Self-love messages are everywhere. You see postcard memes on social networks, you read about it in magazines and you get e-mail after e-mail from your aunt or mom or cousin about the concept of loving yourself.
They all tell you that you can’t love others without first loving yourself. They preach that you should accept your flaws, and claim that you’re perfect just the way you are.
And you are, except… you’re not.
There is definitely a better you somewhere deep inside. A more refined you, or maybe a less refined you — whichever works to your, and the universe’s advantage. A more joyous you. A you who takes more risks. Or maybe less, if that’s what you and everyone you touch in this life of ours (yes, ours) needs.
Another subject we tend to read about often is mindfulness.
I have a theory that some people are born with this, or have developed it through the years, while others have not. To me, it’s that second inner voice (or third or fifth!) that questions one’s thoughts and actions. It’s not a nagging, second-guessing voice, but a questioning and answering voice.
We all have it, but some of us haven’t developed it to it’s full potential. We keep ourselves too busy to stop and listen, or we’ve become tired of listening to it, of not wanting to hear what it has to say, so we learn to dismiss it.
It may even scare us, so we ignore it. Turn up the music. Have another glass of wine. But these are just bad habits. They’re simple enough to break.
I’m thinking about all of this now because my heart’s been broken. Again. And it’s me who keeps on breaking it.
I break my own heart so that I can continue to love myself. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Also, I’d rather break my own heart, than to allow someone else to do it for me.
If a situation doesn’t suit me, I’ve learned to leave it. Marriages, love affairs, friends, even social gatherings. It’s not running away. It’s choosing. If I don’t like where I am or who I’m with, I choose something else.
You, too, have that power, you’ve just forgotten that you’re allowed to use it.
I ran into an old friend on the bike path not long ago, whose life has been pure hell.
She admitted to me that she’s married to a man who cheats on her, is emotionally and physically abusive, and who is unkind to her son. When I asked her why she stays, she doesn’t say “I love him.” She says, “I stay for the money, the security, because I can’t take care of myself.”
She’s not the only person I know who admits this. I have friends and friends of friends who remain in degrading situations because emotionally or financially, they’re afraid to go it alone.
Go it alone.
I’m not telling people who are in healthy relationships that it’s better to be alone. This is for the people who feel stuck, trapped, bound, wrung out.
That voice I mentioned earlier? The one that’s always drowned out by the voices of those surrounding you, demanding your time and energy and attention? Quiet them down. Shush them. Send them away from your head (and maybe even your physical space) for a while and listen to yourself. Ask yourself questions.
Ask and ask until you find answers that suit your sense of what it means to be happy. And then make the changes you need to make for your happiness to happen.
That’s what it means to love yourself. To converse with yourself, to love your own company enough to not be afraid of being alone, to not allow someone else to be your only source of happiness. A person, or even a group of people, can be one source, but not the entire pie.
This isn’t always easy when it comes to relationships and the loss of them because a constant in your life is suddenly missing. And now there’s this deep gaping hole, a perceived empty space. Which, I suppose, is why so many people I know remain in abusive, degrading or just plain boring relationships.
It’s the same way with death. It’s not so much the dying we’re afraid of. It’s that we’re afraid of being alone.
What is Loving oneself? Breaking one’s own heart.
For those who’ve already accomplished this self-love business, who are brave enough to know what they need and not settle for less than they deserve, I tip my December hat. For those who are on the path, I’ve got a hat you can borrow. We’ll just call it a thinking cap and know: it will keep you warm.
More Rebelle lovin’: