore used my body as a means to obtain male attention. It wasn’t until shortly after I met my husband that my whole belief system was challenged.
Per my typical dating routine it wasn’t long before we were intimate and I figured that he would be nothing more than a casual fling. However, early the next morning I received a voice message from him saying how glad he was that he had met me, among other things. That was completely new territory for me. His being a very emotional person who was very vocal about his feelings really forced me to open up emotionally and lead with something other than my appearance. He showed me that I had so much more to offer and helped me to see that a persons true value comes from within.
It took me an extremely long time to fully understand why and how I developed this pattern of thinking and why my early years played out as they did. Although 15 years later I still privately struggle with body dysmorphic issues, I really strive to instill a different belief system in my own children. It is my ultimate goal to uplift my daughters and help them to build a healthy sense of self-worth by raising them within a home environment in which one’s morals and intellect are deemed more important than outwardly appearance as well as within an environment that illustrates what a healthy relationship looks like.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a society that’s constantly threatening this goal by promoting self-criticism versus self-love.
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