Loving yourself is something a lot of abuse survivors struggle with. I understand that totally. Growing up with my mom totally hating her body, and having my abuser lower my confidence every step of the way I’ve had to learn that my body is worth taking care of. I am worth taking care of. With having parts, and getting diagnosed finding out that they are parts, I wanted to take care of them while still ignoring myself. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time, but I am working on changing it. Slowly.
A lot of my friends have eating disorders, which is the main mental illness where self-love is lacking. When we were in a group home they covered a broad spectrum of mental illnesses in every group, so I’ve picked up quite a few tips about finding ways to love yourself. There are simple ones, like smiling at yourself in the mirror once a day. Ones that are more complex like writing down and repeating affirmations and mindfulness.
Now that my body has gotten sick, and I always feel weak, tired, and blah, it’s taken a lot of mental strength to love my body. I’ve talked to my therapist about it before, her suggestion to me was to treat my body like I would another part of the system. Treat it with the same kindness I show the kids, and the same loving I show my partners.
It’s healthy to look in the mirror and think ‘I look good today’, no one should shame you for having confidence. It’s not being full of yourself or egotistical. There’s a saying that goes around that says, “You only have one body, treat it right.” You do only have one body, and while it may be triggering to be stuck in it sometimes, remember that it’s yours and you should love it.
What I’ve found that helps the most, especially being someone who is obese, is to not compare myself to others. They haven’t lived my life, and I haven’t lived theirs. Be mindful when you see another person and think “oh they’re so much prettier than I am” that you aren’t putting yourself down in the process. Change that thought to “oh they’re really pretty! (and I am too!)”
Same can be said for things you create, like writing or art.
Doing things in the mirror can help a lot, things like;
- Picking out 3 things you like about your body
- Having an affirmation and repeating it while looking at yourself
- Giving yourself a smile as you pass by
I realize this is more focused on body image than on dissociation, but I think it’s something people need to hear from time to time. Especially abuse survivors. There are some things that can be more directed towards abuser survivors and help them feel better about the body they’re in.
Saying or thinking things like ‘this is my beautiful body’, ‘I am in control of who touches my body now’, ‘my scars show the past, but they do not make me less beautiful’, can help reaffirm that your body is your body. That your body is beautiful, and your body is not what happened to you (or the reason it happened to you!) It’s best to think of your own phrases, ones that fit more with your personal life. Even if you don’t believe them when brainstorming, write what you’d say to someone else or what you’d want someone to say to you.
Remember none of these will work right away, but it’s important to keep at it. The more you say it, or the more you smile, the more you’ll truly believe what’s true about yourself. That you are beautiful and worth loving.