Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: I Deserve Love.

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I’ve fallen in love twice in my life.

My first love was a special one; I was a teenager and it was the love that I experienced all my firsts with: kiss, sex, relationship; truly everything. It was intoxicating and it was something I never thought I’d experienced because of my looks. I just never had someone like me as me and for the way that I looked, and it was amazing to experience the things my friends had in their own relationships and romantic lives. It lasted a decade, through many ups and downs, on and offs, good times and bad times, and through it all, it was a love that I couldn’t let go until I had to let go in order to find myself.

My second love was an unexpected one that still haunts me. It was a different type of love than my first one, it was vocal, it was romantic, it was too good to be true. Behind its beauty was an inferno of demons waiting to creep inside my soul and find a new home for years on end. It was toxic, it’s one I’ll never forget happened, and it will be something I’ll always work on in order to move on from all the guilt and shame I hold still from it.

I haven’t fallen in love for a third time yet, but I’m getting to know this girl a little more day by day and I know that she deserves to have love and be loved for who she is and what she represents in this world.

Hi, my name is Liz and I deserve love.

It’s the oldest form of advice in the book, yet it still feels like many of us in this world sell ourselves short and allow others to truly determine our level of worthiness. For years, I’ve allowed people to control how I saw myself; if someone thought I was annoying for being bubbly or energetic, I saw myself as annoying as well. If someone thought I was easy, too fat to be liked, self-centered, or stupid, I thought I was too. For years, I thought everything that happened to me was deserved; I thought I was such a horrible person and deserved to be punished for being such a bad person. I thought I deserved to be second best, the secret, the one that put those I loved first when in reality I wasn’t ever no one’s first priority. To this day, that still affects me; I meet new people and put everything into them because I simply don’t have “closer friends” back home, but the reality is not everyone sees me with the same priority, and that makes me stay introverted and closed in because why even bother trying to prove my importance in someone’s life? 

Despite everything I went through to get me to this point in my life, I still respected the ones that put me through all the bad things, because perhaps I put them through bad shit as well.

But what did that say about me? Why to this day do I still defend these people and not myself?

The truth is, I didn’t respect myself back then. I trusted people and their judgments instead of my own because I was told I was overthinking things, jumping to conclusions, stupid. I didn’t trust myself; to some extent, I still don’t, but I’m learning how to nowadays. I’m realizing that my life moving forward does not have to have the same narrative as my past, that I can do better, that I can love myself better. 

I go to therapy not to just handle my anxiety disorder and major depression, but as of lately I’ve been using my sessions to talk out some unresolved issues from my past and try to use that time to learn how to forgive myself and let go of the things that happened at that time. Last week, we began to talk about those things and it was the first time I honestly spoke about everything that happened. That meant that I didn’t leave anything out of the story, no matter how it made me look at the time, and no matter how it “tarnished my image”. My therapist was quite speechless to know that there was more to the story than I led on previously, but she simply looked at me and said I deserve love, and the things that happened to me in the past are not things that people who truly love you do. I take responsibility for my actions during that time in my life, but I was very much a victim of a lot of things: emotional abuse, mental abuse, controlling and manipulative behavior. It may not have been as bad as other people in this world, but it doesn’t mean my own personal trauma behind this didn’t affect me and the way I’ve lived my life. 

I walked out of that therapy session in tears. I felt extremely exposed, sad, ashamed, and embarrassed for things that happened nearly a decade ago. But, I felt just a little bit lighter than I have in a long time. It was okay that I was still angry and resentful over the things that happened, especially now that I’m learning and embracing the fact that I deserve respect, love, and worthiness not only from other people but from myself.

I deserve love just like any other human being in this world, and that’s all I’m aiming for in life.

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