I know. Cliché. Love yourself. Some of the most important ideas come off this way. But you know what? Some ideas are repeated by so many, so frequently, because they are actually important (imagine that). This is one of them. Welcome to another writing of mine where I have nothing but a feeling to go on, and a desire to let it out. Brace yourself for the unstructured ramblings of my mind (again).
I've always loved myself, to an extent. I really have. But never so much as I do now. And I'm not talking about an ego here, it's actually quite the opposite. See when ego is involved - and it used to be, for me - there is structure to what we think we love. Some kind of structure you've created in your mind: "I am _________. And being _________ is great. Being _________ is good. Being _________ is correct." This kind of structured love for oneself is surface-level. It's a pat on the back. And if you become attached to it, it's painful.
It's not a terrible way to feel - to be proud of your accomplishments, values, who you think you are in a given moment - however, what we must realize is that these things are actually temporary. These little wins, accomplishments, momentary acts of valor, these are not who we are. I know a lot of people say that you can tell who a person is based on their actions. Yes, actions paint a much deeper picture than words do. I'll give you that. But actions can also be contrived. They are just as exterior to ourselves as words are. Words are just easier to fake.
I now know that there is more to me than my temporary self. (Note: there is a DEEP philosophical rabbit-hole here that part of me really wants to dive all the way into with regard to self, and being, but I'm not going to go there this time). The state of self that I'm talking about loving, isn't really "a" state at all.
We are always, always, changing. Every one of us, in every moment. Life changes us - every second of it. Whether we realize it or not, we are always learning, adapting, forming ideas and beliefs. We find new things, and leave other things in the past. We make mistakes, we experience successes, we get sick, get hurt, we love, we cry, we learn. Things that today seem righteous and true, we years later find that we feel differently about. This self, this ever-changing and always imperfect self, this is who we need to love.
In recovery from addiction, I believe that a person cannot really get to a good place without (but not limited to) two things: facing all versions of themselves as they currently see them, and learning to continue to do so as new versions come to light. And in facing these versions, one must undergo excruciating states of raw openness, deep analysis, true powerlessness, and loving acceptance. (If you can enter into all of that without it being excruciating, you are some kind of superbeing). I did this, and I still do this, and it has saved my life.
Now I'm not saying that I go through life never tripping up. I get hurt, I feel anger, I make mistakes. I love, I feel powerful, and I feel joy. I get wrapped up in moments, and I later see them for what they really were. These things still happen. The lessons that each challenge brings me, do not land in my psyche alongside said challenge like a comfy basket of bread served up with my plate of spicy food. No. I learn my lessons after smashing my face full of that spicy food just like everyone else.
What's changed for me is my level of awareness, and my level of acceptance. In being aware of the fact that I am an imperfect and ever-changing woman-beast with a truly good soul, I'm able to find lessons more quickly than I previously would have. And with acceptance, I am able to allow myself to move past eating the spicy mistakes more quickly, in order to process the lesson. I used to see that a lesson existed, and then go on berating myself internally for having not seen it sooner. Berating myself for having needed a lesson at all. I mean, how could I be so foolish as to need to learn a thing *pssshhht* right? Insert eye-roll here.
I held myself to such standards of internal perfection, that it was crippling to my happiness. With awareness and acceptance, I can observe, I can see my mistakes, and I can be ok with myself. I do not reject the mistakes, they are not buried, they are not forgotten. They are handled and treated with the same value as my happiest and most proud moments. I can then allow the lesson to truly enter my mental and emotional space. Without the mistake, the lesson will not be clear, and in rejecting our mistakes, we also reject our lessons.
I am 6+ years into my sobriety now. 6+ years of this soul searching I've been in. I've shared so many things in therapy and with my peers, one might think I'd have it all figured out. But if you know this process, you know that none of us ever do have it all figured out. Figuring it out in perpetuity, is what it is all about. It's the way to live in truth.
I only recently started writing again, and in the process a lot of things have come up for me. Some are things I realized I haven't confronted in a while, and some are things I feel I should have let go of sooner or kept more in the forefront of my existence. These things feel like mistakes, and maybe they were. But in the same breath, I have been reminded that the process of digging up and facing these things is necessary, and that the true mistake would be in pretending such mistakes will ever cease to exist.
So rather than wallow in a mental ditch, allowing my brain to cry out "how could I", or "I know better" - I see them for what they are. Me being me, as best I can, in any given moment.
And instead of shame - instead of self-doubt - I am allowed. I am accepted. I learn. And I love myself.