“Your love makes me miserable”.
These are words that I will never forget, words said to me by an ex as he broke up with me. Until then I had never really thought of the idea of not knowing how to love someone. I always thought having the feeling was enough and everything else was meant to naturally fall into place. That was until it he said those words as he was letting me go. Words that I can credit as the catalyst for my quest to not only love, but the way a person asks to be loved.
Welcome to Day 3 of #31 Days of Self-compassion
The theme today is Love
I stumbled on this quote just a few month after the breakup, as I was searching for any answer on what went wrong. While this quote is in reference to the love for someone else, I think it applies quite well to the relationship you have with yourself.
When you’ve had so many years of self-loathing, you develop a lot of habits you’re convinced are acts of love, when they’re really self-destructive. For me, those acts were things like spending hours in front of the mirror taking note of everything on my body that needed to go. Or spending hours in the gym even when I was injured, thinking it meant I was disciplined. Or shaming myself whenever I fell off my weight loss plan. Or sustaining an eating disorder because looking good on the outside was the priority over internal health.
I didn’t know how to love me, so I hurt myself in one too many ways.
When you begin your journey to self-love you have to begin everything from scratch, and for that you need two things: becoming a good listener and cultivating compassion.
You learn to listen to your body for what feels good and what doesn’t. You learn to choose workouts that make you feel good over workouts that just torture you. You learn to eat foods that are nutritious more than foods that bury unwanted feelings while filling you with shame.
You learn to listen to your feelings so you can do more of what uplifts and empowers you rather than what drags you to rock bottom
The second thing which you need is self-compassion, essential in this learning process because you will inevitably fall back into old bad bad habits. Compassion for yourself gives you the patience, resilience and determination to stay the course. You learn to make room for yourself, to be gentle through the process, to root for yourself, to test out what works and what doesn’t. As Shannon Boodram says, “you learn to be an explorer, not a tour guide”. Let your body teach you how it wants to be loved.
Learning how to love yourself is a messy, exasperating, exhausting process. But you’re absolutely worth the effort.
Does your love make you miserable right now? What do you need to change?
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.