Self-love doesn’t manifest instantly just because you are loved

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One of the most startling lessons I’ve learnt in the almost two years that I’ve been married, and 12 that I’ve been in a relationship, is that I am still struggling with how to treat myself with respect, still struggling to be more kind and gentle to myself. Sometimes the struggle seems to be magnified in winter, when the days are shorter and resolutions are starting to unravel.

When I was in my early 20's, I thought that finding 'true love' would legitimately fix all of my problems. Don't we all? While it certainly offers comfort and support, it also shines a light on the parts of me that I’ve yet to come to terms with. It’s taught me that everything I’ve tried so hard to sweep under the rug is still there, waiting for me to trip over it.

My husband is a fierce champion of mine. No matter how many times I get knocked down, even if it’s myself that’s delivering the blow, he’s still in my corner. You’d think that would be enough. You’d think that would make everything a-ok. And yet...I still find myself repeating self-destructive behaviours that I thought I'd shaken years ago. I still wake up sometimes convinced that I'm going to lose everything that matters to me. I’m not saying this to air any dirty laundry or to sound catastrophic. I’m saying this because I recognise now that being loved, while beautiful, is not the only glue required to hold myself together.

If anything, the fact that I’m treated well just serves as a reminder that I should allow myself to heal from past hang ups and doubts so that I can be in my own corner as well, along with the people that I love. I need to start seeing myself with even a sliver of the esteem that my beloved holds for me. I owe that much to myself (and you do, too). Because self-love shouldn't just be a catchy term, but rather, a chance to dig deep and really learn about yourself. 

Starting Feb. 1st, I plan to write myself an encouraging note every day of the month. 28 small reminders that I need to be there for myself. 28 chances to create a more positive narrative. After more than a decade of stumbling around in the dark, I’m ready. Are you?