Happy Valentine’s Day…to Me
In my twenties I operated under the assumption that I had to earn love. I had to be good enough to merit the respect and care of others. A part of me figured it was just a matter of time before people started realizing I wasn’t nearly as good as I seemed. Once they did, they would probably leave. To guard against that terror, I devoted myself to being good. My vigilance extended into every area of my life; my studies, work, friendships, volunteering, church work, even knowledge of world affairs. I wanted to do everything right all the time. Any little lapse or mistake provoked in me feelings of failure, fear and inadequacy.
The pressure I put on myself was immense and ultimately debilitating. I couldn’t keep up the pace and, though I tried hard, I could never meet my own expectations. I catalogued my shortcomings and regularly resolved to work harder, be friendlier, accomplish more and generally be a better person. By the time I was 33, I was nearly incapacitated by anxiety and struggling to get out from under the crush of bulimia and depression.
I used to think that if I could just work hard enough, then I would be good. If I were good, then I would be loved.
Instead, what if we could love ourselves for who are already?
Stephen Levine in "Healing into Life and Death" says: "Truly we have been waiting all our lives to hear 'I love you' in our own voice."