“I only accept the love I think I deserve.”
“I didn’t know it was possible to love so much until I had my child.” I’ve heard it all the time and now I say it all the time. In fact, it’s probably one of the most cliche things I’ve ever heard and now that I have my little prince, I know it’s also one of the most true things I’ve ever heard. It’s nothing short of amazing, and beautiful. But the more I thought about it, I realized the sentiment is equally beautiful as it is sad. Why is the birth of my child the only time I’ve realized a love so strong? More importantly why have I never felt a love so strong in myself? Why is something as important as self-love foreign to so many people?
When my little prince was born, I loved him so much it hurt. I still do. I could spend hours on end gazing into his wide-innocent eyes, stroking that soft hair adorned on his head, admiring the wrinkle in his nose and kissing his little toes. I loved that one thigh roll and the way his eye squinted when he laughed. Yet, I never looked at myself that way. And I sure as hell never smiled in admiration at my rolls. Isn’t it funny that those things we call imperfections in babies are found to be so lovable but yet scrutinized in ourselves constantly? Imagine how silly we’d sound if we criticized infants for having thigh rolls or for smiling too widely?
The truth is, I don’t hate myself or my body. And since having little prince I’ve grown to love my body even more after seeing what it’s capable of. But it’s nowhere near the overwhelming, over the moon type of love I have for my son.
Why can’t we ever feel that love for ourselves? Why can’t we ever talk about the love we have for ourselves out loud and why do the imperfections in ourselves make for the best love story in our children?
I don’t know about you, but I find it awkward. I also find it annoying and just wrong. And I didn’t realize why until recently. I think my problem and the problem of many others is I associate self-love with being selfish, conceited, and boastful. However, I’ve since learned the most important thing you ever need to know about self-love is that it’s not selfish. Self-love is not a dirty word and shouldn’t be treated as such. Loving yourself and being able to admit it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you someone who recognizes self-worth and all you are capable of. It makes you a person who can look at your imperfections and admire every one of them because they are the little quirks that contributed to the person you’ve become.
I know I’ve said I’ve never had a best friend in the past, but I know the friends and family I do have love me. I’m so very fortunate to have that love from other people. But I think having that love from others allowed me to justify that I didn’t need have a love so strong for myself. They were filling a void that I could only fill myself. I figured, “well, my parents and husband love me so that’s all I need.” Yes, the love from others is great, but no one can treat you better or love you better than you can love yourself.
You ever notice, when people are in abusive relationships they often think its painful because they deserve it? Meanwhile, if you are in an amazing relationship you often say, “How did I get this lucky?” or “you are so amazing I don’t deserve you.” I know it’s corny, but it all goes back to loving yourself first. The truth is, you aren’t lucky. You truly deserve that great love. You only receive the love you think you deserve. And no one can treat you better than you treat yourself.
We often forget that loving ourselves first often means we lift ourselves higher and build our strength so we can lift others around us as well. When you learn to love yourself better, you love those important to you better as well.
I don’t know if I can ever find the ability to share the same overwhelming love I have for my son in myself. But I can say, that I can and will love myself in a way that no other person can. I hope you can say the same.
Be honest. Do you truly love yourself or do you subconsciously associate self-love with being selfish?
TERRIfic Quip: Don’t forget to love yourself first.