I got married a few weeks ago.
That is a sentence I never thought I’d say. I never thought I’d meet someone who would want to spend the rest of their life with me. I never thought someone would love me so much that they would proclaim that love in front of all our friends and family, as well as legally. It still stuns me to say the word husband.
The reason this is all so weird for me is because it took me till I was almost 40 to realize that I didn’t love myself as I deserved, and that I didn’t think I deserved love from anyone, let alone a romantic partner.
My heart was sad and broken. We had a very unhealthy relationship. I don’t have any specific childhood trauma I can point to that tells exactly where my heartbreak happened. I just always remember being anxious, depressed, and feeling distinctly that I didn’t like or love myself very much.
My relationship with myself was always awkward, uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to do with my body or how to position it in space relevant to other people. I didn’t know how to act “properly” so that people would like me. I always felt acutely that people didn’t like me and that they found me tedious and boring.
I always felt like a loner, but really I craved togetherness.
I was bullied as a teenager, typical stuff, nothing like kids today go through. I was lucky to grow up pre-Internet so the bullying didn’t follow me home. But it did, however, cement into my psyche that I was a loser who didn’t deserve friends or anyone to love her.
I could go on and on about my struggles with my relationship with myself, but it’s something I have worked through and found the other side of, and that is a far more important topic to me because we all have our stories, important stories, but how we heal from those stories needs to be discussed.
How did I get to a place where I was able to have a healthy, loving relationship with myself? One word: Therapy.
I was in my early 30s when I realized I needed help. I was dating a string of men who were essentially the same guy. They didn’t want a committed relationship, they didn’t want me. I was feeling lonely, confused, but I was starting to realize that I was dating this type of man because I didn’t think I deserved anything better.
My therapist landed in my lap by happenstance — as these things do. She helped me get through the pain of why I felt so unloveable. Why I hated myself so much (just so you know hate is not a word I like to use, but I use it here because it was true, I hated myself). More than anything, she gave me tools to figure out how to love myself in a healthy and profound way.
And once I realized that I had a lot of friends and family who loved me, honestly loved me for the person I was, my world opened up in a new and important way.
I was able to see that I, like all of us humans on Earth, deserve love from others, but more than anything it is perfectly acceptable to love ourselves without guilt. It is not self-centered or egotistical to love yourself. In fact, it is vital to surviving this life!
If you can’t or won’t love who you are, how in the world will anyone ever be able to love you the way you deserve?
Acceptance of myself came over many years, and is still something I “fight” with – But seeing my joy in pictures like above makes me realize that I have come a LONG way.
My heart has begun healing these last ten years or so, and the culmination of that was meeting a man who had the same struggles, whose heart was also broken, and realizing that we could love one another exactly how we wanted, how we needed to be loved. Not only that, we could openly love ourselves and respect ourselves and our needs enough to speak up when necessary. Our ability to communicate is what helped heal my heart.
Nothing is perfect. I still struggle some days. I still wonder why my husband loves me as much as he does. I still wonder why my friends love me as much as they do. But in those moments I reach for the tools I have been given through therapy and yoga and living life, and I sit quietly, close my eyes and remember that I deserve the love I have around me. I deserve to love myself. I repeat this mantra over and over again until my brain believes it, and my heart feels less sad.
It is no easy thing, learning to love, but it is so important that you do it. If you find that love, if you heal the relationship you have with yourself then, and only then, will you be able to find a relationship that satisfies your heart and your soul.
Healing the heart can happen in many ways – but I always find spending time marveling at the beauty of the world always helps me.
How do you heal your heart?