This month is Self-Love Month. We’re celebrating love here at Lipedema Simplified. What better way is there to celebrate love than to take care of ourselves?
But wait… What exactly does that mean? Where does it begin?
What is Self-Love?
The easiest way to explain self-love is to look back on your relationship with yourself when you were younger. Back then, most of us had a carefree attitude and a positive outlook on life. This, I believe, is due to our self-acceptance and self-recognition, which are the foundation of self-love.
To have self-love is to have both a childlike self-acceptance and recognition of yourself.
Self-love starts with childlike self-acceptance. Consider a little child – they accept what they can do and what they can’t do. If they can’t do something, they ask for help, and if they can do something, they will demand to do it independently. No matter how hard you try to tell them differently, a young child will insist that they can do it. Then they show themselves and us that they can! They are tenacious. Why? Because they have self-acceptance.
Self-love then continues with childlike recognition of ourselves. Have you ever seen a little one play in front of a mirror? They make faces, blink their eyes, stick out their tongues, pretend to cry, laugh, put on mommy’s makeup, or shave with daddy’s razor. They’re fascinated with their reflection, and now if given the chance, they’ll take selfie after selfie on their phones and tablets. Why? Because they recognize themselves and enjoy and love what they see. They see the love and joy in their faces reflected right back at them.
What Happens When the Self-Love is Gone?
What happens to that childlike self-acceptance and recognition? Where do we learn to not love, accept, or recognize ourselves?
We eventually follow the model of the adults around us, those that we see on television and in movies. We hear negative things from all directions and start to believe them. It isn’t always intentional, but it can happen.
My Struggle With Self-Love
When I was a little girl, I was so in love with my mom. My mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. I loved that people would tell me how much my sister and I looked like her. That meant that I was just as beautiful as she was. I was also told how my hands looked like my mom’s, and I could actually see the resemblance.
One day, my mom was standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom, crying. I was bathing in the tub and watching her. She was tugging at her neck and twisting her hair around, trying to cover her neck up. I asked why she was crying and she told me that my father had told her that she had an ugly bull neck. I asked her if I had one too because I look just like her. She was in such an emotional state that, without thinking about the effect it would have on me, she said, “Of course you do. All the girls in this family look like me.” I was six.
That was the first time I had ever felt ugly. I had never experienced self-loathing before. I followed my mom’s example and started being critical of the way I looked. I also started tearing myself down to others. Self-judgment became the norm for me.
No matter how much someone would tell me that I was beautiful, all I could hear was, “I have an ugly bull neck,” and “you look just like me.” Even though my mom married an amazing man who thought she was the most beautiful goddess who walked this Earth just two years later and I married a man who has told me every day of our 43-year marriage how cute, pretty, sexy, and amazing I am, the old narrative has stuck with me for most of my life. It had impacted my whole outlook and attitude toward life, and sometimes I wish there was a way to change this – to let go of this habit, go back to when I was younger, and learn self-love again.
Rewriting the Narrative – We deserve love!
Now that February is here and it’s the month of love, I figured that there’s no better time than now to rewrite that narrative. No need for a time machine, we can tell ourselves the truth now and learn self-love again. We are beautiful, lovely, amazing women.
We deserve to be loved by ourselves and others. We can learn to accept and recognize our real selves again and express loving self-care.
It can be quite difficult at times, and at other times it can also be easy. But keep your faith and always remember… Anything is possible with lipedema!