The nuances of Self Love

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.”

“You have to love yourself before others can love you.”

“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”

You often see these types of quotes around the idea of self love. And this post isn’t me necessarily disagreeing with them… it is me adding to them.

I recently had someone remind me that I have to love myself before others will love me and it sent my mind into a spin. I got frustrated by it. I think it is because often, these phrases make it seem as if self love is a constant state that can be achieved. Like a check in the box of qualities you’ve managed to achieve as you grow. But it’s not.

As a 37 year old woman, I can honestly say I love me. I have more self esteem and self love now than I have had my entire life. I love the woman I have become. I’m proud of my life – in all it’s messy glory – and am truly excited to see and experience what is yet to come.

I love my messy, frizzy curly hair that as a teenager I hated. I love that I’m soft and squishy. I love my strength and endurance to take on anything – even when it seems insurmountable. I love my passion and enthusiasm over what others might see as mundane. I love to dance with my dog in a kitchen while food is cooking, jamming to whatever music is playing, or chase my kids round the hall. I love that I’m a mushy, romantic sap who gets butterflies in her tummy at romantic scenes in “girly” movies and gets a bit teary during the sad parts of cartoons. I love that people don’t know that I’m a singer – and when I finally unleash my full voice, I often get dropped jaws. I love that my mind is a whirl of a million thoughts at a time, and that while I can be forgetful about certain situations – I also have a bit of a photographic memory for other things and can sometimes impress with my intelligence. I love that my imagination journeys into places that unlock a whole array of creative pursuits.

… I could keep going.

BUT….

I still don’t ALWAYS have that love for myself. I don’t ALWAYS remember these things. I make mistakes. Sometimes, I look at myself and in that moment, see that I’m not measuring up to my own expectations. I think I had the idea that in those moments when I’m not “feeling the self-love” it would somehow mean that I don’t have “it” at all. But when I look behind, from where I’ve come – I have it in spades. It’s all in perspective. In theory – the goal is to constantly grow and not deplete the stashes of self love that we keep deep down within.

When I look at it that way – these quotes start to fall apart a little. Because if self love is constantly being added to and grown upon – then there is no end goal – no moment where you can actually say that you can check that little box.

Releasing a swirl of thoughts from my head

I’ve been itching to get online and type for a few days now.  Sometimes, you just need to write and find some sense of release from the swirl inside your head.  So many topics to potentially write about.  So, per my usual, I may skip around a bit and talk about a little of each of those swirling topics.

Self Esteem.  It’s interesting to me that the world is focused on whether you have it, or you don’t.  Apparently it’s a mystical black and white kind of hero achievement that is unlocked somewhere along the journey of life.  But the truth of it is… it’s a bit more like an ocean of grey.  It ebbs and it flows.  I have good days and then I have days where I question myself and everyone around me.  Of course, this is all happening only inside my head.  But still.

Intuition.  One person’s intuition could lead them down the exact opposite path as someone else’s.  So then, what is it?  According to the dictionary, it’s an inherent knowledge of something without having read it or learned it purposefully.  So it’s a knowledge from deep within. But that doesn’t mean it’s always accurate.  I wonder if the notion of a red flag in someone points back to this?  Or any flag for that matter?  Something that triggers an intuition in a potential mate.  Yes – i’m weird that my brain landed here.  It’s ok… I promise.  See – this came up because I’ve been struggling with something that hasn’t been sitting right with me about someone.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, which is making it worse.  So I’m trying to figure out the why’s.

Weight loss.  I slog on in my journey.  I’m weary from this adventure… but I have finally pushed through my plateau.  I’m determined to continue to make progress.

funny-weight-loss-cartoon-w630

In 2013, I weighed over 400 pounds.  OMG. I’ve typed and deleted that a few times.  Do I really dare to share this?!  But yes.  It’s true. I still have easily another 50 to go for me to hit my target.  I feel good… I’m hopeful.  But in all truth… tonight… I’d kill for piece of pie.  We don’t do thanksgiving.  I love our family traditions that we do instead – however… and quite simply.

I. Miss. Pie.

And not apple pie – ew. No.  A custard pie, or a pumpkin pie… or even a pecan or berry pie.  Peach is always lovely too!  LOL.  Pie.  With a flaky, golden, buttery crust.  Sigh.  But yay for weight loss!!

