By Contributing Author Stephanie
As I was beginning to write this blog, I started with looking for articles about self-love. There are so many articles out there telling us how to love ourselves and how to practice as much patience with ourselves as we do with others. Although these are all beautiful and inspiring articles I found that the majority was missing one thing. What do we do when we feel completely unable to love the person we are today, right at this moment?
This is something I have struggled with my whole life, but when I was diagnosed with herpes it became even more difficult. As women we are constantly surrounded by messages and images telling us what beautiful is, what the ideal woman acts like, and what our health says about our character as women. It can be extremely difficult to push those messages aside in order to learn to really love yourself, but I would like to share with you all how I have been able to start to do just that in order to accept myself exactly the way that I am. Over the last year I have made it a priority to really get to know myself. By that I mean I wanted to know what makes me feel happy, sad, excited, anxious, and what things were really most important to me in my life. Through my efforts this year I have been able to understand what triggers my emotions, what I really value in my life, and many other things I would have never guessed were a part of who I am a year ago.
Interestingly enough, understanding myself in these ways has helped me to fall in love with the person that I am. When reflecting on this experience, I like to compare it to falling in love with another person. As we get to know someone, either intimately or as a friend, we start to accept that person for everything he or she is as well as everything he or she is not. As we accept a person for all he or she has to offer we can start to really love that person unconditionally. I believe this is what has happened in my relationship with myself over the last year. By allowing myself to get to know me I have been able to accept myself for everything that I am, and that has given me the ability to love myself unconditionally, herpes and all. I challenge you all to get to know yourselves on the same intimate level you might imagine you would get to know your life partner on.
If you are struggling with accepting yourself as a woman diagnosed with herpes, understanding deeper traits about yourself will allow you to put less emphasis on such a small aspect of your health and life. Remember that others will only judge you as much as you judge yourself. I hope what I have discovered will help you all as you begin the same journey that I started a year ago. Be your biggest fan, and the journey towards unconditional self-love will be easy.