If there is one demon I’ve battled with the most in my journey through life it has been my self-esteem. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been critical of myself. As a little girl I remember sitting on the swing and staring at my legs. They were huge and my skin too brown. I didn’t spend a lot of time around children that looked like me. So I wasn’t the norm. Instead I was all wrong. I went to bed praying that I would wake up different.
As I got older I continued to struggle with this. If a guy showed interest in me I gravitated to him even if he was bad news. I liked the attention. Part of that had to do with the fact that I craved a relationship with my father. Ours had become strained as I ventured into adolescence. But there was also a part of me that found my self-worth in the words of others. I wasn’t beautiful unless someone told me I was beautiful. I wasn’t smart unless I was told that I was smart.
My poor self-esteem caused me to stay in unhealthy relationships, friendships and romantic relationships. I gave my heart to people who were careless with it. I allowed guys to put me down, and I began to look at myself even more critically than I had before.
This was my path for a while. Then one day I got pregnant. And suddenly a fog began to lift. While I still struggled with my own perception of myself I knew that if I didn’t start valuing myself the road I traveled, no longer alone, would be filled with more heartache and poor choices. I knew that I had to think differently and live differently in order for my child and I to have a chance. Slowly but surely I began to stand up for myself.
But it wasn’t easy. Loving myself wasn’t natural for me, but thankfully, loving my child was. I got married, and not long after that marriage came to an end because I decided to choose me and my baby. I realized that I mattered too. I realized that in order for us to make it, I needed to move forward and continue building a life for us.
I continue to be a work in progress. When pregnant with my second child I wrote a post on how as a mother I want to teach my daughters to love and accept themselves, and that it’s something I struggle with. I know they are watching. They are always watching, but there are times when I still struggle. When I sigh as I slip on my pants before heading out the door, when I verbally express how bad I want to eat that cupcake, but that I’m still overweight. When I sit scraping the remaining pieces of lettuce from my salad across my plate at a restaurant before “giving in” and asking my husband if I can have just one of his french fries. Just one.
I am responsible for the way I see myself. Yes, I know. It is up to me to love and value myself. I realize that this will most likely always be an area in my life where I struggle. It’s not something I can hide or lie about. It’s not something I even want to hide or lie about. I hope that I can at the very least help my daughters see that there will be things in our lives that will require us to work harder, areas where we will struggle, battles that we will have to fight. Things that are worth the work, the struggle, and the fight.
Perhaps I may never fully come to terms with certain aspects of who I am. But what I will do is continue to work at loving myself as deeply as I do my family. And as it would turn out, when I love, value and care for myself more, I do a heck of a better job at loving them.
Recently I read about a study via U.S. News that found a correlation between body image and a healthy relationship. According to the article that references the study:
“Women who are happy with their bodies are better able to maintain a happy relationship.”
It was noted that positive feelings about one’s body and being comfortable in one’s body played a role in the amount of satisfaction a woman felt in her relationship. While there are parts of the study that I disagree with, such as the belief that women who were satisfied with their relationship were typically satisfied with their bodies (I think you can be happy in your relationship and still not be satisfied with your body), I definitely see the correlation between happiness with oneself and maintaining a happy relationship.
When I feel good about myself physically, I carry myself very differently. I possess more confidence and don’t hesitate to wear clothes that I know my husband loves on me. I don’t make us late for our date because I changed 5 times trying to find a top that will hide the pouch and I don’t respond to my husband’s compliments with “yeah right” or “you’re just saying that.” Overall, I’m pretty sure I’m more pleasant to be around.
A couple weeks ago I texted a picture I found of my husband and me when we were dating. I thought to myself, “Girlfriend had it goin on!” I noted how pretty I was. And although I was hard on myself back then too, I was much more comfortable in my skin than I have been in this post baby body, dying to fit into the old pair of Joe’s Jeans tucked in the bottom of my dresser drawer. My husband’s response was that I was still pretty — beautiful.
Despite my struggles, our marriage has been a gift to my self-esteem.
How Marriage Has Been Good for My Self-Esteem 1 of 8
Find out how marriage has impacted my self-esteem.
An ability to see myself through different eyes 2 of 8
Every so often, I see myself the way my husband and even my children see me. And when that happens, it's magic. When they look at me, they don't see what I see. They see the person they love. They see me for who I am on the inside. A person who loves them with all of her heart. It's funny, some of the times when I have felt the least beautiful are the times when I've caught them gazing at me with loving eyes.
I am often reminded of what counts 3 of 8
My husband has always reminded me where my beauty comes from. Sure he will tell me that I look pretty, but what he compliments me most about is my heart. He tells me that I have a kind and loving heart, and to never change that. He reminds me that beauty comes from the inside.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder 4 of 8
My least favorite body part happens to be my husband's favorite. He loves my legs. For years I always hid them behind pants. I never wore shorts. Ever. However, I did wear dresses but mostly to church. And then I started dating him. I remember one day watching a TV commercial, and the lady had on shorts. You would look great in shorts. Wanting to impress him, I set out to buy some shorts. I also started wearing heels more because he loved to see me in them. Even now, although I'm not the size I was, I still wear shorts from time to time and heels because he loves it. And it makes me feel good seeing him grin when I wear them.
Confidence (I’ve got more of it!) 5 of 8
There is something that feels awfully good about knowing that I've got my life partner. I have a man who loves me for me and thinks his wife has got it goin on. Whether I'm a size 2 or a size 8, he loves every pound. He loves my legs when they are firm and when they jiggle. Even if I am having an off day, I feel quite pretty walking down the street holding my man's hand. At the same time, anytime we are together and he introduces me to people, there is something assuring about the way he does it. "This is my wife Krishann." I love that he is proud to call me his wife.
Support 6 of 8
My husband has my back. He has made it clear that he will love me no matter what. But he also knows that I am working to feel more comfortable in my own skin. He will go hiking with me and our girls, and encourages me when it comes to working out. He will buy me healthy snacks and oblige me when I have a craving for something sweet too. He reminds me to be kind to myself and is supportive when it comes to my efforts to take care of me. He knows this is my struggle but he has reminded me that I'm not alone in it. And he reminds me that I have the opportunity to help teach our girls the importance of being kind to themselves too.
A voice of reason 7 of 8
My husband has helped me learn how to accept positive feedback and work toward changing my thought process. For instance, if I asked him how a dress looked on me and he responded that it looked nice; however, would look nicer without the leggings and boots (both that I put on with it in an effort to conceal my perceived flaws) I'd actually get a little hurt. Even if he said it in a sweet and supportive way, I would overreact. Rather than being overly sensitive and assuming that he didn't like my outfit I've learned not to read so deep into things. He did like my outfit. What he didn't like was me always trying to hide what I thought were my flaws behind clothes by over-dressing. (For the record, I am still working on this one.)
Security 8 of 8
My husband provides me with a sense of security. A security that assures me each and every day that he will be there for me no matter what. Not just when love is easy but when it is hard too. It is something that gives me reassurance even as I look at old photos and reminisce about the days when those Joe's Jeans fit. He loves me for me. There's no reason I shouldn't either.
For more on the correlation between body image and a healthy relationship visit U.S News. What are your thoughts? Has your relationship impacted your self-esteem in a positive manner?