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I recently came across an article, suggesting that we do not need to love ourselves first in order for other people to love us.
While I understand the sentiment and agree to a certain extent, I also disagree in some ways as well.
It’s true. We do not need to love ourselves in our totality in order to find others who love us in all of our many guises and colors.
I agree that there are plenty of people in this world who find partners who are crazy about them, even if said person may not be so crazy about themselves.
However, I’d like to offer my experience to shed light on the difference between loving myself and attracting an incredible love and not loving myself and attracting an incredible love because there exists a schism that I feel needs bridging.
I have been wonderfully blessed in my life to be with men who worshipped me. Quite literally, these men would have done anything, and I do mean anything for me, and I knew it.
They were kind, caring, considerate, loyal, and romantic. They communicated with me. Some were deeply sexual, and they all loved me with an intensity that I could barely even fathom.
They all desired to make me happy, and while that may seem like a breath of fresh air to you if you’ve never experienced a love like that, to me it was like holding a foreign coin collection in my hands. I knew it possessed value, but I had no idea what to do with it.
Hindsight tells me that I could not accept their love on some level because I did not feel worthy of it, and it has taken years of learning how to love myself in order for me to see that.
Most often, I seemed to be deeply unhappy in my relationships. It felt like on the surface everything was fine, and I would try to be happy or mirror whatever the other person was feeling, but it definitely wasn’t authentic.
I longed to feel loved. Yes, these men were doing all the right things, but I still didn’t feel loved.
Now, I’m not saying it’s like this for everyone, but what I am saying is that, on some level, in order to feel loved, I had to learn how to love myself.
These men could tell me all day long how beautiful I was to them, and I never believed them. In my core, I believed I was ugly, so no amount of words, flowers, gifts, cuddles, or sex was going to make me see otherwise.
They would often see things in me that I longed to see in myself, and I could never fully accept what they saw no matter how good it seemed.
Much of these relationships left me feeling like the lyrics from that Garth Brooks song, “Standing Outside the Fire.” They were in the center of it, living and loving from that space, while I stood on the outside, surviving and never letting anyone get too close for fear of being burned.
Looking back, I can see that my nervous system was wired for unhealthy love before I even started crawling, so any kind of love that resembled health was going to feel boring, and I was never going to be satisfied.
I realized a long time ago that my dissatisfaction in love never had anything to do with the men I was with.
The common denominator for my deep sense of unhappiness was me.
It took me falling for a man who represented my shadow-self in order for me to start loving me more fully because he was not a yes man.
In fact, he was so emotionally unavailable and the soul bond so strong that I had no choice but to learn how to love me better.
I know that may sound strange to some, but sometimes, it’s those soul ties that we cannot escape from, no matter how painful they feel, that can teach us the most about ourselves.
In my book, Girl, You’re a Queen, I share quite a bit about my journey with this soul connection and how in his not choosing me, I learned how to choose myself for once.
There was a time when all I wanted was for him to choose me, but in the end, I am so glad he didn’t.
For starters, if he had, I wouldn’t have learned anything. I would have kept right on doing what I was doing and acting from unconscious wounding. I would have continued on, too afraid of being hurt but desperately longing to be loved, and I wouldn’t have appreciated him, just like the others.
He was the first man I ever met that forced me to save myself.
In the Lover’s Chapter of my book, I write:
“The Lovers card is about more than just being with someone else. This is also an energy that represents being with you in all your shame and glory. To me, this card represents looking into your own eyes every single day and saying I choose you. It is about being in alignment with yourself and loving yourself so deeply that all of your seeming brokenness stitches itself back together. No one is going to be able to do that work for you. Yes, people can love us, but the people outside of us cannot make us whole; only we can do that for ourselves. We are the only ones who know our past as deeply and intimately as we do. So, why not become the person you need and love all that stuff you’ve been hanging onto or begging everyone else to love because you needed the external validation?”
It’s because he did not choose me that I have been able to really choose, love, and see myself as a worthy being. And I firmly believe that if I am blessed to be able to experience that earth-shattering kind of love again with someone new, I’ll not only be able to appreciate it for everything it brings into my life, but I’ll be able to live and love from the center of the fire instead of just standing on the outside and looking in.
So, no we do not need to love ourselves fully in order to be loved, but we do need to love ourselves fully in order to feel whole.
We need to love ourselves fully in order to stop placing our happiness outside of us, and we need to love ourselves fully in order to appreciate a good thing when we have it, especially if our nervous system needs to heal from less than ideal childhoods.
To me, self-love is what will allow us to dance within the flame without the fear of being burned because we have already done that and transformed within ourselves.