Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Love Story

You must love yourself before you can love another. The most repeated, rehearsed, rhetoric adage of love, of relationships, of breakups, of all time. I cannot tell you how many times someone has shot this one at me and I rolled my eyes and thought, "That really helped dickbag." I cannot tell you how many times I sat up late wondering, hoping, willing things to end up differently than they did, wondering how I got to that place, that place of confusion, loss, and disappointment. I heal, we all heal in strange, less than chronological ways, but often, things never really make a lot of sense. We figure things out little by little, one day something catalyzes an epiphany in our mind, days, months, years after the healing, and we finally have understanding, closure.

For a long time, I didn't understand the love yourself adage. I have loved several people who did not love themselves, friends and boyfriends and in between. I know what its like to bash your head off of a wall because someone will not look at themselves in the mirror and see what I see. I know what its like to be told that you are too good for someone to the point where you start to feel as though being 'too good' is a bad thing. I know what its like to think, "Maybe if I just give you a little more, love you even more unconditionally, it will help you love yourself, to find the beauty in yourself." Because that's what I do, when I love people, I love unconditionally, I love all of the dirty, broken, hurting parts of you, I love you inside out, right side up, to the moon and back, because that's what you deserve, that's what we all deserve. Out of these people, these unconditionals, very few of them have loved me back in this way, not because they didn't  love me just as much but because they didn't know how to love me the way I loved them. I realize in retrospect that love looks differently to all of us, we all associate different actions with the feeling, and that's perfectly okay, but we need to see love embodied in a way that we understand or else we feel neglect, bitterness, fear, longing. I need love expressed through action, through movement, through verbalized commitments, through little insignificant statements, through consideration and space. I need love in a way that I know even if we are fighting I can call you at 3 AM and you will pick me up, no questions asked. I need love in a way that I don't have to wonder constantly, I need a little bit of security from people. I need this kind of love because this is how I love, in big, unconditional go all out for you ways,  not in an every day, obnoxious way but when you need it, or when you have forgotten how special you are.

 For a long time, I thought that the "Love yourself" adage applied to me in that I loved people who didn't love themselves, and that that was my plight. This past weekend, I spent at a leadership retreat, learning all about vulnerability and dealing with conflict. I learned so much that I will carry with me forever, but largely applied it to my relationships with others rather than with myself. But last night, laying on my yoga mat in savasana, my instructor said this: 

"Love yourself enough to stop worrying. Love yourself more than you ever have. Love yourself enough to give yourself peace."

I love myself, in a hard, judging, mothers-who-give-their-daughters-self-esteem-issues way. I love myself in a way that makes people go to therapy. I love myself in a way that I take care of myself and get my shit done but do not actually stop to say, "Hey Clo, where are we at today?" I love myself in that I care about my future and my security and plans; unfortunately, this often leads to me making myself push writing to the side because 'that's not a real job.' I do not let myself break my strict rules. I run at least five miles a day, and granted, I do love to run, but I started because of a mental expectation of what my body should look like. I do not do a lot of things for me, I do a lot of things, for you and for you and for you. I could be on my way to yoga or Dunkin Donuts or the library and if you call and say, "Hey Clo, wanna go run a marathon with me," I'll be there, laced up, no questions asked. I am a Yes person to my people, but I'm not a Yes person to myself. I rarely look in the mirror and say, "You're beautiful." I rarely pat myself on the back and say, "I'm so proud of you." Not because I don't think I am a good, accomplished, talented human being, but because I always have my eyes set on the next goal. 

I realized that though I do love myself, I do not love myself in the way that I need to be loved. The reason I love the idea of love so much is that I am constantly awaiting a person who will love me in the way I love them. However, I do not love myself how I love other people and therefore, how can I ask other people to love me how I love them? (Mindfuckery) From now on, from here on out, I vow to love myself how I need, how I deserve.

I will not push yoga or writing or God to the side to appease anyone, even myself, they fill up my heart and my heart should be filled. I will stop criticizing myself and love the body that I was given and continue to do good things for it, not out of self-hate but self-love. I will allow myself to be vulnerable, to be scared and exposed and naked, because it helps other people connect to you, it helps other people see your heart; and if I fall, fail, or fuck things up, I know that God and I will catch myself. I will trust, in a big way, more than I ever have, with everything, that though everything does not have reason or justice, everything is part of God's plan for my life. I will look in the mirror and know that, yes, you are kind and compassionate and giving and soft even though you have been hurt, the world has not hardened you; this does not make you weak, this makes you strong. I will stop running from my truth, shoving it in corners and drawers, and embrace it: I am a writer, I am good at other things, I could do other things with my life, but I am a writer, that is my passion, my gift, and my purpose. I will love myself the way God loves me, the way my parents love me, the way my best friends love me, like I am a treasure, unconditionally. I will say yes to me, even if it means saying no to someone else.

So they say, "You must love yourself before you can love another." I think we should say, "Love yourself how you want to be loved, how you deserve to be loved, and you will never go without." <3 p="">


  1. You taught me how to love unconditionally, and you continue to teach me so much about love, life, passion, drive and possibilities. I am so proud of who you are. Whatever you choose to do, God will guide your path.

  2. "I love myself, in a hard, judging, mothers-who-give-their-daughters-self-esteem-issues way."

    Jesus, that's a great fucking line. I'm jealous of that and will undoubtedly steal it.

    I loved reading your paean to self-love and mndfuckery. Yes, you are a writer. A damn good one. So fucking write. That lady above me can tell say the "whatever you do" batshit. I'll say, "Goddamn it: WRITE!"

    Because I am selfish and enjoy reading it.

  3. So much smart stuff in here --- That the wellspring of self-care should come from the recognition that you matter, instead of a mental image of how we should look; That we figure things out little by little; The importance of saying "Yes," to ourselves; That being a writer is about how a person is put together, and cannot healthily be ignored. ("Walking on Alligators," changed my sense of what it means to be a writer. Now, I see it as a personality type, rather than a profession or job description.) I think you might like this quote, which is one of my favorites: "Sometimes you meet yourself on the road before you have a chance to learn the appropriate greeting. Faced with your own possibilities, the hard part is knowing a speech is not required. All you have to do is say "Yes." (Ava, "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day," by Pearl Cleage) Hooray for you!

  4. Yes, please write. I had the dream when young about writing, but was never as good as you are right now. I was too young and insecure to write about my truest feelings and tried to hide it all in a lot of opaque verbiage. You will grow as a writer only if you continue to write. And like Swanny, I am hooked and a fan. I'll read anything you write because you know how to touch one's soul (because you have access to your own)...