Five years ago, I moved to California. To me, it seemed like a land with all the opportunities one could desire. It also seemed far enough away from my ex that we would not be magnetically pulled together, as had happened so often in the previous 10 years.
I took my first time away from home as time for myself. Time to challenge myself, learn about myself, and to learn about love. What better place to learn about love than an Amtrak station in the central valley? One fine day, I asked a stranger, “what do you think makes a good relationship?” She would answer in the way that so many do: trust and communication.
Trust. What did I know about trust? I knew that I’d been cheated on at an early age. I knew that my high school object of lust didn’t want a relationship with me because, you know, “there are a lot of beautiful women in the world.” I guess he needed to experience them.
Communication. In a relationship, I knew how to get frustrated and have an emotional response but I didn’t know how to vocalize my needs or wants before I had gotten upset. I seemed to be upset often.
Fast forward to 2016. I’d done a lot of traveling, taken many a journey. I searched coast to coast. Where was love? I found pockets of it, but not the kind I was searching for. Where are you love?? Oh! I found it on the interwebs. A new relationship. And yet, the frustration of trying to communicate and express with a new human rose again. I was at a loss for what to do.
In passing, I had seen a friend post on Facebook about self-love. I had seen she’d started a group and added me to it. I’d one-eye-squint at the posts, gloss over them, and move on.
Until I thought about what a friend and my partner had told me…that it didn’t seem like I really loved myself. I hadn’t considered it before. Did I love myself? Or was my aura of self-love a projection and not a deeply felt conviction? Maybe some work on self-love was truly what I needed.
So I reached out. Both skeptical and open, I knew I had to do something, get advice from outside of my circling and self-belittling brain. What the hell was self-love anyway?
With help, I realized that I wasn’t even trusting and communicating with myself. I wasn’t checking in with me to see how I felt or what my wants/needs were. How could I effectively communicate with a partner, if I did not know what was on the inside of me?
A couple of months ago, I set hesitant feet down upon the self-love path. I’m not here to tell you that I now have all the answers or that I love myself in each and every moment. I will tell you that it feels damn good to realize 1) I am not alone, 2) creating new pathways in my brain is entirely within my reach, and 3) taking care of myself, knowing myself, and loving myself helps all the things in life.