We all have those precious people in our lives who encourage us when we feel insecure, and boost our self esteem. Whether it’s a family member, best friend, or partner, these people act as our personal cheerleaders. But what happens when your main source of support disappears? How do you adapt to life without their strength to guide and comfort you?
Provide yourself with the love, kindness, and respect you deserve. Be your own best friend – your own cheerleader.
I’m someone who needs constant encouragement – I always have. My lifelong anxiety means I often doubt myself and need reassuring that I’m doing OK, and I’m not a complete fuck up. Anxiety can play tricks with your mind, and even when I’m trying my best I often feel like a failure.
My parents created a safe, non-judgmental environment when I was growing up. They always found ways to praise and encourage me, rather than criticise, even during my teenage years when I went off the rails and was a complete nightmare. Their love and support has been a constant throughout my life, and even now at age 45 I treasure this.
When I met my future husband in my mid twenties, he reinforced this love and support – he became my cheerleader.
Right now, I’m not ok
But recently my life flipped upside down. Everything I relied upon – my safety blanket and routine – disappeared. My marriage ended, and for the first time in 18 years I had to adjust to living on my own. The protection and reassurance were no longer there, and this has floored me. I find it very hard to reach out and ask for help, even though I constantly encourage other people to do just this. I hate admitting I’m not coping. But I need to be honest – right now, I’m not OK.
I know the last few weeks have been tough on everyone. The novel Coronavirus COVID-19, and the subsequent lock down and constant anxiety, has been universally stressful. But adapting to the huge changes happening in my life, while navigating these stressful times, while also being chronically ill and relying solely on others for my care and mental health support, has been the hardest period of my life so far. Friends who are my support system are unable to visit due to the lock down. Carers are cancelling due to sickness. And the stress over food deliveries and the fear of the unknown, has sent my anxiety skyrocketing.
My physical health has deteriorated as I’m having to do much more for myself, and my mental health has plummeted due to stress, loneliness and fear of the future. It’s been a very lonely time. I don’t deal with change very well. I crave routine and stability – I need it for the sake of both my physical and mental health, and without it I feel lost.
What this time has given me though, is the opportunity to think. This hasn’t always been a good thing – being alone in my head when anxiety and depression take over is not a pleasant place to be. But times when I have felt mentally stronger I have been able to process a few things which have brought clarity to my situation.
While my husband has always supported me through my physical ill-health, and provided the practical care I need, it has been some time since he has been my emotional support.
I have always tried to support and encourage him no matter what crap I was dealing with myself. I know there have been times when I failed, but I’ve done my best to be his cheerleader. But at some point – I don’t know when – he stopped being my cheerleader. He stopped the encouragement I desperately needed. He stopped telling me that he was proud of my achievements and how hard I was trying. He stopped showing me the love and guidance I needed. His presence ceased to be the comfort it once was.
Practice kindness and self compassion
So, after a number of weeks wallowing in self pity, and trying my best to figure out how the hell I’m going to survive the next few months, I have come to the realisation that it’s time I became my own cheerleader. It’s time I stopped relying on others for approval – I need to build my own self esteem. It’s time to try and stop figuring out why he ceased caring – thinking this way will get me nowhere. I cannot change his decision or his feelings, and I cannot change the fact we are in the middle of a pandemic. But I can change the way I deal with this horrible situation, and I can change how I speak to myself during this time.
There have been many times over the last few weeks that I have berated myself for not being emotionally stronger. I have criticised myself for breaking down and crying. I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself. I need to remember, I am doing a bloody brilliant job in the most challenging times. I am coping in the best way I can, considering the shitstorm that is my life at the moment. I will try to stop criticising myself and stop expecting so much, and instead practice kindness and self compassion.
I have been hesitant to write about my breakup – I don’t want to sound needy or come across as a whinge-bag. But writing is my way of processing my feelings. It’s my way of encouraging myself and others, and it makes it easier to comprehend and make sense of the scrambled mess that is my mind.
My blog is also my way of becoming my own cheerleader – I think it always has been, I just didn’t realise it. I write about what I need to hear myself. When I write encouraging posts about self-worth and self-care, I’m not only talking to you, my readers, but I’m also talking to the insecure part of me that needs reassurance. And when I share positive memes and quotes, I’m trying to reinforce these messages in my own mind.
Healing takes time
I know I need to find a way to adapt to my new normal and mourn over the end of my marriage. But I also have to give myself the space and time to do this. I need to accept it’s going to take time, and while the whole world is in chaos, this might not happen for a while.
I’m currently in survival mode, and that’s ok. I will do what I need to to get through each day. I will remind myself things will not always be this tough. I will concentrate on just breathing. But I will also take time to talk to myself kindly, and acknowledge my strength and achievements.
I need to learn to be my own best friend, my own cheerleader. I need to provide myself with the love, kindness, and respect I deserve and desire, and I urge you to do the same.
Be your own cheerleader
Learning to love ourselves is an ongoing process, and occasionally we fall into the trap of believing we’re weak, worthless or a failure. Please find ways to be your own cheerleader too, you owe it to yourself. .
Being your own cheerleader is about speaking to yourself in encouraging, kind, reinforcing ways – rather than beating yourself up.
Sometimes you are the only person who comprehends your story in its truest version. You may, therefore, be the only person to cheer yourself on; the only person who can put your broken pieces together. Remember that you are always doing the best you can with what you have, so don’t be so hard on yourself.
My blog brings me great comfort and that is largely due to the support I receive from my readers – so I would like to thank you for being my cheerleaders. Take care x
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