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 10.15.38 PM

Dating.  I’ve dipped my toe in a couple of times in the past two years, and I’m not convinced it’s for me.  Add to the fact that I have a pretty full life… how do you add to that?  How do you make room for the potential of someone else when you have no idea who that someone else could possibly be?  I have friends encouraging me to date, and for the most part… it’s been a pleasant experience.  But I’ve also learned that I must be a bit of an oddball in the world.  Or at the very least, in the circles I’ve crossed.  I’m not looking for casual sex or friends with benefits.  That simply does not do it for me.  I want the close companionship just as much as I want all the fun sexy time! So because of that, I don’t immediately jump into the sack with someone.  Apparently it’s viewed as old fashioned.  I’ll hold off until it’s right -which could be date 8 and could be never… and men – who at first say they support that, in the long run are surprised to find out that you actually mean it.  Sex should be magical!  The power that each person has over the other… to make a breath catch, or to cause goose bumps.  To create an explosion of delight in someone else – that is a magical thing.  It makes me sad when I hear how some people have lost (or have never had) the ability to revel in it… but I can’t do that with a stranger.  Someone I don’t respect or care about.

That sounds too scary for me.  I’ll pass.

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 10.12.04 PM

 

The 5 Deal-breakers that I will remember for my next relationship

There’s something awesome about coming to the realization that you finally understand what it is you want/need from relationships in your life.  It’s been a slow realization for me, but to finally be able to concretely state all the things (and truthfully, there really aren’t THAT many) that I need to feel secure and content and happy within my relationships.  Specifically – a relationship with a man.  There are five in total that I’d consider deal breakers.  That if these elements aren’t there … then I will hit the breaks on a potential relationship and say “F it! I’m outta here!!”.

dealbreakers

Attention.
This should be relatively obvious, but it took me a long time to realize just how much attention I need to feel secure in a relationship.  I’m not overly needy.  I don’t need to talk constantly… but I DO need consistent, daily contact of some sort, even if it’s a brief good morning or good night.  That said – if all my contact with someone is kept to that brief, surface-level only kind of communication – I’ll need something a bit more in depth in order to balance that out and keep a connection with someone.

To note… Attention also means that when you ARE spending time with someone – they have your attention.  No phones or distractions.  They listen to what you have to say and aren’t half tuning you out in the hopes that you’ll finish your sentence so they can jump in with their own.  If you’re going to give me attention – give me your attention – and I’ll do the same for you.  Honestly, the whole “tuning out” thing is a total turn-off and if I feel like I’m not being heard – I’ll just stop talking altogether.  Why waste my time?

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-12-36-am

Enthusiasm.
This is a two way street.  I will be enthusiastic about talking to someone and seeing them. I expect it in return – because if that is lacking – then what’s the point in trying at all? Love is already complicated enough – lack of enthusiasm about it should NOT even be a factor. I don’t want to be a consolation prize, and neither I’m sure does anyone else.  Be excited to be with me – and I’ll give you the same.  🙂

enthusiastic-people-personality-traits-and-characteristics

Honesty – not just in words – but in actions.
A lack of honesty only breeds a lack of trust, and in my experience, once that happens – it’s ultimately game over.  If I don’t trust you – then I don’t respect you.  And if I don’t respect you – I will never love you.  I can be one of the most patient and understanding women.  What I think is interesting is that people who’ve struggled with this, with me, in my past – always made an incorrect assumption as to how I would react to a situation.  Had they just informed me of what was going on – I’d have been, and in turn, they’d have been fine.  Assumptions can kill things fast.  Don’t assume – give me the benefit of the doubt and TRUST that I’ll react in a way that’s respectful and compassionate towards others.

tell-a-lie-once-and-all-your-truths-become-questionable

Humility & a desire to improve.
This is more about me… I’m only human.  I will occasionally make a mistake – as we all do! The key here is that I’ll own up to mistakes I make and work to improve myself and learn and grow from the mistakes I make.  Rarely will I make the same mistake twice.  I understand this about myself, and I understand it about others.  I would hope to find someone who has that same level of understanding and compassion.

Attraction.
This is important – but it’s not all about appearance.  Do we WANT to touch each other?  Kiss each other?  I know that if I an’t keep my hands off someone – that’s a good sign – but it better be reciprocated – or else – again – what’s the point?  Sex – while not my GOAL for a relationship – is incredibly important.  I’m a firm believer that the frequency and quality of a couple’s sex life directly correlates to the overall health of their relationship.

