“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.”
Eleven months. That’s how long ago I experienced the saddest self-revelation to date. The blunt, despondent, yet all consuming moment I admitted to myself that I didn’t love me.
Confessing some of the most dreaded, vulnerable words in the world is hard.
Silently begging myself to believe they are a half-truth is even scary.
“I don’t love me anymore?”
Asking those five words had an effect on my mental state. It felt harsh, like grating sandpaper against my bare, beating heart. It felt grisly too, the black cloud rolling over my every fiber causing an involuntary shudder from the inside out. It even burned, feeling as though every cell is being pulled through fire as my dignity’s core turned to grey ash.
But this concept, asking myself whether I loved me or not didn’t produce terror first.
Terror came second and humiliation superseded all. It is the Queen of the board, capable of ransacking even the most fearless and strongest of competitors.
Humiliation was already knowing the answer.
Holding the truth, and further having to release it to myself, my own person, and not being able to run at Olympic speeds from the answer, not being able to kill it with a bullet of denial, not being able to lock down my own selfish pride in an unbreakable vault. That is horror that sears.
That’s the most chilling part of self-awareness, because I knew the very second my mind whispered the unabashed, unforgiving, and raw truth, I was vulnerable and petrified. I was without shelter.
You cannot hide from your own truth, or yourself.
The question mark instantly vanishes from my mind’s eye. It was now a statement.
“I don’t love me anymore.”
I’d been played. My own mind had Jedi’d me. It had forcefully pushed me to the barrier, because it was drowning and it was vital that I fight for air. My soul needed me to accept that I’d been viewing myself as the enemy.
The instant the statement “I don’t love me anymore” rocked my soul, in those fleeting milliseconds, before my own protective nature (pride) came charging through the doors like a valiant knight, his sword gleaming at the ready to decapitate any notion that threatens my fragile emotional state, I am my answer, stripped of the cognitive abilities to bargain, flee, or even counter blame.
I’d lost touch with myself, more so, I’d pushed so far against my own like of self that I’d overstepped into the grey area of shredding my own self-love.
Feeling lost within yourself happens to all of us, but especially mothers.
It’s been almost a year and I’ve yet to find the words that offer the vocabulary experience of staring down and further ingesting my own truth. Every word seems faulty, scant. No sentence I craft together collectively holds the weight of the emotional revelation of my mind’s confession.
But what I do know is how beautiful our mind is, because it offers honesty without emotional limits. And part of that beauty lies in the remedy, we hold the key to our own happiness, the tools needed to emotionally persevere. You can have the best husband, job, children, and still be morbidly unhappy. Success of self-love is derived upon how quickly those intangible motor skills thrive, how quickly you accept you control you–cup half full or half empty.
I’d love to say it was an epiphany upon waking one morning that went something like, grasping my cheeks, completely distraught, screaming, “Oh my gosh, I don’t love me anymore! How did this happen?”
But the truth is, I’ve learned it was a slow transition over the course of my twenties. One little chip here, a bigger one there, personal sacrifice shouldered on resentment, enduring and compounding problems under the veil of blind perseverance. The shocking ‘ah ha’ moment came, it just wasn’t a blindside.
It was a casual argument with my husband, nearly a year ago, upon many we’ve shared—like any other adults, who are raising children, learning parenting methods, working jobs, managing bills, and fighting egos.
I’d been mad about something, an unresolved issue. Like any hoarder of emotional baggage, I’d placed that little morsel of ugly grief into my coin purse, saving for a rainy day of spending—when a real fight happens, one with meaning.
Of course, I’d never admit to owning this coin purse stocked full of grudge glory. I strive to mean that whole, “Your mistakes do not define you.” And live without grudge holding, but sometimes your memory—a valuable gift—makes the clean slate forgiveness act nearly impossible.
I felt that “real” moment forming in the middle of our argument nearly a year ago, the darkness, rage, and hurt that whispers inside you—you can’t take this, your feelings are hurt! Say something, say it, no SCREAM IT!
So I put my emotional grievances on the conveyor belt of our mild argument, dug out my coin purse, and unzipped it with fury, and then dumped every last coin I had in my arsenal down in payment. And it felt euphoric, until it didn’t. It was so dramatic that those meme’s stating “well that escalated quickly” completely applied.
He was silent. I’d won!
The darkness urged me to almost jump with full blown contentment. And then quickly the rational side of you drops to their knees, picking up the shattered pieces while screaming in alarm, “What have you just done?! No!”)
The truth is that you are no argument serial killer, or assassin. There is no prize to be won by winning an argument against a loved one. There just isn’t.
