Learning to love myself. It took 30 years for me to grasp that point. Then, once grasped, almost a full year’s journey to really learn what that means, and to be able to live it.
It all started while I was living in Madrid last year. I was precariously dangling over the edge of emotional sanity, having been ripped and tortured and beaten down by the man who I thought would protect me from such assaults.
And it also started on a physical edge. Six stories up, looking down from my terrace, and absorbing the happiness in what I saw in the street below. From that vantage point, I detached from my life and observed each facet of it from an objective view. And then I knew: I knew with such urgency and intensity that I would do whatever it took to be happy again.
The area of my life causing my distress was my relationship. So I made the decision, while looking 6 stories down at friends laughing and children playing, that my happiness would mirror theirs. For once, my happiness would be my first priority.
The solution was simple: he had to go.
And go he did, in an even more violent shit storm than what I had previously experienced. But that no longer affected me. It didn’t matter what he said (awful things) or did (even more awful things). He had lost his power, and I had gained mine back. I put myself first. It was the first time in our relationship that he couldn’t touch me.
That empowerment was a new thing. Putting myself first was new. Being active in the manifestation of my happiness. TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for my life, instead of just “letting it happen.”
I had grown up with pretty conservative Christian beliefs (like 90% of the population in the South), and a major tenet of Christianity is to NEVER put yourself first. Even though I had abandoned that faith years ago, those sticky beliefs seemed to hold tight to the walls of my consciousness. Everything I was promising myself was in direct contradiction to years of Christian conditioning.
Once the light bulb went off, and I saw, first hand, how important my happiness was for MY life (because after all, I only get this one – why waste it trying to please others and not yourself?), I felt like I had taken a huge leap forward on my path of enlightenment.
And it’s just so simple.
Here’s how I see it: if I’m not happy, and loving myself, and feeling joy and freedom, what possible GOOD am I to anyone? What possible GOOD do I have inside of myself to give to others, if all that is there is discontent and sorrow? And I want to give lots of good. And help people. And change the world. But I can’t do that if my own light is dimmed with the shadow of unhappiness.
You are only capable of giving what you have. I need to love myself first, and be happy, before I can give love to others.
And so that moment set me on a new journey, with impeccable timing. As I welcomed my 30’s, I welcomed the new me.
Sometimes we have to do painful and hard things in order to reach our freedom and happiness waiting for us on the other side.
Through active meditation (which I’ll talk more about in following posts) and consistent spiritual counsel, and, of course, beautiful miracles provided by the Universe itself (they always say when the student is ready, the teacher arrives – and it’s true!), I’ve been able to arrive and stay at a place so rich in love for myself and others that it overflows to the point of exploding.
I’m living at levels of forgiveness and acceptance and peace that I never imagined was possible.
But I also had to walk through a lot of shit to get here. I had to uncover some nasty emotions that were holding me prisoner. When you decide to confront your demons, they WILL show up – in all their ugliness. So be careful what you ask for, because the Universe always delivers.
My first test was a blockage to vulnerability. Which meant even the people I considered to be my closest friends confessed they didn’t know the “true” me – they didn’t know my heart. People who had been close to me for a decade were saying this! I was astounded. I didn’t want to live my life closed off anymore.
Then there was the sadness. It was sporadic, but it was acute, and a big enough nuisance that I needed to deal with it. I’ll go into more detail about how I did this, in later posts.
If you want the same results, keep doing the same thing. I wanted different results – so I chose to do something different. There comes a point when you look at your life and realize you want to be a better person. When you reach that point, you are willing to do whatever it takes to make those changes happen.
Life can be tough. But that’s okay, because I’m a fighter.