I have battled with poor self image pretty much my entire adult life. I never truly learned to love myself, which started a destructive path of doing things simply to make myself "feel good."
I indulged in drugs, over-eating, a physically abusive relationship. The list could go on for days. I did these things because I never really knew my self-worth.
Feeling Out of Control
About 9 years ago I met my husband, the one person who finally saw what I was worth inside and out. For years, and even sometimes currently, I couldn't understand what he saw. He saw me for me, which is something I could never do.
I gained weight after the birth of our son (55 pounds to be exact) and I wasn't exactly in prime shape before that, and my shame and lack of self-worth spiraled out of control.
I ate my feelings, I never felt like being intimate, I didn't think I could ever be the mother I needed to be for my son. I just felt like a failure at life.
Making a Change
That was until one day in January of 2015 when I decided enough was enough. I was tired of waking up feeling less than worthless. I was tired of feeling depressed about things that I thought were totally out of my control, and I wanted to change, not only for myself, but for my husband and most of all for my children. I do not want my son to have a mother who blames everyone and everything else for her lack of self-love.
With the assistance of a great friend (you know who you are) who was embarking on the same journey as myself for her own personal reasons, I began working out and eating clean. I dedicated myself to working out at least 5 days a week, I stopped eating junk food (at least not nearly as often as I had been), and I thought I had never felt better! I was tracking my calories like a pro, and working out almost everyday when I got home from work.
After doing this for a few months I really started to think, "Is this my life now? Counting calories, working out, and that's it?" It was enough at first, but is this really all I want to do forever just to be happy with my outside appearance? I needed more.
I had been doing yoga on and off for about six years at that point (mostly off for the last 4) and never really put a lot of thought into it other than being a form of exercise. Obviously there was more, there had to be, or else why are all these people doing yoga so freaking happy? I sat down and really dove into this whole "Yoga Culture" thing and discovered more than I ever knew existed.
It started being less "hippie-new-age-bullshit" to me, and more "There are a lot of things I do not know, and what if I am turning my back on something really truly special and amazing?"
I started using yoga and meditation as a time to be one with myself, to be happy, to really shut down and figure what this is all about. I started a gratitude journal.
I make it a point to write down 3-5 things every day I am grateful for. It can be anything from your children to the pancakes you ate this morning. I take time every day from 2 minutes to an hour to really think about my day, what was great about it, what wasn't, and what I can do to make the next one better.
I am far from the perfect yogi specimen. I still drink my morning coffee, I love bacon and cookies, and I cuss like a sailor.
But what I can say is, yoga is, and will forever be, my sanctuary. It will be forever evolving, and it will be one of the primary reasons I've learned to love myself (this is still very much a work in progress), and stop letting the outside world determine my self-worth.