Bad Days Are Not Bad Lives

By Katherine Henson

In all my heart’s rawness and truth, I have never been able to stand in front of the mirror and truthfully admit that I love the person I see. All I could see was the way my bangs fell on the wrong side or the always-present bags under my eyes. I took in the extra weight around my stomach peeking over, and I felt the pain that ached throughout my bones. I never loved what the mirror showed me, and I never learned how to love calling my body “home.”

That’s the truth, but that’s not the end.

I have come to believe that we are constantly writing a love letter to ourselves. Every day – the things we decide, the moves we make, the feelings we give way to, every moment we breathe – all these things become a piece of that love letter. I’ve learned that we write of demons and triumph, fears and dreams, ghosts and hope. We write to the back of our hearts, where we’ve held on to souvenirs of regrets and mistakes. We write to the depths of our bones that shake with broken pieces of a barely-breathing story. We also write to the little piece of our heart that beats a little louder than the rest. We write to the gold in our eyes that we cannot hide, that the world cannot dim. This letter is both beauty and pain, and when it comes to loving ourselves, we have to face both.

Loving yourself means learning to let go of those demons and souvenirs we have held in our hearts that tell us we are not good enough. We have to leave behind the things that tell us we don’t deserve love or that we even aren’t worthy enough to receive love from ourselves.

I’ve been there, and I’ve felt that pain. I know how real it is. Here it is: written all over my face, hidden in my back pocket, left on my sleeve, rattling in my brain, swelling behind my eyes, and burdening my being. You’ll see there’s a belief that I need to carry every petty moment, every fear, and every mistake, blemish, and doubt along with me. I’ve piled them on like battered suitcases on the sidewalk, never knowing I was free to move on from them all; never knowing I was not chained to the weight they carried.

Those things I’ve carried have hindered any hope of writing that love letter to myself.

I don’t know what you see when you look in the mirror. I don’t know what is sitting on that little shelf in the shadows of your heart. I don’t know what weighs heavy on your bones. I don’t know what you fear or what lingers in the shadows of your own deep breaths.

But what I do know is what I see in your eyes. It’s that glitter that you could never hide, that hope that you still can love yourself. It’s a hope that your love letter is going to make it, and it’s going to shake the dust. I see that, I really do.

Who needs a heart weighed down with pain, mistakes, and souvenirs from yesterdays? You and me, we are going to realize that tomorrow is better than yesterday and that every step from here on out will be anything other than backwards. We are going to learn that bad days are not bad lives. We’ll see that tears are not stains, fears are not callings, and mistakes are not our future. We are more than all the baggage, lost love, regrets, and darkness we have tried hiding in the crevasses and on the shadowy shelves of our hearts.

Self-love starts today, and it is a journey through the light and the dark. It comes with fears and dreams and sleepless nights and parades in our own name. Self-love matters. It’s how we make it to tomorrow and how we take another breath; it’s how we fight, and it’s the joy each day brings.

You are going to get there. We are both going to get there. We’ll see the day where we can look in that mirror and smile, and we will smile because – perhaps for the first time in our entire lives – we feel good about what we see staring back at us. We are going to finish that little love letter, and we are going to shake our own bones and shine a light in every secret hiding place.

We are going to be OK today, tomorrow, and every day that comes before us. We are going to make it. We just need to start with a little hope and a whole lot of self-love.

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Comments (19)

  1. Krystal

    I desperately needed this today. I don’t feel anywhere close to being able to look in the mirror with kindness, let alone love. But reading this brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart that gave me hope because I know that at least a part of my heart wants to get there. And I’ll hold onto that because I know if I give life to that part of my heart it will never stop fighting and one day, some day, that day will come and I will look in the mirror without hate.

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  2. gabie

    Sometimes my inner battle with the way I look gets pretty nasty but reading this gives me hope! All I want is to get to that day when I will finally love what I see in the mirror :'(

    Reply  |  
    1. Katherine Henson

      I promise you will have that day. I promise.