So tell me, what are your deal breakers?

Fall is here

th

I know – not a very imaginative title.  I may or may not change it.  Tonight, I need you Neverland.  I love it here.  It’s a place that I feel safe to let anything out.  Vulnerabilities and all.  I like to posture and say that by sharing my vulnerabilities, it gives me strength.  It’s a bunch of BS tho.  I’m still not very strong.  Today especially.

Today, I feel lost.  Lost in a sea of my own making to some extent, as my life is my own, and the choices I’ve made over my life were mine.  Part of me thinks, well.. Jen, it IS fall.  You always get this way leading up to Ben’s birthday.  But I don’t think this is just a bit of grief.  Not having a job right now is frustrating.  I’m antsy and starting to worry over my financial responsibilities.  It’s a strange feeling – first time in 12 years I’ve been unemployed.  I won’t lie – I’m a little scared.

kittycathat

Fall is really here.  It’s getting colder, more brisk in the mornings.  The leaves are changing.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year.  And yet – it’s also a time of year that typically has me feeling anxious, and even a little down.  This is the time of year, that I want to hibernate.  Who knows, maybe I was a bear in another life? 🙂  This is the time of year that I’m often hit with a lot of memories from my past.  I dreamed of Ben the other night.  Grayson asked about him the other day – as we have his picture up on one of the bookshelves in the living room.  I don’t cry very much anymore, but there is still a deep ache.  The kind of ache in the chest that if you dwelled for too long, the tears would well up behind the eyes, the flood threatening to flow down the cheek.  Some wounds are too deep to really heal.

I’ve had some pretty major shakeups with friends and family in the last couple of weeks.  That combined with the kids starting school, healing from my injuries and the lack of work… I can’t lie to myself anymore, I’m on the edge of depression.  And I know I’ll pull out of it – I always do – but the past couple of weeks have been hard.  I’m really proud of me tho.  I’m doing it all.  I’m managing to figure all of this out, slowly but surely.  I have to remind myself that courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid… it means you’re afraid but still take a step forward.

I have to remind myself that it’s ok to take some time for myself right now.  To be quiet and hibernate a little in my home.  It’s ok to feel a little lost and scared and lonely.  I’m lucky really.  I know how good I have it and I know that I’m one tough cookie who’ll find a way to  continue to have it good for a long time yet to come.  I’ve never been a fan of limbo – and that’s all this is.  A strange state where the path that lies ahead of me is a bit hazy and unclear.  It’s ok.  Although – I won’t lie – it would be nice if someone would join me with a flashlight and a map.  🙂

flmp.jpg

I need to get some of this out

I’ve been hiding from my phone for the past couple of days.  Ok, maybe not hiding, but I plug it in and walk away from it.  I don’t want to be near it.  Families… weddings… I swear, weddings, funerals and babies bring out the crazy in people.  And typically – when the crazy comes out – someone gets hurt.

deborah-lee-tindle-11

I guess this time… that person is me.  I’m hurt.  Reeling actually.  I feel as if I’ve been singed and cut by someone I never thought I’d have to fear.

My “bro”.  He’s not related to me by blood, but we call each other “brother” and “sister”.  We met 13 years ago, he was my neighbor who lived with his then-girlfriend across the hall.  I swear, the first time I met him, I knew he was my brother from another mother. LOL.  We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the years, but we were always there for each other.  He’s always been there for me.

I knew, as his wedding day approached that our friendship was about to change in a big way.  Ideally, I’d gain a cool sister out of the deal.  But she has never seemed to have much interest in that, we don’t share a lot of the same ideals, so I get it. Actually – I wish she understood exactly just how much I get it.  The Bro’s life is about to change in a pretty serious way.  His life now must be with her.  Up until recently, I’ve been excited to think about what is in store for their future… moving in together, babies, eventually buying a house, doing all the things that I know he wants to accomplish.  And I knew that our friendship would move to the very back… like nosebleed seats.  And I’m cool with that – hell – I’ve been pushing him in this direction.  I guess I figured we’d get through his wedding day first.  I was wrong.  And truly, I’m not sure our friendship can recover from this.  And if I’m honest, After all that was said, I’m not entirely sure I want it to.

