Isolation is not safety

“Love how you hate yourself sometimes because goddamn at least there is still something to hate.”- Neil Hilborn (also this poem is delightful)

I’m at a loss for positive or wanna-be insightful things to say this week. Quite frankly nearly all of my thinking this week has been about food. Carefully monitoring how many times I’ve eaten and if I think I need to eat again, staving off self-imposed hunger headaches because I haven’t felt hungry. My brain tells me that I’ve eaten more than enough, makes any food I do eat seem terrible and impossible to stomach. I’ve been through this before. I know it’s not true. I know I need to eat, but sometimes it’s an uphill battle to make myself. It’s not that I want to be thin, it’s never been that. It’s always that I don’t need to eat, maybe that I don’t think I deserve to eat. I write this not as a cry for help but an explanation. It’s not been a good week for loving myself. Or thinking about things that really matter. Because I’m busy calculating how much I ate the last time I ate and reasoning with myself to eat again. I’m working on keeping myself alive, as dramatic as that sounds. Hopefully this time next week will find my mind in a better space to process important stuff. Sorry if anyone is actively following this expecting any sort of wisdom.

 

This week’s five things I love about myself was pretty hard for me. I really didn’t love myself this week. But that means I need my own love the most right now.

  1. I love my sense of humor. It’s completely inappropriate and frequently cobbled together from references, but I’m pretty good at making people laugh. And that’s a great feeling.
  2. I love my ability to build things and work on computers, both skills that I practiced with my dad growing up. Given the most basic of instructions I can make or repair almost anything.
  3. I love my relationship with animals. It’s very rare that I meet a dog or cat that doesn’t like me.
  4. I love my concern about being quiet. All the years of chatting on a computer in the middle of the night and sharing space with someone have made me nearly incapable of listening to music without headphones or playing my tv loud.
  5.  I actually love that I’m not great with kids. I can babysit for a few hours, but around hour 6-7, I’ve run out of energy/patience for little ones. I think it’s valuable that I know and accept this about myself.

“Happiness”

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” ― Albert Camus

A dear and incredibly wise friend of mine posted some very interesting food for thought on social media. She said, “Happiness is too fleeting and trivial a thing to be the main goal for something as massive and wondrous as life.” Being naturally inclined to have deep discussions, I posed back, “What makes happiness trivial, and who says it has to be fleeting?” We fleshed out the thought back and forth, and it just really made me think  about the way we romanticize this idea of “happiness.” We tell ourselves that the best thing to aspire to is happiness, but how do we know when we’re there? Are we ever really there? In telling ourselves that happiness is the pinnacle, are we discrediting any unhappy experiences as not worthwhile? Should the take home be that anything that isn’t what we perceive as happiness isn’t as valuable? There are many, many quotes and cliches about this subject. As a culture inundated with images of perfection, happy smiling faces, and true love, we lean away from discomfort. We only talk about struggles once they are over, and we have a happy outcome. Underdog stories only inspire us if they result in victory. But isn’t there something valuable in accepting defeat, understanding loss, and feeling pain? Without those things, we wouldn’t even have a barometer for what “happiness” means.

I am always perceived as a very happy person. It’s the compliment I get from people I meet and people who have known me a really long time. They will tell you how positive I am, and that I always know how to cheer people up. I am also clinically depressed. I only recently accepted this and started taking medication to treat it. But I’m a great example of someone who isn’t really sure what “happy” feels like, but knows what it looks like. If we tell ourselves that truly being happy is the only end objective, what are we telling people like me? Wouldn’t be less pressure to just let happiness be a pleasant treat along the way? Like stopping for ice cream on the way home from school, having a candy bar in the middle of a long work day, or hearing your favorite song during a long commute. If we took the emphasis off being happy, wouldn’t it be easier to achieve? What’s wrong with aspiring to be someone great, rather than just someone who’s “happy”? (Not that the two are mutually exclusive, mind you.) I want to help people, to inspire them, to empower them. And it turns out, I don’t have to always be happy to do that, nor am I done once I feel “happy.” Does that make me a cynic or even more of an optimist? Even I don’t know. But that’s the beautiful thing, I don’t have to know everything. And neither do you.

This week’s 5 things I love about myself:

  1. I love the mole on my chin. It’s the same mole that my mother and her mother have. It’s an accent mark that makes me a part of something bigger.
  2. I love my love. My heart goes zero to one hundred. I love hard and fast, and even if it doesn’t last, I never regret the heartbreaks.
  3. I love my hair. Okay, sometimes I bitch about it because it gets crazy, but I love it because my curls come from my dad, who I loved more than anyone or anything.
  4. I love that I get bold when I’m drunk. Yes, I kiss people I shouldn’t, and yes, I sometimes foolishly text my exes. But drunk me is unfiltered me, and I’ll never be ashamed of that.
  5. I love the me that plans and outlines steps for everything… and the me that panics and does nothing on the planned out list. I need both of these components for balance. (and I’m only a little sorry that this makes me 30 minutes early or 10 minutes late for nearly everything.)

Planting Self Love Seeds

“It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self love deficit.”
― Eartha Kitt

A friend recently issued a challenge on social media that everyone should try to name 50 things they love about themselves. As a person who struggles with self acceptance some days, this much self love seemed impossible. Truthfully, it still does. But every journey starts with a choice to move forward, no matter how gradual the progress. My personal goal is currently to name 5 things a week for 10 weeks. I challenge anyone who actually reads this to try the same, obviously adjusting the goal as you see fit. Maybe with enough practice the task won’t seem as daunting. Stay tuned here for a weekly update of how I’m doing.

This week’s list:

  1. I love my legs. Toned without conscious intention, killer in heels, long but not overly so, strong and soft at the same time.
  2. I love my tattoos. Each one holds a meaning for me and decorates the canvas of my skin.
  3. I love my extensive vocabulary. I’m seldom left searching for a better word, and when I am, I make it a point to find it. I like expanding my eloquence and developing stronger communication skills.
  4. I love my sinful enjoyment of foods that are absolutely terrible for me. I’ve had such a difficult relationship with food (and still do at times), so feeling comfortable feeding my body things like cheeseburgers and loaded mashed potatoes is a treat that I cherish.
  5. I love my ability to get emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters. The way I can just immerse myself in a fictional world as a means of escape is powerful. I’d like to thank my parents for this, for always encouraging me to read and never discouraging my love of television and movies.

That’s where I am this week. Let me know if you join in on the challenge, I’d love to see what everyone else loves about themselves. May we all learn to plant seeds of self love that bloom into a garden that we don’t mind exploring leisurely.