Here I am, almost one month later, finally writing again. Folks, it’s been an amazing time.
October rang in as one of my new favorite months. Fall seems to be lasting forever and not only did I get to go “home” with my family to New Mexico, I got to return home with them and continue to live my amazing, blessed life with my husband and community.
And I’m more ready than ever to answer #5 in my 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself series.
5. Do I love myself exactly as I am right now?
The short answer is YES. The long answer is why, how, and the road to getting here. But it’s not toooo long, I promise.
First, I thought upon answering this question: Wow, I really have come along way when it comes to the idea of love. On my first date, when I entered back into “the dating world” after my divorce, I pretty much told the guy, “Don’t ever say you love me. That word means nothing. I’m not looking for love. So, let’s just agree to never go there. Okay great. Thanks for the awesome time tonight!”
When I met my husband, he and I had a somewhat similar and bleak outlook on the word and idea, too. Together, believing we didn’t have to worry about loving each other because it didn’t exist, we formed what I would call the greatest friendship of my life…. later to realize that our love had nothing to do with rose-colored-glasses or honeymoon-phases or falling-deeply-in-love-with-my-soulmate-at-first-sight.
That was the kind of superficial “love” we were both wary of. And we were nowhere near “dating” or thinking we’d end up together when Israel told me he realized he loved me. He loved me in a way that I could and already did reciprocate… a love of truly knowing the worst in someone, the scars inside of them, and not even knowing if there’s hope for the future. Broken, honest love, and a love that took time to grow.
Eventually my heart grew (kind of like the Grinch) and wrapped around not only my husband, but his three kids as well. And to this day, I don’t think the words “I love you” mean very much without some major actions to back it up.
I once said, “I’d rather NEVER hear those words again, as long as someone showed me they loved me.” Now, I’m basking in the absolute unreal blessing of getting both, but my ideals remain.
Now, this DOES relate to feminism and the love I have for myself. Here’s how:
It took seeing myself in the worst way possible, opening up to myself and being honest with who I was, accepting that there was darkness in my heart, and realizing that I might never experience an illusion of a “honeymoon phase” ever again…… IN ORDER FOR ME TO LOVE MYSELF.
In order to survive, I had to remember that God loves me, too. I had to remember that if I don’t love myself as I am right now, then I won’t ever love myself. Because I’ll never be any closer to perfect. How can I expect others to respect me or LOVE me if I don’t first have that for myself? The only “person” we can expect to love us otherwise is God.
Now, does this mean that I look in the mirror every morning and take a real good look and say, “I love you, self.” No way.
It means that I do my best to treat myself well. I expect myself to be better and better. I don’t let myself off the hook and blame downfalls on others. I treat others the way I want to be treated and I forgive myself when I fall short. I respect my body and try to see value in all human life.
I could say the exact same thing about the way I try to love my husband, or the way he loves me. We make each other better by being honest, urging one another further in life and love as we challenge, listen, respect and okay, occasionally get angry with one another. I know that when he takes time to wash my car, or makes my favorite breakfast before I get out of bed, or plays with the kids outside, or absentmindedly holds my hand, or drives off early in the morning to get to work… that he might as well be SHOUTING: I LOVE YOU!!!!
And so, this love for myself grew when I was by myself, but it truly matured and grew in a much richer environment once I was committed to someone in life and learned from him. Because wow, does my husband know how to love.
I read once about those couples who, rather than trying to “get back at each other” all the time, “tried to outdo each other in kindness” all the time. I tell ya, that is hard, too. I feel I am constantly falling short. If I were to compare on a chart the list of things Israel has done for me and the things I have done for him… let’s just say, he’s winning. But luckily, another way I see love given to me is that the comparison list is out the window. And the things I do try to do are appreciated and I know I can always get better ;)
So there you have it. I hope that no matter where life has taken you up to this point, that you can truly say you love yourself. Remember, this isn’t the unrealistic love that the world has taught us. It’s a real love full of scraps and bruises and the kind that doesn’t give up. It’s the kind that perhaps makes your heart slow down rather than speed up.
Oh, AND SPEAKING OF LOVE. Have I mentioned I love the desert? I finally had the opportunity to travel there with my family… and I’m pretty sure they love it, too. It was fun to see my home state through the eyes of a child.
We all love: Traveling on an airplane (for the first time!) You can really see the joy in all our faces here. But hey, this was just the shuttle.
We all love being on top of a giant mountain.
We all love balloons.
AND MOST OF ALL….. our family kind of digs sunsets. You could say we love them.
Lou (who is really good at loving imperfectly)
(and traveling with three kids, turns out)