ASK RAVEN: LOVING MYSELF

 

Loving myself, One piece at a time.

For as long as I remember I felt unworthy of being loved. I was convinced that I would never be loved wholly as I was.  I strived to break myself up into digestible pieces that could be reconfigured to meet the needs of everyone, every thing, and any situation that I came across. I shattered for survival. 

I fed my partners, friends, and family bits and pieces of myself. Careful to hide the sharp, broken, parts I believed would cause rejection, make me look less attractive, or simply things I thought made me “too much” to deal with and understand.

Hearing “You’re too much“ my entire life taught me how hide.  

So I hid. 

I hid from a world that didn’t  seem to have a place for someone like me. I hid until I lost my whole self.  I rejected the parts I felt made me unlovable. I judged deeply and buried what hurt the most. 

For a long time I was BUSY in the business of self-improvement. I engaged in an endless cocktail of betterment, cycle-breaking, trauma confronting, and self soothing. As long as I kept looking I could always find something to fix, something to reconfigure, some piece of me that wasn’t quite right. 

Popular wisdom tells you that when you are finally “fixed” and “at peace with yourself” you will find your partner, your calling, your purpose. If you aren’t there yet, its your fault alone. 

But this is a lie. 

This kind of approach to “self-love” is spiritually bankrupt. Self-loathing in holistic packaging. Gluten-free, plant-based, adaptogenic self-hatred. I still experienced the pain of self-rejection because I was still engaging in spiritually destructive behavior. 

In truth there were parts of me, long rejected, that were crying out for love, attention, and care. The parts of me that I learned to dull, ignore and break up to make myself more digestible for others.

I lived my life running away from myself and it showed.  My spirit was still broken up into little pieces, I hadn’t felt whole in years. The “work” that needed to be done wasn’t fixing myself. It was to put the pieces back together. My job wasn’t to better myself, it was to make myself whole again. 

I had to acknowledge that there were parts of myself, traumatized and neglected parts of myself that I ignored, feared, or rejected. My journey to self-love began when I started trusting my intuition. Looking back I could recall dozens of situations where I betrayed myself and didn’t follow my own gut.

Trusting my own intuition and not making decisions based on my own fear of the unknown saved me from pain and taught me I was worth listening to. This was The beginning of self acceptance.

I began to forgive the 11-year-old, the 15-year-old, the 21-year-old, the 25-year-old, and all of the versions of me that I rejected and didn’t like for one reason or another. The versions of me that made mistakes, were imperfect, that had been traumatized. The truth was in some of my most painful moments It was really a lot of those ancient pains that were crying out to be loved and to be accepted and to be soothed. All of those bits of myself that I had rejected were still there, waiting for me. 

Instead of pursuing self-improvement I began the slow and painful process of forgiving myself; a shift towards self-acceptance. These days when I see my friends I ask them how their spirit is. This usually elicits a more honest response from them. We aren’t taught how to love our spirit, only how to make ourselves more appealing to others.

Self-acceptance is Self-love and self-love is a form of spirituality. I met myself in pieces and I have learned to love the parts of myself I felt were truly unlovable one piece at a time. 


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Raven Burgos,

MSW is a Therapist and Native New Yorker. Learn more about her work and her, here hellohappiness