March 26, 2011

My path to Self-Love.

art work by Lori Portka - http://loriportka.com/

I think I finally love myself.

Looking back upon the changes that I’ve made in my being and in my life, I smile.

For a long time, I was stuck in a big rut.

I used to ignore myself.

I used to ignore my desires, my thoughts, and my intuition.

I used to put everyone else first.

It is important to honor the needs of others.

It is important to be of service to others.

But I’ve learned that in the midst of honoring and serving others, sometimes I was not honoring and and serving myself.

In the past, I used to think that I loved myself. On some level, I probably did.

But, not completely.

Relationships and how to maintain a healthy self while in relationship have been key learning points in my life thus far.

You may be wondering, how did she not love herself?

Well, let me tell you.

I ignored my needs.

I let others decide what was right for me.

I gave in to the wishes of others far too often.

I did not vocalize or express my true feelings.

Sometimes I didn’t even know what my true feelings were.

I hold no one else accountable.

I find no one else at fault.

I do not blame anybody.

I am not angry.

Clearly, I needed to learn how to love myself.

Here’s how it all went down. [the abridged version.]

First, my marriage dissolved. Of course it was a long time in coming as the emotional connection was not nourishing, but we stayed together far too long because, well, I didn’t love myself enough to create something better. I do love this person, but not in a romantical kind of a way. Then, I became a single mother. My children were 1 and 3 and I was alone all the time with them. I did not have weekends off. In fact, it felt like I was bothering people by asking them to help me watch my children. Some people gave me a hard time about it and did not want to help me. This is unfortunate.

This may not sound so bad on paper, but several times I had discussions with a close relative about having her raise my children. I would lock myself in the bathroom and sob and scream and sob and scream. I was angry then. I can understand the choice that some women make to leave their children or give them up. Society is not set up to provide proper support for single mothers or support for mothers with babies and young children. As a society, I feel we need to look at how we support mothers. My experience was such that I did not have what I needed; I was not nourished. I always wanted to be a mother, but not  like this. Of course, I am grateful for those who gave what they could, but I did not feel supported or nurtured and becoming a single mother forced me into a very deep dark place.

This deep dark place was called: Learning to Love Myself.

Learning to Love Myself involved asking:

-What makes me happy?

-What brings me joy?

-What does my body need?

-What does my soul need?

-What does my heart need?

-What can I do right now so that I will be happy?

First, I took care of my body. The local fitness club had childcare and they watched my children while I ran, biked, swam, danced, toned, and showered. This became the priority in my life (besides my children) and I felt so much better! I even became a zumba instructor and completed a duathalon. I made some new friends who I could socialize with and have kid-free time. I enjoyed dancing and traveling and hanging out. Then, I found soul nourishment through an amazing teacher and learned how to see myself more clearly and learned how to heal my wounds. I even married myself! I discovered Reiki and treated myself, moved cross-country, wrote and published a book of my poetry, founded a non-profit, flourished into motherhood, and now I assist others on their own paths of healing – all in a span of less than two years! Most importantly, I learned to love and honor myself. I feel that the healing process is ongoing –  as life throws obstacles into our path – but I feel confident that I will meet these challenges. Why? Well, because I want to. Because I want to love myself. Because I choose to love myself. When we love ourselves, suddenly it becomes so easy to love everyone.

If I were to write my personal mantras, they would be:

I can express my needs and true feelings.

I express from my heart.

I make my own decisions.

I recognize mutual respect in relationships.

I embrace authenticity.

What are your personal mantras? How do you show love for yourself?

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