I won’t spill all the details here… but I will say that I wish I could help some people see how much their words can damage.  How their tone and the way they approach other people will directly impact how their words are received.  I will also say that it takes a very brave and yet rather stupid man to judge another.  My bro laid out many of the decisions I’d made over the course of my life … pointing out my mistakes, effectively rubbing my nose in the areas he felt I didn’t measure up.  Not just in my past, but even now.  But he did all of this, only knowing bits and pieces of the story.  He judged me… and it came across with anger, disdain, disappointment and shame. His soon to be wife even joined in the “fun”.  She’d verbally attacked me prior to my bro letting me have it.  Screamed at me and said I was a horrible “best man”.  Ironic she did that when I was putting finishing touches on some bachelor party related stuff earlier that evening.  It was a hard hitting 1-2 verbal sucker punch from them as a couple.

e8546102553cdb5a735fc63c0e0773cc

I won’t lie, that first 24 hours after they both let me have it… I was a wreck.  I broke down.  I bawled and went quiet.  I crawled inside my world and licked my wounds.  I wasn’t even angry, I was self-reflective.  I had to check myself… make sure that what he’d said wasn’t true.  I guess because I’ve been actively working on self-improvement, I had to really take a good look and make sure that there weren’t areas of his feedback that I needed to consider.  The next day, we spoke again and he apologized and tried to sweep it under the rug.  Even tried to deny some of what he’d said the night before.  I thanked him for the apology but stated that for me to feel comfortable attending the wedding and the festivities, that I would like an apology from his fiance/soon to be wife.    He agreed that I deserved it, but warned that I might not get it from her right away.  He laid out various reasons and excuses for why I should just let it go.  About 15 minutes after he said he’d talk to her and get back to me, my phone rang.  It was her, and I answered it pleasantly, as I didn’t want to start things off on the wrong foot.  She immediately started yelling – even yelled an apology.  Yea – cuz THAT feels totally sincere.  I hung up on her, and texted her that perhaps it would be better to move to text.  Honestly, I just didn’t want to be yelled at anymore.  We texted a little – but I pretty quickly gave up on that too.  So here I sit, no sincere apology and still feeling incredibly upset and uneasy a few days later.

6bda672003cfde83b48b1485315daaa6

Yes, I could back down… I could suck it up and be there for him on his wedding day.  And likely – I will do this.  More for me than him.  I don’t want to feel guilty 10 years from now for not showing up.  And I’ll go into it knowing there’s the potential for drama, or daggers being thrown at me, there will be the potential for awkward uncomfortable silences, and even worse, a high chance that I will end up feeling used or insulted by the end of all of this.  I will suck it up, BUT… I’m done.  Or at least I think I am.  I’m going to just keep going down my own life’s path… because I’m dying to see what happens in the next chapters of my life.  To get thru this, i’m going to keep telling myself that it’s not my circus, and not my monkeys.

I’m a grown woman who’s made a successful, full and happy life for herself.  I’m a woman who has good, sweet, smart children who may stumble or struggle in their life in places, but who know without a shadow of a doubt that their momma loves them and would do anything to see that they are safe and well cared for.  I don’t deserve to be talked to or treated in that manner.  Especially when what is being said isn’t true.  At least I had that going for me, I knew, deep down in my heart that nothing they said was true about me… that it was being said out of spite and anger and jealousy.  But here’s the thing, even knowing that… it still hurt.  It was a different hurt tho.  This hurt came from knowing that the someone I trusted over the years is now throwing daggers… they are no longer worthy of my trust.  That perhaps I’d misjudged him all along.

So … because of all of this… I’ve been avoiding my phone. I’ve been staying off social media and just kind of hiding in my world.  I’ve had some shifts in a few friendships in the last few months… each of them shook me to my core for various reasons.  This one is no different.  What is interesting to me is that when I promised myself that I’d get healthy, even if that meant cutting toxic situations out of my life… I guess I didn’t realize how many of my relationships had toxic layers woven into them.  Maybe living on my own and staying single for a while truly WAS the best thing I could have done for myself.  I’m so glad I’ve done it up to this point.  I’ll have to watch myself moving forward… I’m putting up my walls with everyone – unintentionally.  And I don’t mean to.  I am just unsure on who to trust, vs. who will judge me or hurt me.  Easier to just put up the walls a bit.

I had an interview today – it went quite well.  I felt confident, for the first time in months actually.  A genuine confidence, not the kind where you fake it till you hopefully make it.  Maybe being shaken to my core this weekend was good for me.  Helped remind me who I am.  Where I’ve been, and more importantly, where I am headed.

hiding-animal_3-jpeg