Last Thursday I wrote about Women Who Talk (& Think) Too Much and how it was a complete waste of our time which as a result of the comments led into another post about why many women don’t enjoy a healthy relationship.
Aside from the consistent theme of giving fairly decent guys a hard time because of in built relationship patterns and then rationalising the treatment by saying that it’s not as bad as what an ex partner had done, the other consistent theme was the unsurprising lack of self love.
One reader in particular, Blaise Parker asked:
“HOW do you deal? I mean, HOW do you love yourself? So many people tell us to do it, but no one tells us HOW, really, truly, HOW step by step.
Obviously we are emotional babies, I mean as far as our level of growth, because we keep getting in these stupid situations.
And for most of us, our parents were no help in guiding us. So somehow we must be shown how to love ourselves.
And no, affirmations will not cut it.”I’m not going to do chapter and verse on it here as not only would a post far from cover it but the issue of self-love is talked about extensively in Mr Unavailable and The Fallback Girl and in the emotional wellbeing and personal development sections amongst others.
The whole issue of habitually pursuing, engaging in, and opting to stay in poor relationships is about a lack of self love.
The issue of even when you are out of a poor relationship but still treating yourself poorly is about lack of self love.
The issue of taking up with a new guy and not being able to be happy and still not opting out is about a lack of self love.
But back to the question of how to truly love yourself and of course I have no choice but to be real with you:
It takes more than reading books or reading anything to truly love yourself. It takes YOU. Everything else is a catalyst, a handy running mate, a light to guide you but if you don’t want to be galvanised, you keep running off the beaten track, or the lights are on but nobody’s home, YOU are holding you back.
If you aren’t on board with you and still haven’t decided to make the commitment to your own happiness rather than committing to the misery, you are more comfortable with the uncomfortableness of your misery.
How do I know? Because I have been there.
I didn’t wake up one day and think ‘I love myself’ but the day I decided to start treating myself well in every respect and committed to me was the day my life changed. My health was in the toilet, I was told I’d be on steroids for life, I’d ditched another Mr Unavailable, I had daddy issues, mama issues, every issue, and suddenly it occurred to me that if I was waiting for everything else around me to change and suddenly put me at one with myself and the world, I was in for an eternal wait.
And let me emphasise again – We have to stop looking for instant fixes, instant solutions, instant highs and realise that this process is ongoing. You don’t read this today and love yourself to death by 8pm this evening and so much like when we can’t deal with the short term feelings of being broken up with someone, we need to realise that you are making a commitment to you – this is a beginning and everything you do once you start on the path is about feeding into a positive place and depleting the negative resources.
Get more positive and it outweighs the negative.
I made myself responsible for my own happiness which put me in the position of taking care of myself and loving me. I challenged what I had believed about myself and confronted these things and realised that I was carrying a lot of negative crap around about myself. A lot of negative, false crap.
Yes my father had in some respects ‘abandoned me’ but that wasn’t because there was something unlovable about me; it was because he had made poor choices, screwed up, and probably not handled things in the maturest of ways. Not all men were like my father although I noted that if I kept going the way I was, I’d keep getting that familiar daddy feeling…
Yes I had a fraught relationship with my mother and the knock on effect was not liking myself a lot, thinking that there were unlovable things about me, and believing that I had to validate myself with men, but I had to ask myself if it was possible that my mother was wrong, had projected some insecurities and resentment on me, and had in many respects repeated her own negative pattern that was drilled into her with me.
That was a scary thought because I realised that if I didn’t get a handle on myself, I’d be repeating the pattern and passing it on. Did I want to mimic my parental relationships with my partners and future children? Hell no!
I could list countless things just about my parental relationships but I will say this:
I suddenly felt very tired and when I confronted how I felt about them and my experiences, I felt profound sadness and deep hurt that were no doubt colouring my view of the world.
I was carrying around a lot of dead weight and I’m not sure what I expected to happen or what I even wanted to do with it, but whatever I had been feeling and doing was not benefiting me.
