How does One fall in Love With Oneself?
I actually asked my counselor that, when he suggested that I take this time of being single to explore the idea that I am the one I seek: that I am my own Beloved.
We tend to look outside of ourselves for love and validation. All of us do it to some degree or other. I tend to do it balls-out, no-holds-barred, full-on, to a degree that terrifies me and leaves me floundering in a sea of emotion. To say nothing of what it does to my partners or the relationship.
If, then, it's possible to fall in love with myself, to always carry with me that serene knowledge that I am the one that I seek, that I can give myself everything (yes, everything) that I seek in another when I look into his eyes, that means that nothing can derail me emotionally because I will never need someone else so badly that he can break my heart. I can choose to be with someone because I love him, because of his true qualities and not the fantasy qualities I ascribe to him. And I can choose to leave, if that seems like the best decision, without falling apart, because he is not the one who gave me the good feelings I had when I was with him. And I know I will be OK, no matter what, because I can trust that I can provide for myself everything that I need.
That sounds nice. But how do we do this?
Yesterday, I meditated on the fact that I am totally unique in the universe. Think of it! You - we all - are like nothing else that has existed ever before or will exist ever again. There will never be again be a collection and expression of genes, experiences, learning, emotion, and thought that is exactly like you. Even if you were cloned, that person would not be exactly like you because he or she would not have the same exact experiences, and thus would never have the same reactions to life, the same quirks, likes and dislikes, or the same thoughts. The same is true of every being that we meet. Even that bird on a wire is totally unique. There is no other bird exactly like that one.
Have you ever stared into your own eyes in the mirror? I have. Do it sometime. It's fascinating, because, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, you can almost see your own soul while staring into your own eyes. Whenever I doubt that I am a genuinely good soul, I do this exercise. My eyes tell me that I am, even if I do or say things I regret. Do this: find a mirror where the light is good, and just stand for a few moments, looking at your face and into your eyes. What do you see in them? Kindness, sadness, amusement, embarrassment (it might feel kind of silly to be doing this, after all), anger, joy? What does your face tell you? I've been noticing where the wrinkles will be, and that these are the same places they are in my mother's face. Around my lips, and under my eyes. I notice that I purse my lips a lot, and that my face is always active, my expressions pass quickly. What do your eyes tell you about yourself? Mine seem innocent and open sometimes, like I don't understand the meanness that's in the world. This is actually how I feel, a lot of the time. Other times they seem to speak of unseen worlds inside them, characters and stories and ideas and images. Sometimes they are very sad and red, sometimes calm, cool, and serene. Sometimes laughing, sometimes steely. You can tell a lot about yourself from your own eyes.
One night, having no plans, I just hung around in my house, alone, listening to music. On my mantel were several photos of myself with various important people in my life. I sat on my couch as I listened to the music, occasionally singing along, and when I did this, I faced these photos. I was at it for hours that evening, and at the end of the night, I realized I felt an incredible love for this person I had been gazing at for so long. I've always considered myself less than beautiful, but at the end of this night, I realized I was beautiful. It was like after hours of staring into my own face, I had finally seen myself, and liked what I saw. Perhaps one way to fall in love with ourselves is to have photos around us of our best selves, where we'll see them every day. I have two photos of myself as kids up on my bookshelf. In one, I'm laughing. In the other I'm looking into the camera with an expression of calm and strength. Both of these remind me that those kids are still in me - the joyful one and the calm, strong one.
I don't know the answer to the question I posed above. I don't know how to fall in love with myself, although these things all seem to be good starts. I - we all - can practice looking at ourselves with compassion, even when things are difficult. We can treat ourselves like our own best friends, rather than our own worst enemies. We can care for our bodies and our souls by treating them right. We can treat ourselves like we would a small, dependent child and make sure we always keep ourselves safe, yet at the same time open ourselves up to new, challenging experiences.
I tend to feel resentment when I realize that, truly, I am the only one who can help myself when I'm in trouble. Even if I call my friend or mom or sister for support, at the end of the call, I will hang up and be alone with everything. It hurts. But why, if I'm really the one that I seek? Why is this a situation to resent? I hate sleeping and waking up alone, often dislike coming home to an empty house and to have an evening to kill at the same time that I don't feel like filling my days with empty plans just to fill the time. Maybe this is what I'll work with. Turning the resentment to joy that I have someone like myself that I can count on when things get rough. Enjoying time alone with myself because I am the only one who fully, truly understands me. And who wouldn't want to be with, sleep with, wake up with, do yoga with, be creative with, someone who totally and fully understands and loves them? It would be a dream come true.