Last time we caught up with Hannah she was rushing off to enjoy the beautiful coast of Dubrovnik in Croatia! Reconnecting with her passion for travel was one of the ways Hannah began to grow the love for herself and she set some big goals this past year. Goals that have allowed her to set off on a 3 month adventure across Europe and experience different cultures every day.
Travel is just one of the passions Hannah discovered along her journey to self love. We'll let her tell you the rest of her story, it's an incredible one.
Can you tell us about your journey towards self-love?
My Journey towards self-love is a long one. I have always been anxious and I struggled a lot with self-esteem as a young girl. I had a hard time speaking out. I was so nervous of having people come over incase they didn't like my toys or they didn't think I was cool enough that Mum would have to make me have playdates. I guess you could say, growing up, I was a bit of a catastrophist, always looking for the worst possible outcome to protect myself. I think my parents splitting when I was really young had a lasting impact on me. During that time a part of me felt intrinsically like my dad left because I wasn't worthy of sticking around for. For a long time I externalised self-love and I looked for it outside of myself and in other people. So if people rejected me, or hurt me, or left me out then my self-evaluation would take a knocking. I've always wanted to please people and have them like me and I used to rate that on quite a high level. Too high. This level of self worth lead me down a road and into a very dark and abusive relationship.
I guess a few things initially attracted me to him. The first thing was his confidence. He was a very self-assured self-certain person which was an attribute I was lacking within myself.
He was very good looking. He had Johnny Depp like facial qualities, black/brown eyes and a darkness to him. He had a few tattoos just like Depp too. I've always likened myself to Belle from Beauty and the Beast and I looked at all his good qualities instead of his bad ones.
Overtime I watched his addiction to drugs escalate and I began to be blamed for all of his problems. I was being constantly criticized about where I went or what I did. If I didn't obey he would get angry at me. If I did what he wanted I was rewarded with affection and then whatever he thought was bad behaviour would result in me receiving punishment.
I desperately wanted to leave him but at the same time I had been led to believe that he was the only one who cared for or loved me. He was very convincing, I believed everything he said and quickly became isolated. I lost my job, my friends, put my studies on hold and ended up in hospital.
My biggest motivator to leave was the love of my family, especially my mother and stepfather. One weekend when I was allowed to be with my family, my step father took me for a drive and painted a picture of the girl I was before this relationship and the girl I had become. It was a very confronting image. It was clear the only reason I hadn't already left was because I was scared and most of my willpower had been drained from me. It was like I was numb and didn't care about myself.
I made the decision to leave that weekend. Due to the extent of the abuse in that relationship, I had to be cleverly and carefully removed from my home with him which my mother helped me with.
Since leaving this relationship I have put myself on the path towards self love and I’ve really fought to become the woman I am today. From the work I’ve put into myself I’m now able to turn most situations around and focus on the positives in life.
I have discovered my passion which is to help others survive throughout this turbulent yet wonderful flight that makes up our lives. I have become a practising spiritual advisor and life coach, my aim is to transform others by helping them discover what they’re passionate about. I want to help people become happier and more fulfilled.
Along this journey I have also started to reconnect with the girl I used to be. I have rediscovered my love of travel, different cultures and anthropology. After a year of strict saving I am pleased to say that I am currently on my OE. Right now I am soaking up the enlightening energy from the historical countries of Europe. I feel wild, free and in tune with my inner spirit.
Although I have come a long way, I will forever make sure that I remember to stop from time to time and reflect on where I am, how far I’ve come and the things I am grateful for.
What does self-love mean to you?
Self-love to me means putting yourself at the top of your personal pyramid. I used to think that the most important thing in life was to put others before myself and that was what made you a good person. I have learnt overtime that if you don't love yourself fully you end up doing others a major dis-service. Self-love to me means truly loving who you are for who you are right now in this very moment. Loving your body, your intellect, your potential, your heart, your soul and your mind. Self-love means nurturing and caring for your inner child. It means keeping yourself away from dangerous situations because you value yourself more than anyone else.
Why is self-love so important to you?
Self-love is so important to me because I got myself into some tricky situations in the past because of my lack of it. I didn't love myself enough to leave a relationship that was unhealthy for me. I got into a pattern of thinking that I deserved abusive treatment. That all that talk about how I deserved to be punished was my own doing. If you don't have that inner fire driving you and reminding you of who you are you can easily lose yourself along the way. That is exactly what happened to me. I didn't put boundaries up soon enough or step back and say I deserved better. I genuinely felt that if someone stood by me a bit and was happy to have me as their girlfriend I had won the jackpot. I really had such a warped idea of what a healthy decent relationship was.
Tell us what makes you proud of the woman you are today?
One of my favourite quotes is "I am proud of the woman I am today because I fought to become her." Everytime I see these words they ring true to me. I really did fight to become the woman I am today. Not only because I literally fought off the hands of my partner just to survive. My Bipolar Diagnosis when I was 17 is another challenge I have worked through to become who I am today. The thing I am most proud of now is that not only am I a survivor but I am living out my dream and mission to help other people survive too. Whether it be to survive through Domestic Abuse or Mental Illness, or even just Life Itself. My mission in life is to empower others and help them to find their joy. I believe that with my life coaching business I am on the right track. As well as being proud of what I have right now, I also have more goals to work towards. After travelling, I am considering doing some further training to become a certified counselor or youth worker, this also fills me with pride as my mind is starting to be occupied with thoughts of my future rather than paralyzed by my past.
What values are important to you when it comes to love?
When it comes to love I value honesty and communication the most. If you love and care for someone you will tell them the truth even if you know it might upset them or hurt them initially. When I think about love I also think about compassion. To love someone else wholeheartedly you have to know and come to accept that they will never be exactly the same as you are. Everyone is on their own journey. Love is about compromise. Love is about accepting that it isn't like a Disney movie and it has to be worked at every single day. When it comes to love I think reminding ourselves that the other party is human is really important, especially when it comes to tough conversations. Instead of ghosting, or breaking up via text it’s important to me that these conversations are communicated in a way that values each partner.
What does a healthy relationship look like to you?
A healthy relationship to me is mutual respect, honesty and open communication. People change over time, things don’t always stay the same and that is totally ok. But it's really important to keep talking to your partner throughout the process of personal and relationship evolution. I see so many relationships crumble because one partner goes and talks out all their insecurities, frustrations and fears with other people. It seems they talk about it with everyone except for the actual person involved. Of course it's ok to talk to other people but number one always involve your other half in your thoughts too. They deserve to have a chance to communicate with you. A healthy relationship also involves making time for each other, putting your phones away and having date night. You don't have to spend heaps of money it could even just be making a home cooked meal and chatting to each other with no interruptions.
If you could share one piece of advice with our readers, what would it be?
Being someone who is and always has been really in touch with her spirituality, my strongest piece of advice would be to listen to your intuition. I wish I had listened to my intuition because then maybe my story would sound a little different. There is a piece of you that is guided by your spirit and this piece will always serve your greatest good. It knows what you need to keep you safe. Don't follow fear, don't follow should and certainly don't follow what is best for someone else if it is not good for you in anyway. Always let the light of your spirit guide your way.
We can't thank you enough, Hannah, for sharing your incredible journey towards self love. What a spectacular woman!
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 ignite your flame and share your story, click the link below!