Friday, May 10, 2019

Day 20 - Self-Love

Self-love
I"m guessing that there are people out there who have, and have always had, a clear understanding of what that concept means.  But it took me a while, and a lot of frustration, before I even had a clue.
After my separation, I went through many years....actually what felt like an eternity of very challenging times and experiences.  During that period, well meaning therapists and friends would tell me that I needed to learn to "Love myself".   I'm sure they meant well, but at the time, hearing those words made me want to punch someone. I had no idea what the hell that meant!!!  Ok...Cute...I thought!  I need to love myself?? How in the hell do I do that??
The most relevant reference I had to the idea of "Love" at the time, were very strong feelings I had for a particular individual.   Truth be told, I was involved in a very dysfunctional relationship with someone who was treating me like crap and I was allowing it.  Looking back,  I now know that I was behaving like a co-dependent junky. But, that's kinda what I thought love was.  A feeling of not being able to live without someone.  It was needing someone and not feeling whole or complete without them.  How did I make sense of that in relation to what it meant to "love myself"?
During my quest for answers, I met an individual, who specialized in the area of co-dependancy and relationships.  He pointed out to what extent love songs, encouraged this longing for this type of "love" and how misleading that actually was. (google co-dependant love songs...there are lists of them out there) That kinda resonated with me and I started to seriously question my idea of intimate relationships and how that influenced my beliefs around the concepts of love and self-love.
Then I found this book....
I know, terrible cover isn't it...but it makes a point!!  Reading it, started to shift my understanding of the importance and definition of self-love.   Part of my process, was understanding what "love" was in the first place.  I had often heard or read, that love is a verb, not a noun and not necessarily a feeling.  That seemed very relevant to me but I wasn't sure that I truly understood it.
I distinctly remember a defining moment,  when I had an epiphany about just what loving myself would look like.
I had been feeling disrespected by a certain individual in my life and anger and resentment were starting to set in.   I was debating how to handle it.  Should I talk to this person or just let it go?  That was when the relationship between self-respect and self-love became crystal clear to me.  I knew then that allowing others to disrespect me was a huge act of self-betrayal and it became quite apparent that self-betrayal was not at all in alignment with the concept of "Self-love".
I think I had heard the phrase "Turn the other cheek" one time too many in my catholic upbringing. I had come to believe that the honourable and right thing to do when someone hurt you was to "turn the other cheek".  I'm sure I misunderstood what this phrase actually means.
It became evident to me, that had a responsibility to myself NOT to allow others to disrespect me.  If my child was being bullied, I would defend him.  If a friend was being talked down to or disrespected in any way I would have her back.  So why was I not doing that for myself?  From that point on, setting boundaries for myself, and asserting my right to being respected became not some selfish request but an act of self-love and self-respect that I hold myself accountable for.
When I look back at my journey towards understanding self-love, I am sometimes embarrassed by the mistakes I have made and how confused I was. The road to discovering what self-love is, was not a straight one and I continue on my journey.  But I now know,  that self-respect and expecting to be respected are essential parts of the equation.
Create an awesome day!
Joanne

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