They say "life begins at forty"... but they should probably have included the beginning of that quote which is, "Everything that you think is real will all fall apart in a horrible pile of excrement on the floor and then". Because for anything to begin, something else has to end. And for me, that meant my marriage.
For 20 years, I'd been in a relationship wherein my love for my person exceeded my love for myself. And though that may have seemed like a good and selfless thing, and that's what I tried to convince myself for most of those years, it ended up being my undoing. Turns out, without self love, compassion and understanding can really just be enabling of abuse.
So, now that I've moved slightly past the "everything is shit. What the fuck just happened to my life?" phase of things, which I am incredibly grateful for, I'm getting clear on what things I need to work on in order to avoid continuing this pattern for myself, and even more importantly, to avoid passing this pattern on to my kids. And it's all about self love. Which is so fucking cliche. And you'd think because it was cliche that it would be obvious and easy. But the truth of the matter is that self love has escaped me for 40 years. So I need to sort out what it means to me.
One thing that I've learned in the past two months about what self love means to me is not compromising myself. There have been many instances where others have tried to convince me to go against my better judgement. I was told that being a good person means you finish last, and since others were fighting dirty and choosing a path of lies, that I should play the same game. It can be very tempting to stray from the truth when it looks and feels like the truth gets you screwed. But I did not stray. I remained in truth and kept my integrity, even when I was being beat down by the system for doing so. I can hold my head high about how I handled an extremely fucked up situation and my kids will always know that they can trust me to tell the truth and do the right thing. That is more important to me than any perceived win in the immediate. It was an extremely hard path to walk, and will likely continue to be so, but I am so grateful that I did not compromise myself or the truth. It has given me my sense of self back. And the truth is I sorta dig on who I am.
And so begins the phase of life wherein self compromise is over, and self love begins. And, ironically, I'm actually feeling pretty good about this Valentine's Day. Because it's an opportunity for me to show love to someone who really deserves it.
Does this mean that I won't end up in a puddle of my own tears this Valentine's Day? Maybe. Maybe not. I am grieving. And that shit hits whenever it wants. But I am definitely walking confidently in the direction of... well... not exactly my dreams because those all got flushed down the toilet with the marriage... but I'm walking confidently. I'm walking. I'm putting one foot in front of the other.
And the dreams? The new ones? The ones wherein I'm actually loving myself and truly happy? They'll come.
For now, I'll be doing this little exercise this Valentine's Day. An exercise in self love. Whether you're in a happy relationship, or hoping to find one some day, Self Love is something we should all practice in each moment.
Happy Self Love Day Y'all!