“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.” *
Let us not dwell on the past may be the most apt way to begin this post. I have found myself in a slump of late, the motivation dwindles with the light for me and pray mon âme it is indeed late spring here, where is the light you may ask. A tiny island in a large sea is prone to variable weather, exciting, I guess, one never gets bored. So the week of sunshine? I spring cleaned the house. The week of dull high cloud? Hayfever, migraines and panic ensured. It’s always a few months after the last panic attack before I begin to relax and think yes you are and you will be okay. To bide my time? I have found solace in colouring books, fine markers and coloured lines; my favourite high school tunes keeping any sense of panic at a distance. And here begins the perfect segue for some self love talk, who Jessica, my main mentor and best felon initiated over at her blog -> littlest lady.com (okay she’s not really a felon but t9 and auto correct are the butt of many jokes for us)
“Over time you become someone else. Only when the honey turns to dust are you free.” *
As far back as I can remember I was picked on for my appearance at school. Why? Red curly hair. It didn’t help that this was the 1990s when curls were well on their way out, and even today, I still get the feeling that curls are seen as messy and unkempt. Now? I pretty much love my hair. I’ve never changed it much, luckily, a lazy demeanor and urge to be ‘different’ has kept me from straightening it and apart from the few black home dye jobs in my teen angst phases it’s kept it’s natural colour rather well. I do find myself bored with it at times, but the constant praise of people and strangers who wish they had hair like mine as somewhat gone to my head, and you know what? It’s me, and that’s okay. I am lucky to have a full head of hair at all & a natural fuzzy scarf in winter mind you. I’m still working on the PCOS and hormonal side of my hair as it appears in places society deems unappropriate for women. & here I’m reminded of Roxane Gay’s brilliant memoir Hunger (go and read it already!) where it’s often parents and loved ones that can be the most detrimental to our process of healing and self love.
Endometriosis? Yeah, that thing. I’m slowly coming to grips with it. Self love is a lifelong journey and while it’s amazing to finally have a diagnosis and explanation for my body and it’s wayward charms to put it positively – self love & acceptance is another matter.
Self love isn’t always liking your body parts but learning to know yourself and your habits; when you are in need of rest, of healing.
- I tire easily. My body likes to produce cortisol when it’s not always needed. I am not weak. I am learning my limits which makes me strong. I have learnt to say no to extra work and social activity when my body is screaming for rest. Keeping up appearances is bullshit and if you need sleep, get your body into bed!
Fun fact? I wasn’t born late, or early, but right on time… and I came out, not screaming or crying but …. yawning. I was literally born tired!
- The pain. Again I am not weak. The pain is caused by factors sometimes out of my control – weather, medication side effects & well within my control – food and stress and it’s undesirable physical effects. Learning to love yourself and learning to understand your limits is STRENGTH.
Anxiety is my latest struggle. Nausea and an internal tremor which sometimes manifests to a full body shake with legs like jelly and butter fingers that smash and crash. I certainly don’t love this part of myself – but understanding why is foremost to any kind of self love that is needed.
“The question then is how to get lost. Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.” *
I would like to add at the end of that quote “of discovery AND SELF LOVE.” Self love occurs when we begin to pay attention to our needs and get lost in ourselves. I have recently picked up my first Rebecca Solnit and boy oh boy. I picked up A Field Guide to Getting Lost on an absolute whim last week. It was a self-care day I had given myself. A day to buy myself some nice things and to let myself breathe without a care. Solnit? She’s like Didion on steroids. I practically underlined the first 40 pages of the book and it truly felt like Solnit had reached inside my bones giving me a shake up for the better. Like a lobotomy if a lobotomy actually worked and gave you a greater grip on life and yourself.
I have begun to understand the feelings as they begin. To understand that my body needs rest, oxygen, a cup of tea or my favourite damn song to get my circadian rhythms back to their norm. Favourite things are favourite things for a reason and this my friends is what I deem to be self love. Looking after yourself with feeling, treat yourself as you would your best friend. Get lost in yourself.
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
– Albert Camus
* from, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit