Certain words just don’t have meaning to me until I really learn them inside and out. Trial by fire almost.
Side-note: this is part of the job of a teacher and if your soul carries the archetype of the teacher in you (we all have many archetypes with us), then you are likely someone who has to learn her lessons the challenging way or to really thoroughly, shall we say experience things, in order for the lessons to integrate. It’s so….fun.
Self-Love has been one of those words for me. I’ve always been skimming the surface of it, always been proclaiming it without actual substance to back it up. I thought I got it, I thought I had faced a lot of the Ugly of my past. I thought I had uncovered some dark places. Hugged my inner child and all of the stuff that is supposed to make you Love Yourself Fundamentally.
See, it didn’t work though. My love was still conditional. And I’m not sure if Unconditional Love is even a real or healthy thing to be striving for but I do know that when it comes to the realm of the self that’s probably one of the only places that Unconditional Love should make sense (okay and towards babies, children and animals too). Maybe the love for the past versions of myself was unconditional – maybe I had learned that much. And it was pretty easy for me to extend unconditional love to my future self too…she was sitting pretty doing all the right things – easy to love.
It was the version of me that existed in the present moment – that exists in the present moment – who I couldn’t love. And therein was the problem.
See every mistake I made, I raked myself over the coals. When the births of both of my babies didn’t go as planned, I held it against myself and blamed my body. For every pound my body couldn’t lose due to a health condition, I hated myself. When I yelled at my kids, took something too personally, made mistakes, couldn’t make my life like I thought it should be – well I certainly didn’t love myself through it.
I would work. I would work and work and work. I would stay up late and get up early. I would do everything to be the best mother, the best wife, the best business woman, the best student. I would never stop because I always thought I could go farther, be better, stronger, make everyone happier.
I didn’t realize that Self-Love was not the same as Pushing Myself to be the Best Everything Ever. I didn’t know that collapsing in an exhausted pile of tears once a quarter wasn’t normal, wasn’t loving myself.
Self-Love isn’t just about taking a hot bath and putting your feet up. Sure, that’s part of it but I’ve come to learn now that that’s not all it is.
Real Self-Love is about seeing your own humanity. It’s HUGGING YOURSELF when you have misbehaved. It’s saying, “It’s okay, I forgive you” the second you behave in a way you wish you hadn’t. It’s not letting yourself off the hook but it’s allowing yourself to stop flaying yourself so brutally too.
Also, for people on the opposite end of the spectrum, Self-Love might mean holding yourself accountable. It might be putting yourself ON the hook a bit and forcing yourself to make progress towards goals you have in your life. With kindness. With Love. With blessings from yourself to yourself.
Loving yourself in your humanity. Loving yourself when your body is betraying you or your mental health is failing. Loving yourself when you are tired and cranky and broken down, THIS is Self-Love.
This is what my year of Self-Care is teaching me – the importance and beautiful depth of just what Self-LOVE can look like.
This is so big. And so important. I’m willing to go there and explore it. I’m scared, but I am willing to figure it all out, because that’s really the point of it all, isn’t it?