For decades, I struggled to rebuild my self-esteem lost to the bullies. I tried my hardest to please others, to meet their expectations of who they wanted, needed, or expected me to be. I strove for perfection in all areas of my life, thinking that if I was just better, others would come to love and accept me for who I was. Worse off, I ended up in intimate relationships that were either emotionally abusive or filled with unrequited love, believing that a relationship could somehow fix the broken parts of me.
It all became a vicious cycle where the more I gave to people, the more they expected and wanted from me in return. The more I strove for perfection, the higher the bar was set for me by myself and others, leaving me constantly striving for a level of perfection I was never able to obtain. The more I sought to find the perfect person or relationship to fix me, the farther away I actually came from finding that perfection.
After a series of life altering incidents, however, including the death of my father in February of 2007, I finally woke up and realized I was getting things all wrong. The light bulb went off in my head, so to speak, and I realized that the key to overcoming the negative effects of bullying and rebuilding my self-esteem was self-love. I needed to look internally and learn love to myself, to accept myself with all of my faults, foibles, and imperfections, versus looking externally to fix the broken parts of me.