When I decide to publish Real Women Atlanta magazine, I wanted this publication to give a voice to black women who were voiceless. I believe in telling our stories, we need to be transparent. We have to be honest about our journeys and life’s experiences. How do we begin to heal if we don’t tell our stories? How do we help others heal, if we keep our stories to ourselves? I realized that I can’t expect others to tell their stories, without me telling mine. I must first use the platform. I’ve created for you to tell my truths. So, here we go.
When I thought about this issue, I thought about the subject of Self-Love. It was the very thing I struggled with for most of my life. Let’s look at the different types of Love:
• Agape is the highest form of love unconditional and all encompassing, the love of God
• Eros is romantic loving, a bond common to the celebration Valentine’s Day
• Storge is affection and familial love, such as the deep bond for a child
• Philia represents the love of friends and intertwined relationship
It’s interesting to me that out of the 4 types of Love, there is nothing that speaks to SELF LOVE. We place more emphasizes on showing love to others, before loving ourselves. Many of us, aren’t taught to love ourselves. Our life’s journey will either teach us how to embrace who we are or teach us to reject it.
Being rejected can shape how we see ourselves and who we become. Rejection can cause anxiety, anger, and depression. Rejection can make us question our worth and importance in life. No one wants to experience rejection. It hurts, especially when it comes from the ones very close to us.
I am the youngest of two children. My mother and father were married for 15 years before I was born. Two years later, they divorced. Unfortunately, the divorce was a very ugly one. Although, I grew up knowing who my father was, we weren’t allowed to have a relationship with him. Many times, when I would see him, it was at a distance or in passing. Can you imagine that? I’m seeing apart of myself from a distance. Most little girls, long to have the love and approval of our father. We yearn to be called or known as “Daddy’s Little Girl” As life would have it, I never knew what that was like.
My brother, who was older, was called “Mommy’s Little Man.” I was despised by my mom and told that I was just like my father. Because of the hurt and pain she sustained by my father, I became a mirror image of him. My brother was the favored one and I, on the other hand, was rejected. It was hard for me to understand what I had done to deserve this, other than just being born. Then, among the neighborhood kids, I was teased and made fun of. I was called skinny, bean pole and big lipped. So, I struggled with self-love and self-esteem growing up. Life was trying to tell me that I was worthless.
For years I wrestled with loving myself. I was always compromising myself to get validation from others. I became a people pleaser; hoping they would accept and love me. But it was hard for anyone to accept who I was when I didn’t accept or know myself. My image had been shaped and formed by the words and actions of others.
After moving to Atlanta, I got hired at the Atlanta Apparel Mart as a model for a fashion designer. The designer began to compliment me and helped me to reshape the image, others and life had given me. A new picture of me was painted. I was no longer skinny, but slim. I was no longer linky and a bean pole, but I was tall and slender. My big lips were now considered, bold and beautiful. It is said, that Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I had to become the beholder of my beauty. I began to understand that God made only one me and I was unique. He took His precious time to create me, so I had to be important and valuable in HIs eyes. Psalms 139:14 told me that, I am Fearfully and Wonderfully made.
Many of us, have allowed life to tell us who we are rather than us telling life who we are. Our stories are being written and told my others. God is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He knows the plans He has for me. The Power of Self-Love is knowing that you were uniquely created by God; your eyes, lips, nose, hair, smile and laughter. Accept who God says you are. When you love yourself, you begin to see life from a different perspective. When you begin to love yourself, you speak with confidence and move like a BOSS.
The Power of Self-Love is knowing that your life has purpose. No matter what has happened in your life, use it for a greater purpose. When life gives you lemons; make some good lemonade. Stop settling for less than you deserve. Stop compromising to please others. Stop listening to the naysayers and tell them to shut the hell up. Surround yourself with some positive thinking and speaking people. Then, begin to write your own narratives become the author of your book.
I no longer wait to be validated, accepted or loved by others. I am the artist of my own painting. I have the Power of Self-Love and I am Unapologetically Me!
Written by Charmaine Moss, Publisher of RWAM