Self-love

I have spent five decades of life denying my needs. I was raised to believe it was selfish to take care of me. As an active alcoholic, I practiced a great deal of self-hatred. Being gay in the family and society and time I was taught me self-loathing. I had little chance to learn to love me.

I have often heard it said that we each have to take care of us. In early sobriety, I was told this was not true for me. I was told I had spent many years drinking in a selfish way. Loving and appreciating my strengths was denied me. It now appears to me this was another Puritanical way to get me to practice more self-hate.

Today, I embrace the idea that I must love me first. I have to open my eyes and recognize my beauty and be happy about it. Anything less than loving me first is a disservice to me and my family and friends.

A long friendship of mine ended recently. Learning to love me first played a role in my realization that this relationship was unhealthy for me. It was a relationship born between two people who were unequal. One was the superior and the other the inferior. Over the years, we made changes to try to equalize us, but I was never able to release my inferiority. The fault of that lay strictly with me.

As I have grown over the last several years beginning to love me, I grew uncomfortable in my inferior role. Recently, I witnessed myself being abused by passive-aggressive behavior and manipulation. For the first time ever, I spoke up and stated firmly that I recognized this abuse and that I rejected it. My friend was misusing me.

I reject abuse. I am worthy of respect. I am lovable.

Those simple words have been foreign to me my whole life. I was acculturated early in life to believe I was vile and subhuman, because I was gay. I turned for solace to alcohol and became its slave. After the psychiatrist told me I had bipolar disorder, I felt the natural shame that accompanies a diagnosis with mental illness.

I lived my whole life hating me.

As I sit writing these words, I turn away from self-hate. I embrace self-love. I give me permission to love me first. My hope is by loving me I will be able to love others more freely and completely.

It has been a week since the end of my long friendship that was based in an old way of self-hate. In this time, I have spent hours ruminating over my part of our relationship and its end. I can say I feel free now. I walk taller. I am lighter.

It’s funny. With my new decision to try life loving me first, I find I look at others differently. I care more. I wish to cause less pain. I want to give love.

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7 thoughts on “Self-love

  1. I can certainly relate to the content in your post. “Mindfulness” is the new word the I am focused on. Suddenly, after reaching nearly seven years in sobriety, I have been enlightened with mindfulness. I am mindful of watching people treat other with compassion…and want nothing in return. Prior to my current mindful state, unless their was something in it for me, I was not interested in you. I am mindful of what is generally my first thought and too often, what is verbalized. Instead, I pause to consider whether or not, something inappropriate is teed up and ready for launch. Etc.

    • I am also interested in mindfulness. Being aware of how my actions affect others around me is vital to my well-being. Noticing my own emotional reactions to what is taking place around me assists me in monitoring what I give back. I have too often ignored my own emotions and simply reacted in prescribed ways. I am listening to me more, and that enables me to react in healthier ways. Pausing is always a healthy response for me.

  2. Gee, all you had to do was ask. The rest of us could have given you a long list of the things we love about you. I’m proud of your growth. (As if I had anything to do with it. This is your glorious work.) Love you.

  3. I know someone who loves himself – or his abilities – a little too much. Perhaps he doesn’t love himself enough and thinks he must be loved for his abilities. In any case, I think residing in love in which you love all, yourself and others, is definitely the way to go. That doesn’t mean allowing others to hurt and manipulate you because that would not be loving yourself. And that does not mean to hurt and manipulate others because that would not be loving others. I believe God is love. When you live in love, you live in God. Blessings!

  4. I’ve missed you! So glad you are back. Self-love is a tough one, and one that I am actually focusing on in therapy right now. So grateful for your insights.

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