What does it say about me if I can’t fully forgive and “Let it Go”, or that I carry around my past hurts ready to hurl it at any situation that upsets me? It says that I believe in self-loathing. It says that I like damaging my own self-worth. “Insecurities are loud, confidence is quiet.”
You know that moment, when you wish you could literally scoop up the crap that just came out of your mouth, shovel it back in and swallow it back down. The thought of eating crap is enough to make anyone want to vomit, but that’s exactly what I had done—spewed crap, and I was unable to take it back.
If I hit the rewind button, taking back what was really my built up resentment and communicated better (like an adult), I would have. Especially if it meant that I wouldn’t see the hurt I placed in my husband’s eyes. The hard, cold stare. It’s like watching a storm form over the Caribbean, when his eyes are no longer a dazzling blue, but a dark, flat, emotionaless grey.
Then that ‘ah ha’ moment came, when I clearly had not won and had been catapulted straight into hell when he yelled, “You can’t even see how miserable you’ve become.”
Just like that my “ugly-I-won-the-argument-cheerleader” was dropped on her head.
His words were steady enough that I believed him, but what scared me was that I wasn’t terrified. And I should be. The love of my life, the father of my four beautiful daughters thought I was a miserable person. I should have been on the floor, wailing, hardly able to breathe through snot and tears.
But that wasn’t my response. My response was fighting deranged laughter silently bubbling in my throat.
Not at him, but that finally—I felt liberated.
Someone finally agreed, what I’d been silently feeling on the inside finally showed on the outside. The most trusted person in my life saw it.
Without further dramatics that ended the scene. Our fight was over. I stood staring at him, rather through him. My eyes reaping front and center my own truth. How could I expect him to like me, when I didn’t even love me?
After our fight, it took weeks of turning myself inside and out…when had I become a miserable person? I wasn’t a miserable mother, I was a happy mother. I gave it all to my kids and by giving them everything of me, I’d failed myself.
As mothers we are all competing to hold the biggest martyr title. We can’t help it.
As good mothers, we give it all and then some. We dig without a shovel, using our bare hands, to the very depths of our strength, patience. Most of all our abilities to maintain our sanity requires mental soundness. Basically, we are all trying to not lose our shit, period.
Self-neglect is par for the course of motherhood. It just is. We’ve all skipped beauty sleep, showers, let our roots go a few weeks without a touch-up, or even find ourselves thanking the heavens for the ombre style when you just plain give up on coloring your hair all together. We’ve all gone without hot meals and when we got a hot meal, we had to share it with our little ones. We’ve had to settle for the backwashed drink and been sick and had to still clock-in. These are just small sacrifices in the big picture of raising babies, because our love for our children knows no bounds.
But sacrifices still leave marks.
And the sum of those marks can add up to cause you grief. Like resentment towards your husband, because he practices self-love and eats a hot meal, always gets a haircut, has coffee without the morning chaos, and makes time for golf with friends. He has to practice self-love because the responsibilities he bares are great. He has a family who depends on him for security. The weight of being financially responsible for six people is harrowing and without a little ‘me time’ you can be swallowed whole by the stress of life.
Something I’ve learned the hard way is that mothers need to remember they are individuals, with their own needs too.
If you go without sleep, eventually your body will shut down. If you keep taking from your bank without making deposits, you will overdraft.
This is something I forgot in the midst of having four babies. I was so wrapped up in giving everything, I forgot the golden rule. If I didn’t take care of myself, there’d be no mother to be a good mother…eventually I’d burn out.
I am a person, not just a mother. And part of that means respecting my own needs. Every mother needs time to recharge, even when your mommy guilt tells you that you can’t afford a minute for yourself–you force yourself to take it. You will be a better mother because of it.
Life is so busy, we are all struggling to stay ahead in fear of falling behind. As mothers we have to push the stop button on our own busyness and take a breath, our own breath. We have to be our own advocates for self-love.
This means making repeated deposits in your individualism, because debits are constant as a mother.
Find time for yourself. Whether that’s waking up before your kids to enjoy your coffee, or to read a devotional in silence. Or that’s getting a pedicure, or actually scheduling (and keeping) a dinner with a friend. Going to the gym, or taking a class. Or it’s even staying up late to finish a book, or a t.v. show.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Disconnecting from our titles for a moment of healthy self discovery will fill your soul.
I’ve learned over the past year to invest in myself too and it’s been a defining battle within me to show myself love. But I’m carving out time for myself and I’m better for it. A better wife. A better mother. A better friend. I’m better capable of showing others love due to truly loving myself.
Take time for yourself Mama, because you are worth it.