Love, such a big word but at the same time so small. Yet despite being so small the impact of this 4 letter word is one that can last you a lifetime. It’s a word that sitting here thinking about suddenly seems to hit home... it is, in fact, the little things that matter.
The Ancient Greeks contextualised love in 8 different forms;
Eros – passionate love
Philia – affectionate love or friendship
Storge – familial love
Ludus – playful ‘new’ love
Mania – obsessive love
Pragma – enduring ‘long-term’ love
Philautia – self-love
Agape – selfless love
You only have to look at this list and bam there you have it ... welcome to LOVE! Love in all its glory and the many different ways in which you can express and experience it.
My question to you as you start to read this blog is when you hear the word love, what do you think of? Which form of love do your thoughts take? Where does your mind go?
For me a few years ago at the thought of love, I would have immediately been pulled into thoughts of Eros, before moving to Storge, then Philia. To me, in my understanding, love was something that you gave and something that you received from your partner, family and friends. Romantic love would have included all the forms which love can take in a relationship, based on the way a relationship at varying stages passes through the full spectrum of these different forms. Romantic love travelling from passion and obsession to playful to enduring and possibly turning back to obsession in the event of an unexpected end.
Put quite simply self-love would not have even crossed my mind. I didn’t have any. I didn’t know how to love myself. Crazy isn’t it! Although I had in my life grown to understand how to nurture my body and nourish myself properly, at no point in my thoughts of doing any of this did I think about it as an expression of love for my physical body, it was just something you had to do. In fact even with the knowledge of knowing how to nurture my body I didn’t do it. I didn’t love it.
I am purposefully expressing a distinction here in referring to my physical body. Because to me, as I saw myself then, I was my physical body. The full extent of myself started and ended with all that I could see when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t even notice that there was more to me than you could see with the human eye. I had never considered what my mind and my soul may need. In my understanding they all merged into one, the one thing that was tangible, that I could see, my physical body.
What this meant for me, in multiple years of my life, was that in order to feel loved I needed other people to love me. The result, a girl who spent years trying to please people. A girl who sought only to be accepted and liked. I was a girl who sought external approval to validate her sense of self-worth, because alone on her own two feet she had none. In reality what this meant was ignoring my instincts, doing things that felt wrong, but that I didn’t stop myself from doing. If ‘love’ showed up in whatever form it was, I took it, because I craved it. My life became a measure of how much love I could receive in response to the way I presented my physical body.
So I spent years knowing how to, but not taking care of my body, abusing it with food, alcohol, and then later in life exercise, laxatives and fat burners. I didn’t know how I could love something that I felt so ashamed and embarrassed about each time I looked into the mirror. I hated my reflection. I would literally sit in front of a mirror and pick out all the things I hated about myself, my self-berating ritual of reminding myself of all the reasons that I was ugly.
And what did I achieve from my lack of self-love?
Broken hearts ...
In my search for validation I broke the hearts of my family, my friends, and of the partners that I had, and in return, I also had my heart broken.
I fell in love so many times, and when I fell boy did I dive! The truth is each time I fell it was real. This story isn’t one where I say that I fell in what I thought was love and now realise wasn’t. It is one in which I truly fell. There have been four loves in my life, my three D’s and Mr M. Each one of them unique and special in their own way. I think of my three D’s as my saviour, my destruction and my wake-up call and I loved every one of them. I won’t name them, names don’t matter because they are just a small detail in the story. What does matter is what I learnt from them and how from a confused, lost mixture of uncertainty, heartbreak and self-loathing a woman could arise that could love and accept her self in ways that she had never imagined could be possible, and in doing so would change her life.
In my saviour, I learnt that you could have love and friendship, trust, support, safety and calm. That it was possible to know a love in which you were completely supported no matter what.
In my destruction, I learnt that you could have a love that was good and love that was crazy. In a muddled-up mixture of two people unsure how to really love themselves and looking always to be loved by others that the love, you gave no matter how hard you tried could never fill the longing for love that you wanted. I learnt that love was in some cases, no matter how hard you tried, just not enough.
