I’m sorry you’ve been misunderstood. I’m guilty of not getting you, and I’m ashamed I misunderstood you most of my life.
You’re simple—too simple for my complicated human brain to comprehend. That day, a few weeks ago, when you met me for my morning coffee and bled through my pen onto the longing pages of my journal—that was the day I finally met you for you.
It was the day I worked through my hurt and forgave him for what he did—for ignoring me like that. It was the day I realized I did the very same thing to you that he did to me—and I felt your invisible arms wrap themselves around me. You never held a grudge. How liberating that must feel for you!
Sadly, up until that day, I didn’t see you for who you really are. I only saw my projections of who I wanted you to be. You, to me, were an idol on a pulpit—high above the flawed imperfectness of me—and seemingly unattainable.
You were so above me, I thought I had to learn how to fly. I tried. I sought out my tarot cards for answers to my anxiety and grief and loss. I got a life coach to try and meet you as a goal at the end of a very high ladder of “shoulds” and “musts.”
I graduated from coaching and I tried to fly. I hit the ground hard when I didn’t meet you as I was told I was supposed to. I got up and climbed again, thinking a detox would help me. As I chugged water and went to hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions, I amped up my intake of greens and fish oil and positive thoughts—feeling a little closer to you with each sip of air and nutrients and good-thought energy.
I attempted to reach you again when I felt the most detoxified. I hit the ground even harder this time. I couldn’t maintain that level of light-filled thoughts and feelings and images I thought you maintained all the time. I couldn’t do it. My body would get tired. My thoughts would become self-hating. My feelings would make me sink down to the bottom where I thought you wouldn’t meet me.
I found therapy and I learned to speak my feelings in sessions. I then spoke them to myself until I felt emptied. And then I spoke them to others—to him.
When they weren’t heard by another—especially by him—I felt defeated. I gave up. I gave up relating to him, and trying to have romance. He also seemed to give up—disappearing like a ghost when I spoke up about my hurt feelings. He had no response. I froze inside. How could you meet me there—in that place of darkness where I felt so lost? How could you, self-love, the all powerful presence of connectedness, of hope and light, stoop so low?
How could I find you in the pit of break-up abandonment—the nest of longing I made for myself? Would you meet me there? I felt you pitying me. I was trying too hard. I reached out. I spoke my peace; he ignored me.
I wasn’t trying hard enough. I felt feeling-f*cked.
I had been so cautious and conscious with him—just like I had with you. I thought I had a semblance of control. Control was where I went astray. My heart was in hiding.
Self-love, I’m so sorry—I really am.
I didn’t know you were there all along. I can’t believe I didn’t feel you in that dark, musty, basement of my own self-pity and doubt and criticism. Now I know why—I didn’t let myself. I didn’t believe in you or even understand you fully.
But now I know. You’re here. Like a heartbeat—with me through all of it. And you’re not the upbeat, perky cheerleader I thought you were. You’re kind of personality-less. You’re grounded, balanced, and neutral. You’re just kind of there like a comforting presence. You’re like a soft, warm, compassionate hug that’s around me all the time.
Self-love, I’m really sorry I ignored you for most of my life. I know you don’t hold grudges or even understand their purpose, but I do, and I’m sorry I had one for you.
You’re kind of my hero—and one that I no longer worship, but simply respect. You taught me the meaning of respect and I have no words for how much that means to me. You’re the reason I was able to feel angry and also open when he texted me months later with a big, compassionate, “I’m sorry.”
You’re the reason I was able to express my hurt respectfully—lovingly—and not push him away again. You’re the reason I was open to hearing him out and understanding his healing process, while also respecting my own feelings and boundaries.
Self-love, I’m never going to ignore you again. You get it. You get what this being human and feeling a myriad of feelings for self and others is about. Up until that day not too long ago when I gave you a key to my heart, I learned the true meaning of forgiveness—not just toward him, in fact, not even for him—but toward myself. It was me that I had abandoned when he went silent. It was me that I was mad at—and that I blamed.
Self-love, you’re a part of me. Is it too much to say that you and I are one? I know, you’re probably smiling and shaking your head as you read this. Yes, of course we are one. I feel your presence and I know it. We always have been and I didn’t realize I had to actually realize it before I could completely understand it.
Well, self-love, I’ve realized it. Somehow, you have opened me to my real eyes, and for that I am forever grateful. Those eyes that you opened don’t see things in black and white; they see things in a multi-dimensional way. Those eyes view all angles of everything.
Those eyes don’t judge; they accept with the curiosity of a small child exploring the world around her. Those eyes you’ve opened are entertained by the relationship I’ve started up with him again—not for the sake of him, but for the ways in which it affects me.
Those eyes are constantly present with all that is happening inside of me. Those eyes feel nurturing and kind. And with them, I can see more than just the emotional ups and downs. I can see my soul.
Suddenly, my connection with him has shifted. Those layers of expectation I had that kept my heart hidden, have turned into playful openness. Our connection—like yours and mine, self-love—is but an experience among a myriad of experiences you and I will share together in this life. And, as such, expectations, otherwise known as limitations, are removed.
What a wonderful way to live life! How simple and sweet and expansive it feels to just be present with him in the time we spend together—just as you’re teaching me to be with myself when it’s just you and I hanging out!
I know you never grew impatient with me, because you knew I would come around to finally see you—and that’s exactly why I did!
I love you, self-love!
A human being
Author: Sarah Lamb
Image: Sydney Jackson/Unsplash
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell