Let’s talk about Love

Let’s talk about Love

I woke up and climbed out of bed. The first thing I noticed was my flabby thighs. How disgusting. I got into the shower and looked down at my lumpy excuse for a body. Grotesque, I told myself. I’d better get back on diet because I’m a repulsive human being. I’m riddled with cellulite, my arm fat hangs loosely, and my boobs are drooping. I do my best to avoid the mirror but the part of me that wants to add to my shame pulls me back to it time and again. Go on, take a good look you fat, ugly bitch. You did this. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You are unworthy. You are unlovable. You are deeply imperfect. And you don’t deserve to be here.

Where did it all go wrong?

Dear sweet, beautiful women, how oh how did we get this way? When and how did this deep wound around our bodies arise?

Writing that opening paragraph was incredibly painful for me on many levels: firstly, because I spent most of my life with that torturous inner dialogue playing out in my head. Secondly, because it is a very real phenomenon and I wish it were only a handful of women who experienced this debilitating shame but it’s not. It’s just about every woman I know. And thirdly, if we don’t do something about it immediately, we’ll be passing this legacy of self-hatred on to our daughters and their daughters and so on…

Let’s start a Revolution.

It is my personal mission to spread a message of self-love to every woman on the planet in the hopes of eradicating, once and for all, the shame we carry in our collective consciousness around the imperfection of our bodies and our beloved selves. And I’m starting right now, right here, with this blog. Feel free to pass it on because it’s time to start a SELF-LOVE REVOLUTION and that revolution starts with YOU. This was the most empowering realization I had a few years ago: the quality of my life is dependent on the relationship I have with myself. Nothing else matters as much. Nothing!

I couldn’t believe that powerful nugget when I heard it the first time. What? You mean I don’t have to wait for my father’s approval, or my mother’s love, or to have a child, or to marry to prove that I’m lovable? That goes against everything I was raised to believe: that the love of another will fill me up and ‘complete’ me. I’ve been bombarded with that message from young: from Mills & Boon novels to rom-coms to love songs, to just about every magazine I’ve ever picked up with messages of ‘how to attract the perfect lover’ blah blah blah puke puke.

I have spent most of my life wondering when my Prince Charming was coming to rescue me. And I can tell you; he’s been a bit bloody late in showing up. I mean where the hell is he? I’ve put out all the right signals – I’ve worn the right clothes, bought the right shoes, said the right things, gone to the right places, but still he hasn’t shown up. What has shown up instead is the direct mirror of who I believe myself to be. Remember, we always attract what we believe about ourselves. We attract someone who will bring out the very wound that needs to be healed.

For the longest time I didn’t want to accept this though, because going within and examining my beliefs about myself and looking at my ‘stuff’ was way too painful. It was easier just to end a relationship and move on to the next one. Who the hell wants to scratch around in the wound? It’s messy and it stinks! But finally I did. I still do when yucky stuff comes up. And some days it feels like I’m entering a deep dark abyss of which there is no return. I’m not going to lie to you – it’s not pretty. And yet, on the other side of it lies freedom…and peace…and deep self-love and self-acceptance. It is the most worthwhile journey we can take. It’s the heroine’s journey. And I’m inviting you take the first step if you haven’t already.

Let’s stop the madness.

What say we start slowly, one baby step at a time, and here’s how: we stop letting each other off the hook. We do not allow our fellow sister (I just realized how convent-y ‘sister’ sounds) to indulge in body shaming or self-deprecating remarks. We all know how annoying it is to other people when we talk about how fat we are, how much weight we have to lose, how awful I look in my swimming costume – God I have bored people to death with my self-esteem issues, because I thought that if I beat them to the punch line I’ll be somehow safer. Not true.

Let’s all agree that we will be personally offended when one of our own puts herself down in our company. Because, and hear this, when you tear into yourself, sister, yes I said it, sister, you tear me down too. You take us all down one hateful remark at a time. And when you build yourself up you build us all up.

Can I get a hallelujah on that, sister?

Our daughters are watching us.

Little girls are great observers. It’s how we learn about ourselves. We are observing our mothers all the time when it comes to how to behave, and how to be in the world. We inherit our belief systems from them, and we learn how to feel about ourselves from the way they talk about themselves, and the relationship they have with themselves. Our daughters and nieces and granddaughters are watching us all the time, looking to us for guidance on how to be a woman in the world. Let’s not let them down, shall we?

Why bother with this whole self-love thing?

Because…and I’m going to pee my pants with excitement when I tell you why:

When we change the way we feel about ourselves (men and women alike), we change the entire course of history and the planet, and we shift out of fear into love. That’s all. That’s how powerful we are. Actually, that’s how powerful love is.

