“Did you always love yourself?”
That was the question, when the sun was high and smiling, and I sat with a small group of souls in the cool water of an estuary. This group of people could have been called strangers, or new friends. In the sanctuary where we sat, the colder water rushed out toward the huge warm bath of the ocean, creating a gentle but persistent current. We slowly floated along, toes pulling coarse sand.
Half submerged in the rushing water between pure blue water and pure blue sky, I felt undeserving of the beauty.
As the question “Did you always love yourself?” was posed, my heart pricked up its ears – there was a sense of being transported to a cosmic classroom where my worse subject was the topic of the day.
One soul said, “At age 33 I realized, I love myself!” She touched a hand to her heart in remembrance of this tender moment. She said it as if she were speaking of the moment a child learned to ride a bicycle. A sweet milestone reached through hard work, trust, spills, tears, joy. Perhaps the ride is sometimes wobbly or uphill, but I had the sense that this soul would “never forget how to ride a bike.”
One said, “I loved myself all my life until about age 36 when I had a tragedy. It was as if I had perfect, beautiful skin my whole life and then suddenly got a big zit on the middle of my face.” All of a sudden, she was blemished.
The third soul said, “I’ve ALWAYS loved myself!” At first I was shocked to hear this but, this soul-light was so refreshing, enlivening, and joyful to experience and that it wasn’t hard to believe.
I told my story; I learned to love myself around age 25 but gradually forgot again. These days I forget more often than I remember. I’m working on it – mostly by giving myself shit for having a super-great life and STILL not loving myself unconditionally. It’s pretty unproductive, to be honest.
We spoke of our fairly diverse childhoods, parents loving but emotionally unavailable. One of a huge family of adopted children, one from a stable home tinged by tragedy.
The discussion revealed there were: two in the camp of “born loving myself,” and two in the camp of “learned to love myself.” One in the camp of “consistently love myself,” three in the camp of “I need reminders to love myself.”
The lesson, unlike other more graceless lessons I have learned, gently floated up to me and caressed and wound itself around my body like a piece of kelp in a wave – the condition of “loving yourself” (trope in today’s post-aquarius new age crowd) or not loving yourself is inherent!
Like having a six-pack in your abdominals; maybe you’re born with it, maybe you’re not. Maybe you work your butt off and get a six-pack for a few years, then you soften up. Maybe you’re born with it but develop an insatiable taste for fried food.
I believe “loving yourself” is a skill that it’s possible to be born with (and if not literally “born” with, inherited or conditioned when you are a wee baby).
Therefore, I should stop beating myself up about it. In the gentlest way possible I experienced the silliness of wanting to be born differently than I am. This doesn’t mean I will stop strengthening my self-love, for the sake of harmony within my soul, for the sake of being able to live my best life. It’s just a softer path now.
I think we will all teach each other – paired up in cosmic classrooms. Those born with ” I love myself!” baked-in will learn from the others how to remind themselves when they forget. Those of us working with less self-love will get top-ups by feeling the glow of those who constantly love themselves. All the permutations and environmental differences and diversity will strengthen our human ecosystem.
If you feel shame about not loving yourself, as I did (and do, but less often now) I invite you into the memory of my universal classroom. Feel the refreshing water flowing back to its source, breathe the clean air, sense the nourishing sun. It’s okay, you were born this way. You don’t have to figure out a way to go back and be born with the genetics to grow six inches taller – just be as you are. Tell others about it. We need to hear your story.
So I ask YOU, “Did you always love yourself?” I would love to know your story.