Once I remembered that love makes me sort of superhuman, I knew Maryann was absolutely right about my health. Taking back my body, and my life for that matter, would not and could not be done by sheer will. This recovery path, the healing of decades of hurt and harm that I’d carried around within the shell of my skin, required the superhuman me. She challenged me to release the forceful, authoritative approach of my childhood, the battle for control of the parent-child dynamic inside me. Then she invited me to lean into my own unconditionally loving nature with others to guide me as I recreate the relationship, or fight, I’d been having with myself.
For some time now, I’ve been playing with the idea of recovery through self-love (in lieu of working on it). When I see the way forgiveness cultivates freedom in the heart of someone who hurt my feelings, I turn that forgiveness within and free myself too. When I celebrate the triumph of a dear friend, I pause to breathe that celebration into my own triumphant soul. When I notice that the voice in my head is hurtful or disrespectful, I pause to consider how I would speak to my daughter if she’d done whatever I’m beating myself up for. Then, I begin again from that heart-centered place instead.
I’ve told the courageous women with whom I work that if beating ourselves up had ever helped anyone make anything better, I would at least be willing to consider it as an option. I’m a results girl. I get high on personal evolution. And if I thought for a moment that railing violently against herself — her body or her track record, her poverty or her scattered brain, her taste in partners or her addictive behavior, her messy house or soul-shattering screaming at her child — would help her move into alignment with her beautiful, powerful, authentic self, I would be open to it.
If encouraging you to treat yourself more violently would help you, I promise, I would encourage you. But it doesn’t serve you. Self-control, at least as I’m using it here, is an act of fear, and nothing good ever comes from fear. Love is what heals, and while it is beautiful and generous to give that gift to others, we must remember to be loving with ourselves.
Love is the sunlight that allows us to bloom into who we want to be. Go ahead, try it. Your life is waiting for you.