I remember it like it was yesterday. It was about 105 degrees. I stood at the heart of Center City, Philadelphia waiting for my, then, lover. She hadn’t been to our home in days. We hadn’t had an argument, yet somehow she was absent from my life, with what I thought was no cause. Somehow, although we’d barely spoken, I had convinced her to go to couple’s therapy. At the time, I was over
350lbs., my legs ached from standing. With tears in my eyes, I watched as people climb the stairs. I wore a fake smile (something I still do when I’m very uncomfortable). I slipped my pink, shiny, cell phone in and out of my purse praying for a text from her, as I watched the big, yellow clock at the top of City Hall, glow (tauntingly) for two hours.
I called her phone. Straight to voice-mail. And although I knew she had abandoned me for the past week, I’d convinced myself that she was underground, on the train with no signal. Although she’d cheated on me, mistreated me, and took me through an emotional hell, I thought to myself, “no one can be this heartless.”
“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
— Maya Angelou
It wasn’t the first time I fooled myself. All of my life, I had spent most of my energy trying to prove to others what I was worth. And when they didn’t I tried harder. I was always sensitive enough to see that if I met myself on the streets I would be enthralled my intelligence, my natural empathy, my eccentricities. I never bought into the fact that I was garbage, yet I was convinced that no one else would ever perceive me as a treasure–but I still tried; When you are emotionally abused, rarely hear a kind word, it is quite hard to understand that love is an action word.
She never showed up. I wanted to turn around and go home, but no one was there. My heart was shattered. My friend’s already told me so. God already told me to let go. The proof was there. My only question was why?
I somehow ended up at the door of my therapist’s. I walked into the high-rise apartment building, still smiling like a mannequin, tears fighting with my eyelids, blinding me to my own name as I signed in at the security desk.
I tapped on her door, inhaling the lavender scent that swirled around my anxiety like a dance, forcing my spirits to lift–a little–I danced that dance with lavender every week for the next few years.
It took two traumatic heartbreaks, wasting my time pursing unworthy people, declining physical health, chronic loneliness and tears that I thought would never end–and of course years of therapy to realize that:
It’s me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence.
~Paula Cole, “Me,” This Fire
It was me the entire time–not her. As a child, I didn’t have a choice–or have knowledge of the choices that I had. As an adult, I knew the idea was to be independent, but I didn’t know that independence was not just about paying bills and working. Being independent is about having your own mind, making your own way, loving your own self, if no one else ever does.
I was resisting loving me, and when you resist what is inevitable your life will surely be a rerun of the lesson you are supposed to learn. What you resist will persist. It wasn’t everyone else that was being heartless–it was me. And until I began to love me, I realized that I would continue to be unlovable!
I will say it a million times! It is unfair to hold other’s to standards that you don’t hold yourself to. And lazy. How can we expect anyone to do the hard work of loving someone so human, when we can’t do it ourselves. No one said love was easy, but it is an action word. If you know that, then you know to put it into action!
I did it–do it–until I get it right. There is no formula for loving yourself, except to do what makes you smile, genuinely–from the soul and not on the surface (sometimes my spirit smiles, while my tears fall). For me, sometimes, it is watching classic episodes of Sesame Street. Other times, it is walking down the street, talking to God, not caring if people think I’m crazy (secretly, hoping they do). Recently, it has been doing the job that I feel I was made to do, utilizing myself as the gem that I am…But most of the time, it is telling myself loving things–loving myself is teaching people how to treat me, by treating myself well.
If you find yourself asking, “why?”, be sure the question is directed to you. Instead of asking someone, “why are you treating me like this?”, ask yourself, “why are you allowing someone to treat you like this.” So on, and so forth. I think you’ve got it. Right?
If you can wrap your arms around yourself, hug, and know that the key ingredient to the pie of life is knowing that you can only control you, you will find that no longer does your sunshine depend on someone else’s forecast. And thats a very good thing!
When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you. ~African Proverb
NOTE: Life coaching comes after the therapy. I needed to deal with issues that went back to childhood. I didn’t know what I needed to let go of. Coaching deals with now, not the past. If you are ready to set goals for today, and love yourself today, then coaching may be for you. Email me for your free, confidential consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org