Self-love is no small thing to find. We talk about long baths and buying ourselves flowers… But it is actually more about connecting to our truth. Actually honouring how we feel.
Here is an excerpt from my book “You Don’t Have to Eat the Eyeballs: A Story of Travel, People-Pleasing and True Self-Love” which was an absolute turning point for me in terms of self-love and really connecting with my little girl inside.
One day, during my travels, I was quite frustrated with a man who liked to visit the family I was staying with. It seemed like he was forever yelling and berating everyone. We would be sitting just having a nice time playing cards or chatting, he would walk into the room, start yelling at someone, and instantly the whole room would become quiet. The mood changed instantly from nice and easy to tense and depressing.
I witnessed this over and over again. Other people would come over and within ten minutes, he would be lecturing the new person about something. It was just annoying me so much!
At one point, I sat back and asked myself why this man annoyed me so much. Maybe he had a bad attitude. Maybe he had a temper. But why was he particularly hitting my buttons. Why was I taking everything personally – especially when he was never doing it to me!
The truth was that he sounded just like the critical voice inside my own head – the voice that says that people won’t like what I write. That people won’t like me once they get to know me. That I am too much. That it’s best to just assume that things won’t work out so that I’m not disappointed.
Yes, this voice in my head was just like this guy. It was relentless and every day, there was a certain part of my consciousness whose job it was to quieten it and keep it happy.
Once I realized this, I just wanted to delete it from my mind. I wanted to get rid of this negativity. But how?
I called a friend and asked him if he thought this was even possible. Could I actually delete this negative thought pattern from my brain?
My wise friend said, “No, it’s a part of you. You can’t delete it. Instead, you need to go deeper to find what’s underneath it. Stay in the swamp my friend. You’ll find the answer.”
So that night, I lay in bed and asked, “What is under this critical voice?”
The answer came. And I cried.
It was a little girl. It was a little girl who didn’t get invited to the birthday party. It was a little girl who didn’t understand the world. She didn’t understand why it was cool to be bad. She didn’t understand why it was wrong to try hard in school or why it was wrong to be nice to teachers. She didn’t have this rebel desire. She just wanted to be herself. But slowly she was realizing that if she was just herself, the other kids would make fun of her and she would be alone. Who she was was somehow wrong. She didn’t fit in. She was an outsider.
Oh how I cried for my little girl. I was instantly seven years old and feeling everything that my little self felt.
This was why this critical/protective voice was born. This voice took care of my little girl by telling her that other people didn’t matter. They just didn’t understand. There was no point hoping they will like you because they won’t. Other people won’t understand what you like to do so just don’t tell them. Keep your truth a secret. It’s better this way.
This way we won’t be disappointed.
Suddenly a million memories started flooding into me. Memories of things I had done that my little girl absolutely didn’t want to do. I was crying and my body was shaking and I was so hot inside. But I just let it flow and decided to write my little girl a letter.
Here is what it said:
I’m so sorry. I love you. I’m so sorry. I’m here now.
I can’t believe how often I made you have sex when you didn’t want to. I’m so sorry.
I’m sorry for all the diets I went on because they said there was something wrong with us.
I’m sorry for every moment I’ve looked at myself in disgust of the fat or cellulite or the shape of my breasts.
I’m sorry for making you exercise to the point of pain and still thinking that there was something wrong with us.
I’m sorry for working you into the ground.
I’m sorry for putting you in uncomfortable situations because my pride said we were strong enough.
I’m sorry for not speaking up for you when you didn’t like what was happening.
I’m sorry for not honouring your love of romance and settling for so much less.
I’m sorry for stressing you out when all I had to do was trust.
I’m sorry for not letting you cry.
Being A Beacon of Love
Years ago, I had asked my first teacher, Jim, what I was supposed to be doing with my life. What was my career supposed to be?
He replied, “You are meant to be a beacon of love in the world.”
What? This was not the answer that I was looking for. I wanted a meaningful job that paid the bills and made me happy. I had no interest in being a beacon of love. I wanted a real answer.
But now, more than 20 years later, as I headed out into the world on my new adventure, his words came flooding back to me. So much so, that I had a heart tattooed on my arm, so that I would remember what my “role” was.
Back on the Island…
But here, I was failing. I was struggling to love them. I could love them as human beings. But my judgement was definitely in overdrive and I really didn’t like them. So, to say I loved them was definitely not true.
One night, as I lay in bed struggling with my feelings of failure, wondering if they were mad at me, the lack of connection and why I was even there, something dawned on me. I had this whole “beacon of love” idea wrong. I was supposed to be loving me. It wasn’t about loving others.
Jim would never have recommended that I take on some kind of Messiah complex. I had totally misinterpreted what he had said. He never believed in saving others. He believed that each person was connected to God and each of us just had to walk our own paths. He believed that all of this saviour stuff was just an ego-trip.
I couldn’t believe it took me twenty years to figure out what he had actually said.
I needed to love me. I needed to make choices based on what was the most loving for me. And then, when I am filled with overflowing love, that love and kindness effortlessly spreads to others.
What Is Self-Love?
Finding self-love is no small thing. And I think the problem is that we are looking in all the wrong places. We think that it is looking in the mirror and telling ourselves an uplifting mantra. But that doesn’t work or we wouldn’t still be talking about it.
What was it really for me?
It was choosing my own happiness over the perceived discomfort of another.
It was looking deeply into my own pain from childhood and acknowledging my inner child and choosing to love and listen to her every day with the goal of fully integrating her again.
It was honouring my truth and no longer eating eyeballs. It was realizing that my truth was more than just my opinion or my preference. It was exactly how this soul responds to the world it’s living in. It is the truth of my soul. This is nothing to ignore.
It was believing in my perception of the world. Although the world seems to be so full of anger and hate and it seems so hopeless, I have always believed that there was real perfection in it, whether we could see it or not.
I have always felt a strong connection to God and although it is not the popular belief with many people, this is my truth. I have been accused of being naive, silly and crazy for sitting in silence waiting for guidance. And yet, when I wait, and I follow, such amazing things always happen – things that I could never have expected.
Honouring my beliefs about the world is the ultimate way that I can be loving to myself. Because within this world, I also get to follow my intuition, regardless of the thoughts of others. I get to stand in my truth and assume that it is important that I do it for some reason.
Self-love is just letting ourselves be our whole self. Full intuition listening. Full truth all of the time.
This is true self-love.