01.29.19

MY SELF LOVE STORY

i have felt a huge shift in myself lately, especially in the past 6 months. i’ve put in a lot of work on my mental health and personal happiness and have found really meaningful results. as someone who has dealt with anxiety since childhood, i feel like i have truly been untangling my issues and finding peace. i guess i just wanted to write down some thoughts and some things that have helped me…

MY SELF LOVE STORY:

when i was 15, i was in a relationship that was very destructive. it went on and off for 5 or 6 years. i was belittled, emotionally and occasionally physically abused, controlled, cheated on…it was one of those nightmare relationships that i just couldn’t seem to escape. my self worth was so low that i just didn’t really understand what my value in this world was. sure, he was funny, i thought i loved him, we had some good times. but overall it was a terrible experience. i remember him saying to me one day “i could do anything to you and you wouldn’t leave me. you’re weak.” and he was right, i was. i was afraid to be alone. i thought the chaos was normal and what “love” meant, i thought i couldn’t do any better. i was STUCK, or so i thought. i had to move across the country to get away from the situation (and he followed). one day something finally clicked: i deserved way better. i guess i had to come to the conclusion on my own, because i definitely wasn’t listening to my friends and family who told me that 200 million times. i was able to find the strength to cut ties and move on around the age of 20, but i was still very injured inside. this lead me down a path of forming very co-dependent relationships and friendships and inevitably being let down throughout my 20’s. it hasn’t been until my 30’s that i have truly found the power of self love. if we don’t love ourselves, it is very difficult for others to love us. it will always feel like a void that can’t be filled. i was desperate for connection, stability, validation, comfort…but i was looking in all the wrong places. luckily at the same time i was able to build a healthy sense of confidence through my career. i met a few friends that guided me on a path of loving myself for who i was. i traveled a lot and started seeing the world very differently.

in 2014 i ended an almost 6 year relationship that was actually very healthy and loving but i realized that we were meant to be just friends. i am so grateful for him and the sense of security and self worth that he brought me. i also didn’t realize how scared i was to be ALONE. truly single. living alone for the first time. i was still scared and jumped immediately into a relationship that was fast, fun, and ultimately not right. i knew i was just trying to force it to be right. 6 months later, he broke up with me for someone else and i was left in a very sensitive spot. my ego was bruised, i felt low. but also this is when my life really started to shift. i was single for two years, i was learning to find comfort in my alone time, i spent tons of time with friends going on road trips and having a blast, i casually dated here and there but it wasn’t really my focus. i knew i needed this time to love myself.

two years went by, i bought a house on my own, i was focused on my career, friendships started to shift, toxic ones faded and the healthy ones remained. at the age of 30, i was finally starting to feel at ease. i wasn’t looking for someone to fill that space inside of me. and just like they always say, love happens when you are least expecting it. then one day i met justin, on tinder! i didn’t feel the same pressure to connect as quickly. i had a more nonchalant approach. my expectations weren’t as intense. i was having fun and being MYSELF. he showed me a new side of me. he pushes me in new ways and i finally feel like i’m in a relationship that isn’t dependent. we both have our independence and enough security on our own, but choose to be with each other as a major bonus. and now we are getting married in a few months! it’s a very happy time right now.

THERAPY – a little over a year ago i started committing to weekly EMDR therapy. i had been to therapists on and off since i was probably 9 years old. i struggled with some traumatizing experiences in my childhood, they were confusing and brought me a lot of pain. although therapists have helped me understand a lot of my pain, this is the first therapist that i feel has helped me start to heal the wounds. she is kind, loving, genuine, and just what i needed. she gave me those self soothing techniques and helped me guide that scared little girl inside of me to safety. of course there are weeks that it doesn’t feel like much happens, and we are just talking. but i have stuck with it and have felt a weight being lifted. i also started taking an anti-depressant and although those aren’t for everyone it made my day to day much lighter and brighter. my hope is to go off of it this year, but the medicine and therapy during a year of depression was so helpful. sometimes when we bring everything to the surface, even if we are getting closer to happiness, it can unearth a lot of pain. i think of it like my pain is coming up and OUT. as humans we find so many ways to protect ourselves from the hurt…and the habits aren’t always great. food, alcohol, relationships, drugs, spending, avoidance. temporary bandaids. it was time to confront instead of avoid.

BOOKS – brene brown’s books are a great way to start. i love all of them, but “rising strong” really affected me positively this year. i just love how conversational and relatable she is. lately my happy place is in a quiet space, reading. justin got me a kindle for christmas and i love this reading streak i’ve been on. before bed especially! in the car i have been listening to all sorts of podcasts as a way to pass the time but also keep me thinking. i will work on a list of podcasts if you are interested! oprah’s super soul conversations podcast has a ton of great listens.

HEALTH – the older i get, the more i take care of myself. i still have a huge lazy side and hate working out, but i know eventually i will find out how to work that in. this year i started cooking almost all of our meals and finding a way better balance in the kinds of food and drink i was putting in my body. i temporarily cut out alcohol, processed foods, gluten, i started drinking way more water, less caffeine. the results in a few weeks are amazing. better skin, 8 pounds came quickly off, that bloated full feeling was gone, my sleep was better, and my anxiety was close to zero. i am doing my best to form better habits, do less emotional eating and drinking, and find a better balance overall with my diet. i am starting to see the huge importance it has in my life. but it’s also really a challenge to change!

