Dear quarter lives,
For some, there is no doubt in the world they are lovable. For some, their worth is clear to them. They are full of it, in the best possible way. Yet for many, what love itself is, is unclear. And so for those many, like myself, that are unsure of how lovable they are, I dedicate my words to you. To those fellow humans that are not quite sure of what it feels like to receive love, I am familiar with your doubts. I recently turned thirty and I am a little embarrassed to say that I am still unsure of the very thing on which all life is built — Love. That is not to say I wasn’t shown love, it is just to say my doubt in myself and my worth was always greater than any love I was shown, so I was never really open to receive this love that was being poured my way.
Doubt is an interesting creature; one that plants its seeds inside of us when we are very young, so long as it can find any little crack inside of us from which to root itself. To grow, this doubt feeds on the love we receive from others, which is why we are never nourished by those around us. But doubt doesn’t just grow without some help from us. It might be difficult for us to admit, but we can often be the ones supplying doubt with all the power it has, and that means we sometimes do things that harm ourselves. Though we would like to think that we are always acting in our own best interest, the uncomfortable truth is that often we are not. We are often more keen to validate our core beliefs (about us and the world) than to act in our own best interest. And so, we too, play a big role in starving ourselves of love. This helps reinforce and prove our core belief that we are not that lovable, that other people are more lovable, that they have better bodies, better families, better stories, that they are simply better and we, well we are just us — bad, broken, and unlovable. As dramatic and ridiculous as all this may sound, as true as it, unfortunately, is. It is true because that is what we believe. It is what we have told ourselves, therefore it is true, for us.
For me, the first step to getting back on my own side was admitting to myself that, unfortunately, this is what I believed about myself. But the goal here isn’t to inflict any blame on self, but rather, to give voice to the belief. The thing is we can’t really fully inhabit our bodies and live as us without giving voice to all the silly, ridiculous and even dramatic parts of us. It is okay to wallow sometimes in our own misery, so long as wallowing isn’t our predominant state. And after admitting the uncomfortable truth we believed about ourselves, it is important to take responsibility for it and that means acknowledging that it was our choice to take on this belief and it was us who, whether consciously or unconsciously, kept reinforcing it to ourselves. And in taking this responsibility, we are ultimately acknowledging our role in this conflict against ourselves. We are saying that yes if I can cause myself pain, I too, can soothe and heal my wounds. Claiming responsibility is one of the most empowering things we can do for ourselves. When you claim your actions, then and only then, can you change them.
In order for us to not repeat the same pattern of self-punishment, blame and condemnation, it is important to constantly remind ourselves, during this process of re-loving ourselves, that the way we acted towards us was the best way we could act. It was the best we could do based on the knowledge and level of awareness we had at the time. And now that we know better, we can act differently. But back then, we didn’t know better, and so we must learn to forgive ourselves. It is the compassion we show ourselves that later allows us to forgive others, but as it is with everything on this journey, we must always begin with ourselves. And I actually think forgiving ourselves might be the hardest, because to forgive ourselves fully we need to accept all our mistakes and all our failures up to this point. And it might be slightly easier to accept a failure towards oneself, but when we fail someone we love, it is much harder to let ourself off the hook for someone else’s pain, for pain we inflicted on someone very dear to us. And yes it might’ve been because we were in pain, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that the pain we caused another doesn’t count or that it counts less or that we don’t need to take responsibility for it. We must always try to the best of our ability to own up to any pain our actions might have caused another, even if it wasn’t intentional, we must apologise.
Finally, the last and hardest of all the steps is this one— grieving ourself. And that means grieving all the versions of us that never had a chance, grieving living all this time thinking we are not worthy of love. It is very sad. And it is okay for it to be sad. In fact, that is all the sadness wants from you, to be okay with it. Now, all you need to do is be with the sadness, and when you are with it, you will begin to love it, to appreciate what it has shown you, and you will at last stop trying to force it to be happiness. And so we need to allow our hearts to soften as we offer sadness a way through us and out of us. Otherwise, sadness sinks deeper and deeper within and gets stuck and then we get stuck. And so unless we make space in our lives consciously to meet our grief, the repressed grief will manifest itself in our lives in other ways; other ways that are much less desirable and that threaten to inflict further pain on ourselves and others. And so whether sooner or later, we must meet our sadness. Our sadness about ourselves, about how we expected our lives to turn out, about how they turned out much differently, about how we turned out much differently than we thought we would, about how we thought we would be all-together by now, that our lives would somewhat make sense, that we could make sense of our place in this life. And so you see, we must grieve our thoughts, our beliefs, our expectations. For there is no other way to settle into ourselves and our lives without doing so. It is the way to accept. And acceptance is the path to love. It is the path to a love that is free of conditions of time or change. To love no matter what. To love just because we can. It is not an easy journey. But you see, it’s not about it being easy, I don’t know what it is about. I know though it is about something different for everyone. I know too that all the journeys, all the paths, all the roads, do lead to Rome. And Rome, the City of Love, will open her arms wide to greet us when we finally arrive. And you will hear the whole sky cheer for you, you will hear yourself cheer for you, and finally, wholeheartedly, you will scream all by yourself and all to yourself — I LOVE YOU!
May we all find our Rome. Later or sooner, it doesn’t matter, so long as we do.
With love and always for peace,