Disclaimer: I’m putting this out there so that it is understood this is not a “victim story”. This story is not about the why’s, dissecting sexual desires, or judgment of any kind to any of the parties affected by infidelity. It’s about me and my quest back to self-love.
I didn’t realize how much my ex’s infidelity had affected my self-esteem. I was constantly comparing myself to the women in his life (how they did their hair, their makeup, and their weight). I started feeling “less than”, inadequate, un-sexy and damaged. It especially hit me hard because I was still so insecure in my own body after having children. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw a fat chick with dark circles who barely had enough time to put on lip balm, much less put on a full face of makeup or do my hair. I started telling myself that I understand why he would cheat on someone like me. A terrible example of a girlfriend. A disgrace to womanhood and motherhood. I spoke to myself this way daily until it became innate. So that even when the baby weight started coming off and I started “looking” like myself again, I didn’t know how to accept compliments or the advances of men. I thought they were just patronizing me, and that if there were other women around, they’d most likely choose them over me. Because, I was un-choose-able. (Making up words here, but you need to catch my drift. I was a wreck.) And even when I did cheat, I felt used up and dirty. Because, again, I was thinking that I was just a convenience. I was vulnerable and wanted someone to validate me. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but one day, I decided that it was enough. I was in pain and tired of being in pain.
And you know why? Because if you do not love yourself, infidelity can hit you like a concrete block in your forehead. It can cover you in darkness and create a “stuck” mentality, like someone lost in the bottom of a well without a rope. You may feel so lost that you forget you can scream out for help. This was me.
But if you love yourself, while infidelity will affect you, you would be so covered in self-love that you will scream out for dear life, you will not only see the light at the end of the top of that well, but you would know that you ARE the light.
I started listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, reading self-help books and articles all with the goal to LOVE MYSELF. I know that there are other women out there who struggle with self-love too, so I pulled together a list of nine (9) things that are helping me boost my self-esteem, reminding me of my value, and allowing me to fall in love with myself again.
1. Validate Yourself! – I said earlier that when I cheated I was looking for someone to validate me. Listen love, you validate you. YOU VALIDATE YOU. I had to ask myself some tough questions that made me understand that most, if not all, of my life, I was looking to others to make me feel special, make me feel wanted, make me feel loved. I had to snap out of that. Sometimes I look in the mirror “butt naked” and fight off the negative self-talk as I compliment myself (sometimes out loud). I also replaced stupid verbiage like “Who would want someone like me?” with “Who WOULDN’T want someone like me?!?! I’m awesome!”
2. Dress Up! – Dress your best. I didn’t say wear a ballroom gown. But honestly, look at your closet and pull the pieces that make you look the most attractive TO YOURSELF. Wear lingerie under your clothes and to bed. Don’t save your expensive clothes or lingerie for a “special occasion” anymore, because everyday life is a special occasion.
3. Read! – I’m reading “You Are a Bad Ass” by Jen Sincero. I highly recommend! Poetry anthologies, self-help, history and culture are my go-to’s. Notice I did not say romance or relationship advice books. They’re cool and all, but self-love is about you, and not whether a man is loving you or not.
4. Eat like a Princess! – And this doesn’t mean eat very expensive cuts of meat or wine. But it does mean eat to make yourself feel like a princess. Ask yourself what a princess would eat, how she would eat it, and even the type of dinnerware she would use. I find that this helps me track how much I eat because I’ve never seen a princess shoveling mountains of food in her mouth, or inhaling gallons of drink. I make my food appealing to the eye (which prevents me from ‘piling’ it on my plate) and find myself at nights drinking water from a wine glass. Just remember to keep it pretty and graceful.
5. Exercise! – Sweat is sexy. Exercise is an activity that is all about self-care. It’s not you doing anything for anyone, other than yourself. That thought alone is empowering to me. I also love how it has helped me shape up my body and release some weight. And of course there’s other physical health benefits to enjoy but the point is just to do it for you. I enjoy HIIT workouts, weight training and wogging (walking and jogging – got this term from my wogging partner Anne).
6. Find Your Joy – I love to dance and sing. More recently, I started doing both around the house more and more, and it makes all the difference in my mood. It makes me feel joyful. Keep in mind – listen to positive music. If you listen to music about infidelity and heart break, then you run the risk of thinking about him and her, and remember, it’s about YOU. I’ve been listening to more reggae (Dezarie, Reemah, Midnite and Bob Marley of course), old school R&B (because those artists only sang about love) and Afrobeats (because I end up feeling like an African princess and who doesn’t want to feel like a princess?!?!?).
7. Mind Your Business – Yes. Big Mood. This is what is helping me LOADS. When I say I am minding my business, I really do mean, I’m looking within. I am not looking at what anyone is doing and wondering if I should do it that way. I am questioning what I’m feeling, why I’m feeling it, and then flowing through that feeling. I used to push it down, deep, but that’s toxic. It comes out in different ways. Whether through negative self-talk or even self-harm. And when I found myself talking to myself like I was my own enemy, and considering self-harm, I decided to do the next thing on this list.
8. Get Help – I see a therapist. My mental health is mega important to my self-love journey. Every journey starts in the mind. The prelude to every action is a thought. Get your mind right. Talk to a professional because it’s their actual job to help guide you. Not saying talking to friends is a bad thing, but sometimes talking to the wrong friend will place you in a downpour of negativity and drama. And that’s not helpful on a self-love journey.
9. Love Yourself – Every chapter of “You Are a Bad Ass” ends with this sage advice. Love Yourself. This is everything. Remember to love you, remember YOU love YOU. We were born to love. God said to love everybody, and if you didn’t know by now, YOU are included in “everybody”.
This list is what I am presently working with. I’m no relationship expert, no life coach, no self-help guru or self-love goddess. I’m just a woman with experience and a message. You’ll note that this list of “things to do” have absolutely nothing to do with a man, the other women (or men) and certainly nothing to do with other persons’ expectations of you. It’s all about you and what you have to do to prioritize loving and caring for yourself. Because at the beginning and end of the day, that’s really all that matters.
Before my self-love journey, when I thought of infidelity and breakups of any kind, my mind pulled images of women (and men) sitting down on a couch in front of a TV with a gallon of ice cream and a bucket of fried chicken.
That’s TV. That’s not us sis. We are winners. We are full of love. We attract prosperity and wealth. And now, while on my self-love journey, the new image I see is you (me) standing in front of a mirror, showering yourself (myself) in confidence, compliments and love.
And if all you ever remember is the following sentence, then my job is done:
When a man cheats, love yourself anyway.