Happy New Year, kittens. Add this to the thousands of reasons why you deserve to have a year of adventures, magic and deep love in 2013: You have helped me to heal.
YOU have helped ME to heal – a person you have not met, isn’t related to you and isn’t crying on the shoulder of your favorite cashmere sweater, with an occasional nose wipe on the sleeve. You are all so remarkable – you GET that we’re all connected and that to help me heal is to help the world heal. Each moment you spend here at HGM makes the world a happier place. You pick up a seed of wisdom from a kitten or me and plant it in a place near you. It sprouts and nourishes those most in need of its fruit. And so on.
Thank you so much for spending time with me and for helping me, cheering me on, warning me, keeping me on track and making me laugh. 2012 was a memorable year. How’s that for a positive spin? Yes, it had its bleak, truly awful, moments. But the growth, the magic, the things I discovered about myself and about how this planet works were worth every tear shed (shed…that implies sloughed off – how about heaved, poured out, drowned in), every moment of fear, and every blue day. I’ve learned so much. From all of you.
And I’m still in class! I know this because I’m not dead. Thank God. Which means you’re all still my teachers. I hope you’re game. We’ve got a lot to accomplish in 2013. And what better place to start than with a reminder to us all about the importance of loving yourself.
I received this comment a few days ago from T:
Love yourself is such a hard thing to do after his affair. My boy genius had an affair and left 4 months after I gave birth to my darling daughter. I feel so angry at times and its now almost a year since he left and I cannot let it go and love myself. How do you do it ? Thanks Cleo- your blog is helping me.
I’ve pondered your question since first receiving it. My intention was to reply to it and post, as I normally do. Then the realization hit that we both have something we need to learn here. You want to know how to fall in love with yourself, and I need to revisit why I love myself. Both of our needs are big; perfect for a post on a night such as this. As I believe the most sound foundation to a joyful life is one constructed out of self-love. And a great new year begins with a solid foundation.
I look awful in carpenter jeans. Seriously. Pouring my Swedish hips, by way of Brazil, into pants with thigh pockets designed to hold power tools basically makes me a redwood. Not an attractive look for a human, but so explosive and grand coming out of the Earth.
So, you have to wear those.
I’ll wear the knee pads and elbow pads, face mask, and the harness that fits like a diaper. You’ll be laughing at me, for sure.
Time to build. But first we excavate.
He cheated on you. It was a decision he made and you bear no responsibility in it. Even if you were the world’s worst spouse. There is no justification for infidelity. Grow a pair (man or woman) and have a conversation. But the debris – the fall out – from his choice remains inside you.
It’s time for the dumpster.
All those monologues you recite to him as if he’s standing in front of you get tossed like wet pieces of dry wall. Your tears made them structurally unsound. It’s time to heave. The broken glass and pointed nails and itchy fiberglass, your pain and anger and fear, land on top with a satisfying thud. They’ve done their hard labor. As smelly and dirty and dangerous as the debris is, you spend time acknowledging each piece before you toss it with thumb and forefinger over the edge of the dumpster. If you don’t know what to say to them, just say thank you each time you lob one over the edge. Do not over-think this. Just love it. Buy into the true fact that thoughts become things, so the fractured, dank, messy ones MUST go. Like black mold.
The most satisfying part of excavation is the clean sweep. The final farewell to the snide remarks or wishes of karmic revenge or public humiliation. That’s all about him and it matters not to you. Open the side door and sweep them all out into the wind. If another materializes, back to the door with broom in hand.
You can’t spend time loving yourself if you’re spending your time hating him.
It’s no longer about him. It can’t be. This is YOUR life. You are responsible for your life. It’s not going to feel good at the end of this wild ride to say:
Well, I wasn’t very successful at living my life, but I sure carved him into pieces, huh?! I planted the flag with that anger, and defended it till my last day. Nobody could take it from me. I perfected my speech on how he deserted his family and broke my heart! How karma was going to get him back. I never got to deliver it…but I sure rehearsed it a lot!
What? Karma wants to talk to me, too?
She would if you gave up on this arduous challenge, thereby forgoing all the magic she knows you can create.
So, you’re all cleaned up, space has been made, you’ve released the negative chatter, anger and fear. Yes, they will return, but next time you’ll greet them as visitors and not residents, and see to it that they don’t overstay their welcome.
Now you’re ready to learn how to love yourself. Put away the notepad. This is a one-liner.
You chose to.
