It has taken me 50 years to love me. Seriously, 50 years. I am finally at a place where I love myself more than I love hating myself. This isn't a grand love or a delusional love but a love that is real and deep and true. I am far from perfect but I am ok with that. I no longer feel like I am always coming up short. I do not need everyone else to love me anymore, I can do that for myself and be ok. It is very liberating and also very grounding.
I have always believed you needed to love yourself first. I just didn’t want to do the work to get there. It is hilarious that I thought that finding another person to love me would be an easier task...than just loving me. Sometimes my density is amusing to me.
Think about that for a moment...it was easier to search the world than to just love the person I have to live with every day no exceptions...
But don’t we all kind of buy into that fairy tale?
We just get to be who we are and not really do much work on ourselves. In our delusion, then this other person comes along and just loves us - completely, wholly and unconditionally. Ahhhh....so nice.
Here is the main issue with that delusion from my perspective. Since we have spent no time whatsoever learning to love unconditionally, we can’t give that person who loves us, the same love back.
I look to my own past for evidence.
My first fiancé, he loved me. Was willing to marry me. I treated him horribly because I didn’t love me and therefore was unable to value the love I received from him.
I could site an alarming number of examples of my completely and wholly deficient love history here but I won’t. You get the idea. And it is embarrassing how much I screwed this up...
Why are we so hell bent on obtaining love that we won’t give to ourselves?
It is like we know we need something and we run all over town looking for it when it was right there on our couch in our living room binging Netflix with a pint of ice cream in our lap.
For me, I can see that I needed to run away to feel safe. I couldn’t be the solution because all I could see is all of my failures, shortcomings and defects. How could you ever love me in that form? So I just kept running away from me, pretending I was running from you and fostering my fixed delusion that one day I would find the right one of you to love me enough that I would be willing to stop running.
Well I guess I kind of did. Whether it was misplaced love, true love or just an obsession my last relationship kicked my ass. I really loved him and he left. Rejection. Decimation. A lot of fucking cryking. But in his wake, I found me. The me that I had been running from all my life. The one that he left. And there she was in all her pathetic glory...now what the fuck was I supposed to do with her?
I tried to do what I always did: find a substitute. Just find another guy...fuck it. Anyone will do...except that didn’t work. I mean at all. And it wasn’t the men, I met some really nice ones that liked me. But this self hatred sat between me and them and ruined everything.
So I did what I had to do. Stay single. Stay alone. Spend endless amounts of time with this person that I did not like, kind of feared and was largely ignorant of...me.
But in a lovely and remarkable twist of fate, I found a me that I could love. A me that I could protect and value and trust. I found out that I am a total asshole sometimes but that I can see it now and work on it and do better. That most of the time I am not an asshole. Most of the time I am a really nice person who gives a fuck about a lot of things, people, causes, beings. And I do a pretty good job as a human.
This took time. This took work. It took therapy and steps and reading and writing and hiking and crying and a lot of time alone feeling useless and dejected. But the payoff now is that I do in fact love me. It has taken a long time. It was a lot of work. But I do feel like I have my own back and there is this gentleness in my head that was never there before. I will watch myself behaving in my daily life and I will see me get it really wrong or about to get it really wrong...and I will think this:
“Oh sweetie, not again. Are we really going there again?”
“Wow, that was a trip down memory lane. And you don’t even like memory lane. Let’s choose a different street next time, ok?”
The asshole, mean and grindy self talk has been replaced with this gentle and slightly amused voice that is loving, soft and kind. It is almost like I have a new operating system. I still pretty much work the same but what is going on in the background is completely different, upgraded and fucking amazing.
So where to go from here?
It is taking this new person that I love and allowing her to love someone else similarly. I have experience, I love my kids. I love my animals. I love my family. I love my friends, My Tribe. But taking love into an intimate relationship is the final frontier to me. It feels lofty and scary and weird and unsettling. There is a large part of me that believes that I am good and I should just remain right here. Right here in the self love department. But I know that I would be cheating myself. What if I could give this soft, gentle, loving internal voice to someone else? What if I could allow this person that I have come to know and love the ability to love and cherish someone else? Feels like a lot but I know I have to try...and fail and try some more.
I know it takes a long time to love someone, especially yourself. But once you do, loving is easy. Perhaps, loving is just the natural outgrowth of self love. Once you figure it out, it just comes easier and is available for you to give to everyone you meet. Not that I am advocating trying to date everyone...but I do believe that flinging open the doors to me and just loving whomever is brave enough to walk in is a great use of my time. Perhaps they last a week or a life time. Regardless of the longevity, I will grow my capacity and experience for loving. I really am hard pressed to think of a better use of the rest of my life. Love anyway could be my mantra. It may take a long time but perhaps if I am really lucky, I will get to give someone else love like what I have found inside myself. And I can’t think of anything better or truer or more me that I have to give. Time is relative, love is forever.