My Self Loving Journey

I had a conversation with a desk mate today that keeps echoing and resounding softly every few hours.  It won’t give me space, and that usually means I have thoughts to explore.  We talked about my walk again. She laughs every time she sees me walk, and she calls it a model walk while I counter with, “it’s a mom walk.”  She sees it’s different and worth a conversation.  Another co-worker started following me to videotape it, but stopped because I walk too quickly. It’s transportation but it wasn’t always.

Over a year and 3o pounds ago, I was the abandoned wife that had given birth to seven babies.  I was afraid to smile at men because I was afraid of my ex’s jealousy that I explored first in this post. I didn’t spend time out with friends, because the rare moments of solitude I had were selfishly spent alone because I needed the rare spaces I had. When he left without warning, I was shocked and my self worth plummeted with the life we created together.  I didn’t have a job, not really.  I was working part time, without benefits and I hated what I was doing. At one point I quit my job for one that fell through completely. I didn’t have close relationships because it was hard to build them in the isolation I lived in.  Within days my ex had a new special friend he was sharing his secrets with.  She would take his phone to text me the many ways I failed as a wife and mom and woman and person, and since she didn’t know me, it was clear that she was only repeating what my husband had told her.  It’s a miracle that I didn’t fall into one of my deep depressions and the reigning emotion I fought was rage. I’m sure you could imagine why I was angry.

I relied heavily on faith. I woke up in the middle of the night and fell asleep with a prayer on my lips.  I woke and prayed. I was determined to be a wife, even if my husband refused to be my husband.  In January I had an encounter that shifted things just enough.  There was a man.  It’s always about a boy and those posts were all tagged “crush watch.” It’s almost a hobby to fall into careful observations and entertain myself but it’s only happened here with an apology here, and my latest crush here (sans apology) since 2000.

He introduced himself to me a couple of times in our first encounter, and I had the distinct impression I was attractive to him. Naturally, I freaked out.  I went into the script that kept me faithfully waiting all of those months.  I told him that I was still married and not dating because of all of the things I believe marriage to be.  I did all I could to scare him away in that first meeting.  Over weeks he would become my first crush in 16 years through opening doors and appreciative smiles.  I started this blog right when I accepted that I liked looking at him and men in general. I still think of him fondly, but it was more about the shift he gave my perspective and the first few blog posts on this blog inspired by the way he made me feel (February and March in the archives).  Since then, I’ve remembered what it was like to have several people let you know you are attractive in the span of a week.  I’ve regained my confidence in walking up to a complete stranger and letting him know how beautiful he is.  Beautiful doesn’t mean I want to keep him.

I still believe marriage to be a choice to commit to one person for as long as you both live.  I still feel that you make a choice every day to be a spouse, and the feelings always follow.  I feel you give it 110% daily because unconditional love means you aren’t expecting anything as a barter, and you’re not holding back with expectations of something to lose. As for my marriage, I have accepted that without my permission it ended when my husband decided he was done, and almost a year later I accepted his decision with a choice of my own.  I decided I had taken enough abuse and it was time to offer myself the love I kept trying to extend to him in forgiveness.  I stopped offering forgiveness as love for him and offered it as love for myself.

The point is I felt so low.  I felt ugly and believed I was based on what I was told.  On my birthday I stepped out of my car in the heart of Hollywood after a night of crying. I had just decided my marriage was over because both of us had walked away.  I decided he had taken the last free shot at me because I was done being his doormat begging him to walk on me and wipe his feet on me.  A woman stopped me on my way to work and told me I looked put together.  I cried on the spot and she held me.  A complete stranger allowed me to fall apart and then held me up.  I was shattered.  There was something in her offering that was prompted by the grace she saw in my walk.

The walk was one I had in my early 20’s.  It was confidence.  It was feeling each step in the sway of my hips.  It was trusting my body and knowing I didn’t have to watch for my step.  It was a head held high, and walking with my arms swaying because when you are happy, opposition is your friend.  My strut was gone during my marriage because I didn’t want to encourage others to look at me.  It slowly came back and it was one of the first ways I began to remind myself that I love myself.  That, and dancing in front of a bedroom mirror.  You don’t do that?

There’s a current-ish crush.  It’s more fun distraction than anything.  I haven’t offered my unmasked self to him, even in friendship. My love and devotion is reserved for me and my sons.  I’m learning from Stephanie Kwong about self love this week and what she has said is inspiring my latest doodles and some of the thoughts running through my mind.

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She explained that loving yourself includes: self acceptance, self forgiveness, self respect, self trust, self receiving, self compassion, self permission, self appreciation, and self celebration.  I mainly walk in confidence, spoil myself with pedicures, take myself out and go hard on selfies.  There’s lots to be learned.

I started writing down what I love about myself, but again her questions really gave me perspective.  I love my sons unconditionally, but do I love myself unconditionally? Do I give myself conditions, or do I love myself in spite of my ugly side?  Can I name my ugly side, or do I pretend it doesn’t exist? Can I give others my whole self? Do I only allow others to see and love the mask I offer, or can I give others complete authenticity? Can I love myself the way I want to, in all the messy ways?

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Can I love myself when I’m being stubborn and not releasing what isn’t meant for me?

Can I love myself in sweats and without make up on the second day of my period with zits that I’ve picked into scabs?

Can I love myself when I feel like I’m being selfish and withholding from my kids? I will always feel like I need to give my kids more than I have for myself, but can I see the value in giving in to my desires as well?

Can I love myself through guilt and shame? I had a friend point out that the difference between me and everyone else is that we all think the same thoughts, but I feel bad when I’m thinking unkind things, even if I won’t give voice to these thoughts. This makes me a nice person. Can I love the fact that I have a hard time being mean?

I’m committed to move like I love myself.
I’m committed to act like I love myself.
I’m committed to speak like I love myself.
I’m committed to eat like I love myself.

I shared this with my Facebook family the other day. . .

I’m in a committed relationship with gelato.

I’m into Italians lately, but this one is special because I’m willing to splurge on it. I make sure it’s comfortable in the freezer. I take it out and it shows me a good time. . . A really good time with sounds that would make you blush. Our moments are special and I’m quite smitten. There’s no room for ice cream or frozen yogurt in my life. We’re exclusive.

Can I one day offer my love to another person in transparency and trust? (Today is too much to ask.) Can I be as open in person as I aim to be in my writing?

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