Make the choice to love yourself. Simply decide you will. I guarantee you it will be the absolute best decision you make. Ever. Because from this one decision all others will be guided by your love for yourself. You will soon consciously make choices that make you feel good. Not feel bad-good (overindulging, say) but genuinely good. Maybe in a way you’ve not felt in a long time.
Now, before I tell you all the reasons why you need to love yourself, just say it.
I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you. Really and truly, totally and completely love every inch of you, you delicious morsel of humanness, you. I love your laugh, the way you sneeze, the way refried beans make you gassy, and how you hiccup when you’ve had too much red wine. I love how your ears and teeth and toes are different from everybody else. I love your spirit. Your determination. And I love how you can be even more spirited and determined.
Why should you love you?
Because you’re brave. You’ve been loyal to you since your birth. You built you. You take on each day. You are alive at the most perfect time in the history of the world. The stars shine, the trees grow and give to you the air you need to live. When sadness clouds your vision the Earth still puts on a show of beauty so you don’t miss a second when your sight returns.
You’re a marvel. You walk, talk, think, feel.
Because only you can love you like you can love you. Every other love, mother, father, sibling, spouse, comes to you, not from within you. All love is great love, but that which comes from within and is meant only for you is pure, without question. And, like water in the desert, your love for yourself is essential in order to thrive, and at times in life, simply survive.
You are you, utterly unique. No event shall determine how lovable you are. You are lovable because you are alive. Somehow you made it through all the star dust and dark matter and found your way into your mother’s womb before somebody else did. Not an easy task.
For that reason alone you deserve to be loved.
Make the choice to love yourself.
That one big choice will make it so much easier to make all the little choices that reinforce your commitment to loving yourself. Choosing to let a negative thought float away rather than rolling in it like a dog on a dead animal. Choosing to smile right at the moment when you’d just rather not. Choosing to say hello to fear, and then remind it that it’s not useful within you, or productive, and is best left to working horror movies being filmed on closed sets in Hollywood.
Choosing to literally pull yourself back if you notice your mind running up ahead, digging up all sorts of things to fix or worry over. Instead, remind yourself that you’ve successfully navigated the worst parts of betrayal, an obstacle course like no other. These last two mammoth challenges – letting go of anger and loving yourself – deliver the sweetest rewards. Trust me, when you taste them all other confections will need to up their game to compete. That includes the love from your child. But she may only have to up it a smidge.
How is that possible?
Because you chose to love yourself. Right now, at 14 months old, your daughter loves you because you keep her alive. She laughs because you’re funny, but also because she can. Because she’s alive. And you’re the one keeping her that way. Later on she’ll grow to consciously love you as she comes to understand love. How will she understand it? Because you’ll teach her. You love her so very much, that you’ll also teach her how vital it is to love herself.
Boy, your daughter has perfect timing. She will be absorbing your every move, learning to echo your voice, mirror your thoughts. She is going to learn how to live her life initially through how you live yours. Look at what a perfect creation you made! The very best study partner!
You’ll teach her about compassion, optimism, and empathy, all by making the choice to love yourself. And she’ll remind you daily of all the reasons why you should. One day you’ll be able to teach her about forgiveness, and about how forgiving another is an act of self-love.
That’s a rock solid foundation for her.
For you, T, loving yourself will make it okay to let go. Anger doesn’t feel good. Neither do callouses. Unless they are from building your sanctuary. I’m feeling I Dream of Genie. All that love you give yourself can be the purple shag rug, and everything that goes into your bottle is soft, tender, playful, spirited, and full of promise.
It’s time to build the bottle, T, your sanctuary. After the roughing it you’ve done over this last year you deserve something plush. And nothing screams plush like love.
Tomorrow I will walk the sands of Limantour. It’s been exactly one year since our camping trip from hell. This time last year we were days from being ripped apart forever. I plan to relive that trip (there’s something yet to uncover there) and the days that came and went in 2012 with each step, going south till the water prevents my passage and then north until the sea heads inland, where the seals gather and the whales turn west to round Pt. Reyes.
I will set my intentions for 2013 surrounded by dunes and sand cliffs, waves of ocean water and beach grass, birds and whales, the deep blue of the daytime sky. Nature will be my witness as I say goodbye to all that needs to leave and make my choices for how I will live my life as this pristine year is born, free of all the blemishes of past years.
My gratitude, T, for reminding me why I deserve to be loved by me. Why we all deserve to love ourselves. Thank you for giving me a reason to be excited for tomorrow. I’m spending the day with someone I love.
Happy New Year. One day at a time. One choice at a time. Each moment in time, magic.
2013 is going to rock.