The majority of my life I wasn’t my own friend.
Growing up I was always my own worst critic. I would find reasons to justify that I would never good enough.
I went through a period of my life where I was never going to be small enough. Going down in weight from 120, 110, 105, 100, 90, and then 80 lbs eating about 200 calories a day to become small enough realizing that going down this road was only going to kill me. Though I could control my weight that wasn’t the thing that would make me like myself. No matter what size I was, I still didn’t like myself or acknowledge who I was as a person. I still was not my own friend.
I found a love for lifting weights. Though it was slightly less damaging physically, my mindset was still I am not good enough and never will be. After a few years I decided to go after a goal that had been stirring in my heart. I wanted to compete in bodybuilding. I created a plan, got some good people around me, and went after my goal. My first prep for a show was on the outside, a “success” whatever that means. I made it through. I hit my weight. But my mind was all messed up. I created an even more messed up relationship with food. Though on the outside I can make it look like I am more than fine, that I have everything under control when in reality, I hated myself and what I had become, where and who I was. What to do? Prepare for another bodybuilding show.
Though my second show I started realizing that I needed to start journaling. I just started journaling my thoughts. The words that would come through my head. I started becoming more aware of my self talk because it was really bad, hurtful, and mean. I really wanted to stop binge eating especially as this habit had came through my first show and stayed with me after. I knew it was a mental thing. I was weak mentally. I started reading a lot more mental strengthening books. Finding out how other people handled binge eating, what they did, how they overcame it, what was it?
I journaled my whole life on and off. It evolved over the years from a more prayer focused journaling to a more reflective self journaling. Becoming more aware of the inner chatter and then having the power and courage to stand up to the voices of criticism, guilt, and shame. I learned to give myself a lot of grace. When I would mess up with and overeat way too much, I would say out loud to myself, “it’s okay, Ashley, I forgive you” over and over again till I believed it and started crying.
Competing in bodybuilding was a gift to me in that it gave me some awareness to work with. The physical part is simple. The mental part is what can either make you or break you. I became very obsessed with learning about the mind and the brain. I read a few books on neuroplasticity and the ability to change your life through your thoughts. That led me to some amazing people who have impacted my life greatly. Who shared parts of their lives with me and I’m very grateful I was open to learning about their habits. I grew up religious with a lot of rules. It was through re-gaining my curiosity and just allowing myself to ask questions that I learned about meditation and how big and great God, the universe, all of it really are.
Through learning and experiencing meditation practices for myself, I’ve learned the great power of self love and self acceptance. I am still growing in love for myself as it’s a constant unraveling of habits where I can feel as if I’m not good enough, don’t know enough, etc. I am so thankful that through my curiosity I allowed myself the freedom to experience self love through meditation. Learning to become my friend when I need it, my cheerleader when I need it, my own mother when I need it, my support system when I need it.
I am a better person when I practice self journaling and meditation. I feel myself growing and evolving. It’s not always an easy process of reprogramming your ways of being but that is when it’s crucial to be your own friend. To tell yourself, it’s okay to make mistakes while learning. To have a heart filled with grace and love is how we grow. That is something I want to share with the people I know and love.