Learning to love yourself is the first step in recovering from a failed marriage, a broken heart, a lost opportunity, an addiction, or loss.
I was thirty years old when I started to like myself. Love came much later. I was used to putting my needs, wants, and desires on the back burner. It didn't help that I left my home at eighteen years old and married against my better judgment. A marriage that left me with a belief...I was unworthy of love.
Leaving that marriage would lead me to a life I never imagined
Strangely, I am thankful for the panic attacks and anxiety that led me to my first therapist. I shared my darkest thoughts and inner dreams, and for the first time, I saw the Susan I knew I could be back when I was twelve. She saved my life.
When I was a twelve-year-old girl, I started to harm myself for the chance that my mother would comfort me and show me some love. I'd scratch my knee on the pavement until it bled. Her response never changed- "Oh Susan, What did you do to yourself? Get yourself a bandaid." She'd slap it on my knee, and off I went. My heart felt bruised and battled like my knee. My sisters would laugh and say oh, look, Susan is hurting herself to get attention. No support there!
In therapy, I began to heal wound after wound. I worked on my inner self. I grieved as my twelve-year-old self and got beyond the hurt. It would take many years to get to where I am, but it was all worth it.
I started to care for my outer self; at the age of thirty, I went to the hairdresser for the first time. I had a manicure and pedicure. I attended support groups for children of alcoholics and understood I was not the only one suffering. I bought books on self-love, used daily self-affirmations, and started believing I was worthy of love.
I went back to school and got a nursing degree. I bought a new car and purchased my own home. Just me! I felt true inner contentment for the first time in my life. I was proud, yet it would still take me many years to learn to love myself unconditionally as I did with my children.
Then when I wasn't looking, I fell in love!
A true, unconditional love. I started to see myself through his eyes. I liked what I saw. As he loved me unconditionally, I learned self-compassion.
For the past thirty years, I have been married to the man who changed my life forever. He helped me believe in myself. He taught me to love myself no matter what. He showed me compassion when I thought I didn't deserve it. He was always by my side, encouraging me along the way. The negative tapes I had for the first thirty years of my life started to erase.
I feel stronger than ever with him by my side.
I wonder... if I had never started to do the hard work of looking inside and healing from old wounds if I would have met someone like Bruce. He saw something in me that I didn't see, and I will be forever grateful for the love in my life.
We are all worthy of love.