Self-love has been my greatest challenge in life. I came out of childhood not really knowing who I was, what I liked or didn’t like and I had no clue how to listen to my inner truth.
I lost all ability to really know and understand myself because early on I was granted the task of caring for my bipolar mother. My world became about her needs and the needs of my younger siblings. I quickly understood that my needs, wants and desires didn’t matter. That the only way to survive was to put my entire family’s needs ahead of my own. So I did.
Thus, I arrived in early adulthood about as co-dependent as you could get.
As soon as I left my parent’s home I began the journey to find myself. To make choices based on what I liked, what I was interested in. This sounds good as a concept but I hadn’t a clue who I was or what I liked.
In my early twenties, I received three self-love secrets that have helped me on my journey to loving myself.
Self-Love Secret #1 – Move to feel yourself and your energy moving within you.
This first secret gift was revealed while attending a yoga class.
Mind you this was in the early ’80’s and hardly anyone was doing yoga. But I’d moved to a city and wanted to try this ancient form of movement that I’d read about.
I found this middle-aged Indian woman teaching yoga out of a seedy, run-down office building on the edge of an industrial area and walked into a room of about ten people sitting on green carpet backing. The Indian woman welcomed me with a thick accent as she offered me my own sticky green slice to sit on.
I didn’t understand most of the movement instructions but awkwardly I began to attempt to imitate the moves the Indian woman was making at the front of the room.
Wow, what was that? Could it be I was feeling my body?
I knew at that moment that I hadn’t ever felt this tingling inside of my whole being. After class, the teacher told me it was my energy moving inside of me. It blew me away!!
I was hooked. I’d found something I loved. Moving my body so I could feel my energy flowing inside of me. Over time, I came to know this energy as me. I came to love that me-energy.
Self-Love Secret #2 – Break free from focusing on others
At the same time, I was discovering yoga… I was dating a guy that I found irresistibly attractive. He was tall, dark and very handsome but also there was something different about him. Something I couldn’t really put a finger on. All I knew is that when I was with him — I felt at home.
About a month into dating this man. He turned to me and said, “If you like me, you need to go to this special place.” Willing to do anything this man said I agreed to go.
We drove to an old church and descended the dimly lit back stairs to the basement. He instructed me to go into a room where a group of women sat in a circle as he turned to go into another room.
Slowly, I entered the room and was greeted by one of the women. She said, “Welcome to Alanon.” I hadn’t a clue what that meant. I sat down in an empty chair and listened. By the end of the meeting, I knew I belonged in that room.
From that first Alanon meeting, I learned that what made this man different was he was an alcoholic in recovery. I felt at home with him because he had similar behaviors as my mother who had self-medicated with alcohol my entire childhood.
I intimately knew about the challenges of living with someone who drank and became unpredictable. I also recognized that I needed help to recover from feeling at home with alcoholics and losing myself in their challenges.
Alanon is where I began my journey to unhook from focusing on the needs of others — to recover from my disease of co-dependence.
Self-Love Secret #3 – Seek help
Yoga and Alanon were lifesavers for me and I began to go to meetings and classes several times a week.
Before long, the man I was dating fell off the wagon and disappeared from my life. I was heartbroken but didn’t really know what to do about my heartache.
In the middle of my grief, I met someone who suggested I try psychotherapy.
Why not? I thought. So I found a psychotherapist and made an appointment with her. Her name was Joy. I thought that was a good sign.
The first session went something like this…
Joy asked, “How are you?”
I answered, “I’m great. You?”
Joy asked, “How was your childhood?”
I answered, “Great. Yours?”
Then — I burst into tears. No one had asked me about my childhood. I slowly opened up and shared my childhood challenges with Joy.
I’ve continued psychotherapy off and on from then on. It is a safe place for me to work out the challenges of my past and how they affect me today.
I’ve come to know how to make the best choices in life for me first. And to understand that making the best choice for me is always the best choice for others around me.
These three secret gifts I received as a young adult have kept me on my journey toward self-love. I can honestly say that I accept myself for who I am, I feel worthy of love and I can not go a day without moving to feel me and my energy moving within me.
These three beautiful gifts have given me self-love. I’m so grateful!
Want a practice that includes all 3 self-love secrets? Click here to join the Ageless Movement Practices.
What has helped you to love yourself? Reply in the comments section below.