When Ellie, creator of Loving Ellie's Belly, reached out to us to share her story, we couldn't say no!
Like many of us, Ellie went on her own journey towards self love. This included being stuck in a volatile relationship, one where she had to hide from the people who loved her most. Since leaving Ellie has gone on to become one of New Zealand's biggest advocates for self-love.
We'll let you read the rest of her story below.
Can you tell us about your journey towards self-love?
This little self love journey has ALWAYS been one heck of a ride! Ever since I was 11, so ever since I grew pubic hair and boobs flung out of my chest, it was on! I have always had beautiful curves, always claimed myself as being "big boned" when really I have just always had major, major self confidence and self love issues. I was basically eating my emotions away which was giving me more curves and it became more of a struggle to see my own vagina... Once I hit my teens that's when my journey became more real. I didn’t have a lot of love for myself so I was in a couple of shitty relationships but there was one that stripped my confidence completely.
The first few months of our relationship were fun and I felt like I hadn’t been shown that sort of love before. He made me feel like I was everything to him and it was amazing. I fell in love with him because he used my insecurities to his advantage, telling me I was so beautiful, he loved my curves, asking how I could be single, bla fu*king bla. He honestly made me feel like he really did love me and I was "so lucky". Our relationship became really intense really quickly.
A few months in, I started to feel like something wasn’t right. He started to show signs of narcissism and began telling lie after lie. My family expressed that they didn’t like him especially my father and brother. I found this really hard because I was so close with them - but I still stayed. An ex girlfriend of his came to me and told me that he was abusive and to run as fast as I can. He told me this wasn’t true so I stayed. I wish I had listened to these warnings because if I had then maybe what happened next could have been avoided.
After about three months he physically abused me. It was at my end of year work function and we were both drunk. We got into a heated argument with both of us yelling in each others faces. He then spat in my face which then led to him punching me in the face. I fell to the ground and just laid there so confused. My ears were ringing, head was spinning and he was just yelling at me over and over again to get up. He put his arm around my throat so tight I couldn’t breathe and then he would soften the pressure, almost like some form of torture. Throughout this ordeal he kept switching from a sad, apologetic man to someone made of pure evil. Once it had finished, he simply helped me into the car and asked me if I was OK in front of my entire family. From this point I wanted to leave - but I still stayed.
He started threatening to hurt himself every time I tried to leave him. How was I meant to leave? If I left would I be responsible for his actions? He had completely manipulated me so I stayed with him to try protect him and endured more abuse both physical and emotional.
It wasn’t until another girl messaged me online and told me she had been seeing him that I left. When I confronted him about it he half admitted it and then all of a sudden I found out about multiple women. I felt sick. I had stayed with him to save his life and yet he was out there living life like a single man. I kicked him out of our house, and went straight to my family. I was a mess. The hardest part was telling my family what I went through. The look of devastation on their faces is something I will never forget. I had to get professional help from a counsellor to get me through the next few months and I put a protection order in place to ensure I wouldn’t have to see him again.
The truth is, this relationship will affect me for a long time. Going to counselling helped me realise why I let it happen but I still find myself questioning my own judgement every now and then. I am still trying to reconnect with myself but I’m incredibly grateful for the support of my friends, family (online also) and my amazing new partner, Brett.
I have discovered how much I love helping people and making people laugh. I believe laughter is the best medicine, I just love making people laugh and cheering them up. I’m lucky I get to do this on a daily basis through my online blog, Loving Ellie’s Belly.
My life has and is still changing so much since I left that abusive relationship. I am moving to live with Brett in Queenstown in March and I am so, so excited to start this journey. I handed my notice into my family business (where I have worked for 7 years) which was the hardest thing to do but I know I need to grow. I need to step out of my comfort zone. I am so, so excited for what the next few years are going to bring for me. I really want to do more with my online platform, speak at more events, design some kick ass plus size clothing and create forums to help others.
What does self-love mean to you?
It means E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G to me. Especially now!
I started my blog at 22 and it started as "Losing Ellie's Belly", I was so focused on losing weight and getting "skinny" before my big OE trip to the UK. Then I went to an incredible documentary and it made me wake up. I thought I was doing a good thing, by holding myself accountable online and helping others join the weight loss trend. In reality all I was posting was healthy meals, ‘I didn't eat this chocolate’, ‘I ran this far’ and it wasn't me. I realised that I want to live a healthy lifestyle that makes me happy, not one all about weight loss. I changed my name to "Loving Ellie's Belly" and have never looked back since.
I now receive stories every day from men and women from all different ages telling me their stories, asking their questions, expressing their thoughts & feelings with me. It has made me realise that EVERYONE has self love issues. Seriously! I get messages from girls who are breathtakingly beautiful, like full blown models and they are asking me how to love themselves. They say they hate what they look like or hate their bodies and I am flabbergasted. These are the type of girls that I once used to look at and want everything about them. Self love means everything to me because I aspire to change it and to help women & men around the world with it.
Why is self-love so important to you?
It's important to me because I want to make a change. I want to be a voice for women and men that don't quite have a voice. I want to help others be aware that we are actually all in this together, as screwed up as humanity can be sometimes we are actually all in the same boat and have the same emotions and all need to help each other.
Tell us what makes you proud of the woman you are today?
I am proud for many different reasons.
- For remaining strong and having a voice and standing up for myself after my recent abusive relationship
- For opening up about this to raise awareness and to help others
- For always maintaining my kind heart regardless
- For being a loyal friend
- For being a loving partner
- For being a dope as sister
- For being the best child to my parents
What values are important to you when it comes to love?
Trust, Laughter, Friendship, Loyalty, Strength, Support, Honesty, Balance, Fun, Good communication, Good sex!
What does a healthy relationship look like to you?
I am FINALLY in a healthy relationship and so I can FINALLY tell you what it feels like - FU*KING FANTASTIC!
I wake up more and more in love with him everyday and I get so much love from him. I am constantly reassured and I feel safe. When it comes to the weekends, I am not sitting there wondering if I will be put on the back burner, I know we will be spending our time together. We hang out with my family, who love Brett, we hang out with each other's friends, who also love Brett. We laugh constantly, we agree, we have disagreements that don't lead to into full blown horrible, yelling, pushing arguments. He checks up on me, I check up on him, we have fun plans ahead, we listen to each other, we support each other and most importantly we have each others backs.
I never had any of that before and that's what it should be. If I am looking at spending the rest of my life with someone, that is what it should be.
I was never happy, I always knew deep down that I didn't see myself with these past men in my life. I look at my parents relationship and I’ve wanted that forever. They have gone through so much, 30+ years married and still slap each others bums, still laugh, still kiss as soon as they get home from work, still are the most incredible parents to us kids, and they still have this amazing connection.
I know that's what true love should look like and I have FINALLY found it.
If you could share one piece of advice with our readers, what would it be?
- Listen to your gut
- Trust your friends / family's words
- Believe that you deserve EVERYTHING and you are absolutely amazing.
- Let no one tell you or make you feel any different
Thank you again Ellie for sharing your story with us. You are absolutely amazing!
There is an enormous amount of courage that goes into sharing stories of our past and how we became the fabulous women we are today. At Prepair NZ we think that this courageousness is the most powerful way to start shining a light on such an unspoken topic.
We've said before we want our stories to spread like wildfire across NZ, sparking conversations and helping to burn out domestic violence in our country. If you've been inspired to share your story - we'd love to hear from you!
Click the link below!
If you're feeling confused, upset or or unsure about your relationship that is enough to ask for help.
You don't have to wait for things to escalate or reach a certain stage.
In an emergency call 111 or click here for a list of support services.