Forbidden Love

It’s the love that seems to be the thing that all self-development addicts are reaching for. The love that is claimed to be of vital importance and make some of the biggest gains in our health. The love, that despite valiant efforts to reach it, always seems just out of reach.

We can find solace being in search of this love. If we’re on a journey to acquire it, it’s seen as an honourable journey.

But when it comes to actually being in love with ourselves? Consistently treating ourselves as we matter and in a way that one could only assume we nothing more than are in absolute love with ourselves – well, that seems to be another story.

So many of us are on a path to self-love. What I have noticed is that self-love seems to be something we like making attempts at, not something we are actually too committed to having.

I feel that this is where our two minds butt heads. On one hand, the gurus and all the books we read speak wonders of self-love and how it should be a must in our life. On the other hand, we have all of these old stories and beliefs that judge this concept and resist it. Sure, you can pursue it. Have a one night stand. But actually going for it? Actually committing to go steady with yourself? Then those beliefs pipe up and shut it down. They find ways to convince us out of it, make us feel incapable of having such love. Society is a great reinforcer here too – because as much as we hear self-love is good, there’s a whole other choir of voices spewing that self-hate and self-sacrificing is the right way to go (inconspicuously of course).

I believe it is tremendously hard for us to commit to this forbidden love because we still hold worth, value, reinforcement, and comfort within our old self-hating way of being.

I have delved pretty deep into my psyche on this one and I’ve found there is certainly an element of value and belief that “I am a good person” because I treat others better than myself, because I self-sacrifice. I also know that by judging myself so harshly and preemptively rejecting myself – I take away the ammo from those who might think badly of me, and give them no reason to have to throw that shit my way because I’ve already covered myself in it. And if they do throw shit my way, I’m accepting it and layering it on (“Yah I know I am, don’t you see the shithole I put myself in?”) instead of feeling embarrassed caught thinking more of myself than they do.

I have created worth there. Worth – and a pretty significant story that I’ve never truly tested for validity. The story about being loved by others for being this way. Living this story and (for the most part) being accepted by others leaves me in a place where it “could potentially be true”. and if there’s any part inside that still holds onto that belief – it basically means I’m asking myself to trade connection for self-love. Not a very inspiring call to action if that’s the outcome of embracing self-love. I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who holds stories and worth in the ‘anti-self-love’ side. It may not appear as that at first, but I encourage you to look deeper and see what is really reinforcing your self-hateful ways.

 

If I stop judging myself, putting myself down, and treating myself like I matter less – I leave myself open to a different type of rejection. I leave myself vulnerable to holding my own worth and risking having others disagree or reject me. Not only are they rejecting me now, they would also be rejecting what I believe in and who I love.

To have self-love is to put myself in a position where I’m now fully endorsing my own brand. Myself, as imperfect as I am, now standing behind and loving wholeheartedly.

I’m not just being me. I’m being me and saying it’s okay. And not just “okay”, but showing the world that I’m completely lovable.

How fucking terrifying is that?

It makes the quest for self-love seem much more romantic than actually getting there. No wonder we stay stuck “trying to love ourselves” instead of just doing it. Saying we are struggling to love ourselves is almost another way we save face in this forbidden love journey. Acknowledging and discussing how difficult it is for us to love ourselves can be a way we keep ourselves comfortable in this uncomfortable quest; however, it is also a way we can keep ourselves stuck in not getting past the struggle. Declaring to a friend that “I am struggling being nice to myself” is a lot easier than simply BEING nice to yourself in front of others. It’s like we are still holding onto the story of “I know I’m not THAT great, see how much I’m struggling to not beat myself up?!”. We take some pride in the struggle and it helps us feel better discussing it with others – because the intention of self-love is received quite honourably, the actual act of loving yourself proudly is a scary place of uncertainty.

Of course, we know the intention of self-love isn’t the same thing as having it. It doesn’t give us the benefits that we so desperately want in our lives. This is why we must become unstuck and get out of the “trying” trap.

The ongoing self-love journey is a trap of comfort with just enough valuable effort and discomfort to make us believe we are doing good.

We aren’t. We need to commit to this forbidden love. Get realistic about what’s keeping you from just loving yourself – and find ways to let those things go and move on.

The more we know why we are stuck being a commitment-phobe, and what benefits we’re getting from our casual love affair, the better able we will be to stop saying “I am trying to love myself” to saying “I do”.

To Slay or Not To Slay

 

A year ago I had a choice in my hands. I could have slayed the dragon; but I dropped the knife, and decided to save her instead.

I need to forgive myself for how I chose to survive. I need to forgive myself for betraying myself. For not loving myself. For letting myself not matter. For accepting the unacceptable. For giving what I shouldn’t have given. I need to forgive myself for thinking so low of myself it was justified for others to step on me. I need to forgive myself for finding worth down there.

I need forgive myself for considering not surviving it. I need to love that girl who felt so trapped she didn’t even believe there was a way out of this.

