Philosophy: when it comes to love, you need not fall but rather surrender, surrender to the idea that you must love yourself before you can love another, you must absolutely trust yourself before you can absolutely trust another, and most importantly, you must accept your flaws before you can accept the flaws of another. – Falling In Love
I never really understood what it meant to love me. I thought I loved myself, I never had the desire to cause any self-inflicted wounds. I thought loving me was doing for others and not putting myself first. My understanding of love was based on trust, loyalty, honesty and integrity, all of which require truth.
In my mid 20’s I found myself in a therapist office having an emotional breakdown only 5 minutes after arriving. I am that person that does not like to cry in the presence of strangers. And here I was on this ugly grey hard loveseat with a box of tissue and a waste basket at the corner collecting my used tissues. The therapist asked me one simple question: What brings you in today? My answer…I feel suffocated. That’s when the flood gates opened. She dug a little deeper and she really didn't have to go very far. As I was attempting to regroup she asked how I spent my time. I started with my list. I had a full-time job with the state, a part-time job, I was a full-time nursing student and most importantly I was a mom. The therapist tried her best to keep a poker face, looking back her face said it all. Her next question: do you ever say no. My response, oddly enough…No. Why? I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
My self-worth was in making sure I was everything everyone else wanted me to be, I wasn't going to fail them. I began to lose sight of who I really was while struggled for approval and acceptance. I put aside my passion for interior design, I was told I would not make enough money. I stopped enjoying my time at the gym, because the only reason people worked out in a group setting was to flirt. My time spent with my friends was limited as I was no longer a single woman and had other priorities. I put my wants and passions to the wayside, wanting to please others because pleasing me bared too much guilt. I lived my everyday life wearing a corset one size too small, gasping for air, when all I wanted to do was breathe.
When I finally had enough and knew I couldn't continue to wear this corset, I had to get real with myself. Why was I doing this to myself? Why was I existing this way? Why was I accepting this? The real answer…to be loved. And I accepted this as my life because I didn't love myself enough to know I deserved more from life.
I had to start with forgiveness. I started with the easiest, forgiving others. After forgiving everyone on the list, I was still stuck. That’s when the hard work started, I had to forgive myself. I had allowed the words of others to become my truths. I had to change the way I spoke to myself. I had to give myself credit for the things I had accomplished, which took someone else pointing them out to me, because I couldn’t even see what I had accomplished. That’s when I really started to love me again.
I had to be honest with what I wanted from my life with the understanding the only person I could change was me. I had to trust everything would work out exactly how it should. I was putting an awful lot of trust in me, I was about to take a huge leap. Being told I could not do it on my own was the best piece of encouragement, here was my chance to prove (to myself) I could.
At the conclusion of our initial yoga teacher training we put two pieces of paper into a fire, the first was something we are letting go and the second, what we want to invite in. What I wanted most to invite in was (and still is) agape love. The unconditional love I was in search of was the love for myself.
Learning to love me has been an arduous challenge. I learned I am not superhuman and it’s more than okay to ask for help and accept help when it’s offered. It’s okay to say no, because it just doesn’t resonate with me. Loving me is accepting my flaws as a part of my character. I noticed the more I started to love myself the easier it was to breathe. Learning to love me has allowed me to love others a bit more, to be a little more compassionate and understanding.
Loving me meant redefining my self-worth and believing I am more than enough. It’s knowing I don’t have to defend who I am or what I want to do or who I want to be, because myself worth will never be defined by the title in my name. It’s waking up and taking on whatever today has to offer. It’s carving out a little part of my day for me, even if it’s only 5 minutes. It’s working out and then coming home to eat a piece of cake. Because yes, you can have your cake and eat it too, if that’s what your heart desires.