How Blogging Taught Me to Love Myself Again
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work on one of the most exciting projects I’ve been a part of since starting my blog almost two years ago. I got together with several amazing bloggers in the Utah/SLC Valley and helped model some of the new clothes from Wight Gold’s Valentine’s Day collection. But, beyond playing dress up and having our pictures taken, Camille (founder of Wight Gold) brought us all together to help create a message about the importance self-love to share with others.
Throughout the whole experience, I reflected on how crazy it all was. When did I become confident enough in myself to willingly model for a clothing boutique? When did I become brave enough to discuss my past on film, knowing that hundreds of strangers would see it? Who was this person who wasn’t worrying about her mishappen knee and how it would look in the pants she was wearing?
As I drove home from the shoot that evening, I realized that I had done some serious changing and growing and learning over the last couple of years and that blogging had a lot to do with it.
You see, my junior and senior years of high school was pretty awful. I was coming back from my treatment and I was realizing that a lot of my friends had moved on with their lives in a way I could never move on with mine. I was changed in so may ways after fighting cancer. I tried to talk about my experiences with my friends but quickly found out that they expected me to treat cancer like a stubbed toe: something that I shouldn’t ever need to talk about or mention again. I remember one day, walking up to one of my best guy friends in the band room and asking how he was. He turned around and walked away from me without saying a single word. I was so confused because we had just talked the day before, but he continued to give me the silent treatment through the rest of the day. When I asked one of our mutual friends why he wasn’t talking to me, she said something along the lines of “He just needs a break from all the attention you try to get from him when you talk about cancer.”
Ouch. I remember driving home that day in tears because I realized no one was ever going to truly understand what it felt like to go through or come back from what I had experienced. That was the day I stopped talking about cancer to other people and started pushing down all the emotions, fears, and trauma deep inside of me. That was the day when I realized I still hated my body for what it had done to me and for the friends and life it had taken away from me. That was the day I became ashamed of my scars and started to hide them. That was the day that I realized cancer would continue to follow me for the rest of my life.
I was so excited to start college because it meant starting fresh in a place where no one knew me as the cancer kid. I was still in a gnarly knee brace and walked with a significant limp, but no one had to know why. Over the first few years of college, I tried my hardest to fit in and to leave my cancer behind me. And then Maddie died. And the pain and the trauma and the guilt consumed me in such an overwhelming way that I was more lost than ever before.
I just didn’t know how to reconcile my identity with my cancer. Cancer changed everything about who I was and the person I was planning on becoming and is such a vital part of my identity, but I didn’t want to be the girl with cancer. I didn’t want people to push me away like they did in high school because of my past or my scars. And when Maddie died, I hated myself even more because I lived and she didn’t. I was confused, I was lost, and there was no love for myself.
When Dustin came into my life, things started to change for me. He peeled back my layers and broke down my walls and slowly got me to start talking about my past. And he stayed. He stayed and listened and showed up again and again for me. And when he asked me to marry him, I realized that he loved me, scars and all and that maybe, there was something to love after all.
But I still struggled with loving myself and moving forward from my past. I started having anxiety and panic attacks about cancer coming back for me. I was falling into waves of depression as I dealt with the pain and survivor’s guilt and trauma I had buried deep down inside for so long. And I was still afraid and ashamed of my scars.
And then I started blogging – mainly because I needed a creative outlet to save me from falling even deeper into depression because I was realizing I didn’t want to pursue a career with the degree I had just worked so hard to get. And everything changed.
Blogging gave me an outlet to express so many emotions and process some of the things I was feeling. I felt instantly lighter after sitting down and writing out some of the things weighing on my heart.
Blogging gave me the courage to stand up for myself after someone called me out in the parking lot of PetSmart and asked me if I REALLY needed the handicap parking pass.
Blogging taught me that I am capable of learning new things, like coding a website, taking pictures, and SEO-ing my site. It has shown me that I can do hard things, like be an entrepreneur and create a brand and business from a space that once was about my dorky crafts and recipes.
Blogging has encouraged me to get out there and try new things. It has shown me that what I have to say or teach can be helpful to others who just need a friend to point them in the right direction. It has given me the opportunity to help other women find new products to try, to find a new dress they feel amazing in, and to pursue their blogging dreams.
Blogging connected me with some amazing people from all walks of life who have taught me that I am not alone in the way I feel about my past or scars. These people have validated my feelings, have lifted me up on the days when I’m down and have celebrated my triumphs.
But most importantly, blogging has taught me how to love myself again. It has shown me that my story is valuable and beautiful and that it is mine. Even though my style and beauty posts may seem vain or materialistic, they have helped me find confidence in a body that I was once embarrassed and ashamed of. I hope they don’t come off as vain or materialistic, though. I hope they show the world that I’m a girl with a past that I’m learning to celebrate and be proud of – and that I’m learning to do that by taking the time to dress it up and put makeup on.
By being a blogger, I’ve learned that it IS possible to pursue a vibrant life, despite my scars or my past. And I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to share my journey with others, and hopefully, to inspire others to do the same.
So, thank you, for allowing this space to be my safe place and for being part of HTC community. You have made my life more vibrant than you will ever know.
P.S. Make sure you check out Wight Gold’s Valentine’s Day collection, which is live on her site now! There are so many cute things that are perfect for spring and her prices are awesome.
Are you a blogger? How has it changed your life?