Imagine yourself as an 18-year-old. Life is at your fingertips. You now have the power to create your life. A power that you thought no one could take away but then you learn that power can always be stripped away.
Now imagine being an 18-year-old woman, staggering down the hallway of your dormitory. Tears streaming down your face, pain in every step that you take, and fear that he is waiting right around the corner to finish the job.
That 18-year-old woman was me.
I was ready to conquer the world. I was attending the university that I most wanted to get into. I had never even kissed a boy at this point in my life. I was ready. I wanted to date. I wanted to fit in with the “cool” kids. I wanted to be the girl to know. So when an older boy asked me out, I was beyond THRILLED.
Life has a way of not working out the way you imagine it to. I NEVER made it to graduation from that university. I NEVER made it to my second semester at that university. I ended up in a hole of deep, dark depression that destroyed the vision I had for my life.
I remember laying there. I remember feeling him on top of me. I remember the pain. The pain that was unbearable but I had no way of stopping. I remember him getting off, getting dressed, and leaving as if nothing had happened. I remember staring up at the ceiling, unable to move or comprehend what had just happened. It was as if I was existing outside of my body.
The water in the communal shower, wasn’t hot enough as I sat on the floor, while the water washed over me. Hoping to remove every last trace of him. It would take me years to realize that there was no way of washing him away. He would be with me, haunting me, reminding me of the day I lost who I was.
11 years. 11 years I held the secret. Believing that it made me who I was. That everyone around me could see the “dirty little secret” that I carried around with me. I was a victim. That was me. He took over my thoughts, my dreams, my goals, my aspirations, my reflection. I looked at myself and saw him. I saw the scars that he left behind. I saw the darkness that consumed me. I saw the ugliness that remained. There was nothing beautiful staring back at me. It all became second nature. I no longer knew how to be anything else but this unrecognizable woman. All of those years, I believed that I deserved it. I would lay in bed for days, unable to leave my apartment, let alone my bed. Crying until I had no tears left. There were moments when the darkness got too black, that I just didn’t want to go on.
In those 11 years, I got married, had children, and began to hate my body even more than I did before. The reflection staring back at me showed all the scars that I couldn’t hide, inside and out. I didn’t recognize her. She was this shell of a woman that didn’t belong in this life. I hated who I was to the core.
In 2014, I decided that I needed to change. I needed to learn how to love who I was or I would continue to fall into a depression that I couldn’t get out of. I had children to love and look after and they needed me to be complete.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Change doesn’t happen in weeks. Change is a slow process that has us wanting more. That wanting more keeps us motivated during the moments of struggle and the moments we feel we just can’t go on anymore.
For years I struggled with a deep hatred for my body. Wishing and praying that I would lose 5, 10, 15 pounds. That somehow the weight disappearing would make me happy. I never could lose that weight. I jumped from diet to diet and fought myself daily; nitpicking everything I put into my body and when I “screwed” up, the words that replayed in my head were words I wouldn’t repeat to anyone else.
True and lasting change didn’t come from how my body looked. It came when I realized that in order to truly love myself, I needed to view my body differently. I needed to look at my body as if she were the most amazing Goddess on this Earth. And let’s face it…..
SHE TOTALLY IS!!!!
Something shifted when I changed that outlook. To get to where you want to be, you need to love where you currently are. Fall in love with your perfectly imperfect body and personality. That’s what makes you YOU.
The journey to self-love is a messy and complicated process. It is beautiful and painful and raw. There is a fear deep down that you will never recognize the girl staring back at you. Moments of pure frustration, feeling completely isolated and worthless all led me to where I am today. A place where my healing begins when I tell you that you are not alone. That in this messy and complicated masterpiece, we all feel lonely, desperate to love our reflections, and like we will never be good enough.
Over the past 4 years, the moments of hatred have dwindled to almost nothing. I have become the woman that strives to remind women every day of their beauty and worth. I can look at myself in the mirror and see more than pain. I see the strength that pain brought me. I see the beauty that is within. The ugliness doesn’t exist anymore because I took away his power. He doesn’t live within me anymore. He lost.
You also have that strength inside of you. The moments of doubt that you feel, won’t be there forever. The hatred that takes over your life is trying to teach you something, allow it to. There is knowledge in pain.
From a woman who crawled out of her darkest hole as a victim to create a life that is surrounded by beauty, I am telling you, that YOU are magic. That YOU are powerful. That YOU, my love, are made to change this world.
– Written By Samantha Laycock, Founder of BeYOUtiful Box
One For Women is honored to have Samantha Laycock, Founder of BeYOUtiful Box, share her voice and her important message as part of our One Voice to Hear series.