I dedicated 2018 to learning and mastering the art of loving myself. It was given as the second of the 10 commandments so it must be pretty important. I wrote this at the beginning of the year and just took a fresh look at it. The overwhelming feelings I am experiencing this Advent season reassure me that I am well on my way. That said, I would like to share my reflections a year ago to let you in on a bit of my journey. Perhaps you will find it useful in some way. That is my prayer anyhow.
For as long as I can recall, self-love has been a hard one for me. I am not saying its easy for anyone...from the countless life stories I have been told...but it has been particularly challenging for me to do this. For all the times I have been told “I love you” by very convincing people, those words haven’t reached down into the bottom of the pit that is most empty. I have felt an emptiness my whole life that no additions to the family could fulfill, no amount of friends could eliminate, no boyfriends could fix, no parental reassurances could soothe. I have climbed mountain tops (literally), sought out spiritual teachings and worked intensively for 13+ years with a teacher and that didn’t fix it. Oh it helped a great deal and I had moments of “fulfillment” along the way but the hole never went away. I tried serving as a minister for 10 years...that helped increase my sense of worthiness but never completely fixed the problem and created a whole new set of issues to contend with. When I left the order and returned to my family and some friends of old, I found comfort but the pit remained unfulfilled. My resentment toward my husband grew for all that he could not satisfy...and towards myself for the love I have not been able to give in return when I feel I am drawing from crumbs inside. Most people would not know this about me. They would think I have it pretty together and that I have a pretty good grasp of what real love is. They would likely assume I feel pretty whole and complete as is. What they don’t know is how skittish I have felt inside...how impulsive I am the moment I slow down enough to get nearer to that pit that beckons me in order to inform me of its presence. I have hated it with a vengeance. My teacher tried to push me there through countless spiritual practices. I have been challenged by other life mentors along the way to look at what I am running from. I think its the same thing most of us run from. I cannot be alone in this feeling. In fact, I think it serves a very useful purpose as painful as it is. This is the year that I devote to turning towards this feeling...towards this inner most vacuous place inside of myself...and the year that I do it with love, self motivation and self dedication. I am not doing it because a teacher is nudging (as happened when I was a student) or ordering (as happened when I was a priest) me to go there…nor because it makes me “good” in some way or better able to serve the needs of my fellow humans (although I would be delighted if this were the outcome). I am going there because it is clear to me by now that no one else can do this for me...no one else can fill this vacuous pit BUT me via my attention on it. I can beg for God’s love to fill me up but if I am unwilling to love the very depths of my own being than how can God find a welcome space to dwell in because I have already declared it unworthy? My heart aches for the kind of attention that only I can give it. It longs for the kind of deep fulfilling love that only I can give. Trying to do good for the sake of earning someone else’s love is hog wash and just plain doesn’t work...even if that person is Jesus Christ. I know in my mind that there is nothing I could do to earn His love...he already died for me so that I could be filled to the brim. There is a problem with my willingness to accept it...or lack of. I have believed myself to be unworthy in some way...unworthy of the most perfect of all Loves. My mind knows that this is not true...and I have experienced the reality of this unconditional Love in moments of Divine Inspiration and in deep contemplation. I have felt ecstatic Love course through my being and felt this Love to be personally available to me...but I have repeatedly chosen to walk away from it. I have chosen to turn against Love and to stack evidence in favor of why I am not worthy. The reality I then live in is one of deprivation and lack. It is painful, lonely, desperate. I want to describe this in full for the average person that lives with this experience daily and neglects it...or busies themselves in hopes that it will go away. I want to detail out this journey in the event that I can successfully turn the tide on this one and live inside a whole new reality feeling my perpetual worthiness. I want to be able to look in the mirror and see a person who knows that she is worthy of love staring back at me. I want to feel my cup running over and I want to feel an organic freedom to give freely from this overflowing cup. I want to love from a place of wholeness and completeness. I want to see my partner as someone to share life with vs. someone who I need something from in order to feel whole. I want my daughters to have the freedom to be themselves and succeed or fail in whatever way is right for them so that they can ultimately learn the lessons they are here to learn and not have it mean something about my own goodness or badness...my own worthiness or unworthiness. Since we left the spiritual order to embark on a secular life once again in order to salvage our marriage and fully assume the responsibilities of parenting, I have found countless ways to busy myself from moving (on too many occasions to count), settling girls in new schools 3 times for each of them, myself in 3 new jobs and sought out new friendships and attempted to establish a sense of belonging in each new location. We are now settled...or at least settling in...enough so that I can bring renewed attention to myself. In deep meditation when the answers to my questions would determine which direction my life would go, I was told to step down from actively serving as a priest but to write my story. I was instructed to depend on Jesus in a way that I had not before. I have toyed with these internal commands ever since receiving them 5 years ago. I have attempted to put pen to paper but always had the approval of or gift to others in mind when doing so which felt like it tainted the process. Now I write for me...and for the three people I share this home with. I write in attempts to remain close to this process of learning the art of self-loving and to document a process that might somehow serve to benefit at least one other person at some point in the future. If one person’s life is benefited by my living, then I will consider my life to have meant something. For now, that person is me. Hi Kelly...I have finally shown up to love you. What do you need from me? I am all ears.
I'm Kelly Isabelle.
Full-time workin' mama & spouse aspiring to live a slowly paced, sustainably minded, creatively expressed, clutter-free life shared with kindred folk.