Is there anything more personal than the relationship you have with yourself? I don’t think so. I am going to get very personal here and talk to you about my challenge to learn how to truly love myself. It is after much soul searching that I have come to understand what it means to love yourself. It has been challenging journey, and times you could even call it a war.
Most of my life I have struggled with feeling loved. Trusting that I am unconditionally loved is not my natural condition.
That all changed for me when I had my two precious babies. I had never felt so purely loved. My husband is great, but any mom can tell you that a kiss from one of your children will light up your soul unlike much else.
I spent years relishing the love and trust they had in me. That time in my life was magical and healing.
As they grew up and started to navigate life on their own terms, I began feeling empty inside. I felt like I had lost something. I had lost my sense of love. This was not their fault. It was not my husband’s fault. This was an internal issue with my relationship with self. This was all on me!
That was when it hit me, all these years I had been using the love of my precious children to smooth over the raw edges of my own unlovingness. With their love so present in my life, I did not have to dig in and truly learn how to love myself. I used their love as a crutch, propping up my self-esteem, instead of learning how to stand on my own two self-loving feet. It was time to relieve my family of a burden they were never meant to carry.
Imagine a grown woman propping herself up on the love of her children. Not my best moment.
This is where my journey began. Finally, in midlife, I am learning how to truly love myself.
No filters, no compromises, no avoidance.
What does this journey look like? Bumpy and often uncomfortable as I confront those parts of myself that I rejected for so long. I had contorted my true self into watered down wounded version of who I was created to be. It was time for a change.
One of the first things I had to do was stop saying yes when I really wanted to say no. I had to stop living to please other people and learn to do what was best for my soul. This also meant letting go of things that were not good for me no matter the social cost. If the people in my life cannot handle me doing what is best for me then those people lose the right to voice their opinion. My time and my schedule had to belong to me.
I had to set myself free in order to learn how to love myself.
No longer would I use the approval of others as a replacement for the approval I would give myself. No longer would I seek love from midnight rendezvous with a gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I would do the work. It would take getting to know me and then learning to love me no matter what that meant.
I write this to encourage you to do the same and examine your own self-love life. Look for those areas where self-love is being substituted with something not qualified to fill the void.
There is no replacement for self-love. The love of another person will never replace the love you need to have for yourself. You are worthy of your love. You deserved to be loved.