Do you love yourself?
My youngest nephew is five years old and we had a conversation the other day which left me doing some deep thinking. Somehow, we got to chatting about people in our lives that we love and, out of nowhere, he asked me, “do you love yourself?”. The physical reaction I had couldn’t be seen by him thankfully. I felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. Outwardly I answered that of course I do, but inwardly I was overwhelmed by an answer I didn’t want to acknowledge.
The truth is, I don’t know how to truly love myself. Why? Because when you spend your entire life hating who you are and believing you are worthless, self-love is not easy to come by. Its not uncommon for those of us who have experienced childhood trauma to feel this way. We have learned to internalize the pain from external experiences and somehow feel like we did something wrong, that it was our fault, or that we did something to deserve it. As an adult, and thanks to years of ongoing therapy, I can logically say to myself now that no, I didn’t deserve what happened to me and I did nothing to cause it. I’m grateful for that, however it doesn’t change the deep internal scars that will always remain.
My biggest challenge has been to honour those scars and see them in the way the following quote suggests; ‘scars remind us where we’ve been…..they don’t have to dictate where we are going’. For a long time they did chart my path in the most negative of ways; patterns of behavior that I now know were cries for help, ways to try and cope, and sometimes punishment towards myself for things that I was in no way at fault for. I thought I had come a long way, however that question from my nephew, and the reaction I had inside to it, showed me that I still have a ways to go. I cannot change the past but I can keep working hard to chart a future that is positive and full of love and light.
So do I love myself? Yes I do. Do I do it well? Not always. Will I keep trying to love who I am? Absolutely….each and every day. Its amazing how a simple question from a five year old boy, with a pure heart and full innocence, can make one really look inside themselves. My love for him, and all my nephews and niece, are part of why I am working so hard on me; to find that love within me and make myself someone they can be proud of.