You get to Decide

Most of my life, I did not feel pretty or worthy. I had a hard time attracting healthy relationships, healthy jobs and abundance into my life.

Deep down I knew I was meant for something big, I knew I had amazing gifts, but I was consumed with fear and doubt. Even if I could work up the courage to do something I knew I wanted and deserved, I often did something to sabotage it. Most of the time, without even knowing that I was.

When I first moved to New York City and could barely afford my rent, I signed up for an expensive acting workshop that I had to audition to attend and would give me the opportunity to meet well-known agents and casting directors. Since I couldn’t afford it, I had to put the whole thing on my credit card. I remember being nervous about it, but incredibly excited. So excited that I couldn’t sleep at night and butterflies had taken flight in my stomach. It was the kind of excitement you can feel flowing through you in such a way, it’s almost tangible.

When the day finally arrived, I woke up late, got caught up in meaningless chores and errands, and completely forgot that the workshop was even happening, well until after it was over. I called the studio desperately asking them to allow me to attend a different one in the future, but the answer was no.

Sound familiar?

I also had relationships that I now look back on and think, who was that girl? Who put up with all that crazy s***? It couldn’t have been me. Things are so different now, it’s hard to believe I ever went through what I did. But, I did. I used to be so desperate for someone to love me and so scared of someone I loved leaving me, that I attracted and stayed in very destructive relationships.

I fell for men that at first made me feel like a goddess. They would shower me with compliments that blew my mind. Here are some of my favorites: “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen!” “You are the best sex I’ve ever had.” “I have never been more in love with anyone than I am with you.” The truth is, at the time, I needed someone to say those things to me, because I didn’t believe them about myself.

I put up with things that no one should ever put up with. I once kept dating someone even though I knew in my gut that he was cheating. I could never prove it, but I knew. Whenever I would question him about my instincts, he would say things to me like, “If you think that I could ever, ever do that to you… then I don’t think I can even be in this relationship anymore.” He would tell me that my father messed me up and I couldn’t trust men. I would feel awful and ask forgiveness for doubting him.

I even kept dating him after he screamed at me so loud in the middle of a bar once that the entire room went silent. He got right in my face and shouted that I was a dumb bitch and a nag and could find my own way home. This was because I asked him if he was still going to be our designated driver when he promised to stay sober but was ordering his 5th beer.

I spent the whole night crying in the bathtub, and he woke up in the morning not remembering any of it. I let him do things like that to me again and again. He would cry and beg for forgiveness and I would feel bad for him and stay. I finally left him when I discovered that my instincts were right, and he had been cheating on me with countless women the entire 5 and a half years we were together. I never looked back once, but it took a lot to heal after that relationship.

After some needed self-reflection and work, I thought I was ready for real love. But a few years later, I dated someone even worse. This person fooled me into thinking they were a good person by acting like my friend first. He even fooled all of my friends. He was incredibly charming, and everyone thought he was hopelessly in love with me, and even told me that I should be careful with him.

When I started dating him things quickly changed. But I was too in shock to fully realize what was happening. This person had been my friend for so long that it didn’t make any sense. He was possessive and controlling and had a violent temper. If I would even talk to another guy he would viciously scream at me. Yet he would talk to, go out with, and get phone numbers from other women all the time. According to him, as long as he wasn’t technically cheating, he “wasn’t doing anything wrong.” If I questioned this or anything he did, he would have a fit of rage so severe that I feared he would physically hit me. I told a friend that I was afraid he might kill me. I still didn’t leave.

He once broke up with me, but I ended up taking him back because he claimed he was desperately in love with me and sorry. When he found out I had made out with someone else we both knew during our break up (the one where he left me), he went ballistic. He screamed at me in the street that I was a whore and I had to run to get away from him.

When I lived with him, he had a girl who was a “friend” come to visit but I wasn’t allowed to hang out with them. When I told him that wasn’t okay with me, he went crazy with anger. So, I let it happen, even though it made me feel awful.

It took me 3 and a half years to leave him. One day, something deep inside of me took over, and I broke up with him and left for good. But even after we broke up, he was so violent towards me in the little bit of time that we still had to live together, that I had to call the cops one evening. He cornered me in the kitchen and wouldn’t let me leave while he screamed at me over and over. I told him that if he hit me I was pressing charges. My friends came and picked me up and I stayed with them until he moved out.

After that break up, I decided I was never ever letting a man treat me like that ever again. I started to believe that good men existed and were out there for me. And what do you know, when I started believing that, they started appearing.

It’s amazing how that happens. If you don’t think shifting your mind set works, I dare you to try it. It’s changed my life.

It took years of facing the things that terrified me the most, reading a gazillion self-help books, going to therapy, taking workshops and hiring coaches to get back the confidence I was born with, but had somehow lost. It took exploring the ways I lost it, feeling the pain and anger from my childhood, and letting it go.

It’s not an easy process, but it’s the only process.

Because what’s the alternative? Feeling like crap about yourself? Letting other people determine your worth? Clinging to people who don’t love you? Not going after your dreams because you’re scared you might not succeed?

That sounds much worse to me. And I know it is, because I’ve been there.

It’s hard work to love yourself. But it’s necessary and you’re worth it. I don’t wake up every day feeling amazing. I decide each day that I’m amazing. And when I have trouble deciding, I do things to ensure that I remember. I do a morning routine, I do my Active Affirmations, I put myself out there and do things that scare the living hell out of me, I hire coaches, I read books, I force myself to exercise when I don’t want to, I stand up for myself, I buy myself flowers, I create time to sing and to act, I tell my inner critic to shut up and I surround myself with loving people who support me.

I share everything I’ve learned to inspire other women.

You get to decide too. You get to wake up each morning and decide that you’re amazing. You get to put the work in and decide to shine. You already know you have it in you.

So, what are you waiting for?

Jessica Reitmyer