Developing the practice of loving, cherishing, acknowledging and honoring our selves just exactly as we are right now.
Love Your Self as You Are Right Now
You are entitled to love your self just exactly as you are right now!
Although I occasionally do stretch to attend milestone celebrations with my family or my friends, I generally avoid settings that involve groups of people or parties. Though this quirk of mine is sometimes hard for my friends and family to embrace, they've all come to accept that this is just what's so about me. Typically, they'll let me know about their events so that I can send my good wishes and my spirit-self to join them there. Then, because they know that I love celebrating their special moments with them one-to-one, we usually make such a plan close in time to the event.
I rarely go to any workshops – even when their plans seem tempting. Being in workshops listening to people (who are neither my close friends nor my clients) as they process even their richest personal material exhausts me.
Though I sometimes think about taking a class (tai chi, yoga, dance, Pilates), being plugged into time or having to be in synch with any outside schedule feels so noxious, I rarely make such a contract. Appointments with my clients, scheduled semi-monthly massages and my occasional acupuncture, chiropractic, doctor, dentist, and hair appointments are about all the being-plugged-into-time with which I can cope without irritation. For that very reason, any plans made with any of my women friends are always, and up to the last minutes, subject to change by either of us. That way we each can honor where and how we actually are on the day for which we've made the tentative plan.
Except for the solitary sort-of-traditional Thanksgiving meal and practice of giving gratitude that are part of my yearly birthday retreat, I don't celebrate the calendar holidays. Yet, I often do seem to be led into private spontaneous rituals in the weeks around the solstices and equinoxes. These rituals usually include cleansings: down-to-the-bone cleaning of my cottage, going through my stuff and my space and passing on or pitching out whatever is no longer actively a part of my life. Long solo hikes in the mountains usually figure in these rituals as well.
My celebrations of the Jewish holidays are typically limited to sending loving cards to my family and to my Jewish friends. Except for Passover. Then, I join a gathering of lesbian-feminists and their children for an annual Seder that has a 22-year history. (I've been a part of this somewhat non-traditional tradition for many of those years.) There, every year during our Seder, we each take a turn responding intimately and personally to that year's reflective question about our lives. Though I see most of these women only that once each year, we've become a tribe, an extended family-of-choice rather than a group. That makes this particular being-together feel nourishing to me.
For many years now, I've gone on silent retreat (in my own space) for my actual birthday, choosing not to share that day with anyone but my own various inner selves. Still, I love getting cards and phone messages celebrating me on my birthday on that day. So, I do go out to the post office to gather the cards. And, I do turn up the volume on the answering machine to hear birthday messages in the middle of my otherwise silent time. I love hearing what my friends wish for me and how they feel about me. I love being able to hear all that without having to engage, that day, in any conversations that are focused on anything or anyone but me.
Being given gifts is not my thing either (much to the consternation of some of my friends). I already have just about all the stuff in my little cottage that I can manage to care for, to keep track of or that I might want. Still, some of my friends won't be restrained by my preferences. They offer me presents knowing that I may not accept them or that I may quickly pass them on. Some of my friends even manage to find things that surprisingly delight me, after all. Some of them tell me what they would have gotten for me if they didn't know about my feeling that presents are often added burdens. I love when they do that.
For more than 27 years, I've consciously chosen neither to be involved romantically nor sexually with anyone but my self. As the years have gone by, I've grown even more confirmed in these choices than I was when I first made them. I've come home to my truest self, finally honoring my nature as a solitary. I find solitude enchanting, nourishing, voluptuous, rich and delicious. I love the freedom and the open possibilities of having only my own energies around me on a daily basis.
I neither miss nor yearn for a sexual, romantic or daily relationship. Rather, I love and revel in the intimate, nurturing, ongoing sharing I do with my five or six closest women friends often by phone and when in person, usually out in the wild places. All of these luscious women are committed to their own deepening journeys. Much that challenges and stretches me/us happens in these intense and often giggle-filled sharings, these relationships of radical honesty. I'm grown by these relationships in ways that others seem to grow in partnering relationships.
