Christy Mere Katene
When we met Christy, we were hosting a conversation about vulnerability and strength and
we fell in love with her willingness to be courageous and show her authentic self to the room.
Christy is an independent woman who carries beauty both on the inside and out. At times the
love that we carry inside of us, is found after a long and windy journey. We call that the self love journey.
Christy has a beautiful story to share, so we'll let her tell you and while you're there you can find out her take on Valentines Day too.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey towards self-love?
My self love journey is one that I’m still on to this day. I still stop and check that what I’m doing or who I’m surrounding myself with is in line with my core values.
About 5 years ago, I lost the person I held closest to me. I was 19 years old, and 3 years into a dark, bitter relationship. At this stage, I should have been figuring out how to be my own person, but was instead losing myself.
At the time I had no self-worth and my insecurities were at an all time low. I worried that I wasn't going to amount to anything more than a small town girl working for minimum wage in a local sandwich store, and I aspired to be more than that.
I remember looking at myself in the mirror, and being so unhappy with what I saw. I wondered, if my boyfriend, one of the best looking boys in town, wasn’t happy with me, then who else would be? I didn't believe I was worthy of anything better, so I stayed in the relationship.
On November 5th 2011, I received a call to say that my Grandfather, the man who had raised me, had passed away suddenly. My world stopped, the person who encouraged me to be better every single day, to strive for more than the life I was living and the life I was born into had been ripped away from me.
I became depressed and isolated myself even more. I clung to the only other person I thought I was worthy of. I’ll admit he was supportive in this time, but it wasn’t long before things went back to normal, drinking, drugs, partying, fights. I was numb, but it was this numb feeling that helped me to break away and make a change.
During this time my partner was unfaithful to me, and I didn't feel a thing, no tears no hate. It was in this moment that I remembered how much my grandfather wanted for me. I remembered how many dreams I had for myself, and I decided that I wanted to feel again.
When I made this decision, my self love journey truly began and suddenly new opportunities, and people started to show up in my life. I landed a job in Wellington and moved in with my best friend to an inner city apartment, to start a new life. This was just the beginning of a journey that pushed me to make a positive change for myself, which I'm now five years into.
I've spent this time getting to know myself and learning how to put myself first.
I’ve established my core values, which lead me to end toxic friendships and enabled me to create a life full of positivity, happiness, optimism and also allowed me to really delve into the core of self love - the things I know I deserve.
I now take the time to work on my confidence, insecurities and to really love the body I was given.
My network of likeminded friends has grown, I’ve met some incredible people and learned so much about self love along the way. Now I can confidently say that I love myself, my whole self not just physically but more importantly, mentally.
Today, I do still hit road blocks, and there are times when I have to stop and ask myself ‘what are you doing, why are you wasting your time on this person?’ or ‘would you say what you’re thinking about yourself to your best friend?’ The difference is that now I am aware of what I am willing allow into my life.
What I know for sure is, today - I am a confident and happy young woman who is smashing her goals, that I am proud of.
It really cements for me that learning to love yourself before anyone else is the greatest thing you can do.
What does self-love mean to you?
Self-love to me is the most important love of all.
I believe it’s a love that starts from within, that radiates outwards and allows you to be your best self and give this to others. I believe it’s a journey that everyone should have the right to embark on. It’s a journey that’s filled with discovery, lessons to be learned and amazing opportunities if you’re willing to take them.
It pushes you to be courageous, vulnerable and to get out of your comfort zone. Like any journey, once you reach your destination, the real test is being able to maintain this love you’ve found for yourself.
You may stray down the wrong roads from time to time, or you may find that you need a change of destination. As long as you’re able to recognise this and do a U-turn or move yourself upwards and keep challenging yourself then maintaining self-love will become a way of life.
Why is self-love so important?
Self-love is important because without it you’ll find it hard to reach your full potential in life.
When you love yourself, you’re able to identify what ignites your soul and what deflates it. From here you can start to recognise your purpose and your ‘why’ in life. You’re able to avoid people and situations that don’t set your heart alight because you know what you deserve and it’s nothing less than how you treat yourself. It’s easier to create the life you’ve always wanted when you’re putting the most important person first, YOU, and to do this you need to embark on the journey of self-love.
