We met Josie while creating our #TrueLoveIs Campaign. In fact Josie happens
to be one of the talented beings behind our popular #TrueLoveIs film.
It was here that we learned about Josie's powerful story and worked
together to share this with you today. We love the way this story shows the
power of self-love and acceptance.
Can you tell us about your journey towards self-love?
I think the word journey is the best way to describe my relationship with myself. It has been a long, hard ride for me to get to the place where I am today. I look at myself now and I see someone who is fit, healthy and happy. I love the woman I’ve become but this hasn’t always been the case.
I lost my Mum to cancer when I was 12, so I didn’t have someone there to teach me all the highs and lows of being a teenage girl. This led me to develop a lot of insecurities. I constantly had other mothers pushing into my life with sympathetic eyes and bags of makeup, bras or tampons. These insecurities are very much a part of my past now but when I was in high school they would often dominate my thoughts as I watched my friends experimenting with makeup and boys. I never seemed to attract boys the same way they did. I had the occasional boyfriend lasting for a few months but the time spent together was minimal and for some reason this made me feel like I wasn’t worth loving.
Just before I turned 18, I was at a party and there was an older guy there who I had always thought was incredibly cool. I was over the moon that night because he had also noticed me and added me on Facebook to talk more. Before I knew it, we were talking every single day, which quickly progressed to hanging out everyday after school and all weekend.
I had never had someone so invested in everything I was doing. He wanted to spend all his time with me and in turn I wanted to spend all my time with him. I finally felt that someone truly loved me.
The first change in his behaviour was when he started to point out different things about my friends. Things like, maybe they should text me back more or that they laughed 'at' me rather than 'with' me. He was constantly in my ear telling me that they ‘hated me and thought I was a joke’ and I believed him because, why would he lie to me? Eventually he talked me into unfriending everyone I cared about on Facebook and that is how I became isolated.
From there the relationship really went downhill, I had gone off to university in Christchurch and he was in Wellington. He told me I needed to Skype him for 2 hours everyday if I wanted long distance to work. I didn’t make any new friends. Our relationship was only about each other and his friends. I ended up flying to Wellington every weekend to see him and the next thing I knew, I was moving in with him after only just a year of dating.
I was home alone most nights and he wouldn’t get home until early hours of the morning.
During those nights I would have panic attacks at the thought of what he was doing and where he was. When he did return home I would start sobbing in relief that I wasn’t alone in a cold empty house anymore. I think that’s when I started to see that this relationship wasn’t healthy. With that said, it still took me another eight or nine months before I had the strength to leave him.
The most challenging part of the whole thing was being constantly lied to and knowing he was being unfaithful. I was often told, ‘I met you too soon, it’d be perfect if I had met you when I was ready to settle down.’ I heard this so many times that I lost count. I knew he didn’t want to be with me, but for some reason this still wasn’t enough to make me leave.
Every now and again he would treat me well and I’d cling onto that.
I thought that eventually he would be like this everyday. Sadly, I was wrong.
Thankfully one of my work colleagues snapped at me and said ‘For God sake Josie, all he does is take advantage of you, and all you do is complain. Just break up with him already’. This person is now one of my closest friends.
I remember after she said this that, I burst into tears. Her comments were a reality check and the boost I needed. That night, I called it quits and broke up with him. It wasn’t exactly a clean break, in fact it was one of the most challenging things I have been through - but I grew from it.
To reconnect with myself I started to focus on my health. I joined a gym and I lost ten kgs in the space of a year. Through spending time alone I discovered a huge passion for film. I have since graduated from Victoria University with a double major in Film and Media Studies and I have made a number of my own short films for my Youtube channel and more recently for Prepair NZ.
Today, I have a job that I enjoy, a wonderful group of friends and a loving, committed boyfriend who wants nothing but the best for me. I am at a place in my life now where I am proud of everything I am and everything I have achieved.
What does self-love mean to you?
Self love means being comfortable in my own skin, it means being able to look in the mirror and see all my imperfections but being able to smile anyway because they make me who I am. Self love means not putting myself down, even if I feel bloated and awful and like the whole world is against me. Self love means happiness, it means feeling complete and whole. It means that even though there are still things that I’m insecure about I’m are able to feel content and relaxed with the person that you I am, inside and out.
Why is self-love so important to you?
Self love is important to me because as cliche as it sounds if you can’t love yourself how can you expect anyone else to love you? It is noticeable when someone has a strong love for themselves, it radiates through them and it makes them so much more confident. I know that I love myself a lot more than I ever have but I also know I have a long long way to go. Self love is the most important crucial journey you will ever go on. It is also the longest because it never really stops, it’s all about building yourself up and challenging yourself constantly.
Tell us what makes you proud of the woman you are today?
I am proud of myself today because when I look back on the last three years of my life I can see a clear list of achievements.
Not only that but I can see the changes that I have undergone, both physically and mentally. I went from someone who was insecure about so many things to someone who can now get up and give a speech to a big room of people at a graduation ceremony. Two of the biggest things I was insecure about were my femininity and my social skills. I take pride in saying that I now have so many great friendships in my life including a best friend that’s basically my sister. I am also confident enough to wear skirts and dresses without feeling like an imposter. I could not be more proud of how far I have come.
What values are important to you when it comes to love?
The single most important value would have to be trust.
If you can’t trust the person that you’re with then you’re not in a healthy relationship. Other important values to me when it comes to love are caring for one another, being committed, being open and communicating. All of these things are important when it comes to loving someone and being loved in return.
What does a healthy relationship look like to you?
A healthy relationship looks like fun!
It is having someone to laugh and make jokes with, be weird around and someone who always makes you smile. It is having someone who holds your hand when you’re scared, who drops everything for you when you’re sad, who tells you that the pimple you just got isn’t even that noticeable and who makes you feel beautiful every single day no matter what.
If you could share one piece of advice with our readers, what would it be?
You should never be in a relationship where you’re crying more than you are laughing.
If that is the case then it is time to step back and have a look at what you are accepting.
Thank you again Josie for showing your strength and sharing your story with us!
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.