HOW I LEARNT TO LOVE MYSELF

I have reached a point - In my life where I feel it is no longer necessary to try to impress anyone. If they like me the way I am good, and if not then it’s their loss.

This is a statement that I believe to be so true and I live by these words.

As a girl growing up in this world is a scary thought and it is only ever going to get worse. There is too much pressure on how you look, how thin you are, how glossy your hair is and what designer your shoes are. The world if full of shallow people who don’t understand the real meaning of being happy and that is a sad fact.

I grew up in a family who didn’t have much money, but we were spoilt in other ways; with love.

My parents gave us everything they could, so we didn’t have the latest Nike trainers and the coolest outfits but that didn’t matter, as we were so happy in our childhood. We would spend a lot of our time down at the stables, most days from 6am until 6pm but that was how we loved to spend our time, eating pot noodles to keep warm in the winter and using the excuse to bath the ponies to cool ourselves down in the Summer. These ponies didn’t belong to us, they were on loan, and to have them that meant we had to look after them with all the love and care we could to keep the owners happy, from time to time we would have new ponies as the owners would up and move to another yard or sell them on, happy times soon became sad times. I have such fond memories of being a child.

When I turned 17 I decided I didn’t want to spend my life covered in mud and smelling like a muckheap and gave it up.

Lots of my friends had boyfriends by this point, were learning to drive and had the coolest clothes on the market. I had some nice clothes, don’t get me wrong our parents didn’t dress us in rags, but the majority of my wardrobe was riding gear so going to parties with friends was always awkward as I would have to reuse clothes a lot more, this became a lot more embarrassing as Facebook came about – you were papped in everything you wore.

I had a good life going from a teenager into my twenties, it was fun and boring, happy and sad, worthwhile and what’s the point, but that is any teenager’s life in a nutshell.

In 2011 I met the love of my life, who I adore beyond anything else in the world. I had known him since I was 10, he played football for my Dad’s youth team but back then I rarely spoke to him, he was the year above me and quite desirable by a lot of girls in my school, this only intensified when I was in secondary school and one of my classmates was dating him for a few years and the girls (which I shouldn’t really say as his head will grow) lusted after him.

We would see each other on nights out in Windsor and had a lot of mutual friends, but he was with another girlfriend by then and I was with my boyfriend at the time. We always kept in touch through Facebook and would hear what each other were doing through mutual friends and as he was in the Army he was away a lot.

In 2010 he went out to Afghanistan, his third tour of the country. He was serving in 9 Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers part of the counter IED task force team. He left in early November and would see regular updates on Facebook as to how he was doing.

On the 2nd January I got a call from a friend, as soon as I saw the number appear on my phone I knew, I don’t know why but I knew, it wouldn’t be good news.

He told me had stepped on an IED 2 days previously and lost both his legs, broken his back in two places and his right arm was in a bad way, he had been flown to the UK and was in the QEHB. His family were with him and I asked how they were doing and asked for my love and best wishes to be passed on. I knew that everyone would want to go up to see him and sending him messages so I didn’t.  I sent one on Facebook and knew he would read it in time.

In June 2011 we met up for a drink, I went up to Headley Court where he was doing his rehab and we went out for a beer and a burger and caught up on how life for both us was. He told me that his relationship had broken down 2 months previously but he was working hard to get up walking and mobile for his Son. I thought then, my god you are inspirational, little was I to know this was the very base of it all.

We met up a few times over the month of June and the more we talked and saw each other the more I thought you feel like more than a friend to me, little did I know he felt the same but didn’t want to say anything incase I didn’t.

In July, we went to the same place we went for our beer and burger in June and he asked me to be his girlfriend, I felt like a 17 year old all caught up in the romance, this must have been what everyone back then was doing, I agreed to be his girlfriend, there was nothing I wanted more.


Over the next 18 months, my life was the best it had ever been but also the worst it had ever been. I had met the one person who made me happier than I had ever felt in my life, made me feel like me and made me feel more special than I thought possible. It was also the worst part of my life, without going into too much detail, I was bombarded with emails, texts, phone calls, messages through friends, anonymous letters saying that what I was doing was not ethical, normal and was fake. I had my looks, my life, the way I dressed, the size I was slammed to the ground, I went from a pretty confident happy go lucky girl to someone who hated their own skin. To hear someone be so nasty about the clothes you wear, what your bum looks like and comparing you to a previous flame hurt.

People just couldn’t grasp the fact that I could see past the fact that he had 3 limbs missing, (when he came back to the UK they had to amputate his right arm) and walked with metal legs, had a fake arm and would probably spend a lot of time in a wheelchair later in life.

It upset me no end that there were some really shallow people in the world who would, one, think I was only with him for the money side of things and two, wouldn’t be able to fall in love with someone who wasn’t a complete body. Growing up I was told to love people for who they are not what they look like.

Has it ever bothered me that he has 3 limbs missing, nope, not one little bit. He is just himself. I can honestly say at no point since we first started dating has it ever bothered me.

To me, he is the most amazing, inspirational and incredible person I have ever met. I have learnt a lot over the last 3 years and that is to not give a damn what other people think, as long as you are happy then sod the rest of the world. You only live once so make it a happy one! Life is not a rehearsal.

You might not have the latest fashion outfits, you might not be a perfect size 10, you might not have the glossiest hair or the whitest teeth but if you have people around you who love you and accept you for who you are then you don’t need to bother yourself with the other people in the world.

I have reached that point in my life, it took me a while to get there, but once I was there I haven’t looked back.