Valentine’s Day is this weekend. Loving yourself is not usually connected with that day, although Valentine’s Day is synonymous with love. These days, Valentine’s Day consists of a date night of gigantic proportions for those who are in a committed relationship or not. Some individuals boycott Valentine’s Day with the statement that they do not need a special day to show their love.
Children exchange valentines or other little gifts, although some schools are banning candy as an option. Grocery stores have one or two aisles filled with Valentine’s Day candy and gifts. If you are in a relationship with someone, will you celebrate the day as a couple? Will you ignore it? Are you single? Do you feel dread at the prospect of all this “love” around you and all these twosomes (or ads for twosomes)?
Whatever your plans are for Valentine’s Day, when is the last time you considered love as a verb, an action word? Do you love yourself?
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Is a well-known Bible passage (Mark 31).
The same thought appears in other religious circles as well as the secular world. The golden rule states, “do onto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I returned to the Catholic Church a couple of years after my daughter, Megan, was born. I was still lost and not facing the truth of the abuse of my childhood or the truth of the abuse (domestic violence) perpetrated by my then husband, Tom M. Whenever I was attended a Mass that included the reading which stated, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, I would listen attentively to the reading and to the priest’s sermon. “As you love yourself” … what if you hated yourself?
I did know or deeply sensed that I did not love myself much.
As the priest spoke, I wanted him to address the concept of loving yourself. What did that mean? Over the years of attending Mass, I have heard a priest address that concept once or twice and never with much depth.
Loving yourself – who taught you how to love yourself? Did you learn by watching others love themselves? Does someone love themselves by eating healthy, exercising, taking time for him or herself to participate in fun activities, taking solitary time to enjoy one’s own company, and more? Who taught you that you are valuable and worthy of love?
I did know or deeply sensed that I was not worthy of love…..
I carried around the shame and intense sense of not being worthy of love from anyone including myself for decades. Abusers told me I was not worthy either in words or in sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, human trafficking, clergy abuse, extreme abuse and torture. Spiritual abuse (including the ritual abuse) cemented the unworthiness I felt. I was dead inside. Outside I functioned quite well and normally. It is amazing how we hide our real selves from ourselves and others.
What do you do if you did not witness any family member love her or himself? As a survivor of abuse, especially abuse in your childhood, you may not have witnessed healthy self-love. Much of what poses as love is manipulation, fear, narcissism, self-hatred, control, power, and more.
Becoming a healthy survivor and one who thrives means learning to truly love yourself. This may take time. The anger I felt toward the abusers and institutions is seldom turned against myself anymore. I ask myself more frequently, “what is a loving action toward myself that I can choose to do now?”
Valentine’s Day is not a hard day for me. I hardly notice it is here and gone. This year, though, I choose to dedicate Valentine’s as a day to treat myself with extra tender loving care – extra self love! Oh, I have no big plans. I will let the little loving actions and thoughts – the gems – shine!
As a life coach, I gently challenge you to join me. Will you (no matter how you spend the day or with whom) find time to love yourself? If this is difficult, think of one sweet, little way you can make yourself feel special. No one ever needs to know. Just do it and smile!
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha
I do now know and deeply sense that I am worthy of love.
I do now know and deeply sense that I love myself!
What joy and gratitude fills my heart!