Tash is a beautiful soul that has reclaimed love for herself by traveling solo, changing her everyday habits and inspiring others to live a more intentional life.
There is no timecap that can be put on a women's journey and sometimes life wants us to learn additional lessons so we can pass these on to the people who surround us.
Tash's journey is extraordinary, keep reading to find out all about it!
Can you tell us about your journey towards self-love?
It has been the better part of 12 years that I have been on this journey. I grew up in a home that lead me to believe that abuse in a relationship was normal and I never really realised what impact that had on me later on in life. I moved out of home at 16 and in with my first ‘real’ boyfriend thinking I was ready for such a big step. I was young, in love and had the freedom other girls my age dreamed of. We owned a house and animals, it all seemed perfect. After a year and a half my perfect world started to change and the abusive side of my partner began to show.
I am grateful that I had the support of my brother. After two bad episodes of abuse I left with the help of him and the police. Experiencing this at such a young age meant that my self-worth and self-love plummeted below zero and this was just the beginning of a tumultuous road ahead.
After that first relationship, I got into one after the other thinking that just being with someone would heal me. Over and over again, I was stuck in this cycle and couldn’t break free. I would even ruin some of these relationships to protect myself from them leaving me first. I understand now that the reason I was stuck was because I didn’t love myself.
In 2014 I started dating a guy who I finally thought was the one, but as the months passed,I started realising that the way we were living our lives were very different. I wanted to stay in, relax and enjoy quiet nights, whereas he wanted to be the social butterfly and be out with friends.
I was wrapped up in trust issues and so I forced myself to go out countless times because I thought that’s what would make the relationship work. For six months I completed this rigid routine of pretending I was happy when in reality I was spiralling deeper and deeper into depression.
In September of 2015, our relationship ended and my world shattered. As he left, I lost my home and then I found out I was going to lose my job due to redundancy. This made me feel like I was nothing and I hit rock bottom.
It was from hitting rock bottom that my life really started to change. I started to see a psychologist regularly and my friends constantly lifted me up with their support. After a few weeks of this new routine, I started to wake up and feel like I could finally breathe. I thought that if I could breathe on my own again then I could definitely start to live a more meaningful life and put myself first.
As I started to look at things differently and change my perspective, things started to fall into place. I landed a great job with a company that I felt was more aligned with my values. I had a two month window until the start date so I really treated myself and booked a two week solo trip to Europe! This two week trip was life changing. Not only did I have the most wonderful time and make lifelong friends, I was also in Paris when the terrorist attacks struck. It was in this moment that I realised we cannot dictate when our life would be over, it was time to live life to the fullest and make it everything I wanted it to be.
I didn’t stop when I arrived home. I continued to give myself time and took my first step towards my goal of completing a half marathon. It was over this period of 6 weeks where I trained, spent days at the beach, sunbathing, reading and educating myself that I really connected with my mind, body and soul. I learned to love the time I spent by myself. It was during this time that I really appreciated and respected my ex for the decision he made for himself. We need to do more of this, make decisions that serve us and our happiness.
I entered 2016 single and it was the best year I had lived in a long time. I spent most weekends on my own and I loved it. I hung out with my girlfriends and made more of an effort with them than I had in forever. I dramatically cut down drinking and focused on meditating, yoga, exercise, and improving my general wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
My journey has been messy, long and tiring. It has been filled with love, depression, heartache, self-sabotage, intermittent happiness, but most of all; it has been filled with slow learning.Without all of the hurt and pain, I wouldn’t be who I am today. When I look in the mirror I see a woman who I love more than anything.
Through this journey, I have found the most compatible and supportive partner. We believe we’re equals and we’re completely and utterly in love with who we are. We don’t fill a void; we don’t fill the cup of self-love for the other person, we only add more.
What does self-love mean to you?
It means truly loving being with yourself. Only in the last year can I truthfully say that I am happy not going out nightclubbing with my friends because I find joy in being at home and relaxing. It means that I am not constantly finding things to do or people to hang out with to avoid being alone. I have finally learned what the difference is between ‘being alone and feeling lonely’. Self love means choosing to fill your life with people; things and activities that serve you for the greater good. It means not doing anything because you feel you have to or to please others. It means not judging yourself because you had a negative thought, a bad day, eating a donut or missing the gym. It means that you love all the great things and also the things that you think ‘might need some improvement’. Self love knows no boundaries, whether you are alone or in a relationship.
Why is self-love so important to you?
