Have you ever tried to fill a pothole?
You gather rocks, dirt, and those tacky orange cones; sometimes you even pour concrete in order to mend the road for others who will drive down it.
Potholes can easily be filled with concrete but sometimes the entire road needs to be stripped and a new road needs to be paved. Of course we can ignore the pothole, we can keep swerving away from it, but that’s the cheap way out.
I have come to realize in the past year that I have been so cheap with myself—I love myself at a discounted rate. I have allowed others to serve as appraisers and allowed their actions and opinions to dictate my worth. I’ve neglected to see that it isn’t their appraisal of me that counts, but rather my own view of my self-worth.
I am taking a stance and stripping myself so that I can pave a new road, the kind of road that allows me to love myself fully. A ground that has a foundation that is rooted in the sincere belief that I am enough and worth more than my past has led me to believe.
At 14-years-old I started throwing bodies into the pothole of my life—there was a void that formed the moment my father made the choice to walk out before I was even born—I used sex to numb the pain I felt from the void his absence left in my life.
My therapist and I discovered this past year that I have three vices for numbing: emotional eating, over-drinking, and sex. While I have addressed my eating and over-drinking habits, I’ve struggled to deal with my habit of sexualizing myself.
If I was not emotionally eating or drinking an entire bottle of white wine, I was giving my body to strangers in the hopes that even if momentarily, I would feel relief; we don’t talk enough about how draining it is to have voids in our lives but let me tell you, it’s quite draining.
For me the void exists in my chest so sometimes I would puff my chest out to prove that I was doing okay but in reality I was feeling hollow. The truth is that my soul is hurting and if I fabulously speak to others and believe that showing them love and empathy can help them, I have to be willing to do the same thing for myself. I owe people an apology if I ever gave them the idea that self-awareness and living authentically are easy. The process is difficult, but the journey to living authentically is worth the difficulty. I have realized during this journey this kernel of truth: no one is coming to save me and sometimes the life you save may be your own (thanks Grey’s Anatomy).
I have found myself often tortured by the idea that some people can liberate me, but the truth is that liberation won’t come from my father or a stranger, it comes from me loving myself.
So, for every stranger who I let inside of me, for every person I allowed myself to become invested in who didn’t intend to let me profit from that investment, and for every time I believed my father’s decision was my fault, I am breaking this cycle.
Now I am learning that loving myself means I have to be willing to transform, that if I am going to improve myself from the inside out, I have to do so with conviction. So now I have come to the decision that I need to give up sex for a while. I am giving up sex because I now realize that sex isn’t going to liberate me.
Please don’t get it twisted, do you when it comes to sex. We have full autonomy over our bodies and our sexual acts. But if you find yourself using sex to numb, I’m going to encourage you to explore your own reasons and see if you can discover your own way of dealing with the void.
As I started thinking about this decision, I started to have this internal conversation about how difficult it was going to be for me to be celibate. But when I dared to have the deeper conversation with myself, I decided that this process in my development may not be comfortable but it is totally needed.
Since I am weary of putting a timeline to this process, I am just going to say that I am going to take the next several months and any additional amount of time needed in order to love myself properly.
This wholehearted living is a process and while I won’t ever be able to rid myself of the void, I can fill the “pothole” with forgiveness. Today I forgive my father, those men who didn’t know how to appreciate me, and most importantly, I forgive myself for not loving myself enough.