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I Don’t Know How To Love Myself

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I Don’t Know How To Love Myself

If you want to love something… treat it nicely.

I was offered this puzzle piece the first time twenty years ago. I was a teenager with teenage problems, and there was this girl I didn’t like. I’d need a time machine to tell you the reason I didn’t like her because today I’m unable to summon even a vague recollection but I know she was one of the others. We were not friends, couldn’t be, no matter what. Trying to remember the details makes me wonder how anyone took me seriously back then.

Anyway, all that hate and discontent was firmly in place for months until she was drunk and upset at a party one night, and I was the only one sober enough to care. I sat with her, listening to her tearful story of love and betrayal, and sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I got her home safely. Our friendship lasted throughout our high school days but the greater lesson of this puzzle piece moment was completely lost on me.

It came again when my son was just a few weeks old. The bulk of his newborn medical crisis had passed and his father had returned to work, leaving us alone to face the days together. They were hard days, nothing like I’d dreamed about in the months leading up to childbirth. For reasons that took months to fully understand, he was a miserable baby. He cried a lot and spit up in volumes that made it hard to gain weight, which was essentially the only responsibility the two of us had been assigned.

He was tiny and frail, and with my 20/20 hindsight I can see that I was absolutely terrified of him. On the day in question, I was changing his clothes for the fourth time, not because I was obsessed with baby fashion but because he kept pooping and puking and rendering his clothes unwearable. Every movement in and out of diapers and sleeves seemed painful for him, which made it painful for me. It was cold and he was so little, I could hardly believe I was in charge of keeping him alive. Anyway, I got him all clean and as swiftly as possible snapped into something warm and dry, and before I could even get a clean bib wrapped around his tiny neck… he puked again.

It was all over him and me and I seriously almost lost it. Seriously. I was consumed by hopelessness, fear, frustration, and certainly a million other things that came together resembling rage. I. Almost. Lost. It. Time and space vanished, as did my good friends Logic and Reason. I felt as though maternal instinct and anything remotely resembling compassion had drained from my body. For a moment, even decency was a stranger.

I was slipping in and out of my body, seeing in a brand new way this miserable baby and his hysterical mother. I could see that he needed me desperately and that I was closed and afraid. I heard, “Tell her to be nice to him.”

I told myself to be nice to him and in my head I screamed back at myself that I didn’t know how to anymore. I said it again and again, “Be nice to him,” and finally my mouth whispered aloud, “Be nice to him … Be nice to him … Be nice to him.” Nice? Be nice to him? What would be nice? At first, I couldn’t think of anything I could do that would be nice for him but I pulled him to my chest, wrapped a blanket around us and all of the vomit, and took a single step and then another and then another.

Nice? What would be nice? What can I do that would be nice to him? A few more whispers and a few more steps, and I found myself standing at the door to the bathroom. He likes to take baths. A bath would be nice for him… and even for me. I filled the tub, stripped us both of our nasty clothes and settled in to the bath until I could think of something else that would be nice.

Nothing came to me, so I warmed the water as needed and just held and nursed and said nice things to that baby until his father came home from work. He searched for a moment before discovering us in the bathtub. He said, “Rough day?” He had no idea how rough but I was once again, somehow, madly in love with that baby.

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Read more: Health, Mental Wellness, Self-Help, Spirit, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

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Christy Diane Farr

Christy Diane Farr is a catalyst. If that sounds like something you want more of in your life, visit 'The Greenhouse' at SeedsAndWeedsCoaching.com and join the Wildflower Evolution on Facebook.

64 comments

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7:18PM PST on Jan 23, 2012

:) I can't say how much I could thank you... This helped me realize how to change myself. Thank you so much.

7:59AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

thanks.

7:51AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

thank you.

3:56PM PDT on Oct 18, 2011

There is truth to the saying, “If you do not love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you?” It took me years to throw off the self-loathing that my mother's life-long criticism caused. I was never good enough - always compared to my sister (who could of course do everything perfectly!).

6 years of sexual abuse in the ‘80s, followed by being raped by someone I trusted, caused me to go grey at 23. Paralysed from the waist down after a motorcycle accident in 1990, I put on 100 lbs/45kg because I didn't have the sense to cut down the calories! It took 2 years (& lots of tears) to be able to walk again.

Yes - I've lost all the weight I put on; I colour my hair (to its original colour) and wear a little makeup. But, as my Nan said, "There's no harm gilding the lily but no sense in trying to change the flower". However, WANTING to be and look my best (through health as well as cosmetics) is a result of coming to love myself, not the other way round. For me it was "Fake it till you make it” because, eventually, what you tell yourself every day is what you come to believe.

I still have an occasional bad day when I have to remind myself that I'm worth it, but at least I CAN believe it. I may not win any Humanitarian Awards for my life but, at 51, I’m able to look myself in the eyes in a mirror and feel good about the woman who looks me right back ... and smiles!

3:54PM PDT on Oct 18, 2011

Ah, Christy! You can't please all the people all the time. The negative feedback shows that people are reading your articles. For those of us with whom this resonates positively, we feel you. For those of you who mock the article, you're outweighed by those who’ll benefit.

1:23PM PDT on Oct 17, 2011

A beautiful story. Thanks so much

10:05AM PDT on Oct 16, 2011

Inspiring article.Trying to eat differently myself,so fingers crossed.

6:44PM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

Wow! Thanks for sharing! I'm going to work on being nice to myself, I think I manage sometimes but not it the way I would like.

7:08AM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

Our attitute determines the way we experience life.

1:32AM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

This was a lovely article to read first thing. I too find it important to make time for myself and be nice to myself as well as for other people. I'm lucky in that my partner takes time to do nice things for me too and it makes me feel treasured. As I treasure him I do nice things for him too so we both feel good. :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

Interesting and true ideas. I believe I will have to some of this.

We grill zucchini at our house a lot - it's so good.

Frances B, I think a supermarket in the UK did something like that. The odd-looking and not so fresh…

Hmmm, not even a thank you. Beautiful family though.

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