The enemy in the mirror

I hated her.  I would put her down everyday, every chance I got.  I told her she was ugly, her hair was stupid, her legs were wierdly skinny, her teeth were too big, her face was lopsided.  I held nothing back.  

I hated her for being shy.  She would blush, question herself a hundred times before she spoke, and was helplessly awkward around guys.  

I hated her for being weak.  She let others decide how they would treat her and what she was worth, and she would rarely stand up for herself.  She folded like a lawn chair to the peer pressure.

She was me.  And I spent many years looking at her in the mirror and despising who she was.

How do I make friends with myself when I can be my own worst enemy?

So often we get mad at ourselves and we don’t let it go.

Accepting who I was and forgiving myself for my shortcomings and mistakes was a huge and important step in my growth and recovery and even in my ability to learn to respect and love myself.

As a teen I had learned to berate myself for mistakes and put myself down over every little imperfection.  I could never accept a compliment without minimizing it or putting it back on someone else. But blame? I would welcome it.  It gave me another reason to put the girl in the mirror back in her miserable place.  

So when my pain and loneliness pushed me to the breaking point and I gave in to all sorts of stupid attempts at numbing it, I suddenly had a lot more amo to use against myself.

Self-hatred is a real and dangerous weapon that the enemy of our souls uses against us.  Heck, he even gets us to COOPERATE in shooting ourselves down! He doesn’t need to lift a finger once we are well trained.

He uses lies about who we are and shame over our mistakes to turn us against our very selves. But he can also use others to start an unhealthy cycle of self-loathing.

If we have been mistreated by others over a long period of time – either by a partner or a parent or a friend – we internalize the experiences and we often blame ourselves for the pain.  We think we must have done something to bring it on. 

But the truth is we are more than the experience that was done to us.  In fact that was never meant to be ours. It was the overflow of someone else’s disease, but we took it upon ourselves and adopted that ugliness.  We thought it represented and defined us. We were ashamed of it, like we invited it into our lives or created it.  

And so we hate ourselves as much as we hate it.  And the enemy of our souls has no more work to do.  We take it from there.

So how can I get past the habit of beating myself up over who I am, what I do, and what has been done to me?

This is where grace comes in.

I call myself a christian because I have found in Christ the most beautiful example of grace and love.  I long to understand more of who he was and is and how I can live in that same power.

The grace that I receive from knowing that I am loved NO MATTER WHAT is life-changing.

I am able to laugh at my mistakes, bring them to God, leave them with Him in exchange for grace and a clean slate and the strength to do better next time.

It’s a beautiful trade.

I don’t need to drag my past mistakes around all day, using them as bullets to shoot myself in the foot anytime I try to advance in my growth.

I am FREE to accept myself based on His full acceptance of me.

If He says I am forgiven, who am I to argue?

But what about when I don’t cooperate? When I just can’t get past my stupidity, my mistakes, the pain…

We all know the expression – you made your bed now lie in it!  I lived by that for years.

But a mistake is a learning opportunity – not a life sentence.

You don’t have to KEEP yourself there.

Never end on a mistake – LEARN from it. Move beyond it.

How?

By making friends with yourself.

When I was devaluing myself I agreed to sleep with guys who meant nothing to me.  I would hook up with men who I barely liked. I told myself that was all I deserved.  I pimped myself out, allowing myself to be cheaply and drunkenly used by others. In my mind I was punishing myself for being unworthy of love.

I remember years later, sitting on my front porch as I was working through my pile of past crap – we all have one – and instead of praying about this issue I spoke to myself.  I think I was using a book to walk me through this. There was a part that helped me to speak forgiveness to myself.

And so I read the words and tried to mean them.  I forgave myself for being my own pimp. For devaluing myself and treating myself in such neglectful and unloving ways.

It was powerful.

After I spoke to myself I laid the book aside and put my hand on my bare leg and I actually felt different to myself.  I wasn’t repulsed by my own body.

I hadn’t even realized that I had been!  But the feeling was so different that it shocked me and I knew that something profound had shifted.  I was no longer disgusted with myself. I was beginning to be at home in my body instead of abusing it and punishing it with neglect and self-hatred.

It was a life changing moment for me.

I began to be my own ally, a loving overseer of my life and body instead of a slave-driver, accuser and harsh judge.

I became my own friend.

And this impacts everything.

The way you relate to yourself is how you are inviting others to relate to you.

By choosing to love and accept myself, to build myself up instead of tearing myself down, I then cemented healthy boundaries in my life and I was also able to start working towards building healthy relationships.

I am NOT the same woman I was that day on the porch.

I have truly become my own friend, worthy of and able to accept first God’s unconditional love, and then other people’s.  

Make peace with YOU, and other relationships will follow suit.

Life is too short to beat yourself up and punish yourself.

You are FORGIVEN, you are LOVED, you are VALUABLE.

Let the self-hatred go and bury the hatchet so that everyday you may find a powerful ally in the mirror instead of an enemy.

4 thoughts on “The enemy in the mirror

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