Sometime in the last year, I shifted into a new morning mantra. In the soft and subtle muted light of the table lamp, I wrote in my tattered dogeared journal, Today I will love myself well. It was a gentle tiding, a comforting reminder that I was worth loving. Deserving. That I was first responsible for loving myself, and even more responsible for doing it well. One year ago, I was confined to my couch or to my bed, unable to walk, unable to put any bodyweight on my leg. I couldn’t drive, walk, or shower without assistance. Fresh out of major knee surgery, I shifted between self-pity and anger. And then I would fall into the pit of guilt for being ungrateful and would sit there in the darkness with every version of myself who had fallen there before – the lonely, the desperate, the shattered, the broken, the hopeless, the wayward. And none of these versions had ever learned to love me well. They had learned, though, that codependency is real, and so we sat together for longer than I dare want to admit.
Healing is not linear. I read that statement somewhere in the last year. And I agree. Healing is messy. There are no maps and no instruction manuals. It is often without direction. But what I learned this last year, from my couch and from the pit, is that while healing is not linear and is without rules and restrictions, it does have one requirement. Time. It took every bit of 365 days to heal my knee and my leg, and it took every bit of the 15,695 days of my life to heal my soul, to learn, to love myself well. 43 years to find my way out of the pit and to wish so many versions of myself adieu.
Loving myself well is more than self-care practices. More than a hot shower and a massage. Loving myself well has been soft and subtle shifts. It has been trying on new versions of myself – the grateful, the gracious, the loving, the joyful, the forgiving. It has been inviting even more versions of myself to the table – the unapologetic, the imperfect. Loving myself well is loving every part of my being. Loving well with warm coffee and sweet creamer. Loving well with nutritious foods and lots of water. Loving well by giving myself time and space to read and write every morning. Loving well with long walks under an orange sun. Loving well by saying no. Loving well by talking to myself – I don’t do overwhelming. I can, but I don’t anymore.
My publishing consultant said to me in the last weeks that we, as authors, write the book we need. And it’s true. I wrote a book I needed, a book about healing. A compilation of 43 years of messy, non-linear healing. A book that healed me in the making. Looking back on the writing of my book, I can see myself sitting with so many versions of myself. See myself taking her, at six-years-old and at twenty-nine-years-old and at thirty-seven-years-old, by the hand. See myself forgiving her for not knowing. For not knowing that she was worth loving well. See myself consoling her and letting her know that we become strangers, that we heal.
As we softly and subtly shift into May, I hope that you may. May give yourself permission to try on new versions of yourself. May forgive past versions that no longer serve you. May greet yourself with grace in each new day. May love yourself well.