March 1, 2021

The Messy & Imperfect Journey of Learning How to Love Ourselves.

Ugly Crying in a Parking Lot.

I had a breakdown in the Safeway parking lot the other night.

I tried to park far enough away so no one would see me ugly crying in my car.

And that’s what it was, an ugly cry, and of course, I didn’t have any tissues—dare I use my mask?

In desperation, I tried to recall all the “ah-ha,” moments of the books I am reading. Be your own best friend, welcome the pain, be open to how your life is now, don’t resist. I allowed it all to toss and turn, my head the ocean, my thoughts the undercurrent, my heart crying out for a life jacket.

I have no one to tell, “I’m heading home!” I have no one asking me, “When ya coming home?”

No one knows I am sitting in the Safeway parking lot. Well, not no one. That guy who was buying five bottles of cheap wine knew.

Maybe I needed five bottles of cheap wine.

“Pain offers a portal to awakening. Self-compassion gives us the key.” ~ Meagan Bruneau

After a solid few minutes, I was able to ask myself, “What do I need right now?”

Ice cream, of course. Okay, what else? I already had some leftovers I was planning on eating when I got home from the store. Boring. I will buy myself some sushi. Okay, yes. I will eat my sushi and then curl up in a blanket on the couch and eat my ice cream and watch my favorite show. Perfect.

With my self-love plan in place, I summoned the courage to get out of the car and grocery shop, and I even felt a sense of accomplishment upon loading the final bag into the car. I headed for home and the tears started coming. What? Again? We are good. Sushi and ice cream, remember?

Then I started talking to myself as if I was talking to my best friend. “It is okay that you are sad and feel lonely right now.” More tears, more sobbing. Probably should have pulled the car over to deal with the snot.

“You are going through a lot and it is understandable that you will have breakdowns from time to time. You will not feel like this forever. This moment will not last forever.” A mixture of tears and relief followed.

“It will not be like this forever,” I repeated, in almost a mantra. Finally, I returned to my breath and my feet landed back on Earth.“I am okay,” I sighed.

And that was one of my first experiences with self-compassion and loving-kindness. It wasn’t sitting on a beach, legs crossed, meditating, or watching the sunrise or sunset. It wasn’t getting a pedicure or having a spa day. It was messy. It was imperfect. And it was authentic.

I cannot count how many times I have underlined the phrase, “Learning self-compassion is a journey,” in a book or heard it on a podcast.

Like most people, I want it immediately. I want to wake up tomorrow morning and love and accept myself fully—wave a magic wand and have all my insecurities vanish.

But this is different than saying I want to lose a few pounds and hopping on the spin bike and choosing not to eat that extra cookie.

The learning is in the journey, not the end result.


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