      Reply  |  
  3. jess

    i’ve been having a rough few days, rougher than usual… when i come to that point i come here and i read something like this and i know i’m not alone in this horrible struggle. i love these words, and the pain in me understands these words and holds them close for comfort. i’m not the only one to carry these tiny, sharp, painful things… and that allows me to move them out and replace them with the smell of wildflowers and visions of sunshine. thank you, i feel better now…

    Reply  |  
    1. Katherine Henson

      Sometimes the hardest battle is learning to replace the pain. Even when we are desperate for the beauty, we fear the little pieces of ourselves that we must let go of in order to feel free.

      I am always here. You are not alone in this battle:

      Reply  |  
  4. Drift

    Beautiful and hopeful and much needed. Thank you.
    There’s a depth of heart and strength here that makes me think you’ll make it and you’ll carry others with you when you do. It’s inspiring – and, yes, beautiful. 🙂

    Reply  |  
  5. chels

    Been dealing with a lot of trauma, and this is the perfect thing to help me through this hard time. this post reached inside my soul and changed something there. this is awesome!

    Reply  |  
    1. Katherine Henson

      My dear, I am always here to listen. Keep holding on to that hope and that strength! & more importantly, keep sharing that.

      Reply  |  
  6. grace

    thank you.

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  7. Anonymous

    I needed this. Just about a few minutes earlier, I wanted to — myself because I couldn’t stand what I’ve become in ways of what I have done and should have done. This anxiety and depression has taken control of my life to where I can’t breathe/ share the same air with those I love. I’ve lost a love of self-love along the way because I have hurt others and pushed others away because I’ve felt like a monster that I too don’t deserve to be loved/liked. Not only that but also fighting for myself and be independent of others’ (especially family’s) approval, to be a woman and decide for myself and not for the likes of others. Reading this has given me some relief to how I’m handling myself. That I’m not in this alone and that there’s hope.
    Thank You for putting this into words I couldn’t describe.

    Reply  |  
    1. Katherine Henson

      There could never be more words true than you are not alone. Please remember that.

      Reply  |  
  8. Anonymous

    That totally spoke to me! Everything I feel, I am…

    Reply  |  
  9. Anonymous

    I love how beautifully everything is written by To Write Love On Her Arms. I’ve pushed everyone out of my life with my self-harm and suicidal thoughts…But reading this blog starts to blossom hope in my heart when I felt it was all lost. Last night I was seriously considering suicide…I needed this.

    Reply  |  
    1. Katherine Henson

      Please never give up the hope.

      Reply  |  
  10. Dani

    This is so poignant and spoke to me in ways I didn’t imagine were possible. Having pulled myself out of the depths of despair alone, but still having those overwhelming days it is comforting to know that my feelings are felt by others. You have found the words to describe how I feel so accurately this.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Reply  |  
    1. Katherine Henson

      Thank YOU for responding. The battle is never just our own, and we are never alone. People need to hear that and people need to believe in hope.

      Reply  |  
  11. Hauwa Malek

    remember everyone , no one is perfect , we all have our bad days. baut remember Be thankful to God for whatever He has given u. Count 5 things to be thankful about everyday for 30 days. U can also write them down before begginning your day. Donot repeat any blessing that u write. Write a new one each day for 30 days and u’ll feel an amazing feeling of acceptence .grace and and beauty. The blessing can be a very small thing like having a pencil or enjoying the morning breeze. It has been proven to making oneself feel better.
    Rememeber your always better off than someone else.always keep a positive mindset no matter what happens. Say this to yourself everyday say it as if u mean it . Just sa ” I am loved and I am loving” , also “I am powerful.” as well as ” Everday and in ever way I become stronger and better” . right after u get up in the morning and whenever u feel the need to say it anytime in the day or night. U’ll start feeling better. I love u all. Loads and loads of love from my side to all of u.

    Reply  |  
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