By Lauren Derrett, Author of Filter Free and founder of This Girl is Enough
When I was a teenager one of the worst insults I heard (and said) was;
"Cor love yourself much?" and "Cor she loves herself"
Just a flippant comment banded around, carelessly thrown and received on the daily. Blase, just words, the final insult.
It came a few years after the bullshit
'sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you'
that we all bought into, what a total crock of shit that is, and the damage that has caused, a whole tonne of confused adults who are haunted by words from their past and feel that their feeling of pain is unworthy, as it didn't come with a bruise.
Back then I made it my mission to prove to these bitches (of which I was one) that I didn't love myself! In hindsight, I'm kicking myself hugely because by being that defiant teen, the rebel teen, the, I take no shit teen, all I did was fucked myself over. I've spent the rest of my life resolute in the fact that those bitches were wrong and I didn't fucking love myself, no way, cheeky cows.
Fast forward to me being 44 with an (almost) adult brain and a small amount of clarity, and it's no wonder that loving myself is such an uphill struggle that began as what felt like an impossible task. That's 30 years of carrying a damaging story as a strong upheld belief. An integral part of my makeup, an understanding I had made with myself early doors.
Of course, it would take some time to undo all those years of complicit behaviour, and maybe every now and then (Love Island) I find myself back in old habits when seeing a girl who comes across as 'loving herself', but now, with the work I'm doing on myself I realise that a. she's more than likely too worried about what others think of her to be loving herself and b. she's probably wracked with insecurities and overcompensating with outward confidence.
As I'm working deeper with all this bullshit baggage that has followed me around for the entirety of my adult life I've found myself learning so much about how this simple, throwaway comment has deeply affected who I am and how I treat myself and others around me.
This coincided with the fact that I was raised in a loveless home, I've found myself reliant on love from others (although I struggle to accept their love too as I'm seemingly unlovable), I've found myself becoming co-dependent on others for their love, I've found myself seeking that love externally and being heartbroken when it felt as though the love was being taken away (see, children leaving home, husband immersed in work, friends busy in their own lives)
But lately I've been feeling some weird shit, I've started dipping into my spirituality and using (I use the word loosely) meditations, and today even picked up my journal and I'm seeing/feeling some pretty strong messages around this subject......
I've been having dreams (every night) where I will be with people, kind of circling them and seeing if they loved me (?) and never getting a definitive answer (?) but this morning after waking from one of these dreams and whilst still mostly asleep I questioned what the dream meant and then I heard/felt (it's hard to describe, it's like a voice but more of a feeling, have I gone actually mad?) and it said/felt to me the message of
'you have all the love you need inside of you, you don't need to seek it elsewhere, you can tap into it anytime you need'
This was quite the message to receive and whilst I was willing to take it on board as something I could move forward with, I also shit myself a little bit.
I felt tension come in and I started to question back 'If I have all I need, am I alone, am I self- sufficient, do I no longer need anyone?'.
I was scared to think that if I became self-sufficient I would also become self-absorbed and alone?
All the triggers from 'cor love yourself' telling me that if I loved myself I would be cutting myself off from everyone else who didn't love themselves, plus if I didn't need my relationships, what was the purpose of them?
Bit fucking deep when you're just coming around from a 10-hour sleep!!
I got up to make some tea and think about this more, I was pulling out the big guns, I wanted to REALLY find out WTF was going on and so I brought out the journal.......Shit just got real (I don't know how to journal, I have had no need to journal, *what even is a journal?)
And in my journal I wrote
'it is safe to love yourself' #relief
'it doesn't mean that 'cor she loves herself' #truth
'it doesn't mean others won't love you' #trust
'it doesn't mean that you are self-absorbed or that you are vain, it means that you are compassionate and caring to all INCLUDING YOU' #tears
And as far as what happens if you bring all the love home, and where that leaves all your outside relationships........babe, when you're full of love alone it means you have tonnes more to dish out to others AND that you call in so much more love from others, basically you're gonna be omitting AND receiving ALL the love.
My darling, it is SAFE (and really fucking important) for you to love yourself.
Lauren Derrett is a mum of 4, step-mother of 2, Author of Filter Free - Real Life Stories of Real Women, motivational speaker, mentor, real woman. See her website here: https://thisgirlisenough.co.uk