I remember lying on a bed at my kinesiologist’s and her saying that my parents were not infallible and that I need to make a decision to forgive. Initially I felt confused by the fact that she was even bringing up my parents when I’d thought I’d be getting an allergy check, but as I faced the feelings I had hid from, I realised that I had a right to be angry, a right to be hurt, but that at some point I had to let go, forgive, and move on. I was riddled inside with pain, hurt, resentment, and many things unforgiven. It was like an unleashing of years of tears and feelings.
But whilst it is hard to let go and feel the pain, it’s not that hard because I realised that if I’m not going to like and love me, nobody else will and that in itself is a starting place.
I paid attention to when I felt good and paid even more attention to when I felt bad and I opted out. This meant that I didn’t surround myself with certain friends any longer who tended to steal my wind and reinforce negativity but it also meant that my opt out time for relationships shrank from months or years down to about 3 weeks.
I accepted my mother for who she is, faults, funny quirks and all. I’d grown up thinking it was just my mum that drove me insane whilst everyone else’s was perfect, and there are millions just like her, but just one of her. I decided this is who she is and that she’s not going to change and removed the power that she had to upset me because I recognise some of the things she says and does for what they are. Yes she pisses me off sometimes, but I have developed a great filter that tunes out about 90% of the stuff that used to reduce me to rubble. If she annoys me, I withdraw. I don’t let her take up a lot of my airtime and drain me, and I don’t make her problems my problems and because my own life and self-love has evolved, our relationship has a lot more positive elements to it. It is pivotal that you don’t give people the power to dent how you feel about yourself.
And yes, on a number of occasions I have called her on her comments and behaviour, something I find liberating and that she finds uncomfortable but that also help her to establish boundaries with me. A key thing that I find, as women who aren’t loving ourselves too well, is that we don’t know how to define and enforce boundaries and we don’t say when people cross the line. We forget that if we keep allowing behaviour to pass unchecked, this becomes the established pattern. I’m not going to ride her arse like Zorro on everything that she says but I do have a limit. We’ve had a few unpleasant showdowns (our mothers do love drama or the silent treatment)
but how I feel about myself stays intact and I stick to my guns.
Forgiveness is key. I didn’t labour on it but I decided that I just couldn’t be bothered to give a shit anymore to be quite frank. I can’t change my parents or turn back time so what’s done is done. What I can do is learn from the experience and understand myself better. Some people find that they need to chapter and verse and explore their entire past and bit by bit lay things to rest and that works. For some reason, when I said out loud to myself ‘I forgive my mum and my dad for…’ I liberated myself because I actually meant it. They have their own lives and problems to lead and wasn’t going to waste another moment letting them weigh down my life.
I started actually treating myself well. I enjoyed being me and really enjoyed my life. Instead of focusing on finding a guy or maintaining one, I was just chilling because it occurred to me that I should be enjoying my time, not wasting it hurling myself into negative relationships or expending brain power on some chump assclown who probably wasn’t spending a second thinking about me.
For the first time in my life, I wasn’t secretly hoping that each guy I met might just be ‘The One’. I wasn’t even thinking ahead to the next week which gave me an opportunity to spend time in the present and see the guy for who he really was.
I forgave myself. So I went out with a few assclowns, made some horrible choices and put myself through the wringer. Yes I had bad judgement, yes it would be nice if I could turn back time, but I can’t. I am human, I tried to love (misguidedly) and I screwed up. Does that make me a terrible person? Does that mean I should never trust myself again? Does that mean I should taint everything and never love again? Because if I didn’t forgive myself, that’s what I would have been doing.
So I learned to trust myself. If you trust you, you like you, and you love you, and this is the problem for a lot of women. Screw up a few times and you decide that you don’t know how to trust yourself so instead, you trust the self-fulfilling prophecy, negative patterns, and any guy who says all the right things. This meant:
Going with my gut instinct even if it went against my ‘heart’ or my ‘libido’. I was right every time.
Paying attention to how I felt and behaved around people. I remember dating a guy who made me clam up because he talked about himself so much and was too opinionated. When I accessed who I was around him, I discovered I wasn’t myself.
I avoided making decisions out of insecurity or that were based in fears.
I asked myself if my fear was internal fear or external fear.
Check our part 2 of How I Learned To Love Myself