I have explored the topic of self love previously. Recently, I came to a deeper understanding of this concept while attending a retreat. It happened while I explored why I feel inhibited at times around other people.
This exploration seemed to be related to my mother who died two years ago. Since then, I puzzled as to why I do not really miss her. I asked God why this was so. The answer came to me very clearly. There was no connection between us. I assumed a connection existed but the more I examined it the more I knew that this assumption was false. Accordingly, when she died there was no connection to miss. In my heart, beneath my denial and “beliefs” I knew this was true.
This insight left me feeling a profound emptiness. I saw how because I had no motherly connection I had never learned to love myself. And so I looked for love from other people. I sought to look good in the eyes of others, to entertain them and be the life of the party. I see now how this was a clinging, covetous, jealous love that generated friends who were not good for me. It made me hurt those people in my life who were good for me. I sought girlfriends I did everything to get and then quickly felt trapped by them. I never knew what I actually wanted in life and made quick decisions that I later came to regret. None of this ever took me to a place I wanted to be. These experiences made me feel good in the short term but never in the long term.
I saw all this and saw how empty I was. So I asked God to fill my emptiness with his love. To my surprise, the very clear answer I received was, “Fill it yourself.” He was right. I had to love myself first before I sought love from an external source. Having never really loved myself in the past I was at a loss as to where to begin. This was a place where God could help me.
It was through intent that God created this universe in which we live in all its mystery and complexity. Intent comes from God. And so I intended to love myself. I made the conscious choice to do so. Then God miraculously transformed me, and my own love for myself welled within me. I felt it. I wore a yellow and black checkerboard cloak. “I love myself,” I said inside with a silly, bemused fascination. I felt love within me in a way I had not felt as far back as I can remember.
Then I felt a profound love and gratitude for God. I felt his presence deeply but I longed for him to reveal himself in some more obvious way. I held my hands in prayer looking at the ceiling. “I love you, I love you, I love you…,” I repeated over and over. “I am so grateful!” And tears of grief for all the hurt that led to this point streamed down my face. All the regret for the emptiness and missed opportunity I held in my life for so long became starkly revealed. But my tears were also tears of joy. I sobbed for what seemed like hours.
I saw how my lack of self love made me incapable of offering authentic love to anyone else because I needed their love to make me whole. It was a transaction. I was a hungry ghost. I saw how my lack of self-love inhibited all my aims because I felt I had no entitlement to achieve them. I saw how my lack of self-love drove me to addictive behavior to fill the emptiness. I saw how if I don’t love myself and need validation from others then I will be inhibited in my actions because I will fear failure and humiliation. For how can I be validated from another person if I am a humiliated failure? And I saw how my mother had no love for herself either and therefore could not give me authentic love. I asked her forgiveness for never having a connection and for my lack of compassion. I forgave her as well.
Over the course of that long night, the tears would leave for a time and then came back again and again. Finally, the tears subsided and I felt peace and the healing process at long last began.
To love authentically I must first love myself. When I love myself I don’t need the love of another to feel whole. When I love myself I am capable of freely giving love to another who can then reciprocate freely and authentically. And of course, that authentic love is what I do need. Loving myself is liberating because I am not reliant on others or external circumstances to feel whole. If I love myself and find joy in myself then I never have to feel like I must engage in addictive or self-destructive behavior to fit in. My presence (in theory) will be a joy to others. If I love myself then I will not demand of others to be a certain way. I can teach and set an example and they may follow of their own accord. If they do then we will be in a superior harmony than if I compelled them against their will.
I said the healing began, but it is far from complete. I spent a life time not loving myself and it will take a while to build up an internal reservoir of self love to sustain me. It will also take time for me to learn the new patters associated with self love and to discard the old patters associated with its lack. Finally, it will take time for me to trust in the divine plan overseeing this transformation. Whatever it is and whatever it takes and whatever uncomfortable feelings I must endure to get to the other side of this I will do it. There are old internal forces of darkness within me who do not want me to change and will fight this process. But there is also an internal force of light that allowed me to love myself and that seeks my change of heart. That internal force is of course, the hidden one, the one who created the universe with his intent, the one I love and the one to whom I am eternally grateful.