2018 was going to be my year. I was sure of it. I had bought my very own house, I was dating a nice man, and I was in a job that was going well. Plus, I was turning 44, a nice even number with beautiful symmetry. And, who doesn’t love symmetry? Alicia Key’s “Girl on Fire” was playing on a loop in my head. I felt like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of my former life.
Fires Go Out
Nevertheless, as fire goes, eventually the flames began to die down, and before I knew it, I was just a bird with singed wings. My health started to backslide; I became overwhelmed by the pace of my job; and the seemingly sweet guy I was falling for turned out to be a total dud who ghosted me when I brought up concerns about our relationship.
You Are Loved?
In the pile of ash that remained, my already fragile self-esteem plummeted. I really didn’t like myself. I felt “bad” for trying to assert my boundaries and protect my energies. And, the unreal world of online dating I found myself in left me feeling ugly and insecure. On top of that, the stress of working in nutrition and food insecurity, fields that are often dismissed and devalued, left me empty and disillusioned. No matter what I did, I just could not feel good enough. I started to wonder if in 44 years I ever really had. The “You are Love(d)” affirmation that I kept in my dining room seemed to be mocking me. I just couldn’t believe those words.
The Dawn Always Comes
Sorry, to be such a Debby-Downer – it gets better, I promise. Let’s just say the Universe sometimes has to burn you completely to the ground before you truly have your “Phoenix moment.” The first half of 44 seemed to take me there. For many other empaths and light workers, 2018 was a similar wake-up call. But, dawn did come. The dark moments I experienced in the past several years brought me to just where I needed to be to learn and grow.
Life Lessons with a Common Thread
I was going to make this a blog of several lessons. However, I ultimately realized that A. no one wants to read a mini-novella online, and B. each of the lessons had elements of one core truth. These ideas:
- Don’t worry about what others think of you;
- Give your time and attention only to those who have earned it;
- Honor who you are / be true to yourself;
all ultimately boiled down to one major truth, something I had embraced from a different angle years ago – it all begins with you.
You Must Love YOURSELF First
I had certainly heard and acknowledged that message before – many times in fact. But, after consistently hearing it in 2018, it finally started to resonate. I owe some of that to astrology. I know it is not for everyone. It requires that on some level you surrender your disbelief and give credence to something outside of yourself. I’m often in my head, focusing on logic and reason, so relying on the messages of the planets and the patterns of the moon provides a certain level of comfort for me. The planetary alignments in 2018 were especially challenging according to most astrologers. That gave me validation and hope that my troubles would pass with each New Moon (a symbolic restart to life).
Love of Self is Divine
The concept of self-love is difficult for many women (some men too), because we are socialized to be the givers and nurturers. The core of the Divine Feminine is motherhood – that message spreads broadly to protecting and serving children, nature, animals, and all those we touch. It’s a heavy burden to bear when we take it head-on. Yet, we aren’t actually meant to carry it as martyrs. We’re meant to fill our cup and then let the goodness overflow, all the while asking for help when needed.
Armed with this truth, on a rainy Sunday in February I mustered the energy to head out for a walk to the local park. I hopped on one of the swings and pumped my legs until I felt weightless. As I did, I said aloud, “I love myself. I love my life. I have built what I wanted. I have all that I need. I am so blessed and lucky. I am grateful. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” As a final surrender to the anguish I experienced in online dating, I threw in, “I don’t need anyone else to complete me. I am whole as I am.” I began to cry as I felt the heaviness of my self-doubt leaving.
Then Comes Love
I headed back home feeling so much peace. When I flipped open my laptop, I found a message from Match.com. I reluctantly opened it, questioning if I could even handle one more empty string of words. The message was from a man who stated he had read my very long profile right to the end (a rarity for sure) and he would like to take me out for dinner or coffee. We spoke that night on the phone for nearly 4 hours. It was like we had known each other our entire lives. The rest, as they say, is history.
There’s so much more of this story than I have room to tell here. However, the lesson that feels true to my core, the one I feel compelled to share, is that as soon as I learned to love myself fully, as soon as I recognized that I did not need a partner to feel good, the Universe sent me a man who loves me more completely than I have ever known. With every passing day, I love myself a little more too.
UPDATE 7/10/21 – For my full love story, check out Online Dating for Sensitive Women. I share all the details of how I improved my low self-esteem, rebuilt my life, and claimed the love I deserve. I know you can do it too!