The keys to success: learning to love oneself

A woman I regularly see asked me what I was studying in school. I told her that I had hoped to become an Addictions Worker here in Kamloops, and that I wanted to be a voice for those who did not feel they could speak out about their disease.

With disgust on her face, she replied, "Why on earth would you want to work with those horrible people?"

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I looked her straight in the eyes and said, "Because I am one of those people".

I have shared this story with a few others, many of which reacted to this woman’s comments with anger and disdain. I, on the other hand, have nothing but gratitude in my heart for her, as her disapproval of my people, those the world has labeled “ADDICT” and those I fight for on a daily basis, can only affect me negatively if I allow them to.

There was a time not long ago that I would have struggled deeply and punished myself for days because of this woman’s judgmental and hurtful slander. Her biting tongue would have hurled me into another cycle of shame, pain, escape, acting out, medicating and numbing. In recovery, I choose to love myself through my failings. I choose to be kind to my suffering inner child. I have come to believe that a woman who truly loves herself is a powerful, passionate and attractive force; because we were not given these wild spirits to merely exist.

We were created to shake up the world, turn it upside down, and show our fellow humans the difference between breathing and being fully alive. Each day, I wake up with a profound love for who I am, an appreciation for the journey I have embarked on, and a desire unlike before to fulfill my life’s purpose.

I grew up with a deep sense of worthlessness, a desire to punish the little girl inside for being defiant, mischievous, wild spirited, not pretty enough and too stubborn. And the one human that needed and craved my love the most, I was never able to gift it to ~ myself.

Today, with the help of my Higher Power, I look into the distorted mirror of my past and boldly exclaim, “Amanda, you are loved” ~ and I believe it. I don't think it is coincidental that the origin of my name means "one most deserving of love". I believe that I am worth the chaos I bring to the world because my worth is not defined by my inadequacies or my failures, but by the courage and strength I possess in picking myself back up again. I believe that I am light, spirited, brave, powerful, smart, and capable- a force to be reckoned with.

But most importantly, I am not ashamed of that little girl anymore. I don’t make excuses for her behavior or her story, because I know that her journey will inspire others.

My hope is that you will commit with me, from this day forward, to love yourself fiercely and extravagantly. And remember: people will throw stones at you. Don't throw them back. Collect them all and build an Empire.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

~ Nelson Mandella

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