Learning to Love Ourselves

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I have always had a hard time with the concept of self love, until now.  I never felt I should put myself ahead of the needs of others, especially those who needed something from me, that I could provide.

This kept me in a bad marriage much longer than I should have been.  I did his work for him, I took care of him, of our business, of our home.  Eventually, of making the money to pay our bills and keep food on the table.  I got nothing back for it.  It’s of little surprise that when I left the marriage, finally, I was out of love, and depleted.  It’s of little surprise that I tried to fill the hole with food, and when I left, weighed about 40 lbs more than I do now.  It’s of little surprise that my heart used to pound in my chest so hard every night that I was afraid I’d have a heart attack in my sleep, and prayed every night not to let that happen, not to leave my son with my ex as his only parent.

It would have been the same with S, because I was giving myself to him, unconditionally, unlimited.  I did try, but not hard enough, to leave him when I began to feel that same emptiness.  But unlike my ex, S would give me an emergency fix and offer up a small bit of himself, and make me feel like he wanted me around, and I’d buy into it.

I realize now that I was not loving myself in either case, that I was just finding a way to keep giving of myself.

Loving ourselves does not mean that we think we are great.  It does not mean that we give our egos free rein over our thoughts and emotions.  It means that we dig deep, we find out what we need and want to lead a rich full life.  And we seek that out.

After my marriage I did that, for at least 5 years. I learned to meditate.  I sought out people who were more enlightened than me.  I read spiritual books voraciously.  I thought I had it figured out, who I was, and how to find what I wanted.

My first foray into trusting and loving someone was with S.  Although I knew and had learned well the power of unconditional love, I still had not turned that love inward.  I still did not ever put myself and my needs first.  I offered it up, and for some reason, felt it was ok if I didn’t get it back.  It wasn’t.  I was already depleted when the Boop came back into his life.  That incident cracked my heart open and took what was left and spilled it out onto the ground.  What could she give him that I didn’t? Why?

The answer was she gave him less, not more.  She wanted less from him, not more.  She was satisfied with less from him not more.  I get it now.  I get it.

Since then, in the last 6 weeks, I have realized that loving yourself means not giving up your dreams.  It means you honor the emotions you feel, you don’t act out on them, you feel them.  You honor them.  You live through them.  You find a way to grow from them.  Use them like the rain, to grow into something beautiful.

I learned that anger is only a mask for pain.  I learned that hate is only a mask for fear.  The fear is that things will now change, you will have to start over, you may live your life out without ever finding the love you want.  Which makes us so willing to accept even small bits of what we want, it’s better than nothing, right?

No.  It’s not.

This is where trust has to enter.  We have to trust that our lives are unfolding as they should be.  That the rich full life and love that we seek will come to us.  We have to trust that when we open the space in our hearts by letting go of people and relationships that are not working, the universe will fill it for us, with what we are dreaming about.  Simplified, it is the law of attraction.  Like attracts like, it’s a scientific physical law, and also applied to energy, emotions, relationships.

In my life, at 40 years old I dreamed I would have an amazing beautiful baby boy.  He was born on Cinco de Mayo in my 41st year, 10 lbs, 15 oz.  22 1/2 inches long.  Today he is 23, 6’3″, athletic, and focused, and kind, and loving and has been the light of my life since the day he was conceived.

All during my divorce (which took me 4 years to complete) I dreamed of owning my own beautiful home, and having my son with me.  That’s all I wanted.  And 4 years ago, I bought it, and my son had already been with me a long time.

What you dream of will manifest.

But first, you have to love yourself.  You have to believe you are worthy of an amazing life.  Of love and belonging.  Of whatever it is you dream of.  I am re-engaging with my dreams, and letting go of trying to make what was always untenable work.

I still will keep a place in my heart for the child who drives that riverboat, but it’s his journey to get it down the river, to steer through the deep and get wherever it is he’s trying to get to.  My path leads away from him now.  And I’m ok with that.  In fact, I am looking forward to moving toward the things that I want.

I’m learning to love myself, and honor myself, and my dreams, and I think that it has a lot to do with learning to live like water.  The journey to source, to ourselves, to becoming more authentically ourselves, is not always easy.  It doesn’t always flow.  It get blocked, and requires work to unblock it.  It requires us to at times make a new path, at times wear the bedrock away.  It requires us to trust our guts and the universe, knowing that the intent of one is the intent of the other.

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