#SelfLoveBootcamp: May 1, the beginning

CONTENT WARNING – I will briefly mention self-harm and other self-violence.

Self-love is something I never knew existed until the last couple of years. I only knew things like:

  • Self interest
  • Self-denial
  • Self-obsession
  • Self-hatred
  • Self-loathing
  • Self-destruction
  • Self-harm
  • Self-violence

I learned these by example, by the actions of others, and how I felt about myself. I thought any kind of positive feeling I had towards me must be immediately stamped out and replaced with hatred or guilt.

Ultimately, this drove me to acting out in horrible ways, lashing out at others, physically harming myself, emotionally barricading myself, and literal suicide attempts. 

I was like this for the better part of my entire life so far. I literally REALLY just started dedicating myself to stop being so violent towards myself over a year ago. As empowering as it is to recognize that I am devoted to healing myself through whatever means possible, it’s also really sad to think that I spent the majority of twenty-seven years wanting to destroy myself – and I am still not fully over it. “Will I ever be?” is a question I ask all the time.

There are learning curves, roadblocks, and really garbage days, but how I react to them has improved over time. All with the help of SELF-LOVE.

Learning about self-love and how it is absolutely not equal to and does not automatically imply any of the other self-isms mentioned above was integral to my recovery. Once I learned that it's okay to love myself, plain and simple, I started building the courage and determination necessary to simply START WANTING to recover. 

I would literally be dead if it were not for the concept of self-love. Now, I am constantly searching for and experimenting with new ways of caring for myself. I can find inspiration anywhere, especially on Instagram, where there's a huge community of people striving for the same things - a healthy, loving relationship with their body and mind, despite their past or current challenges.

Beginning today, I’m going to participate in the Self Love Bootcamp on Instagram with Kenzie Brenna, a Toronto-based Body Positive Activist, writer and actress. She’s been featured in SELF magazine and Femail, among others, for her creation #CelluliteSaturday. The hashtag is geared towards all women realizing that cellulite is a naturally-occurring thing that absolutely no one should be ashamed of.

The challenge is now in its third session. I briefly participated in the first two, going out a little bit further each time, but not wholly committing. Instead, I lurked so many other beautiful humans participating – this in itself inspired me to keep working behind the scenes.

This time around, Kenzie has expanded the challenge to be more inclusive of different bodies/experiences. Kenzie has chosen to ask for a moderate donation of $5USD so that she can actively participate and dedicate time to each one of the participants, taking time off of her own job for this special attention. If I didn’t think she was amazing before…

I’m going to take the challenge a step further and blog about it here every week. Honestly, I doubt I’ll do every single day that’s laid out for us, but I’ll definitely be trying to. My goal is to do at least 21 of the 31 daily posts – one for each year I’ve actively spent despising my being.

What do I plan to get out of this? A sense of accomplishment. Even though I only posted a couple of days the last time I participated, I still felt really good about my choice to put my feelings into words and throw them out into the world. It's good to sit with yourself and review your progress, especially on bad days. I know I'm on the right path. I just need more expansion.

Every Monday until the end of the challenge, I'll post here about what went on, what I learned, and how I felt about it. You can follow my journey on Instagram – @elzbthbrns – and peruse the hashtag #SelfLoveBootcamp for extra inspiration.