Last week, I ran into an ex of mine at a party. We were talking about our relationship and he said something about how I had "always been so likable." "Yeah," I replied, "but not lovable." I said it so matter-of-factly that I surprised myself. I have told myself the story that I'm not "worthy" of love enough times that it's just become my framework for thinking about myself, like okay, I'm a good person, and I try hard, but I'm not enough, not as I am. I treat my "unlovability" as if it were a static truth, no different than the color of my eyes or where I was born.
But when I said that aloud to my ex, I felt my body react. Some knowing soul inside of me stood up. I don't want to talk about myself that way, I realized. I don't want to treat myself like I'm not lovable.
I have this epiphany constantly. Self-love takes so much freaking time. But the spaces between these flares of sadness last longer as I learn how to talk back to those hurtful stories. My belief that I am lovable waxes and wanes and that's hard—I used to question my lovability a lot less. This last year has brought many dormant insecurities to the surface. And that learning curve makes me feel hella powerful and in real pain.
It's natural to want affirmation that we are loved. But the truth is that we don't have to look hard to find it. We can turn to our friends, to our families, to our earth, who takes care of us so fiercely even as she struggles to heal. The problem is how we hierachalize which affirmations matter. We pour all of our worthiness into someone else's arms. We ascribe value to a new job, a successful date. We don't put enough trust in our own selves.
That, and telling myself I'm unlovable is boring AND a huge waste of time (win-win!) That kind of unfounded criticism doesn't carry me any closer to the person I want to grow into or the rich life I want to lead. It just makes me lazy and teary and I already cry at PetSmart commercials. Enough.
When you start telling yourself the story that you're not lovable, change the story. It's not always easy but you can do something that's hard. Kiss your sweet knees. Thank the parts of you that are good. Hold a friend's hand. Be diligent about doing and saying and embodying things that remind you how deeply, deliciously lovable you are.