My left hand has permanently atrophied where my wedding band lived for 13 years.
Taking that ring off was painful, but stripping away the identity that came with it was necessary. The woman I became in my marriage was nothing like the woman I was born to be.
The only problem was that I didn’t know exactly who that woman was.
It would take the next few years for me to find her.
In my quest for self-discovery, I lost my way terribly for a while. I tried to hate my body into shape, starving, exhausting, and injuring her. I stayed as numb as possible with my old friend, alcohol. I repeated all the unhealthy relationship patterns I was used to.
I made some really dumb decisions. I hurt some people. I hurt myself.
I lost control.
One day, I looked at myself and realized that I wasn’t much happier than I had been in my dead marriage. This was supposed to be a time of growth, and renewal and positive change. I spent a lot of time thinking about such things, but my actions were not in agreement with my desires. I was way out of alignment, and for the first time maybe in my whole life, I could see it.
I could see that the things I wanted most for my future could not be attained if I continued down the path I was on. I felt it when my thoughts, words, and actions didn’t match up.
It wasn’t enough to talk anymore—it was time to walk it out.
I had two big goals—one was to write and publish a memoir about my life. I knew I needed to do it for my own healing. I had felt a pull to write about my family for many years. As I began to share pieces of my story, and saw how it resonated with people, I quickly realized that it was not optional. I could see that all the pain in my past was coupled with my interest in writing with a divine purpose.
Sharing my story with the world was no longer a silly dream.
It was my dharma. I just needed to find the fortitude and self-discipline to write the book.
The other big goal was to lose the hundred pounds I had gained during my marriage. I had neglected my physical health for so many years, I didn’t know where to start. I ended up using the gym as a way to process the emotional turmoil that came with my divorce. It became one of my healthier addictions, until it wasn’t anymore. I was out of touch with my body. I didn’t know how to listen to it for cues like hunger, pain, or the need for rest. I took off 60 pounds by force, and in the process, I injured my knee and shoulder, and I burned my adrenal glands totally out. The weight started coming back, and I was devastated.
To heal my body, to make my dream of becoming a writer come true, to finally find the happiness and peace I was searching for—there was only one answer. I had to learn to love myself. Not just in thought or word.
I had to be love in action.
Then, I read the perfect words on the perfect day:
“Find ecstasy within yourself. It is not out there. It is in your innermost flowering. The one you are looking for is you.” ~ Osho
The time had come for me to get to know myself intimately. I needed to give myself permission to let go of the expectations and demands of others, and just be alone with myself for a while.
I needed to get really comfortable in stillness, instead of filling my days with distraction.
I needed to break up with my old friend, alcohol, so I could feel all the things I had been avoiding.
I had to make peace with my body, flaws and all.
I had to identify all my old relationship patterns so I could break them for good. (This would require a long, intentional period of celibacy.)
There was only one thing to do. I had to start dating myself.
I decided to lavish the attention I would give to a lover on me.
I chose to give to myself endlessly and shamelessly.
I started buying myself fresh flowers to have on my kitchen table at all times. I love the energy they bring to my space. The fragrance of lilies, the happy colors of tulips, the exquisite beauty of roses—I deserved to have such things.
I didn’t need to wait for someone else to give them to me.
I began cooking again, really cooking. Even if I was at my table alone, I would have beautiful healthy food at the end of the day.
I started a Friday night ritual that involved cleaning house, smudging to wrap myself up in sage and lavender, and taking what I call a “mermaid bath.” I light candles and play soft music, I add salt and essential oils to the water, and crystals, and sometimes rose petals. I stay in there with a cup of tea for hours. I might read, or meditate, give myself a facial, or even take a little nap.
It’s my time to take care of me. And, when I wake up Saturday morning, my housework is done, and I am free to spend the weekend any way I choose.
On my thirty-seventh birthday, I put a ring on my own damn finger.
Adorning my hand with moonstone reminds me to take good care of myself. It’s a reminder to be gentle with my body, to nourish her well, and allow her all the rest she needs.
It’s a reminder to be grateful for this body, and this life that I’ve been given.
It reminds me that the love I have spent my whole life searching for outside myself can only come from me. It reminds me that I am in control of my destiny, and I get to choose my future.
My finger may be atrophied, but my heart is whole. My body isn’t perfect, but it is the perfect place for my spirit to dwell. My dreams may be grand, but they are absolutely attainable.
It is only through self-love that we can reach our full potential. Forcing and fighting can only leave us frustrated. Distracting and numbing ourselves only keeps our desires out of reach. Learning to be gentle, surrendering to what is, and allowing what is to come is the only way to truly change our lives.
We have the power to create all of the love, peace, and joy we want—if we have the courage to look for it inside ourselves.
Author: Renée Dubeau
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Drew Hays at Unsplash