One reason self-love is so evasive may be because we may not have a strong sense of self. Perhaps, that is why it can be difficult, also, “to be kind to oneself,” as we would another. When we are intimately close to someone, especially ourselves, we can stop seeing them as independent beings. It’s as if we can absorb people, including ourselves, into our consciousness, so that, in ways, we and they disappear.
Fear only increases self-denial, as we turn our attentions to the threat. I think self-love may have to start with consciousness – being aware of ourselves, our body and our environment. Recently, I have read some interesting personal blogposts on the subject of self-awareness or awakening and the positive changes it brings.
Tamra K. Garcia, in a typically honest and insightful post, recently wrote on her site: “This is my life. I am not who I was before. I no longer try to be loved. I am loved and those who love me show it regularly and in many different ways. I do not need everyone I know to love me and I do not need to fight for love, love is natural and does not need to be fought for.”
In her blogpost, she writes of finding a new outlook, in which she is not beholden to toxic relationships or restricted by racial or cultural expectations. Rather, she feels ready to be herself, saying: “I want to manifest my art. I want to write all the stories I’ve been creating in my mind since I was eleven years old. I want to build furniture for my yard and cats. I want to fix my house with my own two hands. I want to landscape my yard all by myself. I have the ability to do all of this but have never had the….guts…to do it.”
Romie, another blogger, recently wrote about her “weird” behaviour as an adolescent, in which she was vocal with friends about her school crushes, when, on reflection she was doing so to try and fit in and disguise her bisexuality and, perhaps, her introversion: “the thing is, it’s only when looking back on these years, with my current knowledge of myself, that I realise how fake these crushes were. 12yo me truly believed in them. 12yo me thought she had to be loud about these ‘feelings’ and make sure everybody knew about them…I’m a fucking introvert, so yeah it was painful. what’s ‘funny’ is that 12yo me also thought playing spin the bottle at all-girls parties was the absolute best thing in the world, and yet I was trying so hard to make sure everybody knew I had crushes on boys, boys, boys, boys only, because heteronormativity said it was just ‘gals being pals’.”
Vulnerability that persists in adulthood can obstruct the growth of self-awareness – that is, the valuing of oneself and one’s needs – that we might normally expect. Blogger, Anne, recently wrote a blogpost about her success in overcoming her severe social anxiety symptoms: “I still can be nervous and a little jumpy, but nowadays, I am no longer the extremely shy creature who shrinks away at the first sign of a glare from someone’s direction or imminent conflict. I’ve toughened up, not a great deal, but to a certain extent. What created this change was a situation that was extremely stressful but forced me to react, which I won’t go into as it was slightly traumatic, and, after coming out on the other side of that situation, I suddenly found myself not so afraid of people or situations where words or even actions can hurt me. I wasn’t afraid of people anymore!”
She wrote of some of the significant changes to her capacities: “I can make phone calls to strangers, like the people working at the bank, without nibbling my fingers and speaking in a cautious and very shy voice. I speak confidently, normally, without barely any anxiety at all. I can go to a bank. I can go grocery shopping on my own, without being too hyperaware of the other customers and how they must be judging or thinking or viewing me.”
AccidentalActivist, another blogger, also writes about experiencing social anxiety symptoms – and depression, along with her experiences at work and with family. In an interesting blogpost titled, Remember Me, well worth reading in full, she writes of her relationship with her great grandmother, Doris, who died a few years ago and the connection she had with her, despite a period of estrangement due to the divorce of her parents. The post describes how the attention and memory of another person, family or not, can help us become conscious of ourselves too:
“I wasn’t able to visit often—maybe twice a year, which was still more than what I had done in the past ten years or so. Whenever I came to visit I always brought her a box of chocolates. She liked just about any chocolate, but I was told cherry cordials were her favorite so I would bring them when the stores were selling them around the holidays. The last time I had given a box of cordials to her, I thanked her for the envelope of money my great aunt had passed along to us. It was my understanding that my husband and I were some of the few relatives she gave money to for Christmas because we actually came to visit her. When I thanked her for the money and said she didn’t have to get us anything, I was expecting her to say “You’re welcome.” Instead, she said, “I like you!” She said it in a ‘matter of fact’ and ‘sweet old lady’ sort of way I can’t quite explain properly, but I thought it was funny so I burst into giggles!”
As Tamra K. Garcia writes, the fight for self-awareness and wider consciousness of our place is not straightforward: “This has been a very long journey, a lifetime of struggle to find out who I am and what I want and need for myself to be safe and happy.”
Outlook – by Tamra K. Garcia
I’m Finally Happy – Anne (DreamerRambling)
all these crushes i faked to have because of heteronormativity:))) – by Romie Nguyen
Remember Me – by AccidentalActivist.