You want self-love. I know you do. You want to be metaphorically wrapped in your own embrace, feeling truly consoled like your own support is enough to hold you up when you stand or fall.
You crave a permanent safety net - that of your own love, there to catch you if you fall while taking the risks you know you need to take to create what you want.
You desire to be soothed by the sweet affection of your own encouraging words - you want to receive these words and believe them, let the love soak through your skin into your bones, strengthening you with each word.
I understand, love. I've been there and am still here at the same time.
Here’s the thing: I do not believe that self-love can be taught - like the calculated answer to a math equation, 2 + 2 = love; or the cognitive philosophy in an english poem- to love or not to love, that is the question. Of course, our answer to that question would be “YES”, however growing a genuine love and affection for ourselves is usually not so simple.
I do believe, however, that self-love can be learned through direct experience - like the tripping and falling of a small child while learning to walk, perhaps sobbing on every crashing tumble and the subsequent craving of comfort in a loved one’s arms to console her at each fall, letting her know it will all be okay. In each tear-filled fall comes a powerful lesson that makes each sequent step a bit more experienced than the one before. In the end is a child walking with ease, even running or bravely climbing on kitchen tables. The experience of walking is the foundational skill that paves the way for some of her greatest adult accomplishments - walking in a peaceful protest or climbing a rugged mountain - the seed of which, was nourished with each fall and rise, fall and rise in her youth.
The cycle births the knowledge. This is how I believe love can be learned. In cycles of falling and rising.
The secret, I believe, is in absorbing the lesson of every fall, and to do that, we need to not run away from the falls. We need to experience them, cry, yell, break down, tear at our clothes, go sobbing down the street as a grieving mess, etc. We need to give ourselves abundant room to grieve each fall, because that space to experience our falls and experience whatever emotions come with them is how we get the power to rise... it's how we fill up the holes inside of us and put ourselves back together again.
On the other side of that grief is a beautiful thing called praise, which teacher and shaman Martin Prechtel shares is another word for the same thing in Tzutijil Mayan language. We grieve those who die because we love them. Similarly, we cry when we fall because there is - at the very least - a tiny granule of spirit within us that does genuinely love ourselves. It's our magic to uncover that love, and we do so in the cycle of falling and rising, falling and rising.
So, sweet woman, as you go through your life falling and rising, understand that the love you are seeking is within you, that the embrace you crave is waiting for you to turn around and walk into it, that the soothing words you desire are eager awaiting your discovery of them, and that this love is embedded into all of the circumstances of your life, and that all you really need to do…. is listen.
You are loved.