For me, these days, the thought of partnering or living with anyone but my self feels claustrophobic and stifling. Some of my friends talk about the comfort they feel in having someone else around even when they're not directly engaging with that person. This kind of being by oneself with another is completely unappealing to me. If I'm spending time with someone, I want to be engaged with her (or him). If I'm not actually engaging with them, I'd much rather be by my self, by my self without someone in the background.
Over this past year, in several of my closest relationships, my women-friends and I have had to deal with a discovery that has proven somewhat challenging on both sides. In this season of my life, it seems that while my capacity for emotional support is still dependable and unwavering, my capacity for physical presence can no longer be counted upon in crisis times. This is different from how it's been with me in the past. And, it's taken some getting used to by all of us. It's not been easy, but it's been doable.
My most passionately politically and environmentally activist friend has struggled a lot, particularly since September 11 (2001), with my general disengagement from emotional or actual involvement with what's happening in the world. I am enormously grateful that others – like this dear friend who is so viscerally affected – are called from within themselves to respond consciously, actively and politically in meaningful ways. I know this needs doing. Yet political activism, an active engagement with the larger world, seems beyond me at this moment, not my path. I do what I'm able to help move us toward the paradigm shift. I offer prayers. And, I do my website: sharing there about living out-loud with permission to live from our truest selves, from the Sacred Feminine, the new (ancient, returning) paradigm.
Though I worry seriously about the escalating degradation of our environment, I seem unable, at this moment in my life, to find any authentic place in me from which to engage actively with the larger issues. I'm committed to recycling and composting. I garden organically and avoid the use of environmentally toxic or damaging products in and around my house. I try to be as conscious and conservative in my consumption of energy and resources as I'm able. So, although I continue to make my trips to Northern California by car rather than air (in order to provide the safety of a mobile home base for my Little Ones), I do accumulate and plan my local and next-big-town errands for the most gas-efficient use of my car. And, though my hot tub is not on solar power, I use no bromine or chlorine products in it.
I don't know whether or to what degree these odd and often inconsistent ways that I am (and am not) are born from what is healthy or from what is wounded within me. I discover that, the longer I live with my self, the clearer it becomes that this distinction is essentially meaningless to me.
How I am (inconsistencies and all) is just how I am right now. For all I know, it may even be how I am forever more. And, in just this moment, these ways that I am seem as so for me as that I have blue eyes. So, I work daily and assiduously on assuring my self of my own permission to be just who and how I am right now. And, I'm committed to the practice of entitling my self to cherish and value me just as I am right now – warts, imperfections, inconsistencies and all.
Years ago, supported by my friend Carol Munter's work (now available in the books Overcoming Overeating and When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies) I learned a very powerful lesson around body-size and self-hatred. We have to develop the practice of loving, cherishing, pleasuring and honoring our selves at just exactly the weight that we are (never mind how undesirable it might seem to us at the time). Unless we practice and learn how to do this at the weight we are and are starting from, we will never be able to love, cherish, honor and pleasure our selves at any weight, no matter what our when-I'm-thin fantasies might be.
Once we believe there are some more pounds/more pirouettes/ more things about our selves that we have to lose or do or fix before we can feel entitled to feel okay about or to love our selves, we are lost in a repeating loop. These beliefs are the symptom, not the cure for our experience of our selves as unworthy, unlovable. We won't feel more lovable after accomplishing these mores than we did before. So, there will always feel like there's another and another more after each set is accomplished.
There is a simpler (though far from easy), more direct path to healing our sense of our selves as not okay or as unlovable. The real cure, the only magical solution is simply and immediately to begin to practice treating our selves, exactly as we are in this moment, as if we already are entitled to be loved. If you're unsure how to proceed, just pretend, as you're talking to your self, that you're talking to one of your most beloved friends.
It's hard to do this practice. Still, it does get easier over time. And, the reason it works (eventually) is that it's the truth. We all are worthy and lovable, just for being; and, just-for-being includes exactly where and as we are in any moment. This is the birthright out of which we've been swindled and which we actually can begin to reclaim. (See Pirouettes for more about this.)
Re-membering and reclaiming this birthright, this knowing of our essential okayness, of our unquestionable lovability is an empowering and powerful process. It opens the door to liberation. It creates miracles in our lives. I wish you courage for the first baby steps.
Consider treasuring your dear and quirky selves.