Tell us what makes you proud of the woman you are today
I think what makes me really proud is how far I’ve come, from the girl I was to the woman I am today. While writing this, I had to dig deep into feelings that I’d long let go of and bring back memories that I’d locked away in the corner of my mind. I’ll admit it was hard but also rewarding as reading over my own journey fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. I’m proud of my story and where it’s lead me to. I’m also grateful that my story can be shared to hopefully inspire other girls that are in similar situations because if I can do it, then they sure as hell can.
What does Valentine's Day mean to you and what will you be doing for yourself for valentines?
Valentine’s Day has never been something that I’ve overly celebrated even when I was in a relationship. I’ve been single now for 5 years and the times I’ve done something for myself, have been much better than a bunch of flowers.
I remember a few years ago spending the day with a few friends, we got together, had great food, margaritas and laughed until the early hours of the morning.
The reason I’m so OK about it, is because to me Valentine’s Day is just another day that society has drilled in to us that we must celebrate, a day where we feel bad about if we don’t have a significant other. It portrays a message that February 14 th is the one day of the year you MUST show love to your partner. I wonder, what about the other 364 days?
Love should be given, celebrated, acknowledged all year round. I don’t believe a date on the calendar should signify a reason to show acts of love.
This year, I will be waking like any other day, carrying on with my normal routine, spending time with friends that give you that ache from laughing too much, however, I’ll also make sure I smile at the people who are carrying their dozens of roses and hope that every day is just as great for them as February the 14th .
What values are important to you when it comes to love?
Independence - This is so important to me, this is one of my core values in life as well as love. Whether you’re in a relationship or learning to love yourself, I believe being independent and taking time to do something you love on your own or with a different group of friends is vital. To give up your independence is like giving away your freedom of choice. It’s essential for me to be my own person.
Laughter – I truly believe that a day without laughter is a day wasted. There is nothing more warming for my soul then being surrounded by the ones I love, losing my breath and control of my body by whole hearted laughter. Again this value can be aligned with a relationship or within yourself, as I believe being able to laugh at yourself and not take all things too seriously is an important part of self-love.
Loyalty – I think this value has been installed in me by past experiences. I believe loyalty is vital as if the one you’re with doesn’t back you up or doesn’t put you first compared to others then what is the point in the relationship? I also believe in being loyal to yourself, you know what feels right, your intuition tells you that, the love for yourself keeps you in line but it’s a choice of whether you want to be loyal to your beliefs and follow through or remove yourself from the situation.
What do you believe a healthy relationship entails?
I've been single for 5 years, but I’ve created a vision of what I would believe a healthy relationship is to me. I believe it's when you’re able to be your own person yet still have the support of your partner and vice versa.
You may not have the same interests but you’re interested in why this particular thing sets their heart on fire. It’s about being free to cry and not be afraid to show this person the most hidden part of your soul because you know they’ll love you anyway.
A healthy relationship is full of encouragement, shared goals and values that are in line with one another. It’s wanting to spend time by yourself or with different friends yet you can’t wait to tell one another about the day you’ve had.
A healthy relationship includes quality time, and not just time in front of the TV, experiencing different activities, travelling, discovering new traits about each other so you’re constantly wonderstruck.
Most importantly a healthy relationship includes laughter. A laughter so rich and warming that you don’t share anything like it with anyone else. It’s coming home from a long day at work, exhausted but excited because you know you’ll have each other in fits about the smallest thing in no time.
If you have a relationship that is filled with support, encouragement, vulnerability, discovery and laughter I believe this creates the ultimate kind of love, one that isn’t easily broken and I’m in awe of you.
If you could share one piece of advice with our readers what would it be?
My advice is for any young girls that are just recently single.
I urge you to get to know yourself and take time to embark on the journey of self-love. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take time after a relationship to reassess what’s important to you and whether the path you’re going down is right the right one.
I’ve seen too many girls settle for mediocre because they’re too afraid to be alone or don’t have the courage to put themselves out there and try new things.
I promise you if you spend time with yourself, get to know what your heart burns for, what sets your eyes alight and start to love yourself in your entirety then you’re going to live a rich life full of positivity, laughter and endless possibilities.
Courtney Durr | Body Love NZ