I want to have an affair. A love affair. With myself. Scandalous, no?
In this blog I want to explore the theme of self love. Being self-full as opposed to selfish or selfless. But I want to do it briefly, though it deserves so much more, because I have a mountain of laundry to tackle. And I have to pee.
I read a post online by a hospice nurse who names the five most common regrets she hears from her patients.
1. I wish I had the courage to live true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.
Okay, I’m getting a little teary. Aren’t you? People, these are so attainable! This isn’t a bucket list of sky diving or writing a novel or becoming famous. This is a mental state of how to live each day. You and I can start right now! And what I hear in these is that people didn’t allow self-love in their lives.
When you love your essence, when you aren’t ashamed of it, or think it needs to change, the courage is there to follow your own dreams. Because nobody’s pessimism can touch your heart, when it’s full of love. (I am not implying there isn’t room for improvement. But growth is different from change.) You won’t work so hard for tomorrow that you miss out on today, if today is full of love. All your feelings are valid and true and need no defense when you are okay with yourself. Friendship, I don’t know what makes friends fall apart. But I believe that in being true to myself I let myself feel my need for others. And, wouldn’t everyday be happy if you were in involved in a love affair with yourself?
Is it narcissistic? Well, no. I am not talking about loving my intellect, or my beauty. I am not talking about loving myself at the exclusion of others. I am talking about loving myself so deeply that I can actually be there for others because my needs have been met, and I have what to give.
I have a theory that if I allow true self-love than I will be a much better lover, giver, mother, friend… Everything I give will be from a good place, not resentment or obligation.
I recently started a women’s group. I did so because I wanted a deeper connection to the women in my life. Something more than a surface level friendship. A place where we can share, our good and our ugly. I want to have friends. I have finally allowed myself to accept that my need for human connection is not a weakness. The solitary man isn’t stronger than me, just less of aware of his humanity and needs.
Anyway, we did this exercise where we took turns being held by the group. Literally held in the air. Totally supported, weightless. It was beautiful. And one friend shared with me her experience. She said that when we lifted her, her first thought was, I must be injured or otherwise incompetent, that I need to be supported.
Isn’t that something? In order to be supported we must be less than whole. We must be needy. Because if I can stand on my own, why would someone be holding me right now?
What if we hold each other, support each other, when we are whole? Is it possible that some of us experience illness simply as a way to have an accepted need to be cared for? This has certainly been true for me. And, when I don’t receive the care I yearn for, can I give it to myself?
I have been talking to women who themselves, or their friends, are in less than desirable marriages. Knowing how my marriage has had more ups and downs than the stock market, I guess they feel they can share this with me. After all, it is so unsafe to share that with someone with a good marriage. All I can share is my experience. But this is the little nugget of wisdom I have.
I want to be the woman in the movie who is adored, cherished by her man. I want to feel that my husband thinks I am the moon, the stars, his everything. And that he somehow lucked out in life by having me as his wife, and will spend the rest of his life trying to deserve this enormous gift. Well, that isn’t the case. In fact, I almost never experience this. It’s not to say he doesn’t feel this way. But if he does, he doesn’t express it to me.
So for the past seven years of marriage I have had to learn to self validate. And it shocked me to learn how little I thought of myself. How much I actually loathed myself. Every time I walked into a room I heard a little voice in my head tell me that everyone in that room is really disappointed I showed up. They are inwardly groaning at my arrival. This was my self esteem. Leftovers of being the youngest kid? Always feeling like I was an annoying pesk to my sisters? Not being the cool kid in high school? Always feeling like if I could just be more like ‘them,’ friends would fight for the title ‘best’? Who knows?
Now if I had a husband who simply adored me, would I ever have taken the time to adore myself? Would I love myself? Or would I love how loved I was? I don’t know. I have only experienced one side of that coin. But I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to know myself. Value who I am. And, dare I say, love who I am. Not because I am better than anyone else. I am most definitely not. I am not prettier, smarter, more organized, more kind, more giving, more hard working, than any other woman I know. But I am me. I am profoundly me.
And what I am really starting to love about myself: I have the courage to be me.
2. Pandora app
3. The beautiful women who are sharing themselves with me
4. Nap time
6. My one man cheerleader…my papa
7. Made enough dinner for two nights this morning. (Now that’s self-love!)
By the way, I still have to pee…