I’m done. I’m going to love myself and date my friends.
Updated: Apr 10, 2022
I know. It sounds odd and a quite a lot wanky. But I mean it. I am finally going to learn to love myself.
And I’m going to date my friends. Why? Because friendships last much longer than any of my relationships, and they deserve more of my effort.
So. The love thing. It’s the first trite thing that gets trotted out at the least sign of mental conflict or stress (love yourself! Be kind to yourself!), and it seems to be the prerequisite for a whole and happy life. Why then do so few of us actually do it?
Because it’s bloody hard. It lacks instruction, and it goes against those deeply ingrained injunctions that get battered into us from birth - be modest. Never shout about your achievements. Don’t point out to society those things that you’re good at. Put everyone else first. They matter more than you do. What you want isn’t important. You must sacrifice yourself for those around you.
And we get hurt by those who tell us that they love us, and this means that the mixed messages we are presented with cause our brains to fall over themselves in a mishmash of confusion.
If someone who says that they love us repeatedly leaves us, we think that love is abandonment.
If someone who says that they love us uses their anger to wound us - whether mentally, emotionally, or physically - then we think that love hurts and causes us pain.
If someone who says that they love us scares us, we think that love is fear.
If someone who says that they love us lets us down over and over again, we think that love is disappointment.
Apply all of these messages to loving yourself and you can see why that’s a big old recipe for a fuckup.
It seems to me that to love yourself you first have to figure out what the hell love might be. And despite billions of us over the years trying to apply ourselves to that sticky problem, I think we are all still struggling with defining it well. It’s so elusive and it seems so changeable. Maybe the answer lies in not trying to figure out what love is, then, but what love is not.
Love is not anything which makes the void inside you feel worse. Love does not leave you to cry alone.
Love is not anything you have to keep secret.
Love is not anything that causes you physical, emotional, or spiritual pain.
Love does not lie to you.
Love does not put you second or third or last.
Love does not make you afraid.
Love is not words it is actions.
So, to love yourself.
Don’t do things which make the void inside of you feel worse. Don’t drink or do drugs or the other addictive behaviours you’ve developed over the years to mask the void. Go inside the void, explore it and don’t be afraid of it. Get to know the void and why it’s there. Once you’ve learnt it, you can begin to move it out of you.
When you love yourself, it doesn’t have to be that secret love that can define ”love” relationships. You’re allowed to love yourself. Wholeheartedly and openly. Tell you that you love you twenty times a day. Sing love songs to yourself. Buy yourself flowers. Sit on a bench and contemplate the ways in which you are such an awesome person. If you can’t think of anything about yourself that’s awesome, just start with the fact that you’re sitting there loving yourself. That’s pretty awesome.
Stop doing things that cause you pain. Just stop. Ask yourself if you are doing that thing in a loving way towards yourself or not. Question things. Be curious.
Don’t lie to yourself, but properly Love yourself. Shakespeare wrote a really clever thing about this:
”To thine own self be true; thou canst not then be false to any other man”
Obviously, its first meaning is that if you don’t lie to yourself then you won’t lie to other people. But a second meaning of it can be read that if you can truly love yourself then you can truly love other people too.
So, if you don’t love yourself yet, don’t kid yourself about that. Take a step back and figure this thing out so that you can love others properly too.
Put yourself first. This can be really hard if you are brought up to believe that you should put everyone else before you. I can see why religions teach this but something forgotten about here often seems to be the bit about loving yourself too. First you have to love yourself. Put yourself first. Then and only then can you love others like you love yourself. And then, you can put other people equally in line to you, if you so choose. But stop not loving yourself and putting the world and his wife before your own needs.
LOVE YOURSELF FIRST. PUT YOU FIRST AND THEN THE REST WILL FOLLOW. Love shouldn’t make you scared. But that void inside us can be very full of fear and abandonment and horrible things. Find your fear and confront it. Embrace it. Know that you can face anything if you have yourself. You are stronger than your fear just because of the very fact that you are still alive. And if like me you’re still going to be afraid of spiders after that, then love that about yourself. And get someone else to deal with them (I scream about it and get my 87 year old Granny to sort them out. She likes spiders.)
Stop being afraid of the fear. And stop hating yourself because of the fear.
Make your actions fit the words that you now tell yourself - you love you. That means making yourself a nice meal or taking yourself out for one. Letting you choose what’s on the telly. Reading a book for hours just because you want to. Whatever it is that you would do for another person if you were in love for them, try and apply it or something similar to yourself.
(Side note, it’s taken me all of my life to figure out that people can say they love you when really they don’t. They might feel something strong but it’s not necessarily what they say it is).
I am going to figure this thing out. I’ve Loved a few people over the course of my life, very very strongly. Those things didn’t work out but I can use what I learnt with loving them and I can bloody well love myself.
The dating friends thing is much easier to understand. I don’t see them like I used to so in this new way of living I need to work out better ways to make more time for my friends and to connect with them better. I have a couple of ideas but any thoughts are welcome!
P has a game called “We’re not really strangers“ and it’s brilliant. It helps you get to know people in your life better and is a lot of fun to play. Especially if you’re a really nosy person like me.
I’m going to make more dates with friends. Put things in the diary and prioritise having the energy to make the dates happen.
P and I were going to watch a screening of the Bolshoi at the same time, in different cities, but it got cancelled. It was a great idea though and one we can do quite easily. I used to watch the Avengers films with D, it was our thing we did together. If you want to watch a film “with” me, let me know! We can go for a drink and a chat on the phone afterwards and talk about the film/our lives/whatever nonsense we would usually talk about.
I now have a dog to walk so I can call people on the walk and have a catch up with you.
I am also going to have more surgery soon so I’ll be laid up for a few weeks. We can binge watch Netflix together.
I will let you know how I get on with all of this, I don’t think it’s an overnight thing unfortunately but I’m going to do my best.
And do let me know your thoughts or feelings about any of this. You can always message me if you want to keep something private.
Big Big Loves to you all. Remember how much you deserve to love yourself. You’re awesome.