There are three significant moments in my life that eventually led me here. Ok, seriously, there are way more than three but I’ll just start with these…
When I was about 18 and working in a children’s gym, I very clearly remember having one of the biggest “A-Ha” moments I've ever had while listening to a co-workers rant. She was upset at something that her boss (at her other job) had asked her to do. She was thinking it through out loud and proclaimed, “I love myself too much to let him do this to me!”. My internal reaction to her proclamation went something like this, “WHAT? What the hell does that mean? You love YOURSELF? How in the world do you do that? What kind of crazy are you?!” So you can see how this “A-Ha” moment was so important… at age 18 I had never once in my life even heard of the concept of loving myself. Although it took me a long time to come back to this moment, my brain kept it stored in the memory banks just waiting until I was ready.
Not so long after this, while still working at the children’s gym, I had my second revelation. Once again, I was talking with co-workers, only this time it was my own rant. I was upset at my parents for not recognizing something I had accomplished. At that time in my life this was totally par for the course because my parents were always quick to criticize but slow to compliment (if ever). But for some reason, and I have no idea what it was about now, this particular instance upset me greatly. One of the girls who was a few years older than me looked over and simply said something like this, “Why do you need your parents approval? Isn’t it enough to love and approve of yourself?” And again my internal commentator screamed, “What the hell does that mean??!!” I had no idea how to process that concept. I had always sought the approval of others and not once had I ever stopped to think about what it meant to accept and love myself for who I am.
The third, and for the purposes of this page, final “A-Ha” moment came right before I had the surgery to remove my breast implants. I was at the sickest I had been. I was mentally and emotionally drained, having to wait 3 months to get the poisonous implants removed. While thinking about what I might be able to accomplish if I were to regain my health, I meditated on what I could do with the rest of my life. During my meditation it occurred to me that I had chosen breast implants because I had no self esteem and that I was going to help women like me. Not only women with breast implants, but any woman who has never been taught how to love herself. If I had screwed up my life this much because I simply didn’t know what loving myself meant, imagine what I could have done had I loved myself all along. That would be my gift to the world… to teach others through my personal mistakes. Please believe me when I tell you that I made a lot of mistakes! I took many wrong turns, and I accept full responsibility for my actions. I lost my youth to an unnecessary illness. I made choices that led me down this path, and upon reflection I know that everything in my past has led me to this place so that I can help you.
It was during my recovery that I spent many long hours analyzing my life, my family, my self perception. I began to observe others closely too, paying attention to how different people interrelate. It did not take long for me to recognize patterns. I could easily tell the difference between a confident person and one who sincerely lacked self esteem. Through my observations I was able to analyze the destructive patterns along with the healthy ones. I continued to reflect on my own past and analyze my mistakes… especially the ones involving other people. I began to realize that the vast majority of my personal problems stemmed from my own lack of self esteem. I had been continually seeking attention and approval from external sources. When I reached the stage of loving and accepting myself, the attention seeker in me disappeared altogether.
Each of us has our own demons, and not everyone with low self esteem is an attention seeker. I have learned so much through my rehabilitation, and I continue to learn each and every day. I am not perfect, but I am perfectly me! I love and accept the me that I have become, and I look forward to meeting the me that I will soon be.
Although the events in the book are personal, this isn't my story; it's our story. We've all been there: shamefully sucking-in our tummies to impress others, or using our sexuality to advance our careers because our intelligence or talent come second. Chapters from the book will be released in no chronological order, organically pouring out of me as emotions and memories resurface. Thank you for being here. —Kristen