LEARNING – they say that being present is a key factor to happiness. it’s not surprising to me that cooking became a new form of therapy in my life. it’s a time for me to play, get creative, focus my attention on the present, entertain and feed people i love. the feeling of joy is definitely related to the feeling of being present while cooking a meal. its definitely a better “mental check out” than the reality shows i was watching. stirring, adding, chopping, tasting, plating, serving…all slow and beautiful things. cooking school is definitely the best thing i chose to do last year!

BOUNDARIES – in the book “co-dependency no more” i really started to realize i sucked at creating boundaries. that close, bff, no limits, inseparable feeling was always so tempting to me. i repeated that pattern for many years and can remember feeling like that as a child too. i just didn’t want the connection to end. i was a major people pleaser, i wouldn’t speak up for what i needed in the relationship, and i was constantly taking on other people’s problems as my own. this can lead to resentment and turmoil. i also realized i was putting all my eggs in one basket by forming this types of relationships. i would cling on to that one person who i could trust and hope their love could make me feel better. but i have really come to see that is waaay too much expectation to put on another human and i would always be disappointed if i continued. i’ve learned the importance of 1. loving myself FIRST and 2. spreading out my love and having a variety of people that serve different purposes in my life (the sister that i lay around and watch movies with. that friend i can talk to for hours on the phone. that friend who always listens and gives great advice. the boyfriend who i love to travel with. the co-worker that understands me in a different way etc.) everyone is teaching us something if we are listening and keep an open mind.

a friend told me this year, “clarity is kindness” and it really stuck with me. maybe i was scared to speak up because i thought that person would leave me? maybe i was just people pleasing because my fear of abandonment ran so deep? i thought someone would be mad at me if i told them how i really felt. i have come to see that the true friends in your life, when you are honest, kind and say how you feel…they will understand and respect you. not guilt you and make you feel bad for expressing your emotions. not operating out of fear has helped me so much. at first it felt very selfish. deciding to stay at home and rest instead of going out to an event. saying i want some alone time to recharge. just the idea of being super honest freaked me out. but it’s all about our delivery. you will quickly see change, but stick with it. it might take a while to implement these boundaries with certain very formed relationships. but i promise it’s way less scary than you think. boundaries can be very liberating!

WHAT NOW? right now it feels like my new life is just beginning. i am starting to shed old patterns and focus on the positive shift. i will probably stick to therapy and keep working out those triggers that set me back. i want to focus on this new feeling of being happy with myself and explore it more. it’s a little scary still, because i’m not resonating with my old self as much, so i know that means more change. but change has always been okay in the past, so i am just trying to stay positive and calm through the process.

GOALS:

  • patience. stillness. breathing. meditation. i get bored and antsy, but the more i work on these skills, the more i see the positive results.
  • finding the balance of treating myself and living a full life, but also practicing self discipline more often.
  • i have gone a bit to the extreme and now i love hanging out alone. something i never thought i would say! but now i just want to meet up with people and do activities that help me grow, keep me outside, and not too much in my head. just setting up more lunch dates or a walk around the park with a friend to break up the day!
  • i want to listen to myself and what makes me happy and follow that path. right now it’s cooking and family! hoping for a little one semi-soon.
  • now that i feel the deep understanding of my issues, i want to move on from them instead of dwelling on them. i want to be kind to myself with that process and know that the timing was all for a reason.

i am SO open to advice if any of this sounds familiar. it feels almost like a new world lately, and that’s really cool. thanks for listening xx bri

(phrase illustrations by subliming and groceries by subin yang)

23 COMMENTS

Add your own

    Emma says:

    bri, thank you for writing this and sharing your experience. so much of what you have said hits home for me. focusing on healing and growing feels like the only way to get through these moments. as a long time reader of your blog, seeing your growth over the years and where you are today makes me so happy for you – much love to you, bri!

    myra callan says:

    This is an amazing journey, Bri! So happy to see where you are now and where you’re going… Life is freaking hard! Sorry if I’m running a bit into the weeds but sometimes it’s environment, people or even yourself. Sometimes during quiet times, after you’ve done everything “right”, the demons still sneak up for no reason at all. Sometimes it seems like everyone else has got it SO perfectly together… I used to think that maybe I just secretly wanted things to be difficult and dramatic and that this was a defect in myself. I tried to “fix” this… others tried to “fix” this in me. It wasn’t until the more recent years that I realized that this IS who I am and that maybe I am more emotional about things and have lower lows… but also higher highs. I started putting things into perspective and seeing things with a different light. Instead of thinking, “I’m so sensitive,” I see it as, “I feel so much”. Things are not just minorly important to me, they are very important. I am passionate. If things don’t go perfectly, I beat myself up or avoid it because it’s too painful. But it’s not because I don’t care but that I care – a lot! This isn’t a bad thing. It makes me work tremendously hard at everything I find important. When I’m down for whatever reason, I try to remember it’s only because I LOVE to live so much that I’m feeling so affected. Life is so awesome. I treasure the good times. They are precious to me. Maybe some people are constantly calm and happy and that’s fine and their normal. For me, things often seem stressful and chaotic, but that’s my normal and that’s okay! Anyhow, congratulations on your upcoming wedding… on finding love… on finding more balance and for sharing your experience!

