What do you do to show yourself love?
The other day I noticed my drain in the bathroom was clogged. And by the other day, I mean a few weeks ago. I finally ran into my landlord and mentioned the tub was not draining. He then diligently called a plumber and took care of it. Today I felt slightly humiliated when I realized that, while I took most of my post-it notes to myself down when the bug man came last week, I had left the one in the bathroom up. I got all worried that now not only did my landlord think I was looney, but the plumber was probably like “uhhhhhhhhhhh.” It tore me up for about 10 seconds and then I simply decided to not care. Which is actually huge for me!
So here is the thing, my childhood was not pretty. My adulthood, has also been filled with a lot of drama and heartache mostly caused by myself. Learning to love myself has been a 36 year long journey, that I can finally say I am just getting a grip on. I was in a session with my therapist a couple months ago ranting about how someone didn’t respond to something the way or when I “expected” them to. My therapist was very quick to point out I am codependent. And when she pointed this out to me, something finally clicked. I wasn’t mad, I felt grateful! Codependence? Well putting a name to it meant there was help. I could figure things out! First I had to rearrange in my head the idea of what I thought codependence looked like.
When I was younger, my dad wanted me to read Codependent No More. I am kind of stubborn, (a lot stubborn in fact) and I only picked the book up once. And only long enough to cement a belief that codependent people were only enablers of drug addicts and alcoholics. The stories in the beginning of this amazing book were rather serious and since I hadn’t any relationship experience at that age, I quickly dismissed the idea that I was codependent. My dad explained to me when I was younger that it is more than that. It is doing things for people and expecting them to do the same or more in return. In my teenage brain I thought that simply meant that I could give gifts to people, but I shouldn’t expect any reward for giving. And that is what I categorized codependence as.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in my session with my therapist, that I realized it was more than that. When my friend hadn’t responded to me,I was so upset. The caveat here is that I had an expectation, that this person didn’t know I was expecting a response. And who am I to dictate how a person spends their time? How dare they not think of me first in the 2 seconds they may have had available and then not respond to me?!? Seriously who the heck do people think they are!? And there it is, that clear expectation you have in your head, that no one else knows about and you’re angry about it. And you put so much energy into being angry and hurt that you are basically miserable.
My therapist is amazing and she recommended a few books for me; Facing Codependence and Facing Love Addiction. I ordered them immediately off of eBay. I love eBay, cheap used books in two days! I also asked my dad for a copy of Codependence No More and he and my madre (she doesn’t like being called stepmom) sent me a brand new copy and a workbook. I started pouring over it and immediately my life started changing. What I am learning about codependence is basically, if people who are supposed to love you and build you up tear you down, then codependence exists. It begins forming in order to try and find someone or something to fill that empty hole a parent or role model dug that tells you you are not good enough. That you aren’t loveable. We try so hard to fulfill ourselves through others approval and approbation. But we usually attract what we are and we end up trying to find people who cannot give us what we need. Only to discover the love we are looking for can only be found within ourselves. We cannot expect others to love us for real unless we are showing ourselves love first.
I had a few weeks where I was just angry off and on (and I anticipate that I will have more because I refuse to be arrogant enough to believe I have beaten this. It took me 36 years to build this mess, it is probably going to take some time to heal). I was so upset that I thought so little of myself throughout my whole life. Realizing I basically put myself through different levels of hell because I didn’t feel worthy of not just other people’s respect, but my own. And then I would get angry at some things I couldn’t change. Eventually what it comes down to is, “How can I fix myself? What do I need to do to learn to actually love myself?” And it is strange, because this is a concept that has been shoved down my throat for my entire life, yet I could never actually do it. Then after reading and researching, lightbulbs are going off. It is so empowering to realize you can actually love yourself.
I made a decision that I don’t need a man. (Obvious right? Well, not really for me) .I can date myself. No more waiting around for someone else to see me for who I am. No longer would I wait for someone to take me out on romantic dates to the park or dinner and a movie. I would treat myself to little surprises and thoughtful things that I would probably do for someone I cared about. And it is crazy silly how excited I was to do these things for myself. There is something in me that truly wants to love myself. And I feel like I have discovered how to do it.
I took myself to the park, sat in the wind and the shade. I read my book, then listened to jazz and while I journaled. The next day I took myself out to SaltAir to watch the sunset. And I didn’t need anyone else. The joy I felt cannot be described. It is extremely important to me that I was feeding and nurturing my soul. Taking care of myself first has never been a priority. Saying no to things is becoming easier. Putting my needs before others doesn’t seem selfish, but necessary.
On my drive out to SaltAir I decided to listen to love songs. Something I hadn’t been able to do in a while. The thought of opening myself up to anyone in a serious manner has terrified me. So I avoided listening to love songs. I am incredibly grateful I took time to listen. With each song that popped up on this particular playlist, I began to try and dedicate it to myself. Some of the songs it worked, and for some it didn/’t. But I found a love song for myself that day: I Choose You by Sara Bareilles. In my head throughout all of the stupid decisions I have made, I dedicated this same song to men who did not deserve me. Dedicating it to myself changed the song for me. I always loved it, but it used to represent a longing for something I desperately wanted and was seemingly so far out of reach. It wasn’t until that day when I realized I needed to choose myself, that this song was my song and that choosing myself was exactly what I wanted and needed.
Oh yeah…. The post it notes. I promise there is a point. That night I made a decision to love myself. And I am a firm believer in daily affirmations, so naturally I decided to write love notes. I posted them on all of the mirrors in the house. And while I was momentarily embarrassed that others outside of my family may have noticed the love notes, it doesn’t matter. I love myself. I love who I am. I love that I am sensitive (something I can easily beat myself up about). I love that I have compassion and sincere empathy for people. When I ask someone how they are doing, I genuinely mean it. And I have no shame that I choose to remind myself of these qualities. I believe my life lessons have given me a great gift of compassion and empathy. This is something that is not always easy for others, and I am proud of who I am and how far I have come. There is no need to be self conscious, because I wouldn’t be me without my trials and heartaches. And being me is pretty freaking fantastic!