Calling all rebels of the heart.

Loving ourselves and accepting our true nature and our power is DANGEROUS to society – the pharmaceutical industry will probably collapse, the establishment will come falling to its knees, wars will end, there will be no poverty, because we will be in charge and leading the way with our powerful HEARTS. So why not rebel? Why not say FUCK IT to society and start to love yourself? Every time you silently put yourself down you give your power away. And it’s time to take it back.

(If love is too strong a word, then start with ‘like’ or ‘respect’ or ‘accept’ or any word that is aimed at self-partnering. Believe me, I am well aware that jumping straight to love can be tricky; sometimes we need to ease in slowly).

I need to take a nap. Starting a revolution is exhausting.

Here’s the message I want to leave with you: you are love. There is nowhere to go outside of yourself to find it. You are love. Everything else is an illusion. I cannot force-feed you that fact, you will need to come to that realization in your own way. That is our work. That is our most important work. If you’re doing it already, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Because we’re doing it for each other. We’re in this together.

I’m not suggesting it is easy for you. I don’t know your cultural and religious background and the role that has played in your life, and still plays to this day. I don’t know the trauma or wounding that you carry. I’m not going to pretend we can do this overnight, but what if we each just took one step? That first step is awareness. Watch the conversations you are having with yourself; watch the silent put-downs and the inner critic; and choose not to believe that voice. Choose instead to give yourself the love you are seeking.

Using humour to practice self-love.

One of my favourite tools is to use humour when practicing self-love. As serious as this subject is, it is also deeply light-hearted, and instead of condemning the inner critic when it emerges, you can use a playful approach. I call myself pet names, the kind of pet names I want a partner to use, so yes I call myself sweetheart and darling, and honey all the time. Frankly, it’s rather adorable. It is this teeny tiny thing that has shifted things for me. When I catch myself being mean about my body, I laugh and say, really? I don’t believe it. I think you’re fabulous! If you start anywhere, start here, with self-talk.

Dim the lights. Let’s get in the mood.

To get you in the self-love mood, I want you to belt out a love song the next time you’re in the car, only this time sing it to yourself. Don’t direct the lyrics at your husband or lover, or that mini poster you have of Ryan Gosling in your cubbyhole (huh? I don’t know what you’re talking about). In fact, I’m demanding that fifty percent of all love songs be rewritten, especially the ultra-needy ones, like, ‘I can’t live if living is without you…’ because it can change to, ‘I can live if living is without you. It won’t be as fun but I can do it, I won’t fall apart, well I might, but only for a few months then I’ll be fine again.’ Gosh, I love how that flows.

Okay, here goes…ready? My top ten suggestions for your car solo:

1. Nothing compares to me by Sinead O’ Connor
2. First time ever I saw my face by Roberta Flack.
3. How deep is my love by the Bee Gees.
4. I’m my first, my last, my everything by Barry White.
5. Everything I do I do it for me by Bryan Adams.
6. I will always love me by Whitney Houston.
7. Crazy for me by Madonna.
8. I just called to say I love me by Stevie Wonder.
9. I can’t help falling in love (with me) by Elvis Presley
10. Unforgettable (that’s what I am) by Nat King Cole.

And if you want to sing a love duet to yourself – because there’s nothing more gratifying than a solo duet in the car mirror – I think we can all agree that ‘Endless Love’ is the one you should pick.

But what about Prince Charming? Will I be alone forever?

Nope, the opposite is true. Because love attracts love. And when you no longer ‘need’ it because you feel totally complete within yourself, it will walk right up to you and announce its presence. Of course we are here to experience love from another, that’s the BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD. I’m the biggest romantic on the planet. But how would we even recognize it if we were not giving it to ourselves first? That’s all I’m saying. I’m ending it there; my Sunday sermon is over. Thanks for reading. I love you. Do you?

Rewriting the story.

I woke up and climbed out of bed. I thanked Life for making me the wise, intuitive powerful woman that I am. I told my body how grateful I was for all it did for me. I looked in the mirror and said, ‘hello sweetheart, I love you.’

P.S. I know this affects men just as much, it’s obviously easier to address it to women as that is my personal experience. But we need you in this revolution too. We love you.

P.P.S. This is not a new idea. Thanks to the Louise Hays of the world we are more enlightened about self-love matters more than ever before. Huge gratitude to these love warriors. I have needed this work more than you will ever know.

One final P.S. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface with this blog and will be writing a lot more about the subject due to its deeply complex nature. Because women are deeply complex and that’s what makes us so IRRESISTIBLE.

Love Kelley xx

Kelley Thorrington
natalie@thecreativelab.co.za