    Anonymous says:

    Thank you a lot for this great sharing 💗

    Josie says:

    love you. so happy for you.

    monica says:

    self love and and staying present. HUGE, but sadly don’t find a lot of women talking about it so i’m glad you took the moment to write up this crazy honest and reflective post. it’s truly inspiring and uplifting, so thank u.

    Hannah says:

    Silent crying at my desk. I needed this. I want to be able to share a similar story. It’s nice to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you.

    CC says:

    After a tumultuous holiday with my fam I bought the book you recommended “Will I ever be good enough” and it’s has helped tremendously! I’m on a similar journey this year prioritizing self love so that I can one day start dating again and build my own family. Thank you for your transparency… it has helped me so much. Here to your continued journey and mine too! Thank you 🙂

    Kelsey Frey says:

    Thank you for sharing! I love your honest posts, especially ones about such vulnerable subjects (that we all deal with!!). It takes courage to post about your struggles, and I really appreciate you sharing yours.

    sooo encouraging to hear all of this, thank you for sharing! i just finished my third week of emdr therapy & i haven’t liked it very much, i have never done counseling before & i am a talker – i want to do more talking. so i’ve been a little apprehensive about continuing, but hearing that it worked for you is so encouraging & i am excited to give it another go.

    thank you for sharing, i am excited to see how i can grow as well! <3 this is so great & i am so encouraged.

    Suzie says:

    Thank you for sharing so openly! Your story is beautiful =]

    Sarolta says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this. I’ve been following along for about 6 years now and it makes me very happy to see your development. Your story is so full of hope and joy <3

    Lucy says:

    Bri what a thoughtful post! I started going to therapy last year and really wish I kept a journal, kicking myself now that I haven’t but maybe we all should write down what we’re feeling even for ourselves – just a little check in like you’ve done. Thank you for the inspiration and much love 💚

    Casey says:

    How lovely and kind and brave of you to share! I’ve been reading your blog for about 5 years now and it has been so wonderful and encouraging to watch you truly grow. I really appreciate your honest and approachable corner of the Internet. Wishing you the best from the other side of the country!

    Sara says:

    Hi Bri! I’ve followed along forever and I’m so glad you have carved out your well-adjusted path to happiness and wholeness. I also have some trauma I’ve been looking into dealing with through EDMR therapy and was wondering if you would share or recommend your therapist? I am based in LA and get so overwhelmed every time I look into it that I feel like I can’t even start. Feel free to email me if you’d rather not share publicly. Thank you so much, so happy for you!

    liz Bakies says:

    A good friend of mine always told me that our 30s are our best decade. I understand that now. In one word I’d characterize it as “stability.” At the end of every session, my therapist gives me homework on a post it note. I’ve saved all of them and keep them in my purse. This last year was a year of mental, emotional, and spiritual growth…the most yet! This year is all about physical health – in all avenues. So blessed to have you, Bri! You inspire me everyday. Much love!

    Shannon says:

    40’s are even better!!!

    Diarra Yaw says:

    Gorgeous stuff Bri! How beautiful and meaningful and real your story is unfolding. Thank you for your courage to be so transparent in your sharing because you don’t have to but you choose to and you set such a great example of walking something difficult out.

    You’re doing this so beautifully!
    Cheering you along…all the way girl 😉

    xx Diarra

    A. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s incredible how closely this mirrors my experiences as well. Especially with my first boyfriend in my formative years. And just how much that truly shaped all my relationships going forward. I’ve suffered from PTSD for a while from it. But also in my 30’s I’ve found a healthy, wonderful relationship (also online!) and have an amazing supportive core group that lifts me from milestone to milestone in my life. It’s sometimes just nice to hear that you’re not alone in these things. Wish you and anyone going through powerful transformations all the best <3

    A.

    Victoria says:

    You know how much I love you, so it’s probably not surprising how happy it makes me feel to see you on this path and filled with so much joy. I see it in your eyes – that spark! Now, find me Henrí and life will be perfecto. 😉 xo

    Rachelle says:

    I’ve followed your blog for so long and always thought you were so talented. So happy to hear you are seeing and loving yourself correctly. I’m so happy for you.

    xo
    Pinksole

    Amanda says:

    Bri, I’ve followed you for mannnnny years and I really appreciate your transparency here and on Instagram. I relate to a lot of your journey, and am looking forward to trying some of your resources. Congratulations on your journey!

    Julia says:

    I love reading your vulnerable, honest writing. It’s so refreshing to hear your story and I really appreciate you sharing your truth. I think you should write a book…you have such a unique voice and perspective 🙂

    Emily says:

    Thank you Bri for everything you share. You are truly a special person 🙂

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