Happy Valentine's Day ~ Love Yourself

This is one of the posts recovered after a botched website move three years ago. It was originally written and published on February 14, 2012.

Cyn over at The Chunky Goddess created this meme (which rhymes with "theme," by the way) for Valentine's Day, and when I learned what the context of it was, I told her I was "all-in."Cyn wrote, "Valentine's Day is usually associated with showing our love for that special someone or someones in our life. I would like to change things up a bit and focus on loving ourselves - the importance of it and how it has affected your journey.Loving myself is something I have struggled on and off with for a long, long time - I just didn't know how to label it until I started seeing a psychologist back in 2003.My lack of self-love had reached an all-time low over that summer, and I contemplated suicide more than once.Whatever survival instinct still lingered within me spurred me into the action of calling a counselor who, in that initial telephone call, extracted from me a promise - a verbal contract, she called it - not to hurt myself.I entered into the contract with only a little reluctance, because in the span of that short conversation she made sure I understood that I was important; that I had value and that someone - she - cared.As much of my time in counseling was spent in peeling back layers of trauma and pain as was spent learning to love myself.Weekly homework included such things as lighting candles for the simple pleasure they brought me, cleaning my body with gentle mindfulness in the shower, saying "no" to those things which didn't nurture or nourish me, and finding a "safe" place where I could escape to as needed.For weeks I was only able to work, sleep, eat and drink, I was so weakened by the energy it took to unravel years and years of damage. As the months went by, I could feel a shift taking place, and it generated from my very core.That shift resulted in huge changes in my lifestyle, both at home and at work, and empowered me to reassess relationships, and to face a history punctured with wounds head-on.The shift continued long after I stopped going to therapy, and was further powered by a weekend seminar I attended with friends Diane and Sarah in 2005, with this takeaway:
"No one can love you more than you love yourself."

I invite you to try that statement on for size."No one can love you more than you love yourself."It took my breath away then, and it sometimes still does.My journey to learning to love myself - unconditionally, I might add - continued with whole health counseling.Facilitated by a certified nutritionist and holistic counselor, bi-weekly sessions focused on the healthy of my mind, body, and spirit as one, under the context of loving myself.One of the first exercises I was asked to do (daily, for a month), was to look at myself in the mirror, in the eyes, and say, "I love you."It sounds simple, doesn't it? It wasn't; at least not for me.When my sister-in-law, Tina, asked me to join Weight Watchers back in August, I surprised myself with the swiftness of my affirmative response. I was finally ready to add that piece to the puzzle; to make that loving commitment of health to myself.I endeavor to celebrate every loss - whether pounds or ounces - because each is another act of love. Last night's act of love involved recycling 2.8 pounds.For all the counseling I did over the course of five years, the one piece of self-love that escaped me, time and time again, was that of loving my body; not just in the sense of accepting it unconditionally, also in the sense of treating it with love.I'd start a "diet" and do well in the short-term, then go right back to my old, comfortable way of eating, regaining whatever I'd lost, and adding additional pounds.My journey to unconditional self-love isn't over, and it may never be, and yet I've come a long, long way."Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all."How do you love yourself?

Happiness Is...

The Greatest Love Of All