Loving myself has been the hardest path I’ve ever taken. It is my Mt. Everest.
I’ve had numerous dark nights of the soul – I’ve been deeply soul-tired as my friend coined.
I have faced my demons; sometimes I danced with them, and other times, I drowned in them.
I was comfortable being ‘bad’.
I have been comfortable in my shadow.
Learning to be in the light. To LOVE me?!
That’s Stuart Smalley (SNL character) stuff and for lesser souls. For people who couldn’t or wouldn’t plumb the depths of their shadow. (btw – Eggo is here)
If you guessed that I have some Scorpio in my chart – you’d be right, Scorpio sun. (we love the deep, dark shit)
Also, I have always taken myself extremely seriously. I deeply dislike teasing or playful put-downs. I anger quickly in the game of ‘most-right’ and judge people who love that game, harshly.
I thought self-love was a myth; something told to people to give them false hope in a world where darkness pervades.
Nope - self-loathing was more my lane.
It was horrible. Miserable. And, not sustainable.
To maintain the ‘dangerous, dark soul’ required copious amounts of alcohol - for me. It required numbness and disconnection from myself. It required a half-life.
I remember an AA meeting in my first few months of sobriety – I reluctantly shared (I preferred to sulk and silently judge everyone) that I wanted to lead a self-actualized life and being drunk didn’t support that. That was why I was sitting in that chair, but I had little hope that I would actually realize that desire.
That may have been the first break my soul had to squeeze in some light.
Another friend of mine refers to the challenge her professional clients experience as an over-ripe avocado and it’s such a beautiful image – that describes exactly where I was.
I looked great on the outside – well, pretty stable anyway. But I was rotting on the inside and I KNEW IT.
Self-awareness has never been hard for me – it’s an area of natural talent and a determined practice, but I never applied it to anything I did well, my positives.
That took discipline (and assistance).
It took over a decade of work - therapy (again), thousands of dollars in self-help books, and endless journaling (sporadic and mostly whiny). I then elevated my personal work to self-help programs and lots of DIY courses (still wouldn’t seek actual help because I expected myself to do it by myself) and finally invested in coaching.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of coaches – some in official capacities, many as peers learning new modalities.
Unfortunately, very few could help me with what I really needed.
My adeptness at self-awareness and comfort in my shadow usually is far more advanced than my coaches and my ego cleverly delivered amazing insights into these deep dark depths that convinced both the coach and me that we were getting somewhere good!
These evasion tactics worked wonders in therapy, too, but I wasn’t making progress, I was making a nest, a home where I was comfortable as the villain in my head.
The coach I mentioned with the gavel is the one who not only saw my light, she invited it, fanned it, called it out, demanded it’s presence.
She made me confront my kindness, my devotion to others, my depth of acceptance for all the dark in others, my leadership.
She made me look my beauty and genius in the mirror and claim it. She introduced me to my light and love, the heart that had so masterfully hid itself in mentoring others and being an amazing servant leader.
Since her, I have allowed other coaches to support me in my light work – my own journey of self-love, but if I’m being honest – I’ve had to let many of them go.
For those of us who have thrived in the darkness, the light is so tender, so beautiful and fragile to begin with that it cannot bear a clumsy heart in there with us.
I had to learn to discern those who could be trusted with my light as I explored it. As I tentatively started my own Louise Hay (mistress of self-love) journey.
Not many have been able to. Coaches tend to want to find the icky stuff and help us clean it up and that is NORMAL – I do not judge them!
Most of us have been hiding from our darkness and so that is the path we must take to self-love. However, some of us (you know who you are) that are sooooo familiar and comfortable with the darkness it becomes its own hiding spot to avoid the discomfort of confronting our light.
If this is you. Call me. I got you.
Self- Love is the goal. It is where our joy and our power and our influence is. There is no higher target.
Self-love is the true oxygen mask first – you cannot give anyone love if you do not know how to love yourself.
The love I gave for so long was unbalanced and conditional – because that was how I related to myself.
There is NO relationship that trumps the one with you – NONE.
Try the Stuart Smalley line in the mirror – see if you can maintain eye contact with yourself.
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
If you can’t stand it – can’t find your eyes, feel the words or even feel the humor of it, congratulations. Now you know where your next work lies.
I write this entire post because I have had a lot of events that would have knocked me off my balance recently, and I have found my equilibrium each and every time. THAT is a result of loving myself.
I know when I need compassion and a blanket. When I need encouragement and cheering. When I need a kick in the pants and to expect better of myself.
I want this love, compassion, trust, and unconditional space for everyone. I want this for YOU.
I am in your corner. I am your fan. I will cheer you on. You can do this and every hard step will pay off FAR more than you put in. Take the risk to be your best, most important relationship – you won’t regret it.