A long time ago, I had a raging case of flu that was going to cost about $60 to treat. I had a prescription; I just needed to get the medication and everything would be good and back to normal. I walk into the store and pick up a bottle of the medication my doctor prescribed… The shock! $60 for a damned bottle of flu medicine?! I was enraged. How dare big Pharma try to rip me off like this! I replaced the bottle and stormed out.
A few moments later, I’m on the internet Googling up cheaper alternities. $60 for flu medication, they’ll see!
I did find a cheaper alternative but ended up having such a bad reaction to the drug that I swore I had ingested bovine medicine or something. One dose of my cheaper alternative was enough to discourage me from using it again.
Fast-forward to a few months later; it’s my ex-boyfriend’s birthday and I want to get him a present that shows him I really love and pay attention to him. My ex is a sneakerhead, so I splash over $200 on a pair of Nikes, among other things I knew would make him smile. Yikes.
I remember sitting in bed the day I received the delivery feeling excited about my gifts. Suddenly, I get a flood of memory and I remember my experience with the flu medication. The voice in my head mockingly says “so you won’t spend $60 on medicine that you need for your health, but you’ll happily spend triple that amount on a damn pair of shoes for someone else?”
Ladies, I was flooded with shame.
I personally don’t believe that shame is a creative tool for transformation, but this was a different kind of shame. I felt ashamed because in that single moment, it became glaringly clear how little regard I had for myself. I would go all out for people I love; be present in their lives, and buy them gifts I could barely afford to make them happy, but when it came to me? When it came to me there were corners that could be cut, necessities that could be subsidized, and luxuries that could be omitted. Damn. The worst part is that it was me doing this to myself.
I asked myself: if I have a lover that treats me exactly the way I treat myself, will I be convinced that this person loves me? A short and sincere answer came back: No.
I felt so sorry. I put my arms around myself and began to apologize: I had failed me in many ways. What about that time when I just wanted ice cream and a walk but I forced myself to stay glued to my laptop doing work that didn’t excite me? What about those times I would go to the market armed with a strategy to find the cheapest items? What about when I deliberately denied myself things because they were too “expensive” only to turn around and spend the same amount on someone else? What message was I reinforcing to myself? I claimed to love myself, (hell, I did the affirmations and everything), but when the time came to prove it, I almost always willingly sacrificed myself.
What The World Gets Wrong About Self-love
In the last five or so years, we’ve witnessed a self-love revolution on social media. Gosh, I love to see it! Nevertheless, what are we missing? I mean, we’ve screamed “yass bitch!” at the quotes and done the affirmations; what exactly are we not getting right?
Personally, I believe that most of the people publishing content on the internet haven’t figured out this self-love thing quite yet. They’re either preaching brutal narcissism or making it seem like self-love is all about candles and bubble baths. Self-love is about the way you treat yourself when nobody is in the room. It’s about the innate knowing that you are worthy (not necessarily better than anyone else, just worthy) and the lengths you’d go to for yourself. It’s about how you talk to yourself when you’ve just made a silly mistake and choosing yourself every day, flaws and all. Self-love is about whether or not you think $60 is too much money to spend on medication (or anything you need). It is about how highly you place yourself (not in relation to others); about whether or not you are a priority in your life (and not in a narcissistic or self-centered way.) Self-love is about honoring all of life while realizing that you too are important. Nobody talks about this. It’s all about “match the energy” or “cut them off.”
We’ve gotta do better, guys. Self-love is never about feeling superior or transferring your trauma to other people. It’s not always about “eat the cookie, buy the shoes,” or facemasks and bubble baths. It’s about a reverence for the entirety of life which includes yourself.
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