Self-Love: Valentine’s Day

I have to admit, I kind of hate V-Day.

Most years I simply ignore that it exists, especially since C is past the age of handing out random cards to everyone in her class.

Most of my life, I’ve been alone in February. I had a boyfriend in HS for 2 years. I was with someone in 99 and got flowers delivered, which was nice.

I was with my ex-husband in 94, but I was half way across the world and my gifts/card came late – I don’t think he even mailed them until after the day. Things were pretty strained between us at the time. And he left me 4 months later, so, you know, not a great memory.

I’ve spent a good deal of time this month reading and journaling about loving yourself. (And this month’s Wild Sister Magazine is all about self-love. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out.)

And for some reason, I’ve still been starting to get a little down. It could be that my mood state is shifting downward, because I don’t see much externally that should be causing it, other than the usual money stress (but that’s been constant for so long now, it’s normal).

I’m accomplishing more.

I’m establishing routines that are helping me.

I’m actually making lists of things that need to be done and taking steps to accomplish goals. And most days making progress on those lists (which is a HUGE thing for me).

I’m having great conversations every night with someone I care about.

I have fantastic friends.

My daughter is wonderfully amazing.

Dominee at Blessing Manifesting has a little (free) ebook called Be Your Own Valentine.

One of the things I found most powerful in it was an exercise that was surprisingly difficult to do. (She got this from Louise L. Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life).

Go, look yourself in the eye in a mirror, and say, “I love and accept you just the way you are.”

A lot of anxiety and some unidentifiable but powerful emotions came up for me when I did this. It was a little overwhelming.

Have you ever done that?

I mean, I’ve said those words or similar, and I’ve said them to other people, but not trying to hold my own gaze.

If you haven’t done it, try it. And yes, it feels a bit silly at first, but try to take it seriously.

And please share what happens for you.

Self-Love: Compliments

Since we are rapidly coming up on what my daughter’s friends call Singles Awareness Day (because nothing makes you feel as acutely aware that you’re single than Valentine’s Day, you know?), I thought I’d do a short series on loving yourself.

My friend N often says, “The only proper response to a compliment is, ‘Thank you.'”

Think about the last time someone complimented you. How did you respond?

“You look nice today.”

Did you say, “Thank you“? or did you say, “Oh, no, I have this huge zit right here!” or “My hair wouldn’t do what I wanted it to” or “I hate this shirt” or “I feel fat today” or some other self-deprecating comment?

Do you know what you’re doing when you do that?

You are telling yourself that you don’t like yourself very much.

You know the affirmations we’ve talked about recently?

This would be the opposite of that.

Affirmations try to counter your negative self-talk, and not accepting compliments, in fact denying them, can undo all the work you’re trying to do with the affirmations.

Back in November, someone I know casually on another internet forum connected to me on Facebook. While we were having a conversation about how we knew each other, he said, “you were always the scary smart one.”


“Scary smart”?

This guy is an attorney with a pretty impressive resume and rapier wit, so, you know, he’s not dumb himself.

And I know a couple of scary smart people like L, a math professor and researcher that excels at taking complex concepts and explaining them to the average person. Or S, the tax attorney that creates complicated spreadsheets to analyze test data or housing and investment trends for fun. 

I posted on my wall, well, here’s part of the conversation [I removed identifying stuff]:

Me: Someone just called me “scary smart”; I’m not sure I can live up to that.

Now, you expect your mother and sister to say complimentary stuff, but both T and G are themselves very smart, educated women whom I respect.

While I’ve been reexamining some of my inner work stuff lately, I realize that I totally do this. I mean, I deflect compliments.

M has said some very nice things about me lately, and my first, immediate emotional response is to deflect it, to deny it, to diminish it.

But by doing that, not only am I disrespecting myself, I’m disrespecting him and his opinions. 

And every time we deflect a compliment, we are saying to the person giving the compliment, “I don’t trust your judgment.”

So, from now on, when someone compliments you, how you look, how you dress, how smart you are, your parenting, your compassion, your kindness, your organizational skills, WHATEVER,  just say, “Thank you.”

And then stop for a moment and really think about what they said; take it in; LISTEN to it; repeat it to yourself; write it in your journal; do something that helps you remember it.

Because the old saw about loving yourself before you can love someone else? Totally true.

 But sometimes looking at ourselves through someone else’s eyes can help us get there.

"Love the least"?

Waterheart by ~fission1 found at deviantart

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Diana over at Sincerely, Diana wrote this post about The Race to Love the Least. She talked about a conversation she had with a friend when she first began dating her late husband.

She said that in every relationship, particularly every new relationship, there is a contest between participants.  The goal?  Be the person who loves the least in the relationship. She said that it occurs most obviously and frequently in relationships that are either romantic or on the way to being romantic, but that it happens in all types of relationships.

This has been running around in my mind ever since she posted it.

I think it could be true.

It’s hard to open up, let someone in, trust them.

Especially after you’ve had your heart broken.

And if it’s been broken more than once?

Ooooh, boy.

I know that in a lot of my relationships, I was the one that held back, that loved the least.

I’ve mentioned that part of my younger days were rather. . .  adventurous. There was a time when I didn’t spend a night alone unless I wanted to be alone.

But most of those were not relationships. They were sexual partners.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that – sex is a biological need, and I’ve never thought it should be shameful. Having sex was one way I used to deal with my manic energy before I was diagnosed. It may not have been the healthiest way, but it worked for a time.

I somehow found it very easy to keep most men at arms length, to have sex without becoming attached. Of course, I did go through a phase where most of the men I picked to have sex with were ones that I had nothing in common with. That made it easier to keep emotions out of the deal.

While I regret hurting my first husband, I didn’t actually find it all that hard to leave him. That’s because I wasn’t as attached as he was.

But there are problems with being this way, and the biggest one is, how do you let someone in when you’ve spent most of your life keeping people out?

It’s easier, less painful, to “love the least”.

But it’s impossible to find lasting love when you live your life that way.

Oh, I haven’t always been the one to love the least, and I have had my heart broken.

But I can tell that I’ve often acted out of fear instead of love.

Fear of being hurt, fear of offending someone, fear of doing or saying the “wrong” thing to push them away. . . .

I think even some of the times when I’ve been the most giving, it’s been out of fear, thinking something like, “If I can give him everything he wants, then maybe he’ll stay.”

There’s a lot of fear in that thought. And there are times when I’ve suppressed parts of myself because of that fear.

I am strong enough to know that I don’t want that anymore. I don’t want to live in fear.

But that has caused me to do something else.

It’s caused me to push everyone away. If no one gets a chance to get close, then there’s nothing to fear.

I find this interesting because there are some ways in which I’ve always been a “jump in with both feet without looking” kind of person. And there has been at least once when I did that with a relationship.

I know that there have been times when I have loved deeply and fiercely (even if it’s hard to remember exactly how that feels now).

And I do love. I love my daughter, I love my family (even though they drive me crazy!), I love my imaginary intermaweb friends who have helped me through so much.

But can I stop trying to be the one that loves the least? Can I act from a place of love instead of a place of fear?

I’d like to know how other people overcame this fear of being hurt and let themselves go to love.