My Journey to Self-Love: and why it isn’t easy

I’ve been on the relentless, conscious journey toward self-love for about two years now.  It has been two years since I had to pick myself up, off the ground, after another destructive breakup. I remember laying there, on the warm grass, in my backyard.  Not knowing how to move.  Not knowing how to feel.  Not knowing how to breathe. I was broken.

For many months leading up to this pivotal day, I stayed in the self-destructive ‘comfort zone’ I had created.  It was so cozy that I didn’t want to leave.  I wanted to fall back into the arms of the abusive lover, who stood back revelling in my self pity.  I wanted to continue to deny that I needed to heal old wounds that showed up over and over again in this relationship.  In every relationship really. I wanted to stay there, forever, because it felt familiar.  And safe.

The pain felt safe because I could hind behind it. I could numb it with wine and excuses and wrap it around me like a warm cocoon.

The truth is, I was anything but safe.  And if I didn’t choose to get up off the ground that day, I think I may have died that way.

Getting up was the hardest thing I have ever done.

I had to admit that my numbing tactics were no longer working.  I had to recognize that some of the people I loved, and allowed to love me, were manifestations of deep seeded childhood wounds and resentments that I couldn’t let go of.  I had to finally deal with the shit that I had spent 25 years trying to push away.

The path toward developing self-love isn’t a straight and easy road.  It isn’t lined with butterflies and roses.  There are no maps or handouts to show you the way.  There is, however, the desire for things to be different.  The innate, gut feeling that the path you are on is not the one you are supposed to be walking down.  Or in my case, running down, full speed ahead.

That feeling nagged at me for years before I paid attention to it.  I would feel it in the pit of my stomach when I was in a situation where a boundary was crossed.  I would hear a whisper in the back of my brain telling me to choose something else.  I ignored it all.  Until the whisper became a scream and left me stranded and gulping for air in my backyard.

I knew that it was finally time to listen.

So I did.  And I learned that my inner world is reflected in my outer world.  This became clear to me when I noticed that whenever I felt overwhelmed with anxiety and shame, the people and situations in my life reinforced these emotions.  I knew, that by healing the relationship I had with myself, I could finally face the emotions that I kept trying to push away.

I learned to spend time alone and actually enjoy my own company.  I learned that using someone else as a tourniquet for loneliness isn’t fair to me, or to him.

I learned how to take good care of my mind and body by filling them both up in the healthiest way possible.

I learned how to stop numbing my feelings.  I actually allow myself to feel uncomfortable now without reaching for a glass of wine or some other distraction. I allow myself to feel sad and angry and disappointed and frustrated.  But this time, I know that these feelings won’t overtake me. I understand that they are here to push me forward toward loving myself even more.

I learned that faith is stronger that fear and that it is safe to trust the timing of my life.

I learned to forgive. I had a lot to forgive, and to be honest, I probably still have some more to let go of. I learned that when you forgive, you experience freedom.  You forgive the person who hurt you and you forgive yourself for allowing them to.

I learned how to be of service to others. I learned how to take the experiences that I have gone through and guide other women, in similar circumstances. I learned that we are all connected when we support each other and that there is healing and magic in these sacred connections.

I learned how to listen to my soul, my intuition, my inner GPS. The voice that I used to ignore has become the voice that is the most powerful for me now. She tells me when something is meant for me and when something is meant to pass me by.  She taught me how to trust myself.

Two years later, I can say that this has been the most incredible and most challenging journey.  I have experienced both beauty and chaos. I have connected with people that make me feel so full and complete, and I have also spent many nights feeling overwhelming loneliness.

But through all of this, day by day, I have learned to love and accept myself fully and completely.  And I am looking forward to what comes next.

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