I never really thought about self-love until my last break up to be honest. I didn’t realise that my lack of self-love was the reason that so many decisions in my past were the wrong decisions for me. Since reflecting and looking deep inside myself over the last year, I learned that self-love and contentment is the true meaning of joy. From a place of self-love you have the power to truly look after yourself, to really follow your dreams, and to show compassion towards others. This year I travelled to Europe on my own for 6.5 weeks, my first solo trip of this magnitude. I was terrified, but I knew this was something I always wanted to do and I knew that this challenge would help me grow in more ways than imaginable. I did this trip while my partner stayed home in New Zealand. That takes self-love. To travel through 8 countries, on your own, without a shred of doubt that your partner back home supports you, loves you and wants you to enjoy this experience. Without having that love for myself, I wouldn’t have gone. I would have stayed here, stayed with my partner, too afraid to leave him, too afraid to go to foreign countries not knowing a single person and too afraid to sit in a restaurant and eat dinner alone. Self-love gives you the power and confidence to tackle so much more than you could dream possible. It gives you the confidence to know what choices will serve you, what choices will inspire growth and what choices will inevitably make you a more spectacular person.
Tell us what makes you proud of the woman you are today?
I am proud that I am strong, confident, supportive and compassionate because all of the things I went through. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today wanting to help others navigate through their journey to finding happiness and peace with who they are. I have finally worked out what is extremely important to me and that is ‘Love, Freedom and Growth’. Every decision I now make, whether that’s what job I’ll take next, what I spend my money on, what people I bring into my life – needs to serve one of those values. It takes really knowing who you are and who you want to be, to live intentionally and make choices that serve you. I am proud because I am in a relationship with someone where communication is open and honest. Now, I am so comfortable in myself that I can be vulnerable and it's OK. I am proud because I know deep down inside that even if my partner did decide to leave tomorrow my world wouldn’t fall apart and I would be able to carry on living a meaningful life. The thing that fills me with pride the most is when my mother and sister tell me how proud they are of me, how far I’ve come and how much I inspire them. Nothing makes me prouder than that.
What values are important to you when it comes to love?
Self-love – When you don’t truly love yourself, you won’t be able to give love and another person’s love will never be enough. My partner always says “you can never pour from an empty cup” and this is so true. If you have no love in your own cup, how do you expect to give it to others?
Unconditional love – that neither of you are trying to change the other person. You genuinely love the other person for who they are, right in this moment – not for who they were 10 years ago or who they could become.
Support – when you’re in love, you are equal. Regardless of job status, money earned, possessions owned, knowledge known, you support each other’s dreams and aspirations.
Fun and laughter – we don’t go a day without laughing at something. Usually it’s me saying something completely ridiculous or us having a squabble about something that’s usually so far left field that anyone would think it’s stupid. But not a day goes by that we don’t have fun and laugh. Even when he coaches me in Crossfit (which is horrendously hard, but so good) we have fun.
Living in the moment – we all have pasts, we all have previous relationships, previous mistakes (big or small), but that doesn’t define what love means for you now and doesn’t articulate how you show that love to someone now. We need to let go of living in the past and enjoy love for what it is in the given moment. If we love it, we take it to the next moment and the next and soon. If we don’t, we work on understanding why that is and then making a decision that will serve you and your happiness.
What does a healthy relationship look like to you?
When you can follow your dreams and know that they will support you no matter what. I wanted to travel on my own and he was nothing but supportive! Yes, he told me he would miss me and that it would be hard, if it wasn’t hard, I’d be worried. But I never had to choose between travel and him, because he was secure enough for me to live out my dream and know that this is what I needed. The same goes for him, he wants to eventually start his own business and go out on his own and I could not support him enough (also it means I get all the services for free). Love – always. We’ve had a few tense moments in our relationship, where a lot of my old habits came back but not once during those moments did he withdraw his love. He still cuddled me, even though I didn’t cuddle him back, still kissed me and still made sure I was fed (he’s definitely a keeper).
If you could share one piece of advice with our readers, what would it be?
It’s not selfish to look after yourself and to do what you want to do. Please, please, please, listen to your heart, your gut and do what’s right for you. Finding joy and contentment comes from being true to yourself, and to be true to yourself is to do whatever serves you for the better.
Finding joy and contentment is not about pleasing others or finding love outside of us in things or in the people, it’s about pleasing and loving you. Everyday.
We want to shout a big thank you again to Tash for sharing her journey with us. If, like us, you want to find out more about this beauty then take a look at her Instagram and blog!
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.