In my wake-up call, I learnt that even when I thought I was broken in two that I could find love. And that love could move me to do things that perhaps I might otherwise convince myself out of. I learnt that I was desperate to be loved. I also learnt that it was possible for me to become so lost in my own feelings that I could tint the picture that I saw in front of me, to see only what I wanted to see. Although you can’t fake feelings, and the power of a feeling when it is shared. So I learnt that love knows no time limits, even if it did only last for a moment, that it was still real.
In all of the chaos left in my crazy broken heart, I was led down a path to search for something different. One final blow and it was a wake-up call to turn the flashlight inside and carry on my search for love in a place I had never looked before. Although it was hard, I started small and kept at it and like all things new, with practice and time, it became easier.
Self-love is a concept that I initially thought of as arrogant and selfish, but the words of Stacey Charter are true
‘If you can’t love and accept yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen’.
In finding and learning ways to love and accept myself for all that I am, and make the changes that I saw as necessary in order to allow me to make the rest of my life the best of my life, I have found a way of life that I didn’t know existed. A life that is wonderful and one in which love is not sought because without it I am lacking, but instead where love is shared and cherished. It’s bigger than any love I have ever felt before because I am already full of love and so the love I receive in return is also so much bigger.
I have found a peace in knowing that everything that I am in any given moment is and always will be enough.
I have found acceptance in knowing that I am imperfectly perfect and that means that I need not compare or compete with others. Some people will get me and others just won’t. In the life of a peach, you can be the ripest juiciest peach in the world and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches, so I’ll happily accept my place as one of this world oranges 😊
I have found comfort in my knowledge that love starts and ends with me and that knowing this I can choose love every day and that in choosing love I can live a life of happiness.
I have reconnected with my innermost authentic self and found my voice to express the person I was born to be and live the life that I am here to lead. A life based on truth, love, connection, growth and giving.
I have found a confidence in knowing that nothing can hurt me or affect me unless I choose to let it. That I alone hold the power to create my reality and allocate meaning to the circumstances and experiences that come my way. That I live my life on my terms and not those of others.
I have found a love bigger, brighter, stronger and more meaningful than any love I have ever experienced. By finally falling in love with myself I have experienced the love that I craved. I had it within me all along. And in falling in love with myself I have found a love in a relationship that is different again to all the others, with Mr M.
Coming from a place of love I can give and I can receive based on no expectations. Instead, my focus is always on appreciating each and every moment, each look, each touch, each smile. Our moments together as much as the moments we are apart. Do we argue? Of course, we do, we are different people. Like all couples, there will always be things that we will eventually butt heads on, but now it’s different. I don’t feel threatened by our disagreements, they do not arise out of spite or hurt or competition, but instead, they arise out of misunderstanding, mostly when one of us are not really paying attention to the other. The beauty of any misunderstanding … that all you need to do to resolve it is to speak the truth, ask some questions, listen and know that the person who you are sitting opposite to or next to in this moment remains to be the person that you love. From a place of love, you can say both yes and no and establish boundaries for a relationship in which both of you remain in alignment with your truth, safe and happy. Being full of love for yourself does not mean that you become the person that says yes and sees the world through rose-tinted glasses. Instead, it means that you are the one who is comfortable in saying no because you hold a respect for yourself that allows you to find the strength to communicate your boundaries.
In self-love you find power, courage, compassion, truth, beauty, happiness, confidence and kindness, the ingredients of a life well lived.
So love yourself first, and love yourself well, not only for what you see in the mirror but for all the things you can’t. For your mind and your soul.
If like I once was, you find yourself a little lost and unsure how to find your way to self-love then contact me at
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook - www.facebook.com/xsmileforlifex
Instagram - www.instagram.com/xsmileforlifex and we can arrange a chemistry call to see how I can help and support you to fall in love with the single most important love you will ever experience, falling in love with yourself.