I need to stop minimizing the weight of what was on me and blaming my own weakness for my struggle.

I need to forgive myself for needing a video to teach me something I should have known. I need to forgive myself for not truly getting the message for so long.

I need to forgive myself for almost giving up the possibility of what I have now, for almost giving up everything I believe in and everything I had created and wanted to create, out of fear. Out of terror.

I need to forgive myself for not holding myself in compassion. I need to love the part that makes it so hard to be kind to myself. To forgive. To accept. To love.

The part that still judges me for all of this. The part that judged me into all of this. That’s not the part that got me out.

I was so brave. It didn’t usually feel that way. But I was so fucking brave. Brave enough to shake my way through it. Brave enough to throw away my blinders and do something about it. To decide to matter. To decide to live. To decide to love myself enough to save myself.

This year I experience it all over, in a whole different light. I have distance, perspective, I’m on the other side now. I am proud and grateful for that girl’s struggle. For my decision and perseverance and determination. I love her for what she did for me.

But it’s not all happy when I look back. I can see how horrible and terrifying and sad it was on a whole other level now. Now that I’m not in it, coping, surviving. I can feel it with a new knowing. A knowing of how unacceptable that was. Of how terrifying it was. Of how wrong it was.

At the time I was going through it, I was still working my way through the wrongness of it. I was still battling with whether it was “actually bad”, whether I was just making it seem worse. I remember sitting there, bargaining with my therapist, of trying to determine where the “line” really is – how I should be deciding what is okay and what isn’t. How I determine if I’m terrified because I’m weak or because it’s dangerous. I wanted to justify my situation and work on my reaction to it. I wanted to excuse it. I was flailing through this. All this bargaining of lines and trying to avoid the reality. I remember him stopping me mid-ramble of what I can only describe as one last desperate plea on my part –  “It sounds to me like you are trying to get me to give you permission to stay in an unsafe situation”. I’ll never forget it. He was dead on. In a way that utterly crushed me – and freed me at the same time. I’ll forever be grateful for having the wind knocked out of me that day.

And this year, I know this all on a deeper level. I’ve seen what it can be like when it’s not like that. I’ve experienced what a healthy relationship feels like. How being treated with respect and love can feel. And it certainly isn’t even in the same realm. There’s no need to question which behaviour is acceptable. No trying to determine where the line is of abuse versus my sensitivity. I’m able to be open, connected, vulnerable, authentic – in safety, always. And for this, I’m deeply grateful. To him and to myself.

And yet, knowing this side. Being on this side, clarifies how blind I was and how hurt I was. How wrong it was. How much of a decision it was for someone to do that- not just simply “what relationships are like”. Knowing how good it can be highlights how bad of a situation I was in before – how badly someone decided to hurt me and thought it was okay. How much I didn’t matter.

I have been consumed with sadness and anger lately; turning it so quickly inwards that it’s coming out as feeling like a failure in everything I do. I find myself judging how I am with friends, feeling incapable in business, and having no energy to accomplish anything I feel I should be doing. Feeling like a bad person. Feeling not good enough. Making me want to quit.

Avoiding the emotions beneath – it’s easier to just feel inadequate and beat myself up. Similar to last year. It was the easier choice – to give up and go back to being weak and just decide not to press on. And this year? I guess it’s easier to beat myself up and determine I’m a failure, instead of sitting in the emotions of my experience. And why don’t I just do this?

Because I haven’t forgiven myself. Because I still judge myself. Because I still won’t face the severity of what I went through. Of how hurt I was. Because I still own too much of it. Because I stubbornly want my new life to be all that matters, to not give my past and my emotions from past things to be heard or acknowledged. I want to be better than them, not at the mercy of what happened to me. I judge myself for still being affected. And yet I know, this is anger for what did happen, it shouldn’t be a weapon against myself.

So a choice again. A choice to be with what is – to lean into it. To give myself permission to let those emotions be there. A choice to love myself through it. To be brave enough to sit in it. To be open with what’s going on for me.

To not let myself just give up, minimize, and hate myself for my struggle. To not just have nightmares, but to wake up and face them.

To process whatever I need to, even when I don’t want to.

You can’t be the bully and the friend at the same time.

You can’t be trying to save yourself while you hold yourself under the knife. Well, you can try. But, trust me, it just doesn’t work out. No matter how much you say you want to help yourself and love yourself, you’re still the threat. And no one can get better when it’s not safe.

So here’s my choice again. And yet, I know. It’s really no choice. It’s a done deal. I just have to get to the point that I’ll give myself enough permission to act on it. Because I know there’s only one end I want to end up on.

I can’t be the one holding the knife. The last time I had this decision, I wasn’t the threat. It’s different now, and yet it’s still the same choice. I won’t let the dragon be threatened. Even if I’m the threat. I need to be the one helping the dragon get stronger, or better yet, just accepting it for everything it is.

I must put down the knife I’m carrying, and just fucking love the dragon.