The theme of last week’s A Year With Myself (AYWM) was “In Love With Me: Getting Good at Self-Love and Self-Acceptance.” I had a rough time of it. I was in this place, deep and old and sticky, where I could see, was aware, but couldn’t seem to move. It felt like I was stuck in cement. I felt broken and hopeless. “All this work, all this time, and I am still here?”
As I have mentioned before, I realized last year that I was in a long term abusive relationship–with myself. I had lost Kelly and Obi to cancer, was reeling from a longstanding abusive work situation, and dealing with some difficult family situations. I was carrying around so much grief, carried it into the year that followed. I couldn’t seem to let go, to process everything that had happened. I was a ghost, broken down the middle. And, like Jackie Walker said in AYWM Chapter Four, “The boat was safe, and it floated. The fact that it was uncomfortable, and going in the wrong direction didn’t matter, until it did.” What I knew was that I had to save myself. So, not knowing exactly how, I started.
Since that realization, I have been trying to be a better friend to myself, to even love myself, to learn how to do these things. But, 30+ years of habitual patterns, ways of being is really hard to shift. Maybe the worst of it is I generate even more suffering by punishing myself, criticizing the fact that I am smashing myself to bits–I beat myself up for not getting there yet, then beat myself up for beating myself up. It is utterly ridiculous.
As I try, struggle, fuss, collapse, get back up, and let go, I practice patience, love, forgiveness, kindness. I am unlearning self-hate and relearning self-love. I am figuring out how to care for myself, really care and not just feed my neurosis, fuel my dis-ease. I am creeping, crawling my way towards the truth, one small step at a time, sometimes on broken hearted knees.
1. Truth: Your relationship with yourself is the only one that will last your whole life. It is the only one you can trust will remain. Everything, everyone else will at some point leave, be lost, or let go. Our relationship with our self, that partnership with our one true soulmate, is the only constant. Everything else is external, apart in a way that makes it transient and impermanent. All the other people, places, things, (even our own body), will eventually leave us, fail us, even if they don’t want to, even if they desire and try to stay. But You, you can count on her. She will never leave you, and if you would only let her, she will always love you.
:: Something to read: “It’s You” from Tiny Buddha.
2. Truth: No one can ever give you all that you can give yourself. As Daniel Collinsworth explained to me, “be the source of what you need, let it come from that central still point. When you feel that restless searching bubbling up, stay with it — let it show you where that healing and restoration is needed. The rest is a journey that unfolds in time, not always easy, but so worth it.” Remain kind, gentle, patient, mindful, and aware. Relax and trust your own intuition, your own voice, your understanding of what you need and who you are. That self, You, can be trusted. She is faithful and committed, and if you would only let her, she will always love you.
:: Something to read: “The Great Lesson of Loneliness” by Daniel Collinsworth on Metta Drum.
3. Truth: The best you have to offer, the best you can be is exactly who you already are. You have nothing better to give. Who you become for others or who you trick yourself into believing you are can only ever be a deluded, weakened, watered down version of your true nature, your essence, your power.
We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”
― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
One wish: Easily and naturally arising self-love and self-care in our lives. “If we are doing our true work and living authentically, it will be with ease, naturalness,” (Gwyn-Michael on Scoutie Girl, “Returning to Self and Life’s Simple Pleasures“). My wish is that we unlearn all the bad habits, the ways of being that no longer serve us, and we learn to love our self, be our self wholeheartedly and completely, always. And that we remember if you would only let her, she will always love you.