Recent NFL headlines regarding domestic abuse has made me pause and think not only about domestic violence, but more importantly about the emotional and mental abuse that many of us suffer in some form or fashion in our relationships.
It took me back to my own separation and divorce, a very dark and lonely time in my life. While I am not a victim of domestic abuse, I have experienced a form of emotional and mental abuse that changed me from the person I had always been to someone I didn’t even know. Someone I couldn’t even recognize and I didn’t have a mark or scar on me.
You see, physically I hadn’t changed, other than picking up 30lbs (ugh!), but the unique, loving person I was at my core had gone away. I mean packed up and moved out!
It was a normal weekday, no different from any other. I was getting dressed for work and while putting my makeup on in the mirror, I took a long, hard stare into my eyes and saw no life. Just a shell. It was as if I was empty on the inside. I had felt empty for a long time and with reason. I had given everything, and I do mean everything, I had in me to try and hold my marriage together. I was still there physically, still ﬁghting to make it all work because of my commitment to God and my marriage. But emotionally, the joyful, peaceful, fun-loving, singing Andrea was gone.
In an effort to keep my marriage together and be the person he wanted, I stopped loving me and morphed into another person. And as I stared into the mirror that fateful morning, I was mortiﬁed because I didn’t know the person staring back at me. That person was a total stranger to me. It was that moment that changed me and started me on a journey to ﬁnd the old me, the real me, out of love for myself.
After couples counseling, much deliberation and incessant prayer, I made the decision to separate from my husband because, mentally and emotionally, I was about to lose it. I had to face the hard reality that I was losing the battle to save my husband and my marriage. The person who now needed saving the most was me!
Out on my own, I made a conscious decision to not dwell in negative space or to keep replaying what happened in the marriage, why it failed or who was to blame. I took all the blame and then released it all and forgave myself. I began to love myself, reﬂect and start my journey of getting back to the person that I was, only better. I made a loving commitment to myself to continuously grow, respect myself and let God mold me into the unique being that He intended. Months after my divorce, I wrote a love letter to myself, which I want to share with you below. This letter became my anchor and a bright, new memory of my journey and how far I had come. I look back on it from time to time, just like today, and smile, thankful and grateful that everyday I am blessed to live a loving life that allows me to grow into myself.
Growing into Myself
I look in the mirror and what do I see,
A beautiful, mature woman staring back at me.
Not the young girl, so foolish, so naive,
But an experienced woman who believes.
Believes in herself, standing tall with unwavering faith,
A woman blessed by God’s grace.
A woman self-assured and comfortable in her skin,
No longer worried about blending in.
A woman gifted with beauty inside and out,
A woman comfortable with her plus size body,
that’s sure to cause some men to fantasize, no doubt.
A woman who causes people to stop and pause,
Not because of her physical beauty, but because of her
compassion, laughter and applause.
She is a friend to all who approach her,
And a blessing to those who truly know her.
Never ceasing to amaze those around her with intelligence, integrity and grace,
Which explains why people gravitate to be in her personal space.
Gracious and giving of her time and attention,
She often demonstrates that she has multi-dimensions.
Rediscovering herself and her passion,
She exudes a sense of style and fashion.
Grounded in faith and growing in spiritual maturity,
Her essence is one of openness and gaiety.
Her smile is like a ray of sunshine,
Her heart is divine.
Looking in the mirror she smiles at the image staring back
at her as she puts the moisturizer back on the shelf.
And thinks to herself, “Wow…I’m growing into myself!”
In honor of Loving On Me’s recent two year anniversary, I invite all members of the tribe to join me in celebration of Katrina McGhee’s vision to love ourselves. I encourage each of you to do that by journaling your own loving letter to yourself. No expertise or credentials needed. Your letter of love only needs to be good enough for you. It will serve as your own loving compass and reminder that you are enough!