My heart is budding with gratitude for the large response my facebook posts have gotten lately.
In the last year I’ve shared much less personal updates than I used to. So much has happened that every time I think to share, I am overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start.
I think I was waiting for something to mature in me. Instead of sharing seedlings as they sprout, I wanted to share the garden harvest.
So tonight on a whim, I’m sharing a fat story from the harvest. It’s about self love and the work it takes that no one talks about.
A year ago this time I had the biggest wake up call of my life. It was so intense my body shook and I was struck with an cold terror in my bones for days.
I’d been living in some fantasy land of “I know what I’m doing. I’ve got it all together.” I’d been working on my relationship skills for a while and I thought I was one good communication trick away from perfect relationships.
But when I woke up one September day to realize the man I’d been dating was just like my abusive parent – the one I’d killed in my mind and pretended I’d left behind – my illusion of control was annihilated.
Like Freud (or one of those old shrinks) always said, I was a victim of my past, playing out my childhood trauma in my own life over and over again. I sought out narcissists and manipulative people and loved them specifically for that reason. I found them attractive and got with them. Because they reminded me of my abusive, narcissistic parent.
When the truth hit me, I called my friends in desperation, sharing in a weak crackling voice my shock. My skeleton had slipped out of the closet and was saying hello.
I write this now with a rich understanding and gratitude for that time. I stepped up to meet the challenge of seeing my own bare soul with speed, strength and determination.
I didn’t feel strong then. I felt totally pathetic and terrified. But I recognize now how wise and self-loving the way I responded was.
3 days after the shock I picked up the phone and called Boulder Emotional Wellness to see an affordable therapist immediately.
The man on the other line asked me why I called and I burst out “Because I just dated my abusive dad and I never want to do that again!!” And after a very solemn “Wow” and a long silence, he reassured me I’d come to the right place.
I swore the moment I hung up the phone that I would never let go of my center again. The shock put me in touch with my deepest core and it’s most primal survival instincts and I promised myself I would never let go of that again. Not for anyone.
Over 70 hours of therapy later I have confronted many skeletons I had previously been unwilling to see. The stories from the last year alone would make a book.
I am so grateful to myself for all the hard work I have put into making my life a healthy and beautiful one. I have discovered a real and solid sense of self love and every day I see more and more of my own power and amazingness… while simultaneously surrendering deeper to the great chaos of all.
A lot of people preach the gospel of self love and also facing your shadow. It’s easy to talk about these things and get a warm fuzzy feeling inside or beat others over the head with overly simplistic advice like: “You need to love yourself!” or “You can’t truly love another till you love yourself”
But what does the journey of Self-Love really look like? What does it taste like? What does it smell like?
How do we experience it as humans, shrouded in a thousand stories and memories that obscure and maim the soul?
For me it looked like years of work. First accepting and owning my sexuality, defying a thousand social norms, being made an outcast by the groups I was raised in, losing a marriage, and two years of pain, blood, sweat and tears floundering as a single mom in my own trauma and a world that does not support single parenting. And finally, 75 hours of therapy, a year and a half of massage therapy from wise shaman woman Cielo Lyn, hours of meditation and chi gung, rigorous sleep schedules that forced me to constantly say no to social events, multiple cleansing periods of celibacy, hours of journaling, a change of jobs, diet changes and all new exercise habits.
It wasn’t looking at pretty memes that said “You are enough.”
I’m sure those help on a bad day as a 10 second pick-me-up. But in the heavy part of this journey, the last year, when I made the most strides, I was less interested in what others had to say about me (including positive quotes from a random inspirational internet person) and more curious about what *I* had to say about me. Did I even like myself?
Because of the complexity of my own journey into self love, from female sexual pain disorders to Bodysex to single-momhood to a harsh and startling realization of my own unconscious relationship problems, I hold in myself a thousand truths and a thousand mysteries. The complexity of this world and each one of us in it is astounding. I am amazed by it and some of that awe translates into self love too. The love of my own complexity and magnitude.
This is one of the many things I appreciate about this person I sit inside.
I know from my journey that even with a great and unspeakable history of trauma, you CAN reinvent yourself in entirety with the tools of patience, self-compassion, effort and determination.
How great is your determination to love yourself? How willing are you to surrender to the process and see everything you really don’t want to see, hold it, be with it… love it? That is loving it. An action of surrender and compassion.