It’s impossible to love yourself when you have no clue who you are and believe there are no identifiable features about your life.

It took me 38 years to figure out who I was and what I was capable of. When I finally did, I was shocked. It was a long grueling struggle that took years to accomplish, but I figured out how to love myself and it feels wonderful.

When I was younger, when someone asked me who I was, I did not have a real answer. I had been a mother since I was 18 so “a mother” was my default answer.

That was my identity, even though I knew I was much more than that.

I never allowed people see me. I hid behind a façade of “I’m okay” and “Life is great,” not wanting anyone to know what was really going on. I was unable to see the beauty and good qualities inside of myself, because I spent a lot of time making sure no one else saw them.

My knee jerk reaction when asked, “Who are you?” was to describe myself as something tangible. Something that I could prove and no one would question.

I never felt safe inside my body. Mainly because of what was happening outside of my body. I had a traumatic childhood and an even more traumatic young adulthood. I have experienced mental, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; horrible relationships, depression, and anxiety. I ran the gambit of dysfunction. As a result, I did not take risks and stayed within my comfort zone.

I lived in a bubble.

I played the background and stayed close to the wall.

I made sure that I was always in a safe place, with just enough room around me to feel comfortable.

I literally always had an escape plan.

That attitude led to a career and relationships that made me unhappy; and an all-around bona fide unhappy, loveless life. However, regardless of what I went through, I managed to always remain optimistic about what was ahead of me.

I knew that struggle and lack of love would not always be synonymous with my name. Love would find me one day.

Growing up the daughter of a devout Muslim, my life was already mapped out. Only it didn’t fit me. I had a difficult time subscribing to someone else’s ideals of what life is supposed to be for me because I was born female. I would hear about women taking charge of their destinies, and I was not allowed to discover mine. In the end, I chose not to conform to the religion or my circumstances. I chose a different direction.

Today, I am happier than I have ever been.

I quit my unhappy career, stepped out on faith without another job, and decided to discover my true calling. It was the best thing that I have ever done. I ended all of the unhappy relationships and began new healthy ones.

I know now I made the right decision.

I now know that being a mother is not all that I am.

I am an entrepreneur. I am a writer. I am a poet. I am a business owner. And I have been called to service.

I am a counselor, a confidant, and an expert on me. The brand new me.

I fell in love with me. Not just the new me, but the old me – past mistakes, faults, and all.

Loving yourself is not just about making changes after a break-up or trying to discover confidence after a loss. It is about discovering who you really are, what you have to offer the world, and moving forward. Forging through the obstacles and issues to remain on course and continuing to discover new and wonderful things about yourself.

Whether you let people in on the secret or not, just knowing the real and authentic you…that is true love.

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