After my boyfriend left me for another girl, I went into a really dark place. I no longer felt beautiful, smart, or confident about myself. I felt like everything I ever thought about myself was a lie. How could he call me all these wonderful things then just leave? To me, without his words of affirmation, I could be none of those things. My self-esteem plummeted and I became more quiet and close-guarded about myself. I started to see only my flaws and couldn't find an inch of me beautiful, inside or out. I couldn't even bring myself to look at the mirror because all I could see was my wide waist, big thighs, and blemishes. All I could do was compare myself to the girl he left me for. I questioned why my skin wasn't as fair, why my grades weren't as stellar, why I couldn't be as sporty, why I wasn't as popular, and so on. I was building up this list in my head on all my imperfections and it was all I could think about.
At this point I was barely taking care of myself anymore. I was living on the bare minimum or even less. I kept up my personal hygiene but I stopped caring about what I wore or looked like. I was eating more and more and stopped my healthy diet. I stopped exercising altogether and I also stopped trying to get good grades. I stopped talking to my friends, and the were also getting sick and tired of me retreating to myself. Everything I was doing for myself just seemed so meaningless to me. He had left me. All the hard work I had put to make myself desirable felt useless. I know it sounds foolish to do all these when you get heartbroken and I know that now, but at that time it seemed justifiable. After all, at the very least, I didn'’t hit the point of harming myself. In other words, I had hit rock bottom. Almost everyone around me had given up on trying to mend all my broken pieces, but you never did, and for that I am eternally grateful.
After the breakup you constantly tried to prod me out of this shell I had built around me. You tried anything and everything to make me do something besides sulk in my room. That was until that one day when even you couldn't take what I was doing anymore. I still remember it clear as day. You talked to me as you drove me home from some school project I can't remember. You were trying to keep up a conversation with me being stubborn and still broken. I barely responded but you still tried. You tried everything to get me to talk without intentionally hurting me until you lost it. You screamed in frustration in the car and you started crying. That shook me out of my state of not caring about anything or anyone. I was startled. You were my dad after all and you never cried. All my life you had been this calm figure. You were the one who brought my mind to peace when everything around me was chaos. I asked you then why you were crying but you had retreated to silence. I tried to talk to you but you really didn't want to talk. I eventually gave up, but at this point I had turned into an emotional wreck, crying myself. You then spoke and until this very day, the words still ring in my head. You said "Why do you keep looking for affirmation from other people? I love you and you are the pride of my existence. You are so beautiful and it breaks my heart that you can't bring yourself to see that. If you are going to let one immature and stupid boy get to you and let you destroy yourself, fine! This is not the daughter I raised. I raised you to never base who you are on other people's opinions of you. I raised you to only compare yourself to you and no one else. Whatever you do, whoever you are, and wherever you will go, there will always be someone better. So it's no use comparing yourself to everyone you encounter. The only thing you can really do is keep on improving and make yourself better for you and you alone. And about your ex-boyfriend, your biggest problem is that you keep looking for the right person instead of being the right person. How do you expect anyone to love you if you can't even bring you to love yourself? Build and realize your own worth. Look for affirmation in the people who really matter like your true friends and your family. If you love yourself enough, you will attract the right people for you. But if you want to continue on this path of self-destruction, then go ahead, it's your life. I can't live it for you. I am not going to stop you." You then became silent again.
At the time, I felt even more horrible yet again. One more person had given up on me. I walked around the villageafter you had dropped me off at home and drove off to work. I walked for about 2 hours, and in that time I just spent it thinking, your words running through my head over and over again. I thought about all the things I had done to myself. That walk was the first of many. As time went by, I started to realize how stupid I was to do all these things just because someone couldn't see what I was capable of. That was when the change started to happen, it was slow and gradual but there was change. I started losing weight from all the walking and I only noticed when I pulled out a pair of jeans I expected not to fit me anymore but did. That was a bit of a trigger for me and I started to dress the way I did before. I had forgotten how good it felt to feel and look good. It slowly stopped mattering if anyone else thought I looked good as long as I did. You also started to notice the change in me and slowly started talking to me again. Slowly but surely, I had started to pull my life back together. I started to talk to my former friends and they were more than willing to let me back in. I started eating the way I used to before since I had always loved the healthy diet anyway. I started to jog now since I found I liked thinking and moving at the same time. My grades became even better than before. I started dating someone who loved me for me.
''I stopped looking for other people to love me because you made me realize that before anyone could love me, I had to learn to love myself again. This rings through the words 'We accept the love we think we deserve' and you were the one who made me believe and live these words.''
It wasn't an overnight change. There were still times where I wanted to pull back into a black hole but you would give me another pep talk if needed whenever this would happen. You have no idea how grateful I am for you. You told me all the things I needed to hear and didn'’t care about how you would look if you said it. The only thing you cared about was making sure your baby girl would be okay again. I may never be a real princess but I am thankful that in your eyes I am. Thank you for loving me and for taking care of me when I couldn't do it myself. A lot of girls would like to say that they have the greatest dad in the world, but I’d like to think they’re all wrong and you are the best. Thank you for not giving up one me when the rest of the world had. A father's love is like no other and yours is no exception.
Got your own story to tell? Drop us an email at email@example.com! We'd love to hear what you have to say. If you're lucky, you just might get published in this space, too! Please indicate if you want to remain anonymous. We're also looking for artwork and illustrations to use with the stories, so please send some in if you want to be featured!