The many shades of learning to love ourselves

I’ve been on what I call a ‘radical and unconditional self-love and acceptance journey’ for several years now. Up until this point, if asked I would be the first to loudly proclaim how everything in life becomes exponentially better, when you make the conscious decision to be the One for yourself. To the be the One you were waiting for, to truly see and accept yourself, even attempt to adore every bit, including the crunchier hard bits or the squishy, mushy parts that some would rather avoid. You accept ALL, because it is you, and you are a beautiful unique fractal of Divine Light & Love here in this temporary vessel to experience what it feels like to be this person, in this body, with these challenges, strengths and talents in this world. I’m not saying that you may not wish to change some things along the way, change is a part of the game. Nothing remains static and we are free to evolve, grow, expand and bend however we see fit. However, coming to change from a place of self-love feels much more empowering than from a place of self-hatred. I cannot say I would change my position on this life shifting decision one iota. Showing up for myself has not been easy, there are many starts and stops along the way, yet it is rewarding and life-affirming at every step.

Recently, I have come up against an unexpected and particularly deep pocket of grief that I feel is not any less important or miraculous than the more joyful parts of the self-love journey. Granted, it does feel pretty shite at the moment, despite the presence of a very bright silver lining. Let me explain.

As the product of parents who did not learn to love themselves, who did not know that love is an inside job and have miserably been searching for it in everyone and everything outside of them their entire lives, I quickly fell into the role of people-pleasing and putting the needs of others before my own. This was how I tried to negotiate being loved and to create safety for myself. As an empath, this compounded the situation as I learned to hone my abilities on detecting unhappiness around me and then attempted to transform myself in order to be whatever another needed/wanted in that moment. A veritable master class in self-abandonment and self-hatred. Of course I could never succeed in filling these endless needs no matter how I contorted myself, and facing the anger this reality inevitably triggered in my caretakers (and later in so-called friends and romantic partners) left my self-worth in shambles.

Now, many years later, having done the hard work of no longer offering my precious energy to one-sided relationships of any type nor prioritizing anyone else’s needs before my own (to stop my codependent over-giving in its tracks), I find myself in a new space where some of the family members and friends I still have contact with feel uncertain and even uncomfortable around me when I am no longer willing to go above and beyond for their approval. My lack of interest in endless dramas & scenarios paired with my resistance to join in the criticism and bashing of whoever has let them down this time, has them viewing me warily. I am here, on the outside looking in, a place I once was terrified to inhabit, with no FOMO in sight. Only a deep aching sorrow for my friends and family whose aversion to turning inward has them stuck in a wretched self-created barren love wasteland and for my inner child who knows the place all too well having spent years there, tying herself into knots hoping one day she would finally be seen, appreciated and loved for all that she had done in the interest of making them happy. The thought sends a wave of grief thru my body. I take a moment to send a prayer for my loved ones then visualize myself gathering my younger version into my arms, holding her solemnly in my heart with the quiet reminder: ‘Never again. I see you now. I know who you are. I’ve got you. I will never let you go.’

We explore the world together now and it has been eye opening to discover new likes and preferences, without any shadow of the people pleaser in the mix. We are free to open like bold and luminous flowers, to be authentic and feel safe to be so as we unfurl all the hidden treasures that have been waiting to be invited out to play. Here is the sparkling silver lining around this cloud of grief at this time and I hold space for it all. Eventually this sadness will thin and move on. In the meantime, I find myself curious about the flavors of ice cream I’ve never tasted, music I’ve never heard and colours I’ve never worn. Maybe today I will discover a new favorite.

the lily and rose

featured image by chela b. @

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