Finding my way from Self-Hate to Self-Compassion
Updated: Feb 13, 2019
There was a long period of time in my life when I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. I detested the person I saw looking back at me. So much so that in a drunken rage one night, I chopped off all my hair. And I lied about it. And did a super shitty job. Because I was wasted. Or maybe I would have done a shitty job sober too. Anyway…why did I do it? I don’t really know the answer to that because I don’t remember actually doing it, but maybe it was because subconsciously I thought altering the way I looked would somehow shift all the god awful feelings I had about myself into someone I could finally stand.
Alcohol made numbing those feelings possible. The self-hate & loathing seemed to melt away as the bottle drained into my system, and the pain in that moment didn’t feel as unbearable. That was until I reached a certain point in my drinking career – for example cutting off all my hair. Then alcohol took on a completely different role in my life – it took over everything. Nowhere to hide. Looking back now, I can see what I was missing. That key ingredient to making up the messy yet fucking amazing woman I am today. Once I stopped numbing those feelings, I was able to actually look at myself and see what was really happening. I didn’t hate Kat at all. I was scared, I was lonely and I was totally lost. And I was holding onto childhood trauma that wasn’t serving me anymore.
I was never a bad or malicious person, or that was never my intention. I just had no idea how to relate to anyone on a personal or real level because I was never taught how to. I was educated on all the maths, all the sciences, all the histories – all of which I sucked at immensely, zero interest on my end – but compassion, communication, problem solving, stress management, self-expression, none of those were cultivated during my developmental years. To keep myself safe & alive, I built walls & safety mechanisms. And I found this magic elixir called alcohol. The consequences of those "tools" however were tremendous. There was a little girl inside of me that was never actually able to grow up because I kept pouring alcohol over her head – stop and take in that visual for a moment. The more alcohol you pour on something, the more it dies. Only when I stopped trying to numb or fix or protect myself with booze did I start to open up and gain compassion and love for myself and that little girl who had been neglected for so long. How I was raised and what I didn’t learn in my developmental years is not my fault. Repeat – Not my fault. Do you know how long it took me to accept that?? Still working on it. But there came a day when I snapped out of it and felt deep down in my soul that “Enough was enough.” I wasn’t going to be a victim anymore. I deserve to be so much more than that, and I believe you do too.
Let's dive in a bit more shall we. Women ask me all the time how I’ve made the shift from self-hate to self-compassion. First of all – still a work in progress. Second, I can only tell you my experience up to this point. I felt invisible for most of my childhood leading into adolescence, and ultimately adulthood. Alcohol allowed me to be seen. It was the cloak that uncovered my invisibility and I became someone, something, enough. All falsehoods, but for a time, alcohol truly made me believe it had my best interest at heart, that it was trustworthy and that everything would be OK – until it wasn’t. The turning point in all of this was meeting my current 'fight to the death' therapist 4 years ago. I had seen a few others here and there over the years, but they all actually made me feel somehow worse. Like they were looking right through me instead of acknowledging Kat and my struggles. And that fully played upon my fears & insecurities. All I wanted was to be seen. My whole life, I just wanted to be seen. My current therapist not only saw me, but created a safe, respectful environment for me to really let go and dive head first into my developmental trauma – Fear of abandonment, neglect & invisibility. “Keep the peace.” “Be quiet as a mouse.” “Don’t rock the boat.” "Don't talk about how you're feeling." Any of that sound familiar?
And I’d like to make something clear – I place no blame on my parents. They did the best they could with the tools they were given from their parents, their parents parents, and around the genealogical merry-go-round we go. I came to a point where that reasoning wasn’t working for me anymore, I had to start the process of moving through the trauma and begin to heal. This might be one of the most accurate quotes I have ever read – “Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it.”
Back to my invisibility – Realizing I drank to step out of that was MAJOR turning point. It’s why I had been out of balance for so long. I was the only one who saw myself that way, no one else made me feel like that. And so I slowly started to chip away at that feeling. And something pretty fucking awesome happened then – the self-love & compassion I had been chasing at the bottom of a bottle actually started to blossom within me. Since I was no longer drowning the girl inside me with poison, I was able to see her, hear her, feel her pain of invisibility, abandonment & neglect. I kid you not. I do visualizations with my therapist of this girl and I can see her start to trust & love & grow again. The value I place on myself, my relationships, my passions in life are now at the forefront of most any decision I make today.
I absolutely still stumble along the way. I still don’t know how to do all of this, but I do know that I love and believe in myself to make the right choices for me. And I’d like to also point out that none of this is easy. If you’re looking for a quick fix to end your drinking career or to your personal growth, you’re following the wrong gal. You guys, all of this takes guts & courage, compassion & love. And a true desire to want a better life for yourself. And it’s going to be messy because you’ve never, ever been through this type of situation before. Every day I wake up and have no idea how it’s going to go because I’ve never lived this day before. Same goes for personal growth and quitting the drink. It can be a sticky place to live at the time, but the honey of a sweet life that you cultivate through it all will be the best you ever tasted. xo - K