A love affair with yourself.


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’:

>> We are here to love & love hard every chance that we get.

>> Hey you, yes you. You have such an exquisitely beautiful heart.

>> Self-expression negates suppression. 


{Don’t settle.}



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Marylisa was the 2010 recipient of the Toni Brown Memorial Scholarship award. Her chapbook, Almost All Red, won the Still Waters Press Poetry Chapbook Competition and was nominated for a Pushcart prize. In addition, she’s read for Stockton College’s Visiting Writer’s Series, her poems have been performed on stage (sponsored by NJSCA), published in books, a calendar, a broadside, and in various print and online publications. She is realizing her girlhood dream of living near the ocean while writing and is surrounded by an amazing, loving and encouraging writing community. Additional links and bio information can be found here. Connect with her on Twitter.

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  • Tracy commented on December 3, 2012 Reply
    I want to jump in bed and roll around in this! <3
  • Tabatha Kirke
    Tabatha commented on December 3, 2012 Reply
    I think you reached right into me and yanked all of this out!!! Thank you!!!! This just may be the kick in the butt I have been trying to accomplish!!
    • MaryLisa commented on December 13, 2012 Reply
      So glad you’ve been inspired! Thank you!
  • Mamaste
    mamastenyc commented on December 3, 2012 Reply
    T.R.U.T.H. my friend! This should be required reading for all. Gratitude. ~Mamaste
  • Leigh commented on December 3, 2012 Reply
  • naglee commented on December 3, 2012 Reply
    I came across a quote by Paul Tillich the other day, “Separation is not estrangement, self-centeredness is not selfishness, self-determination is not sinfulness. They are structural descriptions and the conditions of both love and hate, condemnation and salvation.” I’ve found myself thinking about it a lot while I’m trying to figure out a balance of making myself happy while not upsetting everyone in my world. Sometimes taking risks means making people uncomfortable (especially yourself). But separation does not mean estrangement and I believe if i show enough love in my motivations than people will begin to understand I’m not out to hurt anyone, I only want to realize my own potential.
  • Patricia Biesen commented on December 4, 2012 Reply
    Loved this article. As a society we are taught that being alone, a single, is the worst possible outcome but it really is not.
  • Maryrose Lambert commented on December 5, 2012 Reply
    In aloneness, I find you everywhere… My peace is your peace if we allow one another the depths of space, which is love of self. Respect the totality of this meditation and smile!
  • Michael Beck commented on December 8, 2012 Reply
    to me, Love=Work+Vice Versa
  • Michael Beck commented on December 8, 2012 Reply
    …and call me crazy, but i feel more, tangled in strong tender arms
  • Sunny La Rosa commented on December 27, 2012 Reply
    I have felt that to sincerely love every aspect of my being was to risk being vulnerable. Thank you MaryLisa.
    • anita commented on November 15, 2013 Reply
      This speaks to the amazing work of Brene Brown lately (TED talk and The Gifts of Imperfection)…I have been utilizing many of her concepts to heal
  • SR Atchley
    SR commented on January 1, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for loaning me your hat.
  • Dawn Marie Richards commented on April 30, 2013 Reply
    Word. (is that still acceptable?) bravo and well said….it speaks to the very core of me and I wonder how many of us are collectively, unknowingly connected?? Thank you. You gave me a sigh of relief. A moment to think, “I’m not so alone.” And Yes, “to sincerely love every aspect of my being was to risk being vulnerable,”—Sunny La Rosa, Sooo true. Thank Heaven for this place, it has saved me time and time again. Yes, the dying…I just lost my cat of 17 years, how many more years did I expect him to live?? It’s the loneliness, his chirps, his purr, his companionship–my fear of being alone. After a horrible, unexpected break-up with a guy who I thought was ‘the one’ last year, I wailed, and cried for months at the loss—it wasn’t him, the awful bastard, it was the loneliness. That’s the question. How to deal with being alone and loving it. Again, brilliant and thank you for sharing.
    • marylisadedomenicis commented on October 27, 2014 Reply
      Thank YOU, Dawn, for sharing your story! So sorry about your loss. I lost a dog and it took me seven years to get another animal (a cat). We ARE all connected. The more we can share our stories, the more we realize we’re not alone or crazy in our experiences!
  • Anisah commented on June 24, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for this affirmation, I’m on the path and learning to appreciate all of it’s moments, sometimes joyful and uplifting, at others difficult and painful. Inspired by this quote from Bell Hooks and so sharing it here: “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, , we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” :-)
    • anita commented on November 15, 2013 Reply
      Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it cut you more deeply. Let it ferment and season you as few humans and even divine ingredients can. Something missing in my heart tonight has made my eyes so soft, my voice so tender, my need for God absolutely clear.” Hafiz
  • Lorra Fae commented on November 15, 2013 Reply
    awesome, and fully agreed.
  • anita commented on November 15, 2013 Reply
    OMG!! I wrote a poem on EJ last year about this…MoonBeam Repair Thank you for the way you use everyday language to explain such deep, complicated concepts ;-)
  • chintavishta commented on February 19, 2014 Reply
    I loved this piece because of where I am in my life right now. Learning, very slowly and some days very painfully to stop being afraid to be alone. But when you say “Also, I’d rather break my own heart, than to allow someone else to do it for me” are you speaking from a fear of getting hurt. Loving someone means to make oneself vulnerable. Self love cannot be a substitute for loving someone other you, can it?
  • Andrea commented on May 24, 2014 Reply
    Going it alone is so very difficult. I know because I’m doing it. Sometimes it’s very desolate. And complicated when there are children involved, so the whole ordeal requires thoughtfulness and careful planning. But despite all that, I would so much rather be alone than in an empty, soul-sucking relationship in which I was only becoming more and more lonesome and bitter and devoid of joy.
  • Kat commented on September 20, 2014 Reply
    Thank you, this speaks volumes to me and of course exactly what I needed when I needed it.
  • vyana commented on February 20, 2015 Reply
    In a similar vein: i realized at one point that meditating was connecting me closer to the world, when outwardly it seemed to be not connecting me to the world. Pure joy insight! Also, i have lived alone now for many years, experience a touch of loneliness sometimes, but can easily, yes, easily, tell the difference between the two. Well, all of the above is about happiness on the up days and on the down days……….i am always loving learning. Marylisa: Thanks for your beautiful reminders of how life can be.

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