I had a deeply powerful experience on a course I attended a few weeks ago.
I’m just starting to digest what this experience means to me and my life and while I do that I want to share with you one of the biggest messages I got from it – a message of love.
You see, for so long I’ve lived in fear.
I’ve made decisions out of fear.
I’ve felt like love and joy were scarce, finite resources that could leave me at any moment.
And my experience had taught me that this was true.
Whenever I started to have a ‘good run’ with comfort eating – not turning to cakes or chocolate or crisps to push down my feelings – and dared to share this good news with other people, I’d stumble and fall back down into my comfort eating cycle.
I internalised the message of not becoming too big for my boots – “no one likes a clever clogs” – and tried to not make myself look too sparkly or too special because I felt that somehow my greatness would tarnish the greatness of other people or show me as lacking.
I always felt like the imposter. That people – friends and co-workers – were one moment away from seeing me as I truly was – a nothing-special-about-her fraud. And so I was grateful to them for any scraps they threw me.
I felt amazing making others feel amazing through my coaching, because that’s what I longed to be.
And the moments when I felt externally validated – when I got a raise or a bit of praise – I drank it in like someone dying of thirst who happens upon an oasis.
I chased the high of being told I was good, worthy, enough.
Because I didn’t believe it myself.
But on this weekend away, something clicked for me.
I felt what it is to love myself unconditionally.
Completely overwhelming, joyous, beautiful, precious self-love.
I never knew it could feel like this.
To feel truly ok because I love myself.
To be able to look at decisions – in work, with friends and family, with myself – and know where I’m making decisions out of fear instead of love.
This love shows me that I’m perfect as I am physically. With my lumps and smoothness, fatness and thinness. I’m enough.
This love has made clothes shopping a different experience. I went charity shop shopping a week on Monday and found myself thinking ‘does this suit me and my body’ instead of past experience of feeling smug if I could fit into a size 12 – even better a size 10 – and wretched, ugly, no good if the size 12 clothing was too tight.
This love has made me feel secure in myself. I know I’m good at what I do. I know I’m an asset at work. I know I’m a good friend/wife/daughter/mother.
I’m not perfect, but I don’t require myself to be so.
Instead of hustling to feel worthy, I feel more content.
This love has let me cry more as I experience the good and bad, the ups and downs without trying to be anything other than myself.
This love has led me to smiling more, as I appreciate the beauty of flowers and trees around me. The leaves dancing in the trees. My son dancing his way up the hill home.
This love has let me find peace with not being the best wife at the moment.
Peace with not saving my best for my husband and all too often serving him up the dredges of myself after a long day of caring and working and being and doing. I’m not beating myself up or feeling unworthy because of it.
This love has let me see that something needs to change, but I know I can’t change by trying harder, pushing more, putting myself last to put him slightly higher up the pecking order. Something has to give.
This love has let me bounce back from stress – a hire car breaking on my way to a senior leadership meeting, my husband waiting for me alone in a no-phone-signal zone.
I see that these experiences don’t define me.
This love lets me know that I’m not one mistake away from being found wanting. I am imperfectly human, surrounded by love.
This love gives me room to grow and stretch and stumble and fall.
To eat cake at 11am and not go into full-blown food free fall.
To examine things I didn’t handle well and get back up, learning for next time.
To make decisions and change my mind if that’s right for me in the moment.
I see what self-love is, for what feels like the first time in my life.
It’s truly beautiful.
And part of me wants to hold it tight, scared that I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling like I did before – grey and wanting.
It makes me feel scared that, on holiday for a week with friends, I’ll stumble and not act out of love all of the time and I’ll see what a fraudulent experience this has been.
It makes me want to hide this news in fear that, by sharing it, I’ll snuff a little candle out.
But I know that this love isn’t dependent on me being perfect. It won’t leave me if I stumble.
So that’s what has been happening for me. A truly special experience that is so hard to describe but so incredible.
Have you enjoyed this blog post? If so, please look at how you can support me through ‘buying me a coffee‘.