With every bit of progress comes the slightest ease into comfort. At that moment, I know I'm about to be stretched again...
I felt angry all day yesterday, and it was actually in a writing session with a client late in the afternoon when I realized why I was angry.
I’ve spent all this time trying to figure out how to let love in… what love really means to me… and what I realized is that fear still has a tight hold on me when it comes to love.
And now I understand why…
When I was a little girl, there was a lot of turmoil in my house—some of it caused by my sister and a lot of the behavior she engaged in. My sister, being 8 years older than I am, made a lot of mistakes as a teenager. To compensate for that, I tried to be perfect.
That set a precedent, because then it seemed like my family started to expect me to be perfect.
If I wasn’t perfect, my perception was that I wasn’t loved. But if I did everything just right, if I was perfect—then I would be rewarded with love.
That’s a classic codependent mindset, and I’ve worked hard to shake that. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of it, until it hit me that I still do this to myself.
If I am not perfect, if I do not act perfectly, if I don’t do everything I want to do (and everything I “should” do) perfectly, then I don’t get love. I don’t get to love myself… I don’t honor and nurture myself, I don’t get to have the good that comes from allowing love into my heart.
In other words—I don’t actually know how to love myself when it’s hard, like when I screw up, or when I am not perfect.
How often are you not perfect? All the time? Every day? Every moment?
So it goes deeper than that, even… because when I’m spilled open—like I am right now, tears streaming down my face as I write—I realize that I actually do love myself. In the moments when I am vulnerable, honest, and real, how can I not love myself? I know in those moments that I am beautiful, worthy, and accepted.
It’s only when I’m trying to force my own hand, trying to be perfect, trying to do it my way (in Pathways terms, “running my numbers”), that I realize I withhold love from myself, until I do it perfectly, and if I can’t do it perfectly, then I somehow manage to love myself a little less..
In the past couple of years, I feel that God has been teaching me how to accept love—from others. First, I had to accept His love. Then I had to learn how to accept it from family… and then friends… from myself… and finally—a romantic partner.
The big missing piece is how to love myself when it’s hard. When whatever I’m doing doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, when I’m not happy with my behavior, or when I’m not doing something I know I should be doing—in other words, when I’m absolutely imperfect. I'm so quick to beat myself up, which of course plummets me further down the hole.
That is my challenge, and tonight, it’s a big one.
But, as they say… awareness is the first step. And I got a big ol’ dose of awareness today, that’s for sure.
Words I heard about a year ago spring to mind right now:
“God made me. God doesn’t make mistakes. I am perfectly imperfect.”
I want to teach myself how to love me, even when it's hard. I want to notice the progress I've made, how much sooner I become aware, and then, for crying out loud... move forward.
Life is just too damn short to beat myself up all the time...
"I'll never finish, so why begin?
...I must be crazy to beat me
I'm letting it go"
- from "Speak" by Gary Go
I don't know what it looks like or feels like to give myself grace. But now, I want to find out.